While Mario seemingly goes from strength to strength (and still has no android/ios port), the ailing Sonic finally took the leap to iOS and Android devices last year with a welcome return to form and SPEED. Though many at the time (quite rightly) derided Sonic 4 Episode 1 for his oddly shiny 3D model, most enjoyed the game for its fun set pieces and retro gameplay (Sonic looping the loop never gets old). Firstly though let’s get this out of the way, Sonic 4 Episode 2 does little to break the mould that Episode 1 set out, but refines it greatly with some subtle additions.
Of course then, this is classic Sonic gameplay with your speedy hedgehog jumping, spinning and dashing his way gloriously from one end of the level to another. Evolution then, not revolution is the core tenet here. Unfortunately though, this evolution philosophy is even carried on to the art designs of the stage themes – they are variations on themes we’ve seen a dozen times before in Sonic games – Water – check, odd Jungle type area check, Casino type area check, you get the picture. The only caveat here being a beautiful snow level. While the level designs are generally uninspiring if you’ve played any Sonic game before they are still very much fun however, and much longer than their original Mega Drive counterparts. Hence even with only 3 stages – each with 3 areas and a boss area you’ll still get a decent amount of play time – even if the game doesn’t give you any real reason to replay stages.
If you’ve played Sonic 4 Episode 1 then at this point you may be thinking what’s the difference between Episode 1 and 2. Though in general they are quite similar there is a huge addition to Episode 2 and this is the return of Sonic’s favourite androgynous friend: Tails (I still don’t know if it is a boy or a girl). Tails follows and floats around you a la ‘Sonic 2′ but in addition also adds some extra game mechanics to Sonic’s arsenal. Sonic 4 Episode 2 has an all new ‘co-op’ mechanic allowing Sonic to reach areas that he previously couldn’t reach. A good example is Tails tailcopting (or carrying, yes I just made that word up) Sonic to higher locations. ’Co-op’ actions are handily accessed by a new ‘co-op’ button. SEGA though, realising that sometimes it can be confusing when you actually need Tails to help you, have generously left huge animated sign-posts to tell you how to get to the next section. In practice the new co-op mechanics work quite well even if they won’t really make you go ‘wow’!. A welcome comeback to Episode 2 also comes from Sonic the Hedgehog 2: the ‘special stages’ – Sonic and tails run through a psychedelic half pipe collecting rings – collect enough rings to get to the next level - a welcome and fun distraction from the main game.
Overall, the 3D models of Sonic and Tails look great this time round with the animations top notch (not that we’d expect anything less). An interesting upgrade from Episode 1 though, is the backgrounds which are now fully 3D and animated giving a greater sense of life to the level, even if all the level themes are rehashes of previous Sonic levels. Framerate on our test device was solid and rapid enough to have us whooping with delight when we got Sonic running at super speed. Sonic 4 is a triumph then for mobile devices and adds a growing further question mark against more traditional gaming devices such as the Nintendo 3DS. Fortunately though, one thing a traditional gaming device such as a Playstation 3 or PSVita still have over the smartphones is dedicated buttons. Though we generally had no problems with the virtual d-pad and buttons, sometimes with no tactile feedback we would making our Sonic run instead of ducking down ready for a spin was particularly annoying – maybe it’s time we bought an Xperia Play instead…
Verdict: 3.5/5 – Overall Sonic 4 Episode 2 is a great and enjoyable romp through the Sonic universe. The additions to the game are solidly implemented if not ground breaking. Though the levels do not generally inspire they do (water level faux pas aside) give you a sense of wonderment when Sonic’s running so quickly you’re almost just a passenger. Strangely enough though, that’s when Sonic’s at his best – when you are just enjoying the sheer speed and that alone is well worth the price of admission.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4 – Episode 2 tips and hints from AndroidGamesReview
- Look out for the animated co-op signs that show you when to use the Tails by pressing the ‘co-op’ button. Try the 2 most often used types – the double dash (by pressing co-op button when both Sonic and Tails are on the ground) or the tailcopter when Sonic in the air.
- Make sure you get air from all the air spouts in the water levels in Sonic
- The Red rings are generally well hidden in each level, you’re going to have to be quite thorough to find them
- In the first area boss battle use tails to carry sonic up in the air so he can then use the target dash attack to hit Robotnik
- Tails will also collect coins to add to your total in the special stages
- Be sure to toggle each checkpoint if you have to quite the game in a rush (and some levels are quite long) when you restart the game it will allow you to start from the last star checkpoint (also useful if you do this quickly before you die to save a life ;) )
- Price = 5.27