Tails of a speed addict…
I’d like to point to straight away that the tag line for this review is in no way meant to be taken literally. I’m a games reviewer. I review games. I do not under any circumstances condone the use of class A drugs. Not anymore anyway.
THAT WAS A JOKE.
But speed is definitely what Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode 2 (S4E2 – much cooler) is all about. It permeates the game and finally hits you in the face the way you’d expect and want a Sonic game to after shoddy and most un-Sonic like physics of Episode 1. Speed is everywhere. And no, I don’t mean the class A drug. Can you imagine a Sonic title where he spends ten levels OD’ing in a corner? You can? Fair enough then.
The game hasn’t been getting the best reviews so far, but if I’m honest, all the things that seem to be frustrating other journos don’t really seem to bother me that much. Perhaps I’m easy. A videogame ho if you will.
Take for example the music. Apparently it’s ‘awful’, ‘deplorable’ and (exaggeration alert) ‘makes me want to nail my face to a burning building’, but I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I quite like it. Some of the ditties can get repetitive, sure, but this is retro 90′s midi pop we’re talking about here. It’s not exactly a Hans Zimmer production.
Another sore point for most is the level design. I’ve read rumblings that there aren’t enough pulleys, switches and Sonic powered environmental traps inhabiting the stages, and everything revolves around him speeding from one end of the level to the other in as short a time as possible.
Well excuse me, I actually love that. Admittedly it can sometimes seem like the game is playing itself, but isn’t speed what sets Sonic apart from all the cookie cutter platformers out there? I guess the levels could be a little more imaginative, but there’s still something very sexy about just pushing forward on the virtual pad and breaking the sound barrier. I am a man of simple pleasures.
And not all the levels are bland, if that’s what you want to call them. There are also bonus 3D stages which see Sonic (and Tails, I haven’t mentioned that Tails is in this game yet, but I will. Perhaps I should’ve structured this review a little differently) running through twisting tunnels collecting rings to trigger checkpoints before time runs out. These are a welcome break from the 2D fare, although they still have Speedspeedspeed.
The graphics are a little disappointing however. Not that they’re poor, but I expected to see some serious HD shine on the new iPad. Instead they’re just ‘good’. Big, bold and colourful – with each stage bringing a refreshing visual style- but a little pixilated and clearly not retina optimised. The opening cut scene also looks inexplicably like a shoddy YouTube video, like someone had filmed a film of a film. On film. Let’s hope for an update at some point.
Tails is also now part of the action (but you knew that). Everywhere Sonic goes, so does Miles Prower (Tails’ other name. Its my job to know these things, thank me later). Some might find it annoying that he’s grafted to Sonic’s side, especially as he can sometimes get in the way of progress by falling off platforms at the wrong moment and the like, but I personally enjoyed having the little guy along for the ride.
Part of what he brings to the game are combo moves such as using his tail as a whirring copter blade to help lift Sonic into the air or forming a ball of destruction to bounce and defeat enemies. Tap the combo button and Sonic and Tails leap and join hands with a flash of lightning that reminds me of triggering a special move in Super Street Fighter. There could’ve been a little more to do with these moves though: oh look, there’s a part of the level I can’t access unless Tails takes Sonic for a ride. And there’s another, and another and…perhaps those level bashing reviewers had a point.
Still, you do get an on/offline multiplayer option with two players controlling Sonic and Tails which is some fun (‘some’ as in ‘not much’ – one player or the other is constantly teleporting to keep up with the other, making it more of a scramble than a co-op mode). And completing the game after collecting all the Chaos Emeralds allows you to play as Super Sonic. To add to that, if you’ve got Episode 1 installed, you get access to ‘Episode Metal’. It sounds like something you’d expect to find Cole Phelps of LA Noire fame involved in, but instead it’s an extra four levels which are…well, kind of recycled from Episode 1, but I appreciate the attempt at extra content.
I always get a little nervous when my opinion of a game differs from what the majority of people are saying. Have I missed something? Are my reviewing powers on the wane? Is it time for me to expose myself as nothing more than a hack?
But I cant lie, I enjoyed S2E4 regardless of what others may say. And isn’t honesty the point of a review? (And while we’re being honest, who am I trying to convince here, myself or you?)
Perhaps I’m just pleased they’ve sorted Sonic’s physics, perhaps I’m forgetting how great his original adventures were, perhaps The nostalgia is blinding me to it’s flaws. But heck, one of my biggest gripes is that it takes a little too long for Sonic to get up to full sprint from stationary, so you can see that the simplicity of fastfastfastfastfast makes me happy. And without meaning to be rude dear reader, who are you to judge my happiness? I’m off to enjoy some more speed with Sonic and Tails. Interpret that how you will.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4 Episode II is out now on iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad for $6.99. Get it on the