Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode I in Review – The fast and the furious… hedgehog

Speaking of iconic characters from console video games, if we look at the late 80′s – early 90′s, up there among the great ones will surely be Sonic The Hedgehog. SEGA’s answer to the Mario Brothers, Sonic has appeared in numerous console titles across various platforms and even nabbed himself his own cartoon series and comics! Having largely been responsible for the company’s success, his adventures have been rather overlooked as of late, but not for long thanks to the multi-platform release of Sonic The Hedgehog 4™.

Sonic 4 is definitely a genre making game, one that provides an alternative to the rather slow paced platformer style of Mario Bro with speed, speed and more speed. Our favorite Hedgehog returns right where he left off almost 16 years ago in his endless battle to defeat the dreaded Dr. Eggman.

The first thing that comes to mind when trying to find the words to describe the gameplay of Sonic 4 is speed. In a return to the classic gameplay of the series, you’ll find yourself racing across stages in crazy velocity horizontally, vertically and even upside down. On most levels the goal is to reach the end safely to unlock the next stage, while collecting rings along the way. For variety you may have some challenges along the way, like playing sonic pinball to get a preset amount of points to unlock the way forward. And of course, the closing act of each stage is the boss battle, where you’ll be able to pit the blue and spiky against the evil Dr. Eggman.

Sonic 4 features the same special moves as the classic titles, including the almost trademarked roll, when you turn him into a ball of spikes and decimate the enemies. For additional control there is the homing attack when jumping, which allows you to nab those baddies with a quick strike. And if you manage to complete all the zones, you’ll unlock 7 bonus stages where you can collect the legendary Chaos Emeralds and unlock Super Sonic.

Visually Sonic 4 looks quite good, with the classic 2D side scrolling view and authentic visuals. A puzzler is the absence of native Retina support, since a clever hack in Cydia can force the game to render in full iPhone 4 glory and make it look much nicer. Most disappointing are the controls. I feel that SEGA could’ve embraced the capabilities of the iDevice more, instead of sticking with the classic virtual D-pad and a jump button. Taking into account the exceptionally high pace of the game, virtual controls don’t work all that well anyway.

With all of the hype surrounding its release, I just don’t feel SEGA has done enough with Sonic 4 to really adapt it for the iPhone. We got a solid 2D side-scrolling platformer and thankfully much better controls than the recent port of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but still – it is but a shadow (and only episode 1 of it) of how great it truly could have been. Regardless, Sonic 4 is the first truly playable incarnation of the iconic franchise on the App Store and it’s still loads of fun, even if it is a bit on the short side.

With this I declare Sonic The Hedgehog 4™ Episode I officially touched!

App Summary
Title: Sonic The Hedgehog 4™ Episode IDeveloper: SEGA
Reviewed Ver:1.0.0Min OS Req:3.0
Price:$6.99App Size:88.65MB
  • Authentic graphics
  • Classic gameplay
  • Special stages
  • It’s Sonic!
  • Only 4 zones with 4 acts each
  • Virtual joystick controls
  • No native Retina support

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