I really wanted to like this game
It is difficult to look at a new Sonic game and ignore all the terrible 3D efforts they made previously. Although if you choose to ignore all these 3D games it does not look too bad. All of the 2D GBA and DS game's have been pretty good. Sega has finally realised this and made a brand new 2D console game for downloadable platforms. This game is back to basics with a retro action and feel. No idiotic stories or uninspirational support cast. Just Sonic doing what he is best of. Running fast and collecting rings.
On the presentation front. The only downside, that is if you don't look at the inconsistent character design, is the music. Fast and smooth action with catchy sounds is what Sonic is known for. Unfortunately that does not hold true anymore. Familiar themes from earlier Sonic games have been used on the soundtrack. These sound like mediocre remixes of already too familiar tunes. With all modern instruments and no catchy parts. Also the sheer amount of this music seems to be quite minimal. The same
songs are being played over and over again.
Like with other 2D Sonic games each zone has three acts and a boss fight. Unfortunately there are only four zones in the game. Needless to say that it wont take long to blast through these acts. After the four zones there is a the end boss to battle, which frankly was the only thing that gives a bit of challenge. Chaos Emeralds can be captured from the flipper like special stages in similar way this was done in Sonic 2. Only difference is that only 50 rings instead of the 100 is required to unlock the big ring near the exit.
Level design is bit of and odd thing. For instance the new casino zone looks really great with its new changing card and dice effects. Also it is not just the casino zone that return from older games. All zones have been recycled and will look familiar straight away. Some new gameplay mechanisms have also been added. Such as mine cart or flying card deck which work nicely. If you can cope with Sonic requiring a mine cart that is. The mandatory underwater level returns and this still as bad as it was on earlier Sonic games. Something about drowning hedgehog is unsettling, still. All the boss battles seem also awfully familiar and the end boss does the cheap trick of going through the same games earlier bosses.
Now to come to the worst part of Sonic 4. For some reason Sega has managed to change Sonic's physics to worse. Or maybe Sonic is just getting old. Simply thing such as bouncing of the platform that is going down or the sluggish sprint start kind of ruins the fun. This makes the game feel difficult to control since it is different what it used to be. Strange decision when looking at how the game other ways feels simple or even dumbed down.
Maybe it is the 20 years of playing platform games that makes this easy or it is the fact that this is a short episodic game. Even with collecting all the emeralds and time trial mode this tend to feel bit short. Sega has used the nostalgic card here no doubt and most part it works fine. Changed Sonic physics and seeing the amount of new content versus the recycled doesn't leave a good taste. Despite this Sonic 4 is fun at times. At least this is step forward Sega.