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.

On the one hand, a robotic flower lasts longer than an actual rose. On the other hand, it will try to kill you.

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.

Hedgehogs usually thrive in the desert, but years of being pampered have made Sonic soft.

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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60 comments
Warmuro
Warmuro

This game is better than Episode 1 and gets worse score than Episode 1. Gamespot, i think no one should care about your pointless and subjective reviews. 

philnolan3d
philnolan3d

It still doesn't match up to Sonic Fan Remix but it's very close.

gamergath
gamergath

I wanna get this game and spend loads and tons of hours on this. Love the hedgehog. :D

 

shawngamer
shawngamer

I’m gonna buy this game sometime

king669
king669

can i download or no

CalamityKate
CalamityKate

The only real problem I have with it is, as mentioned in the review, that it's more of the same.

 

This is fine by me.  I get two types of games, those I really want to sink a lot of time into so I can explore every nook and cranny of the gameworld, and those where I can drop in for a few minutes of fun and go on to something else.

 

This fits the latter category nicely.  Pleasant, familiar, doesn't require a big investment of time, not too expensive.

4-Legged-Shark
4-Legged-Shark

hello my name is 4 legged shark and i love sonic gaemz

missonrs
missonrs

Well considering the game is supposed to be like the originals, speed shouldn't matter since speed in the original games felt more like a reward than required. "Levels lack boosters" I disagree, in fact my problem with the game is the fact that there is too many boosters and although I do agree some music is awful (oil desert act 2 anyone?) some do sound like old sonic game music (I personally loved slyvania act 3).

soulless4now
soulless4now

Guess I'll just buy it once it goes on sale like I did for episode one. 

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

I think good music would have gone aways to make this game more enjoyable. I do think it's better than ep I though.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

as far as Generations goes it was straight. Fun to play but saying it was a "Great" game may be a bit of an over statement imo. SEGA has still yet to strike a diamond of a Sonic game since they've left the 2-D sprite days of the Genesis.

otanikun
otanikun

Tails was never a stand out character anyway, it wasn't until....nope nevermind.

Raelador21
Raelador21

@SpeedDemon2007 why is this unreliable? A well-thought out review. Gets tp the point and doesn't use confusing ways to explain simple mechanics.

SpeedDemon2007
SpeedDemon2007

Is it me, or do most people find reviews like this unreliable?

RejuvinationTB
RejuvinationTB

I liked it! I mean everyone has their own opinion,but usually when they see a harsh review they stay away from the game,but the game is almost 100 percent better than episode 1. Not saying that makes it perfect, but it makes it better than the review makes it seem. Sega has tried really hard on this game and I think it deserves some credit on that part.

Raxyman
Raxyman

Bad Music emblem for a SEGA game? Wow, that's harsh, not saying that Eric is wrong, but every SEGA games usually have an awesome music. I have the song of Chemical Plant in my cellphone still.

fede_pyro
fede_pyro

people should try it anyways, i bought it before reviews, if you like Ep. I, you will like Ep. II and except for "rivals" i don't remember snow in a sonic game

lina_baby_doll
lina_baby_doll

Why you put that this game is also on Wii up there, when it was cancelled? It would have been great if they did it, though. There´s no much difference between Ep 1 and 2

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

I just want to note something:

 

"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."

 

Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it the inclusion of other gameplay styles with other characters that led to so much complaining about the 3-D games? Now they're complaining that Tails doesn't play enough of a role on his own? Last I checked, players demanded the gameplay focus solely on Sonic. What an interesting reversal...

 

Hence why I continue to argue that Sonic fans seem to be a bunch of whiners who don't actually know what they want and are totally unapologetic about blaming it all on Sonic Team. As I've said before, you can't ask your mother to make you a grilled cheese sandwich and then get mad that she didn't include mayonnaise when you didn't even ask for it.

mav_destroyer
mav_destroyer

Its a shame this turned out to be disappointing, I really enjoyed Sonic Generations and was looking forward to this. Its ironic too considering this game was aimed at the older generation Sonic the Hedgehog players who kept whining about how the new Sonic sucks and the new games suck and that classic sonic is better, well the result is a shallow kiddy Sonic the Hedgehog game. I hope they are happy.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

The more we look back on our favourite games with rose coloured glasses the more the modern games pale in comparison. Its true.

 

You play Sonic 2 now with a modern mindset and gameplay wise its stale, but giving it its due back then it was fantastic, a breath of fresh air. But not much of the formula has changed between Sonic 4 and Sonic 2, so wheres the difference?

 

If you're comparing the two Sonic games, you need to compare them for what they are with the modern mind set. Saying "Man I loved Sonic 2, it was great how back then it did this this and this that was completely different at the time thats why its great! But Sonic 4 does nothing new infact all the things it's copied from Sonic 2 are crap", going on that kind of message the review gives of course its going to sound as if the former is going to be better.

 

Maybe this is just a long winded rant from a guy who just enjoys Sonic games for what they are, whether they hark back to the golden age or not, but this is a solid 2D platform game, maybe too much has been sacrificed in terms of progress to appease the constant insane ramblings of the "true fanbase" (i.e guys who complain if Sonics shoes look slightly different). But you reap what you sow.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

They need another Sonic like Generations. First Sonic I played since the originals and loved it. Anyone who played the original Sonic the hedgehog would know that he doesn't really move that fast and once you pass the 1st two stages it is more a slow paced platform where you avoid falling in pits/spikes and larva. Usually the high path is the fastest and safest but hardest to get to.

toddx77
toddx77

Boss battles are boring?  More like kind of difficult.  It may just be me but it seems the boss battles are too long and more annoying then fun or challenging.

MaggotSai
MaggotSai

Sonic 3 is one of my favorite video games of all time and I still think this game is great. However original content from SEGA would be much more enjoyable than reusing the same stuff from previous games. The Sonic 4 series is starting to feel more like a remake of the genesis era of Sonic games than a sequel.

Crossel777
Crossel777

 @Raxyman 

Not really harsh, because it's true.  The music generally does suck in this game.  Almost to a point where it's ear grating.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

 @fede_pyro  except Sonic 3 where there was even brief snowboarding on the snow stage or Sonic Adventure which had snowboarding on it's snow stage as well. there are probably even more with snow stages but i haven't played many of the recent sonic games.(i'm allergic to mediocrity)

Crossel777
Crossel777

 @cachinscythe 

 

You seem to think that the Sonic franchise only has 1 single fanbase that all hate the same thing.  This is completely and utterly incorrect of course.  There are a multitude of fanbases each wanting/expecting diffferent things out of a Sonic game.   Obviously Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was an attempt to please classic sonic fans.   Not that Tails being useless is much of a complaint in the first place..   In the genesis Sonic he wasn't really that useful...

Raxyman
Raxyman

 @cachinscythe Exactly. Finally, someone with sense! I've been saying that for like, forever. SEGA tries to be original each Sonic release. They don't try to release the same classic 2D game all the time. And they deserve to be praised for that, not being attacked by all that fan rage of "we want the classics sonics". Sega surely doens't have a good time dealing with fans, i'm glad they still try to keep it fresh. Even on Generations, the Classics Sonic felt fresh.

 

"Last I checked, players demanded the gameplay focus solely on Sonic. What an interesting reversal..." Exactly that.

Crossel777
Crossel777

 @Phil-teh-Pirate 

Sure, you can come to that scape goat conclusion that "it's all just nostalgia, those games weren't really that great in the first place by todays standards".  All the while ignoring Sonic 4's obvious flaws, it would be great to live in that little ignorant world wouldn't it?   Even though one could easily go and play Sonic 2 right now being completely new to the games and enjoy the living hell out of it.  Then immediately go to play Sonic 4 and ask themselves what the hell is this?   Just because you didn't see the obvious differences between classic genesis Sonics and this new iteration of Sonic doesn't mean we where all oblivious.

DSkinMasque
DSkinMasque

 @Phil-teh-Pirate Sonic hasn't aged that well.  We both agree on this, right? Then...let us be the first to tell Sega to LET HIM DIE ALREADY.  They have so many other IPS that have been forgotten that really need to come back...so why do they keep trying to milk Sonic so?

 

Chakan: The Forever Man

Streets of Rage

Echo

Tomjam & Earl

Shenmue

Panzer Dragoon

Eternal Champions

Three Dirty Dwarves

 

Wouldn't you rather see these games brought back to life? No? You'd rather play another Sonic game? I sure don't.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

 @ChaosUndivided yeah I don't know how people forgot this. I always wondered where all this "SONIC is ALL about speed where is the SPEED!" came from

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

 @MaggotSai I agree where Sonic 2 improved upon the first one and added a few extra features/power-ups. Sonic3/S&K took what Sonic 2 had and improved upon it adding more features/power-ups.....Sonic 4 however took away some of the additions from Sonic 3 and added....3-dimenions?

Raxyman
Raxyman

 @Crossel777 I know, i'm not criticizing. I didn't bought it yet, i'm saving up for that still, so i don't know how the musics are. But c'mon. Look at Generations. Those were awesome songs. Every Classic and Modern  remix. The Sonic Adventure song? The Shadow the Hedgehog's songs?

 

Maybe they left the audio to some inexpericed people inside sega, because they HAVE potential to be awesome.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

 @Crossel777 I apologize for the generalization. As a Sonic fan myself, I know that description I gave doesn't fit all players.

 

Personally, I'm one of those fans who never lost his love for Sonic. I honestly think Sonic Adventure, SA2, and Heroes are absolutely incredible experiences. Shadow was only okay, 06 was terrible, and Secret Rings was excellent. All of these games had their downsides, but I felt they were totally worth it for the style they brought to the table. Just something about the way the games are put together that isn't like anything else out there.

 

Either way, I don't think Sonic Team gets as much credit as it deserves. They may not be a powerhouse developer like Nintendo anymore, but they've gotten SOOOO much better in the last few years, and many of the fans seem stuck in either "hate mode" or "nostalgia mode" when it comes to what they make. I find it somewhat frustrating.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

 @Raxyman praise isn't worth s#### if the game is sucky or medicore (describes most Sonic games of the past decade)....however this one isn't that bad it's just solid/decent not really a step up but def not bad I enjoyed it (hated the music)

Dugular
Dugular

@DSkinMasque @Phil-teh-Pirate Wisdom. You has it.

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

 @DSkinMasque

Of course Sonic the Hedgehog won't die, SEGA would let Sonic die like Nintendo would let Mario die. And I'm ok with that, apart from Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, theres been Sonic games that range between mediocre and awesome. So tell me, one absolutely catastrophic game and they should call it quits on a loved character?

 

Then maybe Nintendo should have given up on Mario after Sunshine eh?

 

I'd love to see some games come back, Toejam and Earl especially. I'd even love to see a come back of Alex Kidd, Kid Chameleon, Shining Force and many many more. But what would be the point? They'll be trying to appease the same "fans" that continually bitch about the Sonic games. if they were to ditch Sonic, they'd have to go in a completely new direction. Vanquish, Binary Domain, Bayonetta, Sega Rally, Monkey Ball, Total War, those are the franchises to build on, we don't need another revival.

 

Stop trying to appease these old fans, they are essentially the trolls of the gaming world. Just make another Sonic Unleashed or Sonic Generations and keep the formula simple, thats the best policy.

Excetera-ZEN
Excetera-ZEN

 @DSkinMasque Amen to that. Let's not forget reviving the original Phantasy Star series, along with two great platformers like Vectorman and Shinobi. 

Whitebloodsun
Whitebloodsun

 @RE4GreatesGame

 You shouldn't ask toddx77 a question if you are going to answer it yourself on behalf of toddx77. It's just plain silly. :P

toddx77
toddx77

 @RE4GreatesGame Is there reason to be so mean?  I just said that I found the boss battles to be more annoying then fun or challenging.  It is pretty obvious I have the game so I don't know why you would assume I have never played it.

Chaos_Dante_456
Chaos_Dante_456

I really miss all the different shields from 3 I've always hoped to see new power-ups/shields but I guess that's too much to ask for. although I did enjoy that Tails was a lot more useful

Raxyman
Raxyman

 @cachinscythe I think the same thing. About Sonic Team doesn't getting all the credit they should. The only game i truly hated was the Sonic 2006, other than that... Played them all (kind of, i only didn't to played the wii ones. Yet.)

Raxyman
Raxyman

 @Chaos_Dante_456 The only crappy Sonic game is Sonic the Hedgehog 2006, and Shadow the Hedgehog wasn't as good as it was supposed to be. But other than that, there weren't really any problems with it. Sonic Rush, Rush Adventure, Unleashed, The Black Knight, Colors, Generations. Is that all crap? You really should review your concepts of quality, just because a developer doesn't act like Activision with it's CoD games it doesn't mean the game is bad.

There's two extremes that are indeed crappy:

-Not innovating at all, just tweaking (CoD)

-Using the same name of the saga, but untrue to the series first purpose (NFS, should be street racing, then all of a sudden we get Pro Street and Shift.)

 

Sega reached a point where every game is a new experience, and a lot of people keep whining that it's not good. I praise sega because of it's perseverance, it never gave in to these petty fan rages.

 

 @cachinscythe No, it's not just your opinion, everybody criticizes new ideas that Sonic Team puts in any of the new games. What baffle me is how nobody have the same complaint on Mario games. Every new Mario release is received with "it's gonna be awesome" and "great, new ideas.". Why Sonic games don't deserve that? Sega has my respect for never giving up the saga.

cachinscythe
cachinscythe

 @Chaos_Dante_456 We shouldn't even give them credit for trying to do things differently? Not at all? It HAS to succeed for us to give a company ANY praise? Regardless of whether it succeeds, risk taking is something we should be encouraging, and given how often gamers complain about the lack of risk taking, to constantly condemn risks that don't work is to DISCOURAGE that risk-taking.

 

Believe me, you analyze all the crap Sonic Team gets and the products they've put out recently and it becomes rather apparent they've got strikes against them before the game is even reviewed. At least, that's my opinion.

Crossel777
Crossel777

 @Phil-teh-Pirate 

 

No fans, zero motivation from the developers to make something like it in the future in some form.  Whilst Sonic 4 is an attempt to appeal to fans of the previous games.  It's a weak attempt at best.

Crossel777
Crossel777

 @Phil-teh-Pirate 

Dude it's the fans that made the games popular in the first place.  Without the fans there'd be absolutely nothing.  Seriously.  If you're not making any effort to please the people that previously purchased your games.  Then what the hell is the point?  Where are all the fans for Sonic the Hedgehog 4 that will be nostalgia goggling over it in years to come?  I see barely any.  Hardly anybody cares for this game.   There's something wrong that needs to be made right.  If they of course want to make Sonic the Hedgehog a household name again and not continue to dig his grave with mediocre games.

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
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    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