Sonic the Hedgehog 4 goes episodic this summer

Project Needlemouse revealed as side-scrolling sequel to speedster's original Genesis trilogy; Episode 1 confirmed for Wii, Xbox 360, PS3.

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Sega has taken the wraps off Project Needlemouse, and the publisher is positioning the game as a proper sequel to the series' Genesis genesis and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, specifically. The publisher has released a new trailer for the game, revealing its official title: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.

Sonic can outrun everything but his past.
Sonic can outrun everything but his past.

Sega debuted a trailer (viewable below) for the game, showing off the fourth proper installment of the iconic side-scrolling platformer star. The teaser starts with a retrospective of the series, gradually transitioning the memorable mammal's visage to a new HD version of Sonic, with waypoints at 1991 (the original Sonic), 1992 (Sonic 2), and 1994 (Sonic 3)

The trailer also revealed a few other details about the game, most notably its platforms and release window. Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 will arrive this summer as a downloadable title on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii.

While diehard fans have often pleaded for a new 2D installment in the Sonic series, the publisher has for years pursued 3D projects and spin-offs. Most recently, the series incorporated gameplay revolving around transmogrification in the critically panned Sonic Unleashed. The iconic hedgehog also tried out high-speed driving skills in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing and character progression in the BioWare-developed DS role-playing game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood.

In an interview with GameSpot, Sega associate brand manager Ken Balough revealed a few more details about Sonic 4. Specifically, he said the game will pick up the series after Sonic & Knuckles and incorporate established 2D gameplay mechanics for the series like the spin dash and power sneakers. Additionally, the game will incorporate leaderboards for players to test their speed against one another and will incorporate motion controls on the Wii and PlayStation 3 (with the Sixaxis controller, not necessarily the upcoming "Arc" motion controller.)

For more on the game, check out GameSpot's full interview with Balough.

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