Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II Review

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II is a solid though unremarkable continuation of the long-running formula.

On the surface, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II gives you pretty much everything you'd want in a followup, and a lot more than you've probably come to expect. New modes, a new character, cooperative play, revamped graphics, and plenty of new levels to run through build on the original game. What they don't do, though, is fix the core issues that made Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I a rather lackluster experience. Gameplay is still slow-paced, level design is still too linear, and boss battles are just plain boring. To be sure, most of the time that you're playing Episode II you'll enjoy yourself--the game is thoroughly amusing, even if it isn't very exciting--but those folks hoping Episode II will transform Sonic 4 into the wild-ride action of yesteryear's Sonic games will be disappointed.

That robo-fish is blocking your sweet, sweet air bubble. KILL IT.

Case in point: the addition of Sonic’'s buddy/annoying hanger-on Tails. Having two characters means you can play co-operatively (both locally and online), and even when you play by yourself, the AI that controls Tails is good enough to make him a useful ally. But much of the time, Tails' role is relegated to combining with Sonic to form a super-powerful rolling ball (useful for breaking through large objects) or rescuing Sonic from a fall with his whirling appendages. He has no real part to play on his own, and aside from a few obvious puzzles here or there, no levels feature or even require his skills. Indeed, due to linear, unimaginative level design, even Sonic himself fails to feel Sonic-y. Levels lack boosters, loops, alternate pathways, and other series trademarks, which makes the game feel more like a traditional, unassuming platformer an honest-to-goodness Sonic game.

Nevertheless, jumping around, bounding off bumpers and walls, is a fun way to kill a few minutes. In addition to the redone graphics, which bear a much closer resemblance to early Sonic games than Episode I's did, Sonic's air slam ability (allowing him to dash at a target in midair, damaging and ricocheting off of it) returns in Episode II. The air slam allows for some nifty air combos and provides one of the game's two real chances to feel some momentum. The other comes in Episode II's "3D" stages, where Sonic and Tails run continuously along chutes and loops, collecting rings and dodging (or killing) bad guys. These bonus stages are far too few in Episode II, but when they do come around, they're a huge pleasure to dash through, especially if you've got a buddy along for the ride.

What isn't much of a pleasure, though, are Episode II's boss fights, which continue their predecessor's predilection for simplicity and repetition. Now, however, because there are two of you, and because rings (which double as Sonic's life meter) are so plentiful, it's almost impossible to die. This makes such encounters (especially the ones with Sonic's evil doppelganger, Metal Sonic) little more than time-wasting chores. It also allows clever players to cheese up their extra lives by collecting tons of rings and just not fighting the bosses at all. While some might chalk this up to meta-gaming, you quickly find yourself yawning and hoping against hope that after whatever boss fight you're engaged in is another segment.

These bonus stages are a nod to the similar stages in Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Even though the console versions and the PC version are largely identical, you might have a great deal of difficulty finding partners to game with on PC, simply because no one seems to be playing Episode II. The best medicine for this is just to have a buddy come over and play locally, but it's disappointing--although not really the fault of the game itself--that PC gamers can't find anyone to jump in and out of games with at random. Other than that, though, the games play and look (and sound) identical across platforms. And while the look is now considerably easier on the eyes than it was in Episode I (ugly, prerendered backgrounds have been replaced with layered, moving ones, for example), the sound is still subpar. Sure, the trademark sound effects you've come to know and love are here, but the music is mostly forgettable and at times (like Dr. Robotnik's boss battles) is incredibly repetitive and annoying.

A good follow-up doesn't just add new content--it improves on the original. In that critical sense, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 disappoints. While the addition of cooperative play is a big step in the right direction, the core elements that made Episode 1 a tepid experience persist here: mediocre level design, slow pacing, and erratic levels of fun. Like its predecessor, this is a functional "time waster" of a game, but should you spend too long in its world, Episode 2 reveals its feet of clay.

The Good
Entertaining cooperative gameplay with Tails
Fun "3D" bonus levels
The Bad
Tails isn't a distinct character
Boss battles are boring
Many levels lack a sense of speed
6
Fair
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Discussion

34 comments
707107
707107

 @Starsailor_IT  that is true. I liked episode 1. However sega should do a 2D sonic retail game that looks similar to generations. If they did that, then they could get the old feeling of the genesis.

707107
707107

I can't belive that they cancled this for Wii. More favratism for HD.

Some people can't afford a PS3 let alone a 360.

sega you let us down.

Starsailor_IT
Starsailor_IT

I finished playing the game and I am not a big Sonic fan or anything. I believe this is a good game, not a 6.0 game. I dont know whats wrong with Gamespot these days, they give good marks to shitty shooters and bash all japanese games, even the few that deserve some praise like this one. Come on you could give it a 7.0.

Flint247
Flint247

The problem with Sonic 4, in my opinion, is that Sega is trying to please the "classic" Sonic fans while trying to make a new game. They should just use the same engine and make a new game instead of trying to form a sequel to the Genesis games to please a set of fans that demanded it; this is probably one of the reasons why both episodes are getting low scores because it isn't the same as the Genesis games. I like Sonic in both 2D and 3D styles, I grew up on Sonic since the Genesis days, but I feel Sega should focus on fresh new ideas instead of trying to backtrack because of demanding fans. The Genesis games had flaws, too. Sonic Generations did it right with the throwback themes, but from this point on, I feel Sega should just move on to fresh ideas like the way they made Sonic Colors. I would not mind seeing a sequel to that game, making it longer and having more Wisp power ups. They actually were fun.

 

As long as Sega does not make a game like Sonic 2006 again, they should just be like Nintendo and do what is best to their interest and not listen to every single suggestion from fans, because it is way too divided now.

Flint247
Flint247

Sonic 1-3 had levels where speed was slowed down. Sonic is not just about speed, there are platforming elements, as well. I honestly do not see how this is worst than Episode 1, according to Gamespot's review. My only critique so far is that this game is short, like episode 1, but I feel it should have a better score than the first one.

ejay_kain
ejay_kain

this game is cool, do not let the reviewer fool you.

leeko_link
leeko_link

Hmmm... guess we don't know how we would want our Sonic games to be do we. On one side we had the "Sonic games is all about speed" kind of ppl and on the other we had the "Sonic games is about platforming with some speed" kind of ppl. Kinda difficult for Sega to choose side huh, if they made Sonic fast, the platform ppl opens their mouth, if they slow him down even for a little bit the speedy ppl opens their mouth. Poor Sonic, why can't both sides be one so he wouldn't had this problem, now whenever he try to make one side happy the other would hate, it'll never end.

Drkirk08
Drkirk08

Uh yeah......whatever, (continues enjoying Sonic 4: Episode II).

ElectroTH
ElectroTH

"Levels lack boosters" I'm sure this guy hasn't played Oil Desert  Zone Act2 very much has he?

 

Personally found the combo feature to get in the way a few times braking the flow of a level a : ( but both me and my Sister and a few of my friends did agree that its a very fun game overall just as long as your not trying to get that damm 7th chaos emerald

Pazy160
Pazy160

Im definately enjoying it so far.  I dont think its quite as open as the originals but its definately getting there and im definately enjoy the platforming. Its still not perfect but its a really enjoyable experience, though Ive been a Sonic fan for years, and I cant wait for Episode 3.

LeahMyles
LeahMyles

With Sonic Colors and Generations, they finally got the 3d levels right, then they went back to 2d and (according to Gamespot) got it wrong.  Although I realize Gamespot almost never gives Sonic good scores and this probably is a fun game (I've only played the ps3 demo) they should stick with what works, and 3d had just started working.

dagamemon
dagamemon

>Air Slam

>Levels lack boosters

>"3D" stages, where Sonic and Tails run continuously along chutes and loops, collecting rings and dodging (or killing) bad guys

Are you kidding me?

Nissemean
Nissemean

So GS want just press right to win? because thats the only way to get a speedy game in a 2d platformer. Not even Sonic 1-3 had that much speed, They just had much speed for its time.

 

GunBladeHero
GunBladeHero

I don't think lacking sense of speed is a downside as this is a throwback to the genesis era Sonic games that were more slow paced, if you wanna a ''sense of speed'' go play the Sonic Rush series or Sonic Generations/Colors instead.

drivemuse
drivemuse

Thanks G-spot you just saved me $15.00

FlamingFury
FlamingFury

This is why the developers were fired before release lol.

halBU
halBU

Eric probably should have mentioned in the review that if you own Sonic 4 Ep1 as well it unlocks Episode Metal and allows you to play as Metal Sonic.

bgghgubcjhgknjk
bgghgubcjhgknjk

What are they talking about it's too easy? I have it for the iPhone and the desert level act 3 is so hard I've got game overs over 15 times on that one level! and I'm 15...

inuyasha1031
inuyasha1031

As a Sonic fan since the Genesis I somewhat agree with this review. However, the game was not easy compared to other Sonic games with deaths happening frequently. Other than that though it's more of a 7/10 game with the boss fights being too long and a very crappy  "true" ending.

Sento_brean
Sento_brean

To be honest it is actually a great game, far better than episode one in my opinion. and so what to the sense of speed, sure he does need to run fast, but that doesn't mean he needs to be doing it every 5 seconds.

JustPlainLucas
JustPlainLucas

I can't believe it takes them so long to put out such underwhelming Sonic games... 

purefault
purefault

 @Flint247 Agreed. As much as I want a continuation of the originals, Sega has made it painfully obvious that nothing they do in that direction will live up to the Genesis era. On top of that, Sonic 4 doesn't even feel like a continuation; it's like a lesser-quality rehash of old Sonic levels. They should have at least called this something other than Sonic 4.

Starsailor_IT
Starsailor_IT

 @Flint247 I believe Nintendo is one of the most ever faithful to tradition game company ever. Look at Super Mario and Mario Kart and how in 2 decades the game are still identical to the originals. I believe Sega listens to the gamers, and the typical Sonic gamer want something faithful to the Genesis games. 

Drkirk08
Drkirk08

 @ElectroTH Dude, I got that last emerald....and it was a pain. I enjoyed it overall.

Starsailor_IT
Starsailor_IT

 @drivemuse yes except a moment later they are making you buy the last Call of Duty DLC or Microsoft game. by the way its $12.99

drivemuse
drivemuse

 @halBU doesn't make up those other 4 score marks though, I'm guessing.

biggayal1980
biggayal1980

i cant believe you people are so damn fussy if you want a better sonic game write one.

bgghgubcjhgknjk
bgghgubcjhgknjk

 @Gue1 Well until I can afford to spend $20 on half a game I'd prefer to spend $7.50 on half a game instead

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II More Info

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  • First Released
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    Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode II will expand the Sonic 4 storyline with new areas to speed through and new challenges to face.
    7.3
    Average User RatingOut of 211 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Sonic Team, Sega, TOSE, Dimps Corporation
    Published by:
    Sega
    Genres:
    Platformer, 2D, Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
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    Comic Mischief