Sonic Blast 2 (aka Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1)

  • Original Platform: PC/360/PS3
  • Version played: 360
  • Where to get, Steam, Xbox Store, PS3 store.

I was originally going to do Sonic 4 as a single game, but after playing through Episode 1 and Episode 2, it’s evident that they’re completely different games so I’ve decided to give them separate slots. The “Episode” part of this is a complete lie, it seems.

Also a complete lie is the “Sonic the Hedgehog 4” name it has been given. It’s nothing like a sequel to the original games in any way. The best way I can justify the name is that it’s a new take on the Game Gear “Sonic the Hedgehog 4”, aka Sonic Blast, which seems apt due to the more maze-like levels and the “Donkey Kong Country” style graphics, where Sonic’s sprite is based on a 3D model. It kind of looks similar to the Sonic Blast one, too.

The other parts of the game take on different styles. The levels look like they’re 2D textures with some shading added in photoshop to make it “look” 3D. The backgrounds are sometimes layers of 2D, but other times are fully 3D. Dr Robotnic has a cel shaded style and stands out. There’s no consistency to the graphical style at all.

Also like Sonic Blast is how slow it takes Sonic to get moving. Moving from a standstill is so slow it’s agonising. Especially when you’re trying to move Sonic away from an obstacle. There’s something off about the way he moves and jumps as well. It’s not nice to play. Sonic Blast 2 (the name I’ve given this game) also features the homing attack from the 3D games, but unlike some of those, it also kills Sonic’s momentum, so you have to start moving from a standstill again. Even when you have the Power Sneakers, Sonic still feels slow.

The levels are a rehash of previous levels: Green Hill, Casino Night, Labyrinth and Scrap Brain. They have different names in Sonic Blast 2, but they don’t feel different (although Scrap Brain has elements from a Sonic 2 level). There’s three acts for each zone and two of these are all incredibly dull, just retreading old ground. The second act of each stage does try something new.

The second act of Casino Night introduces a cannon mechanic, where you have to aim and fire Sonic. Aiming is very slow and it’s not smooth or fun at all. Labyrinth zone act 2 is dark and Sonic has a torch, lighting other torches (sometimes activating switches) and setting off TNT. With a better level design and physics, this level could actually be really good.

The bosses are mostly the same as the original bosses, with a brief second stage. Even the final boss is just the final boss from Sonic 2, and you have to fight all the previous bosses again to reach it.

Sonic Blast 2 is a poor rehash of Sonic 1 & 2, with bad graphics and wonky physics. It’s a very poor Sonic game.

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