Inside PlayStation Network - Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
- Posted January 24th, 2011 at 08:47 EDT by Mike Harradence
- 3 Comments
The digital delights of Sony’s scrumptious PlayStation Network service know no bounds. Aside from letting punters compete in online gaming, stream films, browse the Internet and more, its premier attraction rests in the copious supply of downloadable games ripe for the picking. From PSN exclusives to PSOne Classics, minis and plain old add-on content, Sony’s online space is chock full of goodies battling it out for your hard-earned digital dollars.
Welcome back to another installment of Inside PlayStation Network, where every Monday – Friday we’ll pluck a PSN release—be it new or old—and put it in the spotlight for a thorough dissection. Fancy getting a new PSN game but don’t know what one to plump for? Perhaps this feature will help. Didn’t realize that a game was available in your region until now? We've got you covered. Or, perhaps you were musing over what those lucky Japanese folk were tucking into over in the Land of the Rising Sun? You can be sure our coverage will extend to those rare regional exclusives as much as those firmly embedded on the public consciousness.
For our latest entry, we strap on our sneakers and bash some badnicks in pursuit of the notorious Dr. Robotnick in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.
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Developer(s): Dimps, Sonic Team
Region(s) available: North America, Europe, Japan
The last decade’s seen Sega sailing its venerable Sonic franchise through some decidedly choppy waters. Indeed, ever since the Japanese giant’s ubiquitous blue mascot made the transition to the third dimension in the late 90s, things haven’t been exactly hunky-dory for the speedy anthropomorphic hedgehog. In fact, they’ve been bloody awful. Still, after a deluge of dismal efforts — including 2006’s notoriously rubbish eponymous outing — Sega decided to go back to basics with its digital-only revival, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. No werehogs, no convoluted plotlines, and most pleasingly of all, no inconsequential sidekicks. Fans and critics unanimously viewed its announcement as the return to form that the spiky speedster’s been waiting for since 1994’s Sonic and Knuckles. The bad news, as you’ve probably ascertained from the title, is that this woefully short speed fest is merely a taster of things to come.
The story itself picks up after the events of the aforementioned Sonic & Knuckles, which sees chubby troublemaker Robotnick cobbling together some of his most iconic foes in yet another attempt to squash the blue rodent. In terms of gameplay, Sonic 4 adheres religiously to the series’ perfect platforming paradigm nailed down so effortlessly by our hero’s Mega Drive debut way back in 1991. Developer Dimps — with a little nudging from Sonic Team — has taken a firm grip on the troubled franchise and wrung every last dribble of gimmickry out like a wet flannel. A whiff of Sonic’s 3D outings creeps in thanks to the inclusion the Homing Attack, though aside from that StH4 shows little disparities with its much-revered predecessors. As such, what you’re left with is an unquestionably quintessential classic Sonic romp filled with all the necessities fans have been clamoring for.
From the iconic Badnicks, loop-the-loops, side-scrolling gameplay to the chirpy soundtrack, Sonic 4 is chock full of nostalgic bliss. Our spiky hero even waggles his finger on the title screen just like he did back in the day. Priceless. In many ways, the game acts as a tribute to the classic 90s outings, regurgitating many familiar locations and enemies, right down to the classic end-of-zone bosses. Still, a couple of tweaks to the latter ensure that Sonic veterans don’t have an easy ride of clobbering our hero’s tenacious troublemaker. For example, remember that ball and chain combo that Robotnick whipped out in Sonic’s inaugural outing? Well, that’s back, but with a twist. As for the rest, the core fundamentals remain unchanged; you race through a collection of diverse, vibrant zones while grabbing as many rings as possible, bonking baddies on the head and facing off against a boss. It’s classic Sonic in all its retro-filled glory.
Also cropping up are the familiar special stages, ensuring hardcore gamers will be kept busy hammering away on that 100-completion rate by nabbing all seven Chaos Emeralds. Your reward? The long awaited return of our hero’s sparkly, yellow-coloured alter ego, Super Sonic. The stages themselves further cement the game’s on-going love affair with the series’ first entry, both in terms of aesthetics and manner of execution. Elsewhere, leaderboards have also been included, allowing you to measure up your performance against fellow fans online, giving Sonic’s bite-sized bonanza a shot in the arm in terms of overall replayability. At the time of writing we’ve yet to hear word on an Episode II, but given the success of this first installment, we’re sure Sega’s acutely aware of the demand for a follow-up. Watch this space.
Join us tomorrow as we take yet another peak Inside PlayStation Network.
- 4:31am EST - January 24th, 2011
Core fundamentals remain unchanged? Not quite. But then again I think of the physics and the way Sonic moved in the classics as 'how it should have been' in this game. You run full speed off a platform and poof, gone is your momentum as Sonic plummets almost straight down. I'm sure this and the new jump-target madness will be enjoyed by some people, but it's just wrong after having played Sonic1/2/3 on the old MegaDrive.Such a shame really. The Sonic Team finally got the message and went back to 2D, but just had to mess with the controls. Really, this game is not worthy of getting the 'Sonic 4' series title, not unless they somehow fix the physics and add proper Sonic 'classic' controls. Which I don't see happening anytime soon, my guess the only proper HD Sonic game will come from the fan-made Sonic 2 remake.
- 10:19am EST - January 24th, 2011
You crazy! I'm a original Sonic fan & I think Sonic the Hedgehog 4 plays like a dream, different but top notch. My only problem with it is the recycled level design & bosses. Role on Episode 2 I say. --- The haters will always hate, whiny nerds.
- 8:35pm EST - January 24th, 2011
I wish they can bring back the original Sonic CD to the PSN !
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