Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 (360, PSN, Wii, PC)

The blue blur is back in Sonic 4: Episode 2, and this time he’s brought along his pal Tails for the ride! Which is good, because this time he’ll need all the help he can get! Because in Episode 2, not only does Sonic have to deal with Eggman, he’ll also have to face off with Metal Sonic (a much better rival than Shadow or Silver I think). Read on to find out if Sonic’s next 2-D installment is worth the ride! (360 version reviewed here)

If you’ve ever played a 2-D Sonic game on the Sega Genesis, you’ll know what to expect here. Sonic and Tails spin, jump, and run through colorful levels filled with loops, obstacles, and Eggman’s robots. Sonic has all his trademark moves, like the spin dash. Even his homing attack from the 3-D games is back, and works better than it did in Episode 1. I also appreciated other small improvements, like warning signs over pits that were introduced in Sonic Generations.

Tails follows Sonic around in the stages, and he’s the best thing to happen in Episode 2. Press the X button and Sonic and Tails can do a team combo move. In the air, Tails picks up Sonic and flies for a short while (a flight meter would’ve been nice to let you know how much futher Tails can go). On the ground, Tails and Sonic do a super spin move to help them crash through crumbling walls and snow drifts. And Tails helps Sonic swim while underwater (just don’t run out of air). The only bad thing is that a second player can’t pick up a controller and move Tails around in Single Player Mode like in the old Genesis games.

But that’s what the new multiplayer modes are for! Two players can pick Sonic or Tails and run through levels in local co-op or over Xbox LIVE. You can also upload your best level completion times to leaderboards, too. Although this kind of multiplayer doesn’t suit classic Sonic gameplay well, as it’s easy for one player to fall behind. Again, it’s unfortunate that you can’t play as just only Tails in Single Player Mode; although I guess then it would be hard to pull off combo attacks.

My only other main problem with Episode 2 is that it only feels like half a game, and it took way too long for Episode 2 to come out (it’s been a year and a half). Really the only company that I feel like has done episodic gameplay right is TellTale with their point and click adventures. But even though Sonic 4:Episode 2 is a short ride, it’s also fun for classic 2-D Sonic fans. And there’s some replay value to be had, too, with hidden red rings and Chaos Emeralds to find (they even brought back the half-pipe bonus stages for these). And if you have Episode 1 downloaded, you’ll be able to play some levels from that game as Metal Sonic! Cool!

Kid Factor:

It’s a fact. Kids love Sonic. Whether it’s games, cartoons, or comics, they can’t get enough of him. Kids will enjoy the simpler gameplay in Sonic 4, and reading skill isn’t necessary, but younger gamers might get frustrated at the tougher levels and bosses. It’s great that kids can play together in multiplayer mode, but it’s too bad you can’t play as both characters in single player. Back on the Genesis, a second player could control Tails without worrying about getting hurt or losing, which was perfect for younger siblings. Sonic 4: Episode 2 is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Comic Mischief. Sonic just spins into robots and falls off the screen when defeated, and that’s as violent as it gets.

In the comments section, tell me who your favorite Sonic characters are! It’s pretty easy to guess mine: Tails (I also like Big the Cat). Brother Jeff’s favorite is Knuckles. It would be cool if Episode 3 only starred Tails, but that’s just my opinion!

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