My Top Games of 2010: #5 - Sonic 4: Episode 104/01/2011 20:32

For me, the Sonic games hit their peak in 1994 after the release of Sonic & Knuckles and then the line on the figurative graph of fun plummeted through the basement. I have never managed to truly enjoy any of the newer 3D re-imaginings of the classic franchise, each one seemingly trying harder and harder to frustrate, annoy and deafen me with rocky, poppy, rappy, cringe worthy music. Cutesy characters and childish voices just made them utterly unbearable.

My biggest gripe was the fact that they scrapped the western story canon in favour of the Japanese storyline which, quite frankly, sucks. A considerable amount of my childhood was spent playing the games and reading the comic and so being asked to disregard all that fictitious knowledge was too much for my liking. Also - Dr. Eggman? WTF Sega? WTF?

I digress...

Sonic Unleashed was released in 2008 and this started to feel like how a 3D Sonic game should be. I enjoyed the daytime levels however the night time "werehog" nonsense was terrible and unfortunately the longest portions of the game. I disliked them so much that I didn’t complete it. Twenty minutes of lumbering around and smashing stuff in return for two minutes of awesome, high octane platforming just didn’t feel like a good deal.

Roll (or spin) on two years later and finally Sega release another 2D Sonic on major consoles. Meant as a direct sequel to Sonic & Knuckles it certainly had a lot to live up to and the titling provoked much nerd rage amongst many of the old school fans. Unfortunately it failed to live up to the standards of the classic Mega Drive games but anyone thinking that it would should be twatted around the head with a stick until they relinquish their madness.

So why is this my fifth favourite game of 2010 then? Good question, seeing that I’ve spent all my time lambasting Sega. Well I really enjoyed it! True, it isn’t all I’d hoped for but if I pretend it isn’t a sequel and play it as a standalone game, it really is good fun. The physics can be quite irritating at times but I’ve never found them to be a show stopper – in fact if they were identical to the originals then I would have found it far too easy. Some of the visuals are great, the level design is pretty good and while the enemies are uninspired, they are faithful recreations from the classic games and generally as frustrating (I’m looking at you Slicer).

I’m very much looking forward to Episode 2 and hope that they really improve upon what they’ve started here.

Graphics: 8/10 – Not perfect but still pleasing to the eye
Sound: 6/10 – The music is trying too hard to be retro!
Gameplay: 8/10
Overall: 7/10

Plus Points:
  • It’s Sonic! In 2D!
  • Level design includes some good variation
  • Some fresh ideas
  • No additional characters
Negative Points:
  • Dodgy physics engine
  • Difficulty curve goes through the ceiling on the final boss
  • Rehashed enemies and level art
  • Relies too heavily on homing attack – generally no penalty for use

Check back soon for number four on my list!

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