Hands On: Sonic 4 Episode 1

Sonic fans will know what I mean when I say the phrase ‘the Sonic cycle.’ For those who don’t – it goes as follows;

  • New Sonic announced – looks good.  Anticipation rises.
  • Screenshots emerge and look fantastic.
  • SEGA introduces new ‘friends’ for Sonic.  The world does a collective facepalm.
  • Poor reviews scores come in.  Everyone rants.

Sonic 4 is different though.  To progress the franchise, SEGA has looked back to see what made it so great in the first place.  The demo I played consisted of four levels, of which I played only two thanks to the queue of people and only one machine running the game.


‘Splash Hill Zone’ is an old school Sonic fans’ dream.  Gone are the unnecessary additions of previous titles – there are no Werehogs, pointless friends or needless gimmicks; it’s just pure platforming.  In fact, the only carry over I saw was the homing attack – where Sonic locks on to an enemy/object.  Occasionally this did interrupt the flow of the level, but not to the point where I got annoyed.

The visuals are superb – both surprisingly new, yet completely recognisable.  Everything is bright, colourful and pin sharp – and those people complaining about Sonic’s running animation, or the fact his eyes aren’t the correct colour should really just chill out – it’s all good.

The second level I played was a good old boss fight against Eggman.  You know the drill here right?  He appears in his flying contraption with attached wrecking ball; you dodge it easily and ‘hey presto’, three strikes and he’s outta there!  Well, the fat git has learnt some new moves!  Not only is he quicker than before, but he also has a spin attack that took me completely by surprise.

Overall I came away a happy man.  I’ve been waiting ages for Sonic to return to form, and now it’s happened.  Cast aside all caution – it seems the Sonic cycle will be broken.



  1. Good to hear. This is looking more and more like a definate purchase!

  2. I cant waitb ive always loved sonic, the only ‘extra’ sonic games i was happy with was sonic cd, sonic adventure 1& 2. Definitely a purchase for me

    • i liked sonic adventure, not many people seem to agree though sadly. Ill be getting this, anyone know a price?

      • I liked it on my Dreamcast. Played it a lot actually.

  3. The rest of this year is about FIFA11, NfS:HP and Sonic4 for me

    Can’t wait for this, even though I’m slightly disappointed about the inclusion of the homing attacks, the rest of the game looks amazing.

  4. Pah! No Amy Rose, no purchase.

  5. It sounds great so i’m looking forward to playing it myself. Sonic belongs in a 2D playing field imo so it’s good they’ve returned to what works for him.

  6. I thought they were resisting the temptation to put a bunch of crappy extra characters in this one?

  7. I may be stupid for asking this but is this disk based or downloadable?

  8. I still cry a little inside when I hear him called ‘Eggman’ :(

    • My mind auto-corrects the letters E-g-g-m-a-n to Robotnik

    • Is he mentioned in the game as dare I say it….Eggman? Cause if he is…..!

  9. You know what would make this perfect for me on what I’ve heard? An option to turn off the homing attacks.

  10. But can Sonic spin-boost ??!
    The original never had that move and I’m just wondering if it’s in there ? Of course I’d imagine it does but I’m worried that it might not …

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