TSS @ SHC 2021: Sonic the Hackable Splash Hill Demo

To many die-hard Sonic fans, Sonic 4 is a game unworthy of its title, with a physics engine more closely related to Dimps’ DS past than the Genesis/Mega Drive trilogy. But what if Sonic 4 was a Genesis game? CHRdutch gives us a taste of what that might be like in this Sonic 1 hack which covers Splash Hill Zone acts 1-3.

Splash Hill Zone act one mimics the original Sonic 4 level fairly closely. There are some sacrifices made. Gone are the pulleys and rope swings and in their place are rotating platforms. However, it does have much of the original’s poor level design, including the lack of slopes, narrow loops, and completely unnecessary dash-pads. CHRdutch also does an impressive job trying to copy Sonic 4’s game play quirks into this Sonic 1 hack. When rolling into the air off a wall, Sonic will fly up with his arms stretched open and completely defenseless. Sonic also has a forward boost with a double jump. While there is no homing attack in this version, it can hit enemies when used right and works well for a quick boost forward. However, since this is a hack that still relies on Sonic 1 physics in some form, it doesn’t replicate Sonic 4’s physics, so you won’t find things like wall-walking here. That’s a nice improvement in my book, though.

While Splash Hill act one and act three are pretty faithful to the original, Act two offers its own original design. Keep on the upper path, and you can get to the goal quickly. Fall into the lower path, and you’ll be running underwater. Unlike Labyrinth Zone, it doesn’t feel slow and it won’t take too long until you can find your way out. It’s a well-done level. Also impressive is how well the original soundtrack comes over to the Genesis with little sacrifice. Now, from what I recall, Jun Senoue wanted to get the soundtrack as close to the Genesis sound as possible. Still, I’m surprised at how well remix composer LackOfTrack was able to bring over the soundtrack almost perfectly. At times, it’s exact.

Sonic the Hackable: Splash Hill shows both the flaws of Dimps 2D design while showing the strength of the Genesis Sonic’s physics. While not a perfect 1:1 port, the changes made are for the better. If you were wondering if Sonic 4 could work or even be improved on the Genesis, CHRdutch’s Sonic the Hackable seems to be a solid “yes”.

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