GamerSyndrome at E3 2010: Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Hands-on

Easily one of the most anticipated games of the year is Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.  First announced last summer, this title is being created to bring the Blue Blur back to his roots.  And while that cliché has been used often, it is genuinely Sega’s intent to bring the iconic hedgehog back to the format that made him so popular in the first place.

An old-school battle with Dr. Eggman.

Before trying out the demo for myself, I watched other people play it extensively.  I noticed some of them had a rough time maneuvering Sonic, and I thought to myself that maybe it was because they hadn’t been exposed to the famous hedgehog in a long time.

Loops are a staple of the Sonic franchise...

When I got my hands on the WiiWare demo, I found that it definitely played like Sonic.  I will admit that getting him to his top speed took longer than it used to back in the Genesis days, though.  This was a bit of a nuisance, especially after hitting some spikes and coming to a complete halt.  There was a great deal of vine-swinging to do as well, and while this gameplay feature was kind of fun, I found that timing my swings and jumps to get to another vine was detrimental to the game.  In other words, miss a vine, fall all the way to the bottom, and be prepared to work your way all the way back to the top. are springs.

But nitpicking aside, the speed was there.  The game feels old-school, and it definitely feels fast-paced.  I guided Sonic through loops, made him bounce off of countless springs, and I used his new homing attack—which is a great addition to the old-school formula—to take out hordes of enemies.

The game's visuals are old-school with a modern touch.

The levels were beautifully colored, and they featured a modern look, but they still retained that retro look from the old Sonic games.  What stood out the most was just how long the stages were.  Each stage in the demo was fairly lengthy (think two or three times the length of the levels from the original Sonic games), and there were dozens of obstacles to go through.
It definitely feels like Sonic 4 is on the right track to bringing gamers what they want out of the Blue Blur.  To be quite honest, it felt like the demo still had a few rough edges here and there, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed when the game launches later this year.  As long as the devs iron out all the wrinkles on this cloth, gamers will definitely have a reason to rejoice when Sonic the Hedgehog 4 hits the download market.

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