There's Some Fun To Be Had Here, However The Annoyances Stack Up
Sonic 4 Episode 1 was a pleasant surprise when it came out. Does Episode 2 live up to the expectations set by the first? Not exactly.It's not entirely bad however, the gameplay refinements are nicely done, it does feel a lot more like Sonic 2 in terms of the momentum and feel. The graphics are appealing, nothing too fancy, but it's nice. The tag team moves are fun, destroying stuff rolling in a ball was sweet, swimming and flying were alright, definitely makes it easier to navigate. Some of the boss battles start off by making you believe they are just rehashed old battles, but then reveal something entirely new, which was a cool touch. The chaos emeralds make a return to the classic half pipe style, Sonic 2 special stages. Honestly, these are the only good parts of the game I have to talk about, let's move on to why I think the game is not great.
Like I said previously, the addition of tag team moves are cool, but the constant signage in the levels reminding you when to use them, got annoying very quickly.
The water levels remain to be the worst part of the game, although the tag team swim move makes it a little more bare-able. There are manatees or seals or something, that blow air causing a ball of ice to form underwater, blocking your path most of the time. This wouldn't be bad if you could somehow go around, but nope, you just die. Tails still occasionally steals air bubbles when Sonic needs a breathe, sometimes resulting in your death, which is awful.
The level design in this is atrocious! There's moments of genius in here, like in White Park zone, when you go back and forth between the fore and backgrounds, but that's about it. The levels are constantly forcing you to stop, which why would you want to do that? It's a Sonic game. That's when the game is enjoyable, when you're running fast, collecting coins and power-ups and then reaching the end of the level and jumping in that huge ring to get an emerald. But more than half the game isn't this. Often you'll find yourself trapped by ice, or stuck under a beetle until it pushes a ball down, or having to deal with blowing winds, or having to deal with bottomless pits. It's a really frustrating and annoying thing, and ultimately sad because there is fun moments buried in here.
By far the worst zone is the 4th one, it takes place in the sky. The first level you're on Tails' plane, which is fine. That's not my problem. My problem is that it's so easy to get the plane stuck behind something, resulting in Tails dying and Sonic falling off. Even worst is there's these fast flying parts, which have yellow walls you got to destroy. Problem with that is you're going so fast, you don't even have time to react, so you just have to die and repeat until you memorize it. Then after this first level, you have 2 levels on sections of Dr. Eggman's airship which has all these bottomless pits, that you will fall into. It's going to happen, it's unavoidable, because you're mind is just telling you to run, which you can't do. You have to reprogram your brain to play those levels.
The controls are fine, I just don't like the representation of the on-screen d-pad. It has full analog movement, but it only shows 8 directions. How does that make any sense? Most of the time, I am confused as to whether or not I'm actually going where I'm pressing. It's just weird, but it works. My only annoyance with the controls are during special stages, it feels like Sonic is sluggish during those moments. I wonder if this is just an iOS problem, or a problem all around, but I just want him to move side to side faster! He's Sonic!
Anyways, that's my gameplay complaints, let's move on to music. The music is plain out bad! The only tolerable ones are the intro and menu songs. The rest are 10-15 second loops with very to little variety. I am not sure what Sonic team and Sega were thinking with this, but the music is just terrible. Maybe they tried a little to hard to make it sound retro? I have no idea. It's weird to have a Sonic game with bad music though. The sound effects are all old stuff. Collecting emeralds and coins and jumping around are all straight up Genesis sounds.
I would suggest this game only to the hardcore Sonic fans. I remember having a better time with Episode 1 compared to this title. The game has way more memorization than I would have liked. The ending was pretty lackluster as well, I didn't get the boss design at all, why would that be the last one? Anyways, I give this game a 2/5, not a terrible game, it's just very annoying and frustrating at times.
*The original review can be found at http://megascorcher.com/site/?p=96493