Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Sonic the Hedgehog 4

Go To

The ones where the franchise went back to 2D, but was still 3D!

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 an Episodic Game, with only two episodes released. 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.

The story is simple: Mad Scientist and aspiring world conqueror Dr. Eggman 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 iOS, Wii, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Android. It was hyped as essentially Mega Man 9 meets New Super Mario Bros. from the outset, thanks to its codename of "Project Needlemouse".note  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 officially launched on May 15, 2012 for PC, PS3, Xbox 360, Android, and iOS platforms.note  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 recurring 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. Having a Episode I save file on the same platform will unlock Episode Metal, a four-act mini-episode starring Metal Sonic.


Due to lower-than-expected performance of the series, Episode III was cancelled, with its development team having little faith that the project will be revived.

This game provides examples of:

  • Action Bomb: Telstars/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."
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Sky Fortress Zone, a direct tribute to Wing Fortress Zone.
  • Airborne Mook: Stingers/Buzzers from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 reappear.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Episode Metal is unlocked after playing the first act of Episode II on a device with Episode I save data installed.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Guardon/Crawl crab badniks have a turning animation that shows them switching their shield from arm to arm.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: The second and boss Acts of White Park are entirely set on roller coaster tracks. The former has sections of moving track, while both have sections of missing track.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The iOS port of Episode II Special Stages has Sonic's horizontal movement slightly slowed down; although this sounds like hell, they removed the traps.
  • Arc Welding: A Sega rep confirmed that Episode I does this to Sonic CD, as it wasn't considered to be significantly tied in any way to the numerical Genesis trilogy.
  • Art Evolution: Episode II receives a very noticeable jump in the graphics department compared to Episode I, as the zones have a more detailed and 3rd dimensional appearance to them and the models lack the cel-shaded look they had in Episode I.
  • Ash Face: Eggman gets that after yet another unsuccessful battle.
  • Auto-Scrolling Level: Sky Fortress Zone Act 1.
  • Bad Future: As seen in Episode Metal, Metal Sonic apparently hails from Stardust Speedway's Bad Future, which looks extremely familiar to a previous version.
  • Background Boss: The Sylvania Castle and Oil Desert bosses.
  • 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.
  • Big Bad: Dr. Eggman.
  • Blackout Basement: In Episode I, Lost Labyrinth Zone Act 2 has some sections without much light. Thankfully, Sonic carries a torch throughout the entire act. This becomes a non-issue if the player unlocks Super Sonic.
  • 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-Only Level: E.G.G. Station.
  • 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).
  • Casino Park: Casino Street Zone.
  • Cliffhanger: Beat E.G.G. Station Zone after collecting all 7 Chaos Emeralds in Episode I. A silhouette of Metal Sonic appears as soon as Eggman comes out of nowhere in his Egg mobile, which will make his boss appearances in Episode II.
  • Combination Attack: An available action in Episode II is a combination Spin Dash with Sonic and Tails.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The final boss for Episode I and the background that accompanies it is a giant throwback to Sonic 2.
    • The blue spin wheels from Marble Garden Zone appears in Sylvania Castle, and the entire Sky Fortress Zone is one big nod to Sky Chase and Wing Fortress.
    • The intro scene to Episode Metal begins with a zone title screen lifted directly from Sonic CD.
  • Continuity Snarl: Episode Metal retroactively introduces one to the series. The game explicitly points out that Metal Sonic was left abandoned for a long time on Little Planet after he was defeated on Stardust Speedway and wasn't revived by Eggman until the modern era. Problem is that Metal Sonic makes several other appearances in the classic era spinoff Sonic games (i.e. Sonic the Fighters, Sonic Triple Trouble, Sonic Drift), and per word of Sega staffer Aaron Webber, "Everything is canon." While there's nothing stopping Eggman from simply building other Metal Sonics to replace it, the series always seemed to treat Metal Sonic as one consistent being and not an identical series of robots (aside from the similar Mecha Sonics), and it's rather odd that Eggman would go out of his way to seek out the original Metal Sonic to revive it when he could have just easily cobbled together another one.
  • Credits Medley: In both episodes, in a similar vein from the Genesis titles.
  • Crosshair Aware: During Episode I's final boss fight.
  • Cut Short: A third episode was planned as a way to round out Sonic 4 as a trilogy much like the original 16-bit games.note  Lower than expected sales and critical reception of the first two episodes caused Sega to cancel Episode III.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Episode I's engine is based on Sonic Rush (and by extension, the DS version of Sonic Colors), which threw off quite a number of fans used to the tighter physics of the Genesis games.
  • Difficulty Spike: First one during Lost Labyrinth Zone. Second one during the final boss.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: The name of Mad Gear Zone Act 3, Impending Doom. It fits.
  • Down the Drain: Lost Labyrinth, Act 3. Oddly, the only underwater level in Episode I (excluding the first half of the level's boss).
  • The Dragon: Metal Sonic is this to Eggman in Episode II.
  • Dueling Games: This game duels with both New Super Mario Bros. Wii and Donkey Kong Country Returns, both of which come from Sega's old rival from the 16-bit days (the former from its primary development team, the latter from its overseas Retro Studios division).
  • 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.
  • Eternal Engine: Mad Gear Zone in Episode I, Oil Desert Zone in Episode II.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Mad Gear Zone Act 3, big time.
  • 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.
  • Flight: Tails in Episode II. He can pick up Sonic and fly him across huge gaps but gets tired after a while.
  • 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.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss:
    • The boss of Mad Gear decides to do this.
    • Metal Sonic does this twice in Episode II.
  • The Goomba: Motobugs return in Episode I, while in Episode II, they are succeeded by Fullboar.
  • Gravity Screw: Episode II has an interesting take on this. See it here, but beware of spoilers for Episode II's last level.
  • Green Hill Zone: Splash Hill Zone.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • The console version of Lost Labyrinth Zone Act 2 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 very 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 Zone Act 1? Yeah, you can hit him with those.
  • Gusty Glade: Oil Desert Zone Act 1.
  • Hailfire Peaks: Much of the levels in Episode II seem to be this.
  • 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.
  • Idle Animation:
    • In the iOS version of the game, if Sonic stands still for a few seconds, he'll pull out an iPod and dance to the level theme.
    • In Episode Metal, Metal Sonic will look around, apparently to see just where you went. If he stands still long enough, he'll glare at the screen.
  • Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: Present in Mad Gear Zone.
  • Indy Escape: Short segments in Lost Labyrinth Zone Act 1.
  • Infinite 1-Ups: Casino Street Zone Act 2 gives you plenty of chance to rack up extra lives.
  • Internal Homage: There are a lot; some reviews actually criticized the game for this.
  • Interquel: According to press for Episode I, it directly follows the destruction of the Death Egg in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. This isn't evident in the game itself, but this is also suggested to be the case in Episode II, when (barring a time travel explanation) Metal Sonic reawakens after the events of Sonic CD.
  • Kaizo Trap: You will be sobbing by the end of E.G.G. Station Zone if you fall into this one.
  • Last Ditch Move: The final boss in Episode I has one.
  • Law of 100: Lives goes to 999 now, since one Episode I achievement requires you to grind out triple-digit lives (mainly through Casino Street Zone Act 2).
  • Left Hanging: At the end of Episode II, Little Planet floats away with the Death Egg Mk.II still around it. Since there'll never be an Episode III, it's probable that this plot thread will never be resolved and instead be forgotten about.
  • Load-Bearing Boss: Both the Wing Fortress and Death Egg Mk.II fall victim to this. Appropriately, the end boss of the latter is shaped like a heart.
  • Loose Canon:
    • Sonic 4's story was Cut Short and is almost never referenced by other media, and it's unclear if Mania, itself also a sequel to the classic games, has replaced it in official canon or not.
    • The island in Sonic 4 was given the name "Mirage Island" by David Frisk, a writer for the Sonic fansite Sonic Retro, who was given the blessing by Aaron Webber, the social media manager for the Sonic franchise. It's unclear if "Mirage Island" has been officially accepted as canon or not.
  • 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.
  • Minecart Madness: The mobile version of Lost Labyrinth Zone Act 2.
  • Mirror Boss: Metal Sonic at the end of Death Egg Mk.II Zone Act 1, even more so than the original Metal Sonic race.
  • Motion Blur: The background directly behind Sonic gets blurry when he's running at top speed.
  • Musical Nod:
    • Part of White Park Zone 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 catch a bit of Metropolis Zone's opening snare in the theme of Oil Desert Zone Act 1.
    • The intro to Episode Metal has traces of the US and Japanese/European versions of Sonic CD's main theme.
    • Episode I's default boss music is a remade version of and unused theme found in a Sonic 3D Blast prototype.
    • The race against Metal Sonic in Death Egg Mk.II Zone Act 1 is, of course, overlaid by the bad future Stardust Speedway Zone theme from Sonic CD but with a Sonic 4-style instrumentation.
    • Lost Labyrinth Zone, particularly Act 1, has segments in it that sounds like Sky Troops.
    • The Episode I Special Stage and Episode II Final Boss music are based around their original incarnations music.
  • Nintendo Hard: The final Special Stages in both Episode I and Episode II are about as close to impossible as you can get.
  • Non-Fatal Explosions: After the boss is defeated, the Eggmobile is rather charred.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • Every Zone, enemy, and boss of Episode I.
    • 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 a third time, 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 site of Metal Sonic's defeat in Sonic CD, Stardust Speedway Zone 3, and even features the original title card for the zone used in that game.note 
    • All the Zones have some throwback elements and resemblances to previous zones: Sylvania Castle to Aquatic Ruin and Marble Garden; White Park to Carnival Night and IceCap (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.
    • This is the case for the Episode II Beta8; although it is virtually finished, it has an instant ring debug command and minor graphical errors, as well as tiny leftovers for an additional ending.
  • Old Save Bonus: Metal Sonic is playable if you purchased Episode II on the same platform as Episode I.note  Episode Metal is one redesigned Act from each of the four main Zones in Episode I in reverse order.
  • Ominous Obsidian Ooze: Oil Desert Zone is a remix of Oil Ocean from Sonic 2, complete with the lethal tarry environmental hazard.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Later Zones have puzzle areas which prove to be tricky.
  • Oxygenated Underwater Bubbles: Present in levels with underwater sections. You touch the bubble to refill your air supply.
  • Pinball Zone: Casino Street Zone has giant pinball bumpers and controllable flippers.
  • Prequel: Episode Metal is the prequel to Episode II, explaining how Metal Sonic reappears in White Park Zone, Sky Fortress Zone, and Death Egg Mk.II. Sonic CD itself can be seen as a prequel to Episode II, and the Sonic 4 saga itself is marketed as a prequel to the Sonic Adventure-onwards era.
  • Rise to the Challenge: Oil Desert Zone Act 3 has this, with the ground rising while you try to avoid being crushed by the ceiling.
  • Rolling Attack: In Episode II, Sonic and Tails can perform a combined version of this to break through obstacles they couldn't break through alone.
  • Ruins for Ruins' Sake: Lost Labyrinth and Sylvania Castle Zones.
  • Scenery Porn: There are some very detailed and animated backgrounds, particularly in Episode II, which ditches the pre-rendered 2D graphics in favor of true 3D graphics.
  • Sequel 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.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Oil Desert Zone in Episode II, complete with massive Sand Worm Badniks.
  • Shout-Out: Episode II's escape pods. They're a slightly more egg-shaped version of Saiyan pods. Them returning to Sonic's world is even a recreation of a scene from Dragon Ball Z.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World: Acts 1 and 3 of White Park Zone. Both involve swimming as well, but especially the third act.
  • Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom: Mad Gear Zone has them.
  • Space Zone: E.G.G. Station Zone and Death Egg Mk.II Zone.
  • Super Mode: What happens when you get all of the Chaos Emeralds.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills: Underwater travel has returned, so this is a given. Super Sonic can now breathe underwater, where previously only Hyper Sonic could achieve this.
  • Temple of Doom: Lost Labyrinth Zone and Sylvania Castle Zone.
  • 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 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.
    • This is 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.
  • Turns Red:
    • Each boss in Episode I starts out relatively simple, using a silly, cornball boss theme (which just happens to be recycled Dummied Out Sonic 3D Blast music). 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 Zone's boss is the Egg Mobile-H from Sonic 1. Once Eggman takes enough damage he starts spinning the wrecking ball in a circle.
      • Casino Street Zone's boss is the Catcher Eggman from Casino Night Zone. Bash it enough and it rolls around the arena with two electric buzzsaws.
      • Lost Labyrinth Zone'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 Zone's boss is the Flying Eggman 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 Mushroom Hill Zone boss-style chase, but Eggman throws the clones at you to halt you.
      • E.G.G. Station Zone runs through all 4 bosses' 2nd forms in a row. Make it to the end and you fight the final boss of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 - Death Egg Robot. After taking enough damage, 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.
  • Underwater Ruins: Lost Labyrinth Zone. Sylvania Castle Zone also contains slight elements of this.
  • Under the Sea: White Park Zone Act 3 mostly takes place in an underwater ice cave.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The Steelions in White Park Zone 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.
  • Villain Protagonist: Metal Sonic and Episode Metal, respectively.
  • 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?
  • Wheel o' Feet: Sonic.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: It's a sequel to the classic Sonic games.
  • Wrap Around: The end of Lost Labyrinth Zone Act 3 has a room which loops vertically infinitely.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: