I played through Sonic 4: Episode 1 and loved it. The game felt like a full fledged game and not just an episode. While a lot of the zones paid tribute to a lot of previous Sonic 2D zones, it still felt fresh. I’ve gone through all of the Genesis Sonic games and the Game Boy Advanced ones. The second episode feels more like a continuation to the Game Boy Advance games.
The levels feel a lot longer than any Genesis era game. Far more difficult too. Needlessly difficult. Like separating the casuals from the hardcore. Not Super Meat Boy difficult, but more like timed areas with death as punishment. I spent about two dozen lives on one particular room filling with sand. The problem was Sonic’s lack of speed and maneuverability. He just wasn’t fast enough. I felt very lucky to overcome the area. I also managed to prove that the spin dash is useless time wise when it comes to Sonic’s dart / homing attack.
The boss battles aren’t fun, they’re just long and tedious. I can usually make it to 2 or 3 minutes with a boss before dying on the last part. Mostly out of confusion on what to do. These 3 minute intervals feel like 10. I just don’t want to do them over and over again. There’s no challenge, just tedium. Like they can’t be speed run, only survived. Like an endurance round. The game still manages to throw a lot of twists to old boss battles and make them much bigger than the previous episode.
Metal Sonic also adds some nice boss variety. In fact you get to play as him through four acts, each representing a zone from the previous episode. He is just a reskinned Sonic. Minus Tails. So its like playing the first episode. A demo for the first in the second episode.
The first two zones they are were pretty easy. The only real problem in the later zones are death traps. As long as you have a ring, you can take damage, but if you get smashed or fall in a pit, that’s an instant death. Other than the second sand trap room, nothing killed me more than Metal Sonic’s first act in some metal zone. Its an overly long level with cheap hits you need to remember to avoid.
To switch things up, the game threw in an act with Sonic on top of Tails airplane. Wow it was a slow, dull, auto scrolling level. There was actual platforming in there, but for the most part it was just dodging projectiles and spinning through barriers. All with Metal Sonic piloting some death ship firing at Sonic. I’m all for breaking up the action with variety, but it was just so dull.
The final zone shifts the screen perspective. So if you start running right down a hill, the screen shifts, so its no longer a downward slope, but a horizontal plane. Then every time you go up a loop, the screen adjusts. Its very disorienting, but I guess it shows the power of the software.
Chances are, I won’t get to blog about this again, I’ve reached what should be the end of the game.