While Sega may have openly admitted to releasing a few bad Sonic games during the series’ lifetime, Sonic 4: Episode 1 for iPhone ($10) is a worthy comeback for nostalgic gamers interested in experiencing a healthy dose of the blue blur’s high-speed talents.
Packed with new takes on classic level setting like Casino Street and Splash Hill plus two new worlds (and some mine cart stages exclusive to the iPhone), it’s familiar without being repetitive. The often frustrating hunt to obtain all 7 Chaos emeralds is still there too for old Sonic Pro’s looking to do more than just free critters from their robotic prisons. That’s important considering Episode 1 only contains 17 stages — not including bonus rounds — and can be played through initially in roughly 2-3 hours. In terms of new game play, the addition of a “honing” attack in Sonic’s limited quiver of moves does a surprisingly good job of adding a new dimension to the game. On the complaint side, the touch screen faux analog controls are certainly a bit harder to use than the old Sega black boomerang. We really wish the developers would have optimized the game for the iPhone 4’s gorgeous retina display too. Overall though, these are small complaints for an otherwise excellent portable Sonic gaming experience. Particularly when we recall the days of our Game Gear chewing through six AAA batteries in less than a half hour. Now let’s just hope it doesn’t take Sega another decade to release episode two.
Editor’s Note: Sonic 4 is also out on Wii, Playstation, and Xbox 360 for those who prefer to relish the experience on their HDTV via an actual controller.
Buy Now: $10
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