Well, here’s something that will give you a shock. In a preview of the latest build of the iPhone version of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, IGN’s Levi Buchanan has stated that the controversial minecart Act in Lost Labyrinth Zone (that has been removed from console editions), “was actually more fun than the universal stages I tried.”
The reasoning behind Buchanan’s statement is that he feels Sonic runs too fast and he can’t progress through a stage without fear of falling or hitting spikes and losing all of his hard-earned rings.
Here’s why: Sonic has a tendency to get away from himself. Granted, that’s by design. Sonic is all about speed and you’re supposed to get going as fast as you can, blasting through stages with the constant fear that one false move will send your 112 rings into the gutter. But that doesn’t necessarily appeal to me anymore. In fact, I’m sure I groaned aloud many times at SEGA’s office when I was cruising toward the finish line only to fail a small jump and drop onto some spikes. My rings scattered and any hopes of enjoying a bonus stage (more on those in a moment) were dashed against the rocks.
Buchanan goes on to say that the minecart stage has less chance of death, so you can relax and enjoy the ride(pun intended).
But the mine cart stages are more measured than that. There is a sense of exploration as you tilt Sonic through the maze in his cart, looking for bumpers to blast you across chasms or finding the switch to open a sealed door. Death is not as ever-present here, which lets you relax and appreciate a few things. One, the tilt controls in the mine cart stages are well done. I felt like I had complete control over Sonic’s plight. Two, the art work in here is really nice.
As for the Sonic 1 inspired Special Stages, Buchanan finds the new control method of tilting the maze to move Sonic much better than manoeuvring Sonic himself in the Mega Drive/Genesis iteration.
So, bonus stages – they’re back in Sonic 4. Remember the spinning labyrinths you had to guide Sonic through to capture the chaos emeralds? The bonus rounds in Sonic 4 are very similar, but now you tilt the device to rotate the maze rather than control Sonic. This is a big improvement and cuts down on frustration. Easing Sonic through the maze toward the chaos emerald is still tricky (there’s a time limit and plenty of opportunities to drop out of the stage), but at least you feel in control rather than swimming upstream through an auto-rotating screen.
What do you think of these statements? Discuss in the comments.
For the full preview, head over to IGN.