Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 - First Look

Sega shows off the first few levels of Sonic's return to his classic gaming roots.

There are few gaming franchises that are as polarizing as Sonic the Hedgehog. On one side, you have fans that are fiercely devoted to the Sonic of old--the fast-paced, side-scrolling games that were immensely popular on the Sega Genesis. On the other side, there are equally devoted fans of Sonic's most recent 3D outings. Somewhere in the middle exists a horrible no-man's-land where the two sides of fans continually clash over what the franchise is doing right and what it's doing wrong. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I seemingly functions as a compromise between the two legions of fans--perhaps leaning a bit more toward old-school Sonic fans. It has the classic gameplay of the original Sonic the Hedgehog games, but its portrayal of Sonic himself falls more in line with the recent 3D games.

Sonic swings back into action.

Our first look at the game took us through three levels main levels and a boss battle in the Splash Hill Zone portion of the game. This portion was a lush tropical location that looked similar to other starting areas in the older Sonic games, albeit in smooth and vibrant HD (in the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 versions). Splash Hill Zone Act 1 gives you an opportunity to become reacquainted with some of Sonic's basic abilities; among them are the spin dash move and homing jump (a helpful target appears onscreen indicating what enemy or item box Sonic will leap toward while in midair). And, of course, Sonic still runs really fast. We saw him zipping through a variety of corkscrews and loops with relative ease, occasionally bouncing around the level with the aid of bumpers placed at various points.

Splash Hill Zone Act 2 and Act 3 add a bit more variety. In Act 2, we saw Sonic approach an area that involved swinging from one vine to the next, which seemed like it could be more difficult when zipping through a level at full speed. In Act 3, a bit more trickery was introduced with zip lines placed throughout the level. In all three acts, we saw an assortment of enemies (known as badniks in the Sonic universe), ranging from the plodding ladybug-like motobug to the chameleon that likes to shoot projectiles at Sonic before disappearing back into the wall. As far as items in these levels are concerned, we got a brief glimpse of the shoe power-up in action (which lets Sonic run even faster), as well as the shield power-up that grants Sonic a brief moment of invulnerability.

If you reach the end of these levels with more than 50 rings collected, you have the opportunity to jump into a giant ring that takes you to a bonus level. These levels are similar to those found in the original Sonic the Hedgehog in that you have to guide Sonic through a rotating maze. The interesting thing here is that in the Wii and PS3 versions of the game, you can use the Wii Remote or the Sixaxis controller to rotate the level manually to guide Sonic through (the 360 version will just use the analog sticks). There are barriers in the maze, but these can be unlocked by collecting a specific number of rings.

Sonic 4 features some familiar enemies.

When you reach the end of these mazes, you'll see a chaos emerald. Collecting all of the chaos emeralds in Sonic 4 is actually quite important--you won't be able to see the "real" ending and the tie-in for the next episode if you don't successfully capture all of them. Thankfully, Sonic 4 includes a handy stage select option where you can jump right back into a level after beating it, so you don't have to play through the entire game to achieve this goal.

We spent the last few moments of the demo taking a look at the first boss battle in Sonic 4: Episode I. This boss battle is similar to a previous battle with Dr. Eggman, who floats around in his ship with a massive pendulum attached. The major difference between this fight and similar ones in previous Sonic games is that after Eggman is inflicted with damage, his attack pattern completely changes. After it changes, the pendulum becomes a massive mallet and Eggman swings it around to smash Sonic with it. Sega tells us that most of the boss battles in the game will have similar variations on familiar confrontations with Eggman. With that, our demo ended, and while we can plainly see that Sonic 4 will strike a chord with fans of the classic game, we're left wondering how well it'll control. We'll be sure to find out before Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I's release on WiiWare, Xbox Live, and the PlayStation Network this summer.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

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Discussion

348 comments
playsafe001
playsafe001

the way sonic should be played! none of this other crap theyve been giving us. Keep it retro!

Scandals123
Scandals123

This actually needs to be given a concrete release date soon, I can't handle the anticipation!!

krelmmaster
krelmmaster

I hope Sega stay true to the style of music used in the classic Sonic games, specifically 3+Knuckles. That's not to say MIDI music, but i just loved how the music in 3+Knuckles would change between act1+2 and just how it added to the experience of playing it. Meh, probably just getting nostalgic ;)

Arkady_16
Arkady_16

I would love it if Tails and Knuckles were playable, but even then I dont want them to focus away from the classic 2D gameplay. would be cool if you could play with a friend one of us is Sonic, the other is Tails kinda like sonic 2&3.

grasshopper6
grasshopper6

yep this should be good, I want a physical media disc and nice box cover tho. wtf

CleitonSL
CleitonSL

so looking forward to this! i jsut wish it didnt look so 3D, cuz 2D is alot better and would look more like the hedgehog 2.

Bigmeanie1
Bigmeanie1

At first I thought this game will probably suck! but now... now i see...

RitsukoEX
RitsukoEX

I'm sorry but Shadow don't suck! Sega just don't know what to do with him! anyway I said in multiplayer! not in the story!

Xtatic324
Xtatic324

Shadow and Silver and all those other scrubs can take a back seat. I only want Sonic in this and Dr Robotnik. That's it.

dovberg
dovberg

I don't think there was ever a playable character in sonic that was worth playing that came after the genesis. They should just keep it simple.

rehtycs29
rehtycs29

maybe u guys didnt realize but Shadow and Silver suck. jus keep it original and maybe throw in tails or knuckles. sega needs to rebuild with their franchise player, sonic.

RitsukoEX
RitsukoEX

I hope it will some code/unlock to play as Shadow or if you can play as him in multiplayer instead of playing with 2 sonics!

syth0000
syth0000

@NewWorldOrphan6 Oh lol good i was getting a bit concerned there as well. if they took the trademark leg spin i would prbly lose intrest in this game but so far it looks good :)

NewWorldOrphan6
NewWorldOrphan6

@DarkPadwan actually there IS a cartoonish leg spin animation when running. it hasnt been shown much. but i seen a couple leaked vids of it. i was also slightly dissapointed too when i thought about how they didnt have him do the little cartoon leg spin when he runs. haha but fortunately he does.

DarkPadwan
DarkPadwan

This is not going to be good. Sonic dosent have the cartoonish leg spin animation when running, a thing that is lacking in the new (and bad) sonic games.

komeka
komeka

I want to see Shadow and Silver as playable characters there

Strike079
Strike079

Did anyone else notice that, judging by the pictures, that the time of day changes from act to act? In the first pic, which is presumably act 2 (notice the vine mentioned above) is in the daytime. Then, the 2nd pic (act 3; notice the zip line) is in the evening.

LeoGoBezerk
LeoGoBezerk

I'm a Sonic fun but there is no reason to rush with any decisions about this game. So far I know about this game only from a small leaked footage. Even if that was early beta it can be a real disappointment if developers didn't polish game mechanics and physics. And if this game suck it will be the dead blow for sega and sonic I think. Can't wait for release anyway. Hope I'm wrong.

the-dude12
the-dude12

im glad there done with all the crappy 3d sonic games they put on the wii.cant wait for this game

pwner001
pwner001

OMG!!!! I'm so glad to see that the good ol' sonic has come back to show dr. eggman who is boss.

davidoats2
davidoats2

Its just like when Mario made The new Super Mario Bros for the Wii as a huge upgrade towards the The new Super Mario Bros for the ds. I'm looking forward to buying this game a lot. I hope this game have all of sonics abilities in it. This game might be like all of the sonic games put in one, it's sounds like it will be a great game.

Frequenxy
Frequenxy

I hope with all my might that they will let you play as Super Sonic in ANY and EVERY level!!! It would also be nice if they brought back the Super Emeralds so you could become Hyper Sonic! Please Sonic Team, please!!!

jjmonster2006
jjmonster2006

the best thing they could do is keep a 2d platformed character within a 2d world. 3d sonic games were like racing games without the cars. It was a good move.

guyguyguy1234
guyguyguy1234

they could ruin this and it'd still be a thousand times better than the 3D sonics

notserbamma
notserbamma

And did someone just suggest that this be a PSP game? PSP has a VERY small fanbase compared to those who are locked into PSN / XBL / and WiiWare... Having this be a PSP game is just a stupid stupid stupid idea...there are already two REALLY bad Sonic games on PSP, so how would Sega convince anyone to buy a 3rd??? Having this be a console game is perfect...we grew up playing 2D sonic games on a television with a controller, not on a handheld piece of sh*t.

notserbamma
notserbamma

running out of ideas? They never had any to begin with in the 3D world. The fall from grace the SONIC TEAM has taken over the past decade has been nothing short of embarrassing... hence the reason DIMPS (Sonic Advance, Sonic Rush) is taking over for them...because ALL the 2D Sonic games that were released amidst the hurricane of 3D Sonic GARBAGE the past ten years were actually all VERY good games. People who have doubts need to understand that the 2D sonic world and 3D sonic world are completely separate in every way...no reason to be skeptical about this being a bad 2D Sonic game, because there is no such thing (from 2001-2009 at least). They were all on Gameboy Advance and Nintendo DS though, so most people missed out. I always said that this handheld team needed to get their heads on straight and create a new updated CONSOLE 2D Sonic game...and finally we get it with Sonic 4.

thespeedsonic
thespeedsonic

i hope that they put tails in it or knuckles

elozl
elozl

a piece of game is just a pice of a real game

Rytko
Rytko

Woah, woah, woah!!! What in the world is this? A remake? Hopefully it's good... cause I really liked the 2D Sonic games. It seems that they are running out of ideas right for Sonic games right now...

sonic0491
sonic0491

You guys havent seen the mine cart level yet... it looks terrible. If theres one thing that will ruin the game it is that level. You tilt the screen with Sonic in a mine cart to guide him around. I cant post the link as I will probably get in trouble and it seems to have been removed from the leakers youtube account.

Mar28jw
Mar28jw

HALLELUJAH,so sega have finally listened to the fans and took sonic back to its 2d roots,about friggin time,better late than never i suppose

Flaon
Flaon

Can't wait for this, i thought the Sonic Rush games were good too

Testament
Testament

this is bs, can we get Streets Of Rage remix!!!!!!

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

@raiden-49 yeah! lets hope it makes it. It just screams PSP.

cloud_248
cloud_248

hey Kaosblade141 sega always made good games just sonic games werent that great lately but ur kinda right

cloud_248
cloud_248

yea sonic unleashed kinda sucked

raiden-49
raiden-49

@HonorOfGod that might be the other console hopefully

HonorOfGod
HonorOfGod

Why dint they put this on PSP? it would have been a superb thing to do.

ecs33
ecs33

@Meritocrat: It seems like it has been so long since platforming has been in the mainstream that originality in my opinion is not the most valuable thing in this project. It's all about the retro return to the past. Nintendo successfully added some original elements to the new Super Mario Bros., so any original concept in my mind is a plus. But for me the value in these remakes is in the retro, not so much the originality.

Al-Sagr_333
Al-Sagr_333

looking forward to it , finally something interesting , i'm imperssed from what had been accomplished so far REALLY impressive!! Keep it up SEGA! we're counting on you so PLEEEEEEEEASE don't screw this one up !!

Meritocrat
Meritocrat

@Senor_Kami Yeah, if I had to guess I'd say they'll do exactly that with the 2nd and 3rd episodes. What I'd love to know is if they have gotten their heads around what to do after this. There's been a lot of new ideas tried in platforming since the first Sonic games, and they'll be called on it if they don't try to deliver something more original.

Meritocrat
Meritocrat

Long story short: Sega prepare to dripfeed "Sonic The Hedgehog" fans with graphically enhanced episodic remakes. Coming this Summer!

Kaosblade141
Kaosblade141

Sega are finally making good games again. :)

zeroxm
zeroxm

Actually, I think the last really great Sonic game that sega made was the Sonic Advance 2 (The other games that came after weren't bad though). If this game is something like SOnic adv 2, with some sonic rush elements it''s gonna be one hell of a cool game!

superfakerbros
superfakerbros

About damn time Sega made a GOOD Sonic game.The last good one was Sonic Heroes.