PAX Impressions: Sonic 4, Episode 1
In the past few years, Sonic the Hedgehog has gone through more transformations than David Bowie. To pictorially sum up his lengthy journey, he’s went from this to that. Besides for the first Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast, his move to the third dimension hasn’t quite been positively received. Critics have pissed on him, shat on him, and spat on his grave. They’ve talked about him and laughed behind his back, but at PAX I had a chance to see him face to face. (See: Nas – Ether). I’m happy to report that for the most part, Sonic 4 is an iteration that fans of the first few games will be able to accept, if not welcome.
Footage of me flawlessly running through the first level:
It reminds me a bit of Robitussin: Once you get the bad taste out of your mouth, you’ll feel better about having taken it. In this case, the bad taste includes everything from the easy-to-use double jump targeter to the awful reputation the franchise has managed to obtain. We spoke with the devs after playing two levels and they talked with us about the reasons behind making the move to the digital market and how the game has evolved since the build we had just played (it was the E3 build). Each episode will have 4 levels, including a boss fight. Each level has a few acts, just like the early Sonic games. According to them, the entire story arc is completely finished. The first episode is complete and will release sometime this year. The second episode is currently in development. The developers assured us that this form of distribution is not intended to milk the Sonic franchise. Instead, they said that they have a clear, focused goal with this project: Release a new Sonic that feels like old Sonic. There is a set number of episodes, and there is no intent to raise this number in order to bleed consumers dry. After playing it for a bit, the few gripes I had with the game include the rather long time it takes to go from standing to running and the targeting system tied to the double jump. Before telling them my complaints, the developers mentioned that they have shortened the acceleration lag. This made me happy. As for the auto-aiming double jump targeting whatchamacallit… Well, enjoy: