Sonic 4: Episode 1 impressions

I have loved the Sonic The Hedgehog games ever since their debut on the classic Megadrive.  That was my first console outside of 8 bit and 16 bit computers like Amstrad and Amiga.  The simplicity and addictiveness made for many hours of gameplay.  I didn’t pursue the series as relentlessly as some players though, and after ‘Sonic 2’ I next came across the blue rodent with Sega’s ill fated Dreamcast.  That first foray into 3D proved entertaining but lacked the ‘one more go’ appeal of the classics.  It was a design choice that became the character’s Achilles heal however, and although graphics got better, Sega’s insistence on keeping the game 3D divided audiences.

So we come to the long awaited Sonic 4, which is more a tribute / tinkering of Sonic of old, borrowing a few ideas from the newer games (such as homing attacks) yet retaining what made the series so loved.  That is; replayability, addictiveness and above all else, simple and fun gameplay.  This entry spruces up the graphics, although going for a smooth, clean look so things don’t get too distracting due to the game’s intricate level design and famed speed.  Sonic himself is a joy to control, the levels full of colour, secret areas, all beautifully animated and silky smooth.  The levels do get more fiendish and there’s some annoying moments that threw me until I figured them out.  Yet with four large worlds to play through, each split into three levels with a boss at the end – there is plenty of game for your money.  Add to this time trial and score attack modes, and one play through is just the beginning.

For fans and anyone who likes old-school gaming, this is an easy recommendation, and it just feels right for once – as it always should have been.

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