It’s been two years since the release of Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and most of the fanbase can agree that while it’s decent, it relied WAY too much on nostalgia (the wrong way). It felt more like a remix of Sonic 1 and 2 than a true sequel to Sonic 3. Last week we got the sequel. How does it fare compared to its predecessor? Find out as I review Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2.
First of all, let me begin by saying that not only does It surpass the first episode in almost everything (Except the music) but it also implements the nostalgia factor more commendably.What I mean is that ep2 feels like a legitimate sequel than the rehash/remix that was ep1. If you’ve ever played a 2D Sonic game, you know exactly what to expect. A speed focused game. However, as you’ll later find out, there’s more to this one than just speed.
The soundtrack, as mentioned above is, like its predecessor, subpar. Sonic 4 music is confusingly disappointing but it grew on me so I let it pass. Be prepared for the return of the infamous “18 second loop” Boss 2 music from as remix. Two bosses have this theme btw.
It’s similar to this, but more robotic. So yeah, the soundtrack is still 4′s greatest con. (The fact I can endure Boss 2 for 7 minutes without losing my mind proves I’m insane.). For a franchise known for its excellent soundtracks, Sonic 4 continues being the black sheep.
The graphics and level design are both nostalgic (In a much better way than ep1) and fantastic. they’re more like hybrids of past Sonic 2 and 3 stages.
Sylvania Castle is a hybrid of the Marble Garden and Aquatic Ruin Zones.
Oil Desert is a hybrid of the Sandopolis and Oil Ocean Zones.
Not much else to say in this section other than it’s a 2D visual treat.
I won’t spoil the last two zones because like the rest of the game it implements the nostalgia factor very well.
Best part, speed-runs actually take a bit of practice and memorization to do and not immediately on your first try. Good luck, you’re going to need it.
Bosses were both epic and challenging. You get to fight Eggman and Metal Sonic 3 times each. especially the last one. Holy cow. My mind was blown away by the setup and fight itself.
Next is the part that’s made or broken Sonic games since Sonic Heroes, the gimmicks. I’ve noticed time and again that gimmicks are what hardcore fans argue about in the 3D games the most in their reviews. For example, the 3 team mechanic from Heroes, the Werehog from Unleashed and Excalibur from Black Knight. In Ep2 it’s “Tag-Action”. As you’ve noticed from the above picture, Tails returns as Sonic’s running partner, ala Sonic 2 and 3. He’s still the “immortal” ai partner and player 2 character but this time, he comes in more handy as he can not only temporarily carry you in the air, but also underwater and can perform a super powerful rolling attack with Sonic. What’s so bad about this gimmick? Well, Sonic games are known primarily for speed, giving you the option to finish a level quickly or at your leisure. Episode 2′s level layout is DESIGNED to have Tails help out on several occasions. Thankfully it’s not TOO overused.
As for the multiplayer. It’s the same as Sonic 2 and 3. Tails is “immortal” and if Sonic goes too far off screen, Tails dies and immediately reappears. Whatever. It’s there for those who like it.
As a special bonus for those who own both episodes on the Ps3 or 360 versions and included in the PC version, you can unlock Episode Metal by completing Sylvania Castle Zone and restarting the game soon after. If done right, you’ll receive a message the next time play the game. As the title suggests, you play as Metal Sonic in 4 revamped acts from ep1′s zones minus the last one. Definitely a neat extra.
I don’t know whether it’s because I’m a conformist (Not the religion) or I’m a casual Sonic fan who sees the good in every game of his (Except Shadow the Hedgehog) but I really enjoyed it. The difficulty was just right, the graphics are a pleasant sight, the music’s weak but not headache inducing, and while the Tag-Action slows the game down, it’s there and serves its purpose. Overall, a solid entry in the Sonic series. I’ll say it’s 3rd place in terms of best Sonic game this generation next to “Sonic Colors” (2nd) and “Sonic Generations” (1st). If you’re a casual Sonic fan, and not kind who complains about EVERYTHING and can’t let go of the past, or like 2D platformers, give it a try. It’s nothing revolutionary but a fun 2D Sonic game nevertheless. The price could have been a bit lower though.