Sonic The Hedgehog has always been a very touchy subject for a lot of people. For years, he was one of the greatest video game characters around, the last little while he just hasn’t had the punch that he once did. Can Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II return Sonic to his past glory or will it be a title to forget?
Back when Episode I in the Sonic 4 series came out, the huge issue among the fans of the series was that their were broken physics and control issues. The game just didn’t feel right compared to the old Genesis classics. It ruined the experience for me and it ruined it for many people. A slow pace for a Hedgehog nicknamed the “Blue Blur” just didn’t sit well with very many people. The physics problem is fixed and the game feels a lot more fluid and more like a Sonic game but, even with that problem fixed, there’s just not a lot of content to warrant this being a full downloadable game.
Episode II brings together the events of Sonic CD to this game by incorporating Metal Sonic and Little Planet. Tails returns as well evening the odds with two main villains and two main heroes. Tails adds a lot to an otherwise very simple experience with Tag Moves. The first of which is the helicopter combination which is a great way to get to places that Sonic would never be able to reach. You can activate it by pressing square at any point in the air and Tails will grab Sonic and start to fly. The second Tag Move is the submarine which will help you navigate through water rather quickly and is really nothing more than the helicopter combination in a body of water. The third is what I dub the “ball of destruction” and puts the two heroes together in a giant speedy ball that destroys everything in its path. Its use is to blast through otherwise impenetrable walls and barriers.
The levels are sometimes brilliant, sometimes terrible. Sylvania Castle Zone is a blatant rip-off of Aquatic Ruin Zone from Sonic 2. White Park Zone however was a great, enjoyable experience thanks to the 2.5D being used to the fullest making the seamless transition from background to foreground.
Beyond the addition of Tails though and the wonderfully crafted White Park Zone, there just isn’t much else to really look forward to. It’s the same old formula and while it definitely works, it’s just nothing but an expansion to Episode I. It feels like you should get at least double the amount of levels for $15 considering the whole game can be completed in little more than an hour. The bosses are cool but, nothing innovative. The special stages are just the same Sonic 2 ones but, re-imagined. The great thing about this game is the co-op which works as it’s supposed to. Just as you start getting into the co-op though, you’ll be finishing the game.
For purchasers of both Episode I and Episode II, there’s an extra something for you. Dubbed ” Episode Metal, you play as Metal Sonic and jump your way through the zones from Episode I. It’s a nice addition to the package but, for the $30 you need to pay to get to access that content, you begin to expect something more.
There is fun to be had in Sonic 4: Episode II but, it’s honestly too short of an experience to be worthy of much praise. Most of the levels lack character and originality. Tails is used well but, he’s almost used to often to where it becomes a pain to have to utilize him to do what you need to do to complete the level and Metal Sonic plays exactly as Sonic without any special abilities.
When I played Sonic: Generations late last year, I thought they were finally on to a better formula for Sonic games that catered well to both new and old Sonic fans. That was a well-made Sonic game. This is a good game in need of some fine tuning and more content. The Sonic: Generations formula is what needs to be used for Sonic games to be successful, if it’s a 2D Sonic game, then the 2D in that game would have been perfect for this one. Sonic fans will like this game but, for anyone else this is a tough purchase to justify. Overall, this feels like it should have been a $5-7 add-on to Episode I rather than a $15 complete game.