Sonic 4: Episode 2 (XBLA)

May 23, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

Sonic the Hedgehog’s return to the 2-D world was one that had fans excited, but sadly, Sonic 4: Episode 1 failed to live up to the expectations. The game was solid, but some physics issues interfered with the mechanics and took some of the shine off of Sonic’s glorious return. But now Sonic is back once again in Sonic 4: Episode 2, so will this be the 2-D powerhouse that fans have dreamed of for years? In short, yes. The issues that hindered Episode 1 have been resolved, so the physics feel more faithful to the Sonic world and that makes an immense difference. The game plays just like a Sonic adventure should, with an emphasis on speed and finding ways to keep up your momentum. While Episode 2 is faithful to Sonic’s roots, there are some fresh elements that ensure it doesn’t feel like a simple retread. The game is familiar enough to whisk you into a nostalgic bliss, but new design choices keep things fresh. To me, that is the mark of an effective sequel.

In a move certain to thrill fans, a second player can join in and take control of Tails. This is not a direct co-op experience per se, as Tails doesn’t have access to the same mechanics as Sonic does. Instead, Tails serves as a support role and lends a hand to clear obstacles, provide transportation, and allow for big attacks during boss battles. The teamwork really shines in the boss clashes too, as the mechanic lets you really put a hurt on the powerful bosses. Given the insane pace of the game’s levels, this was a great way to instill a co-op experience, while staying true to the game’s roots. You’re able to recruit a friend to help you in both local and on-line venues too, which is awesome news. I had a blast with Sonic 4: Episode 2, as it provides a well designed, fast paced Sonic experience, with both familiar and new elements to strike a perfect balance. So don’t view this as a mere retro gimmick, as the game is great on all levels. If you’re even a slight fan of 2-D side scrolling mayhem, Sonic 4: Episode 2 is a game you will want to have in your collection, without question.

Video: How does it look?

The visual design ensures the classic Sonic look is present, but of course this is light years beyond what the Sega Genesis could achieve. So the basic visual design elements are old school Sonic, but the level of detail and overall depth of the visuals is a revelation. Sonic’s levels were always intricate and alive with motion, so it should come as no surprise that these stages are ripe with little details to soak in. Of course the visuals here can pull off an amount of kinetic background motion the originals couldn’t even dream of. So yes, Sonic looks better than ever.

Audio: How does it sound?

The sound design follows the trend of the visuals, as the audio remains faithful, but ups the ante. All of the trademark Sonic sound elements return, but they’re crisper and more refined here. The music suits the franchise as well and to me, the music was always a big part of the frantic feel of the game. I can’t say I was as impressed with the sound as I was the visuals, but they’re effective and fans should be pleased.

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