Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1 Q&A

We get the first details on the upcoming 2D Sonic sequel from Sega's Ken Balough.


The announcement of a new Sonic the Hedgehog game is always news, but with the upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, the folks at Sega are taking a novel approach by marrying old-school Sonic gameplay and new-school delivery. Sonic 4 will be a 2D game with 3D visuals for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii and will be distributed as a downloadable game upon its release this summer. To learn more about what to expect from the game, we spoke with Sega associate brand manager Ken Balough.

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GameSpot: Why did you choose to go with a title like Sonic 4? Does this mean this is a direct sequel to the Genesis games?

Ken Balough: I think one aspect to keep in mind is this game is truly a labor of love. A lot of us grew up on the Sega Genesis console; in fact, I remember vividly the first day I got mine with Revenge of Shinobi and Moonwalker. Ever since Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 has been a game classic Sega fans have always wanted to see. It was the right people, at the right time, getting together and finally making this game we've all wanted to see.

While the game is a brand-new adventure, it will definitely pick up after Sonic & Knuckles. However, what you are looking at is the beginning of a new story arc.

GS: The subtitle is Episode 1. Does this mean it's episodic content?

KB: As mentioned, I think the best way to view it is as a first part in a much larger adventure. When Sega released Sonic 3, ultimately it was the part 1 of a story that saw its conclusion in Sonic & Knuckles. In that same spirit, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a bigger story, and this is that first chapter. I think it's also safe to say that by the end of the episode one, fans will be very excited to see what's in store for episode two!

GS: Why did you decide to make this a downloadable title?

KB: In recent years, we've seen a huge surge of classic game properties making a return in this arena. [Downloadable] games offer players a chance to play terrific games without breaking the bank. It's also a promise to Sonic fans. We're going to deliver a Genesis-era Sonic game as if it were created today that goes to the core of what classic Sonic fans desire. This means [the fan] gets to judge us on our work each step of the way, and we plan on delivering that goal in a big way.

GS: In terms of graphics, the game appears to use 3D graphics. Why take that route instead of an HD makeover or a more traditional approach like Capcom's recent Mega Man games?

KB: One of our goals was to make a gorgeous-looking 2D Sonic game. This approach allows fans new and old to see what a 2D Genesis-style game would look like today with modern graphics.

GS: As far as gameplay goes, should we expect classic old-school Sonic 2D mechanics or something new added into the mix?

KB: All the Sonic favorites [are] here for sure! Spin dash, power sneakers, etc. But you will also see the homing attack added, and in true Sonic fashion, you can compete with your friends for the fastest level times through leaderboards.

GS: What can we expect from the music? Will it sound like the old Sonic games?

KB: It will sound like an evolution from the original series. Expect to hear very familiar tempos and styles of music that resonates with 16-bit games but also has a modern appeal.

GS: Will there be any differences between the different versions? That is, will the Wii have motion control, or will the PS3 and 360 run at 1080p?

KB: For all intents and purposes, the games are designed to be identical. There are a few differences per what each console can output visually: Wii will be at 480p, while the XBLA and PSN versions will run at 1080p. However, for certain areas of the game, the Wii will be able to use motion control, and the PS3 will be able to use the Sixaxis.

GS: Is this where the Sonic franchise is moving, or can we still expect to see console and portable titles?

KB: Sonic as a brand is definitely not moving away from our packaged console versions. Making Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode I for download is just a new way to offer a great Sonic experience through a different medium.

GS: Thanks for your time, Ken.

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Avatar image for chafe3

the only thing wrong is the stupid homing attack

Avatar image for Gradius55

I can't wait to play it and yeah, I like the download idea, because now, I can buy the game whenever I want and play it on the spot, unlike standing long in rows or wait until the damn shop sends it to me after 3 weeks. And speaking of Sonic... he never looks better. I really love how Sega let him grow up.

Avatar image for dude777888999

Helllllll yeah! I'm psyched!

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Sonic's design is wrong, the physics and animation are wrong, the graphics don't feel right, this isn't what I asked for grandma. I'm a hardcore MegaDrive Sonic fan, and this game doesn't deserve to be named Sonic 4, it's basically Sonic Advance scaled-up, with no changes made to the gameplay or physics to make it like the old titles. The homing attack couldn't be less welcome here. The old games were about precision, split-second timing and avoiding danger, Sonic Advance is about spamming the homing attack and holding the right d-pad down and letting the game do everything for you, similar to the Dreamcast games. This is not what a classic fan wants. Sega, please use the original physics and graphics/music style, and capture the essence of the gameplay, then the classic Sonic fans will be happy.

Avatar image for Arsenaldan

Yes I have heard of new super mario bros which to me feels nothing like super mario world 2 other than being side scrolling and a world map to select your levels. Also for some reason even games claiming to be the same game but one is on a consol and the other a handheld they still feel different to me atleast anyway.

Avatar image for Mtngranek

Well, I was excited about this game until I saw that it was download only. Now I'm not sure if I'll get it. I'm not too big a fan of download only stuff...

Avatar image for Scarworf

I am lost with words.....I feel like a young kid again!

Avatar image for TheRedTree

@ dandaily4 I totally agree with you. I just prefer to have a physical copy of this game. But, regardless, I will be purchasing this game.

Avatar image for dandaily4

I really wish they'd just make a full game out of it instead of WiiWare. I don't know, it's just an opinion of mine.

Avatar image for superfakerbros

@gerudoman320 - Good thing someone agrees with me.

Avatar image for RojoBear24

It would be cool if you could be other characters

Avatar image for RastafariXalpha

yeah voices would suck, i wanna awesome new sonic game. that would be wicked

Avatar image for Shad_Zero

Now that game will be the revelation of the year...You will see

Avatar image for playstation_dad

cant wait, cant wait, cant wait......................... It sounds like its gonna play, look and sound awsome OLD SCHOOOOOOOL!

Avatar image for gerudoman320

@superfakerbros: My exact thoughts dude...since Adventure 2 (epis game) the rest have sucked..

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@RojoBear24 I hope there's no voices at all.

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@Arsenaldan You really don't pay attention much do you? "new super mario brothers" has been out for quite some time now and got some damned good scores all over the place. As for Mario64, that game is a classic and a masterpiece. This isn't really an opinion, it's based on sales, rating and replay value to this day. Just because you are one of the few people that managed to not like it does not discredit it in the least. Mario Galaxy was also an amazing game. It's basically a continuation of the greatness that was Mario64, but less awesome because Mario64 was first. As for this Sonic game, I don't really care what they do. It's going to be a blast no matter what to go back to the original style and update the graphics. I just hope there are some new bad ass villains to go along with the original crew.

Avatar image for Darc_Prime

Its cool that different series' are doing classics again. 4 example, look @ megaman9 and 10, castlevania, new super mario bros: all awesome.

Avatar image for RojoBear24

I hope theirs no 4kids voice actor. They suck!

Avatar image for Baconbits2004

Arsenaldan, never heard of 'new super mario bros'? O.o

Avatar image for gamecubepad

Can't wait. As long as it plays like Sonic 2 or 3 I'll buy it for sure.

Avatar image for superfakerbros

Finally a good Sonic game since Adventure 2!

Avatar image for devincheetah

how much would this cost in microsoft points?

Avatar image for abdulrhman-W

did they fail creating new games ? thats why they figured lets go back and see what went wrong ?

Avatar image for Darkflame2006

First new super smash brothers and now this? What have i done to deserve such wonderful gifts?! :D

Avatar image for Arsenaldan

Things I hope they bring back and sure are back in Sonic 4 are: 1) Sega logo appears and saying Seeeggggaaa like in the video and sonic 1 - S&K. 2)Super Sonic on any level after getting all 7 chaos emeralds plus 50 rings. 3) Dr Robotnik theme tune (Sonic 2 or 3 style) 4) Super emeralds 5)No earthly places like cities or humans. 6)Levels to have a old school Mobius feel. I remember at one point Sonic being more popular than Mario which is very hard to see now but since Sega finally listened to the fans Sonic could be rising up in popularity again. To be honnest I hope Mario do a similar thing as well because 2D Mario out classes 3D Mario. Never played Galexy so I wont judge that but the So called "best mario game of all time" Mario64 is over rated. Best Mario for me is Super Mario World 2 and best Sonic games are Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic 1 (Master System version). Anyway I will defenetly be downloading this game and I hope it brings back memories and feels like an old school Sonic game.

Avatar image for mariokart64fan

pc gamer- so those 10 million nsmb wii users dont play 2d -ok keep that in your head if thats what make you sleep at night , 3d isnt everything , this is a fact theres only 5 fpses ive had fun with only 1 being recent red steel timesplitters perfect dark duke nukem 64/3d and goldeneye 007 the rest are just good enough for a few yrs /months . then die out perfect darkxbla is gonna be this gens true fps , and only 3d game i can play 10 -15 yrs later

Avatar image for mariokart64fan

it will cost 800-1000 -thats to be expected ,

Avatar image for RECONPLANE

I wonder how much wii points this will cost

Avatar image for Flint247

Honestly, who wouldn't be excited for this game? When was the last time you saw a 2D Sonic game that came out on CONSOLES? Everyone is jumping to conclusions when we only get like 2 second gameplay.

Avatar image for notserbamma

anyone who thinks people dont care about 2D games anymore was probably born in 1995 or later

Avatar image for PC-GAMER-CARTER

returning 2D! what the heck are they trying to lose money. no body plays 2d GAMES ANY MORE!

Avatar image for fudawg45

About frikkin time. Developers seem to learn so slowly. Fans have been clamoring for this for years.

Avatar image for fubbal

I got to say that I think this might end up being the best sonic game since sonic rush.I think that the graphics look true to the series and I thought it looked kinda cool just to be honest. I hope it turns out to be as great as I hope it is.

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@Kurdai: no, they're not entirely stupid. they're just too lazy to read the earlier posts :P

Avatar image for Kurdai

Are you people stupid? Thats not his full running speed!

Avatar image for Snicker-Man

if he runs like that i will not get this game i want that fast past that i love when i was a kid

Avatar image for gamedude2009

I hope I get wifi by this summer...

Avatar image for Noskillkill

Looks great but they need to make the run cycle better. he looks like he is just jogging. i want the crazy fast sprint that he used to do. but i think i will download this on wiiware.

Avatar image for Jeemo88

I really will not get excited until I play it (I know I will download this). But the graphics and the way that sonic runs do not look impressive as of yet. The best thing about the Genesis games is that sense of pure speed. With sonic on the psp and "sonic the hedgehog" for 360 and ps3, sonic feels disjointed from the ground on which he runs. I think the biggest problem is that Sonic team is trying to go for a 3d feel. If you look at Sonic's best outings (the genesis games and Sonic Adventure 1 & 2 for dreamcast), they all have that "cartoony" too fast for the television feel. Hopefully in the gameplay trailer, they give Sonic that true sense of speed

Avatar image for notserbamma

you better be able to use super sonic somewhere else other than the last boss... there need to be 7-14 special stages and when u get the emeralds they need to go back to the old school super sonic rules where u get 50 rings and jump....whoever thought we only wanted to play as super sonic on a gay ass last boss were sorely mistaken (the last bosses in UNLEASHED and SONIC THE HEDGEHOG on 360/ps3 were complete embarrassments...and so were the last bosses in Adventure 1 and 2 for that matter...)

Avatar image for notserbamma
notserbamma many of those games were 100% 2D??? ZERO People keep in mind...its ONLY the 3d games that have sucked...(yes that includes unleashed, because it was far from fully 2D). There has yet to be a bad 2D Sonic game...but people are so bummed about all the 3D ones this past decade that they are all lumped into the same pile Sonic Advance 1-3 and Sonic RUSH 1 and 2 were all awesome games because they kept the core intact (I would even call SONIC RUSH 1 a classic...cuz it was awesome) I had doubts about every single 3D game because they will never perfect that formula...but if you feel the same about this FULLY 2D game based off of 3D games...then you are misguided You have to separate the two...and stop lumping them all together...

Avatar image for LinkLuigi

Honestly, I'm not getting my hopes up. How many times have we said "This is the time that Sonic finally get's his groove back!" I'm not going to get hype until the game actually comes out. I don't care if the trailers makes it look good as the original, I'm not getting pumped for this. They've proven time and time again that they can mess a good thing up, and time and time again, we get hype, just for us to get dissapointed. When the game actually comes out, then I'll see.

Avatar image for itsme73

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

Avatar image for _sa_

SnakeBite27 Posted Feb 8, 2010 11:40 pm GMT @_sa_ Actually, just found this online, whats in the trailer is not the fastest running animation. Check it from the Sega Forums << LINK REMOVED >> ---------------------------------------- thanks man! hear that people? sonic is not even running, yet he created such a hype in here -now THAT'S the sonic i knew :D

Avatar image for 101sonichao

Come on sonic, me and my mom played this game since 1992 :) sonic lives on :)

Avatar image for Kurdai


Avatar image for solidsnakedude1

I want super mario bros. 4

Avatar image for Flint247

For those worrying about the way Sonic runs in the trailer, read this: << LINK REMOVED >>

Avatar image for Secondkin

I love the new graphics and the fact that Sega is taking sonic back to oldschool, but Sonic's new run cycle doesn't look good because it looks like he's going just a little bit above a walk. If it's going to be the most used animation in the game, it should have more of a punch.