So there were a few years where things weren’t looking so great for the Sonic franchise. I haven’t played any of these titles, but judging from general online consensus: Sonic Heroes had mixed reviews, Shadow the Hedgehog was terrible, Sonic ’06 was a complete disaster, nobody cared much for the Wii spinoffs Secret Rings or Black Knight, and everyone was a bit iffy on Sonic Unleashed. The old-school fanbase could only sigh and shake its collective head at what had become of their beloved hedgehog. It was at this time, that Sega got an idea. A wonderful, awful idea.
“How about we take Sonic back to his roots! Let’s make a classic 2D platformer for consoles. It’s time to finally release… Sonic the Hedgehog 4!”
And so they made a cell phone game.
A really, REALLY bad cell phone game.
Released in two episodes.
So, Sonic 4. Sigh, where do I begin? Well, I remember being a tiny bit excited when this game was first announced. A sequel to the classic Sonic games? How cool! So when it released, I played it off a friend’s console (as I didn’t, and still don’t have, any of these brand new last gen consoles). And suffice to say, Sonic 4 turned out to be, by far, the worst Sonic game I have ever played. And I rather believe it is the worst Sonic game ever made! Okay, maybe I can’t say that since I haven’t experienced Sonic ’06, but at least that game had a decent soundtrack–not to mention, gave us some good memes and amusing Game Grumps shenanigans.
I’ve played some Sonic 4 again pretty recently, and I can confirm it is still as awful as I remember it. Basically everything went wrong with this game–it is nothing like the classic Sonic games, and even setting that aside it’s just no fun to play. Let’s take a look at just how different Sonic 4 is from its predecessors:
|Sonic 1-3 (and Knuckles)||Sonic 4|
|bright and colorful pixel art graphics||shit cell phone graphics|
|roll in a ball down a hill -> go fast||roll in a ball down a hill -> stop in place for no reason|
|launch off a ramp -> still in a ball and can kill things||launch off a ramp -> Sonic sticks his arms and legs out, defenseless|
|jump on, roll into, or spin dash enemies to defeat them||ALWAYS use the homing attack, a move designed specifically for 3D games|
|you can’t walk up steep inclines; you need to build momentum first, as common sense dictates||Sonic can casually stroll up a wall with no effort|
|really fantastic and memorable music with lots of variety||every single song sounds like “WEAAO WEAOO WEOOOO WEOO WEOOOOO WAOOO”|
|loop da loops that make sense||glitchy loop da loops that you can jump into the back layer of|
|brand new levels, robots, and bosses in every game||let’s just use levels, robots, and bosses from the old games, because we truly don’t know what we’re doing|
|the levels are designed so that players actually play the game||the game’s supposed to be fast right? -> put in ALL the speed boosters!|
And there you have it, a game that is a complete mess. Now, I can kind of see where some of the physics issues come from–Dimps was probably working off their engine from the Sonic Rush games. The problem there is that Sonic Rush is a very different sort of game from the classic Sonic titles, so you can’t shoehorn old-school gameplay into a DS title’s engine, where the levels were designed for constantly using the special burst ability (which is NOT in Sonic 4). If they wanted to make a classic-style Sonic game, why didn’t they… I don’t know, make something that even remotely resembles the classic Sonic games?
You know, maybe I wouldn’t be so harsh on this if the game was titled what it should have been called from the start: Sonic the Sell-Out Hedgehog: The Crappy Cell Phone Game You’ll Buy for Two Bucks and then Play for Five Minutes; Please Watch this Ad for Minions so that We Can Fund Yakuza 12. If they had ported that to all those home consoles, I think things would have been–well, not OKAY, but decidedly less upsetting than having the nerve to call it SONIC THE FREAKING HEDGEHOG FOUR!
One more game left to review! Don’t worry, I plan to end on a high note.