Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a side-scrolling platformer developed by Dimps that is a throwback to Sonic's roots on the Sega Genesis, as well as being a response to the series' polygon ceiling-related criticism. It's a direct sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles and also an episodic game, with only two episodes released so far. Each episode has four Zones with four Acts each (not including the final Zones), making for a decently-sized downloadable game that Sega initially designed to test the waters for classic Sonic's return.Following the destruction of the Death Egg at the hands of Sonic the Hedgehog, mad scientist and aspiring world conquerorDr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik seeks revenge on his perpetual arch nemesis by rebuilding his best Badniks to go on a hedgehog hunt. Now, Sonic must counter Eggman's offense and save the world from the doctor once again.Episode I was released on the Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and iPhone/iPad. It was hyped as essentially Mega Man 9meetsNew Super Mario Bros. from the outset, thanks to its codename of "Project Needlemouse".note "Mr. Needlemouse" was Sonic's name back when his very first game was still in the planning stages. The game featured almost no momentum thanks to the physics being copied and pasted from Sonic Rush. The developers even admitted to doing so intentionally to place more emphasis on using the Homing Attack.Episode II was launched on May 15, 2012 for the PS3, Xbox 360, PC, Android, and iOS platforms. It featured an improved graphics engine (which kept it from releasing on the Wii since it wasn't powerful enough) and somewhat improved the physics of Episode I. The plot involves Dr. Eggman creating a new Death Egg by roboticizing the Little Planet from Sonic CD. Metal Sonic returns as a reoccurring boss, and Tails follows Sonic everywhere just like in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. He also allows for three new team-up moves: flying, swimming, and a barreling cannonball spin attack. Owners of Episode I can also play Episode Metal, a four-act mini-episode starring Metal Sonic.The performance of both episodes has not convinced Sega to make a Episode III.Here's where you can discuss all matters pertaining to this miniseries.
This game provides examples of:
Action Bomb: Asterons make a return. However, they have been nerfed so they won't blow up instantly.
Advancing Wall of Doom: Lost Labyrinth Zone has one as a tribute to Hydrocity Zone. If you thought those were hair-raising, just wait until Mad Gear Zone Act 3, which does a little Lampshade Hanging by being named "Impending Doom."
Bait-and-Switch Boss: The first boss of Episode II does this by tricking the player into thinking they are going to fight another nostalgia boss, but then Eggman goes to the real boss machine immediately afterward.
Bash Brothers: Episode II sees the return of "Sonic & Tails" mode with 2-player co-op (offline and online), complete with at least one new combination attack and Tails being able to carry Sonic.
Bears Are Bad News: White Park Zone features a gigantic polar-bear type badnik with large claws that takes three hits to go down instead of the usual one. Its name? Snowy.
Bonus Stage: The Special Stages. In Episode I, there's the rotating mazes, which now play just like Cameltry (you control the maze's rotation and there's a time limit). Episode II features the half pipe challenges often used in other Sonic games.
Boss Rush: E.G.G. Station Zone pits Sonic against the four previous bosses in Episode I with half health, but they go into pinch mode after one hit.
Boss Subtitles: Shown in the Acts' intro screens, even for non-boss Acts.
Broad Strokes: The official website has an intro section that gets the story wrong for Sonic & Knuckles (the Sonic story comes before the Knuckles story, but the website says they happened simultaneously).
Development Gag: The earliest publicity for the game referred to it by the code name Project Needlemouse. "Mr. Needlemouse" is what the developers of the original game called the blue hedgehog before they settled on Sonic as his name.
All of the Zones in Episode II are based on the aborted Sonic 2 Zones: a forest (based on Wood Zone), a desert that would be palette shifted to resemble a winter snowdrift with a Christmas theme (based on Dust Hill Zonenote In betas, this is not implemented at all except for the name; selecting it redirects to an early version of Mystic Cave Zone with the Dust Hill name used instead), and an extension of the final Death Egg Zone (it was originally going to be two Acts). Additionally, Oil Desert Zone is very reminiscent of a hoax mockup for yet another scrapped zone, Genocide City Zone.
A far more subtle one comes with Sky Fortress; as revealed by late prototypes of Sonic 2, Sky Fortress was meant to be Wing Fortress's original name◊.
Easter Egg: During the ending to Episode I, you can make Sonic jump and collect some rings. If you get them all, Sonic will either do his winpose from Sonic 1, Sonic 2 or turn Super, depending on how many Emeralds and Rings you got.
Expressive Ears: Both Sonic and Tails have these in their Idle Animations. Sonic's ears flick with irritation at being kept waiting whilst Tails' move about when he's sleeping. Their ears also droop in disappointment if they fail to get a Chaos Emerald in Special Stages.
Foreshadowing: The ending to Episode I with 7 Chaos Emeralds has this. After Sonic leaves, Eggman appears onto the screen, laughing as he reveals a darkened silhouette of Metal Sonic. Guess who comes back in Episode II?
Game-Breaking Bug: Like the Genesis games, every level has a ten minute time limit, and reaching that limit causes you to lose a life and sends you back to the last checkpoint. Unfortunately, the game has a tendency to start the timer at 09:59:99 when you restart, with the result that you die instantly, again. Generally the timer resets to 00:00:00 after that, so you just end up losing two lives... but sometimes it doesn't, and you get locked in an infinite loop which will rapidly eat up all your extra lives unless you reset the console.
Guide Dang It: Lost Labyrinth Act 2 (the console version) seems to have sent many running to YouTube with its torch puzzle. Once you figure out what each torch does, it's much easier but until then, it can be extremely frustrating.
Act 3 has the spiked water chamber, which some fans consider to be this game's Barrel of Doom.
The "Metal Sonic Falls" achievement. Those cannonballs Metal Sonic shoots at you in Sky Fortress Act 1? Yeah, you can hit him with those.
Hailfire Peaks: Much of the levels in Episode II seem to be this. See the main description.
Helpful Mook: Bubbles is the unintentional version. Rows of them help you to go to cross pits, as well as provide an instant boost in score.
He's Back: A villainous variant appears in the secret ending of Episode I with a brief silhouette of Metal Sonic.
History Repeats: Metal Sonic tries to kill Sonic by goading him into a race, beat him to the finish line and trick him into running into an electrified door. Apparently he didn't learn from Stardust Speedway.
Law of 100: It goes to 999 now, since one Episode I achievement requires you to grind out triple-digit lives (mainly through Casino Street Act 2).
Load-Bearing Boss: Both the Wing Fortress and the Death Egg Mk 2 fall victim to this. Appropriately, the end boss of the latter is shaped like a heart.
Marathon Boss: The final battle of the game at E.G.G. Station will take some time. It's made longer by the fact after some hits, Eggman becomes invincible to direct contact unless you hit him with something else first.
Part of White Park Act 2's music is based off of Twinkle Park theme, "Pleasure Castle", a song that composer Jun Senoue previously worked on. Twinkle Park also had a roller coaster game play element as the Pleasure Castle section opens.
You can also catch a bit of Metropolis Zone's opening snare in the theme for act 1 of Oil Desert.
The intro to Episode Metal has traces of the US and Japanese versions of Sonic CD's main theme.
As for Episode II, there is only one throwback Zone in the game. It's Sky Fortress, which takes cues from Sky Chase and Wing Fortress from Sonic the Hedgehog 2. However, the Death Egg Zone returns for athirdtime, but is once again different to the previous times Sonic was there. The final battle with Metal Sonic, whilst taking place in the Death Egg Zone, is a throwback to his race in Stardust Speedway complete with the original song using Episode II's instruments. In addition, the opening cutscene for Episode Metal takes place in the place of Metal Sonic's defeat in Sonic CD, Stardust Speedway Act 3, and even features the original title card for the zone used in that game.note The aesthetic is lifted from the Rival Battle in Sonic Generations, however.
Nonetheless, all the Zones have some throwback elements and resemblances to previous zones: Sylvania Castle to Aquatic Ruin and Marble Garden; White Park to Ice Cap (the snowboarding section is a clear nod), Oil Desert to Oil Ocean and Sandopolis.
Obvious Beta: Episode I seems to be a justified example. It feels experimental; the programmers probably wanted to see what the average player would and wouldn't like in future installments.
Old Save Bonus: Metal Sonic is playable if you purchased Episode II on the same platform as Episode I.note Since Episode II wasn't released on Wii, people who got the Wii version of the original thus have to either rebuy the game on another platform or forgo the bonus.Episode Metal is one redesigned Act from each of the 4 main Zones in Episode I (in reverse order).
Prequel Difficulty Spike: What Episode Metal amounts to, as it takes different acts from Episode I, and amps up the difficulty with more hazards and different badnik placements. The physics are taken directly from Episode II, however.
Rise to the Challenge: Oil Desert Act 3 has this, with the ground rising while you try to avoid being crushed by the ceiling.
Timed Mission: Like the classic Genesis games, you only have 10 minutes to make it through the level. Good luck on E.G.G. Station.
You also are under a time limit in the Special Stages in Episode I.
Transformation Is a Free Action: When Sonic and Tails do their tag team animations in Episode II, the entire game world (and the clock) stops and kindly lets them finish, making those moves much more useful in speedruns.
Averted with Super Sonic, whose transformation doesn't pause the game.
Trick Boss: A habit of Eggman in these games. In particular, every Episode I boss appears to be a returning boss with absolutely no changes, but after a few hits Eggman unveils new tactics. See Turns Red for specifics.
Each boss in Episode I starts out relatively simple, using a silly, cornball boss theme (which just happens to be recycled Dummied OutSonic 3D Blastmusic). But once you've gotten far enough in the fight, the music changes to the faster-paced, aggressive second boss theme, and whatever machine Eggman is using starts fighting for real.
Splash Hill's Boss is the wrecking ball from Sonic 1. Once Eggman takes enough damage he starts spinning the wrecking ball in a circle.
Casino Street's Boss is the electric eggmobile from Casino Night. Bash it enough and it rolls around the arena with two electric buzzsaws.
Lost Labyrinth's Boss starts out as the obstacle course from Labyrinth Zone, but when you reach the end you end up in a room where Eggman gets to control the walls. You have to predict exactly which walls will extend so you can hit him based on his movement.
Mad Gear's Boss is the clone machine from Metropolis Zone, with the exception that hitting Eggman moves him forward, hitting the orbs does no damage to you, and hitting the clones does do damage to you. Upon being hit enough times, you enter a Death Egg style chase, but Eggman throws the clones at you to halt you.
E.G.G. Station runs through all 4 bosses' 2nd forms in a row. Make it to the end and you fight the Sonic 2 Death Egg final boss - the Eggman Mech. Once you do enough damage to it, sirens start going off and it starts going berserk, running around the room in a jerky fashion and firing its rocket punches at an angle. It also has electricity coursing around it due to the malfunction and you can get damaged by it unless you knock his rocket arms back at him. His final attack makes him fly everywhere and try to crush you under his immense weight, and if you don't hit him in time the floor will open and you will fall to your death. On top of all of that, if you're standing on the floor when the mech hits it, you will lose your footing and not be able to control Sonic until the floor crumbles. Have fun with that.
Episode II, in contrast, generally has each boss gradually pick up the pace as you attack it more.
Sylvania Castle's boss starts out as what looks like a giant plant swinging metal vine tentacles at you, which you have to have Tails carry you up to. Once you hit it four times, it grows two more tentacles to hit you with. After six hits, the tentacles stop attacking you and act as energy conduits for a Wave Motion Gun that Eggman aims in a circle around the arena.
Metal Sonic in White Park normally attacks by rolling at you, but as you hit him, he gains two more attacks: throwing lightning bolts at you that you have to get around and pounding holes in the track you have to jump over or suffer instant death.
The scrap metal mecha in Oil Desert starts dropping shipping containers on you faster as you hit it. After two or three hits, it drops boxes with spikes on top, and after five or six, crates of dynamite start falling.
Metal Sonic's jet in Sky Fortress will start to attack with its lasers more frequently, and sometimes it goes to the bottom of the screen where you can't hit it. At the end of the fight, the fortress launches a bunch of missiles at you that you have to dodge so you can get close enough to boost into and finish the boss.
The platforms in the final boss start to be electrified more as you hit Eggman. At around four hits, he gains an orange shield that you have to team roll through, along with a singularity attack that, if you're too slow in hitting him, will suck you in and not only throw you against the wall to hurt you, but it will also make all the rings disappear.
Unwinnable by Design - Polite: The Steelions in White Park Act 3 start creating large chunks of ice the moment they spot Sonic. Towards the end of the Act, they're deliberately placed to completely obstruct Sonic's path, making it impossible to proceed further (even with the powerful Rolling Combo or using Super Sonic) and your only option to let Sonic drown and try again. Since these Steelions are located in a narrow corridor and are already facing the direction where Sonic would emerge, the only way to get through this area is to run past the Steelions' range of ice before they finish (or defeat them before the ice starts forming, which is much harder), easier said than done as there are so many of them. And it's underwater.
Wall Master: Newtwons which appear when Sonic goes near them.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Sonic and Tails defeat the Egg Heart! Yay! The Death Egg Mk.II is exploding! Double yay! But Little Planet is now drifting in space, and still encased in metal. Um... Not yay?