The brief time I spent with Sonic 4 Episode 2 at PAX East 2012 was all it took to realize that Sega corrected the flaws of Episode 1, and it put my worries at ease. To begin with, I want to make it clear that I was not a huge fan of Episode 1, as it did not feel like the most responsive Sonic game. My favorite Sonic games were on the Genesis, and Ep 2 felt as close as it could to sitting in front of my Sega Genesis again, blast processing aside of course. Hit the jump to find out whether or not Sonic 4 Episode 2 will be worth your time, and take a look at my interview with the pleasant Sonic brand manager Ken Balough.
As soon as I picked up the controller, Sonic felt more responsive to the buttons than he did in Sonic 4 Episode 1. Sonic ran fast immediately without any sluggish start, and he felt a lot less floaty when falling or bouncing off enemies. These slight changes made a huge difference with the gameplay and overall feeling for the better. I felt like I had control over the game again.
To my own surprise, Tails is actually a helpful character now. In the Genesis days, Tails was mainly a meatshield for badniks, or the reason you never grabbed the chaos emerald at the last second in a special stage. To be blunt, Tails has a brain now, and helpful abilities. The rolling team attack between Sonic and Tails easily breaks through walls and enemies and feels like brief invulnerability. Prior to Ep 2, Tails could only partially elevate Sonic by holding him while flying, which has now changed. With the press of a button, Sonic will grab Tails’ hand, allowing them to fly anywhere in the level with as much freedom as Tails used to have on his own. This was an incredible relief and showed much promise for the size of the levels in Episode 2 as well.
Speaking of Tails’ abilities, any Sonic fan knows that Sonic cannot swim but that Tails always could. Even in Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Tails was able to swim under water to different areas previously inaccessible. In Ep 2, Tails can actually hold Sonic while swimming and even fly/swim him out of the water at which point you will obtain a slight bit of propulsion. With this newfound freedom, I also learned that some enemies are waiting for you to emerge from the water and had to plan accordingly in the demo.
With these pleasant first impressions, I also had the opportunity to meet and talk with Ken Balough, the Sonic 4 Brand Manager at Sega. Ken informed me of the awesome Episode Metal starring Metal Sonic during the events of Episode 1 and Episode 2. Ken also shed some light on his recent absence of his epic Tails sideburns and just how much the physics engine has improved in Episode 2. All this and more can be seen in the video below:
So what do you think, guys? Has anyone else’s opinions changed on Episode 2 like mine? Are you excited for Episode Metal? Are you glad you can sleep well tonight knowing where Ken’s sideburns went? Let us know below!