Less than what was desired of Project Needlemouse
Developer: Sega, Dimps
Platform: XBLA, PSN, iOS, PC, WiiWare
Release Date: May 15 2012
Online: 2 Player Cooperative
Taking place after Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 the evil Dr. Eggman has revived Metal Sonic and teamed up with the mad scientist. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 attempts to build on the original game by adding new modes, new characters, cooperative play, and more levels. Like Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 Episode 2 fails to fix some issues of the first title and doesn't deliver the classic Sonic experience that was promised in 2009.
One of the largest additions of Episode 2 is the inclusion of Tails. Tails is a necessary companion throughout the game and can only be controlled in a cooperative game online or offline. Each stage is designed to accompany both Sonic and Tails, making it impossible to complete a level without using the cooperative abilities available. This leads to unexpected stops in the action as players will be forced to rely on precise cooperative based actions such as flight, swimming, and a rolling combo to overcome obstacles. Although these play key roles throughout the game it would have been logical to place abilities that didn't sacrifice speed.
Running through stages, bouncing off springs, and using your homing attack are still fun as ever. Episode 1 levels resembled Sonic the Hedgehog and Episode 2 has drawn inspiration from its sequel. Collecting fifty rings allow players to gain access to a special stage that mirror the half-pipe race pattern. The environments are colorful and sound effects are spot on. Unfortunately the soundtrack is a repetitive retro tune that at first complements the stages but forgettable.
While the controls have improved from the first title and implements core features some issues continue to persist. You still collect golden rings to absorb damage, inhale air bubbles to survive underwater, and bounce off springs but the use of teamwork seems out of place. By pressing a specific button Sonic and Tails perform a hand slapping animation followed by a cooperative ability that allow players to fly, swim underwater, and a rolling combo to break down walls. You will use these actions constantly in the five acts, each containing up to 3 stages and ending in a dull boss battle against Dr. Eggman or Metal Sonic.
While the main game can be completed in under an hour there are other distractions to keep you busy. Players can go back and attempt to collect the notorious Chaos Emeralds and attempt to gain the best time or score in each stage. An option for both online and offline cooperative play is available but is more vexing then fun since you have to share the same screen, rings, and lives.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 ends with a whimper rather than a bang. When "Project Needlemouse" was first announced in 2009 a lot of Sonic fans, especially myself, were ecstatic to see an old school Sonic game being developed but disappointingly didn't live up to its caliber. Episode 2 is a better game than Episode 1 but still fails to fulfill that same potential of the classic Sonic games.