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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 Review

The hedghehog dude with a serious ‘tude is back!

Sonic the Hedgehog

Time has been unkind to Sega’s speedy hedgehog.  In the years since Sonic’s 16-bit glory days Sega has had a difficult time finding a way to present Sonic successfully in the current console generation. Every attempt to bring Sonic into the third dimension has been met with lackluster results leaving Sega’s once proud mascot as something of a B-list celebrity in the modern gaming industry.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Thankfully, Sega has finally given old school Sonic fans a reason to be excited. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 ditches the third dimension and takes you 16 years into the past for some classic 2-D Sonic goodness. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, Sonic has returned to his roots. But is this return to form the boost the blue blur needed, or is this retro throwback a simple attempt to cash in on the Sonic name once again?

Well, the answer lies somewhere in between, but make no mistake, Sonic 4 is a blast to play.  Just as you’d expect, Sonic blasts through stages at lightning speed. Flying through loops, launching up sheer cliffs, and springing into the sky and onto the bald head of the ever-rotund Dr. Robotnik-this is the Sonic you know and love.


Sonic 4 plays just like you would expect it to, with the only real addition to the game play mechanics  being the addition of an aerial dash that Sonic can execute on foes or obstacles. After jumping, another quick tap of the jump button propels Sonic toward the nearest locked-on enemy, allowing you to bounce off the heads of rows of enemies in rapid succession. This technique becomes a necessity when crossing over spiked chasms and pits in certain stages.

While all is well with how Sonic 4 plays, it can’t be ignored just how much “tribute” the game gives to the first two games in the series. Every last level from Sonic 4 is borrowed from the first two Genesis titles. Sure, there are plenty of differences once you actually play these levels, but their themes and enemies are identical to their 16-bit counterparts. This would be a bit easier to ignore if there were more stages in the game, but with only 4 playable levels, it’s hard not to feel a bit shortchanged with the stages Sonic 4 offers.

Sonic the Hedgehog

Graphically Sonic 4 looks quite nice. While it won’t turn any heads, the revamped look of the remixed stages is sure to please fans of the original games. Flashy colors, smooth gameplay, and a few nifty effects make Sonic 4 pleasant to look at without pulling you out of the illusion of playing a 16-bit title that never was.

If you’re a fan of the classic Sonic chiptunes (and face it, you know we all are) you’ll surely enjoy the soundtrack to Sonic 4. Just as cheesy and infectious as ever, Sonic 4’s tunes will stay in your head for hours after you play the game. The sound effects are pretty much identical to those in the earlier games, which is pretty much to be expected.

Apart from its lack of originality, fans of the original Sonic games who don’t mind a remixed batch of some of their favorite levels could do much worse than pick up Sonic 4: Episode 1. While it’s hard not to be sore over the lack of new content, Sonic 4 is an excellent way to get players hyped for how good Episode 2 could be with some truly original zones.

Final Verdict: 4/5

Available on: iOS, PC, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Android, Blackberry, Ouya; Developer: Sonic Team; Publisher: SEGA; Players: 1

Frank has been the caffeine-fueled evil overlord of HeyPoorPlayer since 2008. He speaks loudly and carries a big stick to keep the staff of the HPP madhouse in check. A collector of all things that blip and beep, he has an extensive collection of retro consoles and arcade machines crammed into his house. Before founding the site, Frank was a staff writer for the blogs Gaming Judgement and NuclearGeek.

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