Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II Review (PSN/XBLA)

May 23, 2012

Downloadable Reviews, PSN, XBLA

Fans of Sonic the Hedgehog have waited patiently for Sonic 4: Episode II, and the wait is finally over! This game does a nice job of connecting past Sonic games in both story and style, as many familiar faces and locales return. The story revolves around Metal Sonic being reborn by Dr. Eggman after his defeat in Sonic CD (originally released on the Sega CD and now also available on PSN/XBLA). During the events of Episode I, Dr. Eggman revived Metal Sonic to locate Sonic while he planned to build a new Death Egg (mk. II). Sonic and Tails race to stop Dr. Eggman and Metal Sonic before the new Death Egg can be completed.

Episode II plays similar to the first episode, yet with some enhancements to the gameplay. This time around, Sonic is no longer solo in Episode II, as Tails returns to aid the blue hedgehog. Tails can either be controlled by the computer in single-player, or in multiplayer in local or online co-op play. With the inclusion of Tails, Sonic can now perform new combo moves, such as the Tail Lift and Power Spin Attack. Tail Lift gives Sonic a temporary chopper lift that he can use to hover in order to reach elevated areas. It also serves as a quick escape from death during certain levels in the game. Meanwhile, the Power Spin Attack combo grants Sonic and Tails a powerful roll (similar to Sonic’s regular spin attack) that can destroy mostly anything in their path. This combo move definitely comes in handy during some of the boss fights.

Special stages also return in Episode II. Similar to how Episode I revived the special stages from the original Sonic, Episode 2 borrows from Sonic 2’s special stages. These special stages are based on a half-pipe race showing a rear view of Sonic and Tails as they try to collect a certain number of rings. If you succeed in acquiring all the rings during a special stage, then Sonic is able to retrieve a Chaos Emerald. Also returning are the Red Star Rings (which were last seen in Sonic Colors and Sonic Generations). One Red Ring is hidden per act, and an achievement/trophy is unlocked after collecting them all.

Also, a nice addition to owning both Episode I and Episode II will unlock you the Episode Metal bonus stages. These stages explore how Metal Sonic survived his battle with Sonic after the events of Sonic CD. During these levels, you take control of Metal Sonic as he races his way through reworked zones from Episode I. Not only are these zones a little different from the first Episode, but there are short segments that show how Metal Sonic received the power he now has in Episode 2, and how he caught up with Sonic and Tails at the beginning of this game.

The old school challenge of Sonic the Hedgehog is still apparent, with creative boss battles and reworked levels from previous Sonic games. It would have been nice to see newer zones rather than older ones retooled for Sonic 4, but the level designs are engaging and fun, and they are reminiscent of past Sonic games. Sonic’s movements are still a little sluggish compared to the originals, but you easily get used to it and the controls don’t detract from the gameplay experience (except for the “flying” stage as Sonic and Tails head for the Sky Fortress in their Tornado plane. This segment was difficult and somewhat boring in its length). The boss battles were well crafted as well, as they gave the player an old school strategy feel. At times, these bosses could prove frustrating, but once you were able to figure out each strategy, the feeling of accomplishment overcame the frustration.

Sonic 4: Episode II is a great DLC game that all Sonic fans (as well as new fans to the series) should play. I’m hopeful that we’ll see an Episode III, but from what’s been said, that would depend on the sales of Episode II. Sonic deserves to remain in 2D form, so I hope to see more DLC episodes down the line.


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