Sonic 4: Episode 1 – iOS Edition

So, it’s sixteen years later, and Sega Corp. finally put out a sonic game worth something. I have to say right here, and right now that back in the day; I was on Team Sonic. I liked Mario, sure, and I even had me a SNES, but Sonic & Tails always had my geeky, blue furry heart. One could really imagine my excitement to hear that Sega was going to throw out all that crap they had been making in recent years and just continue right where Sonic & Knuckles left off. This was one of the happiest days of my life. No, really – it was.

This week I crossed my fingers, just for luck, and tapped on the $9.99 price tag in the AppStore and awaited my old hero to finish downloading. After three days of testing/reliving my childhood, I am happy to say; I didn’t waste my money. Sure, the ten dollar price tag looks a little awful at first, and yes the game seems kinda short for ten bucks, but in truth it was still the first Sonic game in quite a while that I didn’t experience buyers remorse almost twenty minutes into game play. Unlike that Sonic Rivals game I bought for my PSP a few years back. I wouldn’t even smack my worst enemy in the face with that UMD for fear of insulting him a billion times more than I meant to.

Let’s get this short list started and talk about game play, shall we? Alright, all the classic elements of a good Sonic game are here. It’s a 2-D side scrolling platformer, just like we know and love, with some really nice 3-D sprites added for flare. This makes for a good set of visuals. The option of a slightly more traditional “D-Pad” over the accelerometer control is good. I’ve tried games with that set up before and was always wishing my left thumb had some use. The controls themselves do not get in the way of gameplay I’m happy to report, and navigating through the four different stages (three acts a piece plus boss battles) was a breeze. I will say this though, don’t expect it to be all that easy. Some of the different stages took some guts and some thinking to get out of alive. The ability to start off where you stopped last time you had to go take a tinkle is marvelous. I like the stage select screen they have put into place, and the ability to go back and do it over again for a higher score is pretty good to.

Let’s take a step back and touch on the visuals of this game for a moment. The 3-D sprites (and I’m saying sprites for lack of a better term here) are a very nice touch. They play off the phenomenally striking backgrounds very nicely. I have in recent months, thanks to a friend’s kindness, acquired an iPhone 4 in order to do my work for this magazine, and I have to say the graphics on the retina display are a little off. Don’t get me wrong, they look good, but they could have been GREAT. A little bit more time with Sega doing some tweaking and I’m sure they will have PS3 or X-BOX quality graphics. As of right now though, none too shabby I must say. The music here as well is very good, and for once is game music worthy of headphones. Though, in truth, the option to have my own music running over top of the game sounds might have been a cool option too, but I won’t complain about it too much because this is just a local port of a multi-console game.

Another thing that makes this great great is the fact that the story is pretty much non-existent, just the way we like it. Sure, we could go for a little intro about why this is only episode 1 out of however many Sega has up it’s sleeves, but we don’t really need it. And thankfully there are no annoying cutscenes with bad voice actors going on at length making horrible puns. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes that’s nice, but this is the classic Sonic style game, so please Sega, I’m begging you here – DON’T F’ THIS UP.

Over all I’m very pleased with this game, and I even bought it out of my own money this time instead of asking for a press release, because I wanted to own it fair and square. Some things I’d like to see as the months go on, as Sega gets a hang of making Sonic an iOS home run, are as follows; 1. FaceBook. It would be nice if we could play online score attack against our friends on FB. 2. Custom Music – ‘nuff said. 3. And this is very important, TAILS! I’d like to have it open for me to either buy a Tails Sprite bundle for $.99 or just have him as a free update. If this game is supposed to really be where Sonic & Knuckles left off, I’d like to either see those three characters together, OR at the very least see them have their own episodes. Well, that’s enough for this short list. This is me signing off and wishing you all a good weekend of gaming.

Game receives a 9/10 on a ten point scale.

p.s. and yes it’s only a 9 because there is no Tails!

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