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20 Reviews

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

A fun but fiddly nostalgia trip for Sonic fans in vibrant hi-def

Sonic must have made a couple of stern New Year's resolutions. Firstly, Sega All-Stars Racing surprised everyone by not being the usual shoddy character kart racer, and now the hedgehog has heeded fan demand and gone back to his simpler, 2D roots - resisting the urge to try his hand at another clumsy 3D affair. And it's paid dividends.

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It's because Sonic is fast. Obvious, yes, but racing through the game's opening level performing loop-the-loops and careering through the air like a spiny, blue pinball is something you must experience. If you're a fan of the original games, then the nostalgic thrill is worth the admission price alone, helped all the more by the faithful recreation of some famous locales.

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Those lush, green, rolling hills from the original Sonic? Yep, they're here and, although relatively flat and garishly coloured (as are all 12 levels), their simplicity only adds to the charm. Manage to leap through one of the super-sized rings at the end of a level and you'll unlock a psychedelic maze area. At the end of each are Chaos Emeralds - remember those?

If you've been raised on a platforming diet of bandicoots and lombaxes, however, you may find Sonic's side-scrolling shenanigans a tad alienating. This is a title aimed squarely at Mega Drive aficionados - if you're used to being mollycoddled through a game's opening stages and peppered with auto-saves then you're in for a prickly surprise. Sonic 4 is tough. The controls don't help - the homing headbutt attack is mapped to X/A, as is jump, which often results in unexpected nose-dives into oblivion mid-leap.

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But persevere and eventually you'll nail the sensitive setup, allowing you to rocket through the air, knobbling Dr Eggman's minions as you string together trampoline jumps, turbo-spins and gravity-defying wall-runs. Hugely satisfying.

Sonic 4 harks back to the days when video games tested your dexterity, timing and patience. It's challenging, immaculately designed, super-fast, and a fitting return to form for a character who is - next to a buxom archaeologist and that dungaree-sporting plumber - arguably one of the most recognisable icons of all time.

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The verdict

Overall Colourful, fast and fun, Sonic 4 is an old-school bargain at £10.

8.2
Format
PlayStation 3
Developer
Sonic Team
Publisher
Sega
Genre
Platformer

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