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Recommended
0.0 hrs last two weeks / 3.7 hrs on record
Posted: Aug 11, 2017 @ 8:34am
Updated: Aug 11, 2017 @ 8:45am

(Note: this review is a "sequel" to my review of Episode I )

Wow. Color me more than impressed.
This game is pretty much the Street Fighter II of Sonic the Hedghehog 4 games. If Street Fighter was an episodic title that disregarded everything about its 20-year-old predecessors and if II was little more than a small upgrade as opposed to one of the most well-regarded games of its genre.
Anyway, let's just pretend that Episode I never existed and enjoy II instead until the end of time instead, shall we?

A joy for the eyes
I would like to start off with what you'd usually notice first: the graphics. I didn't mention this in my review of Episode I for some reason, but yes, that game looked terrible. Hideous pre-rendered 2D backgrounds and foregrounds and cel-shaded PSP-tier 3D characters can't look good. At all.
Episode II looks... amazing. Beautiful. Wonderful. As soon as I began the first Act, I knew I was in for a great-looking journey. 3D graphics everywhere, and good ones at that. Sonic's running animation still looks odd, unfortunately.

Sega remembered what Sonic's all about
As I mentioned, Sonic Team and Dimps listened to the fans' complaints about the first episode, and tried to fix most of its problems. "Tried" and "most" being the key words here.
First of all, yes, Sonic does have momentum here, now jumping and running and spinning around actually feels somewhat good.
A newcomer to the Sonic 4 "saga", Tails isn't actually a dead weight like in his debut game: you can perform special moves together with the press of a button, namely the 69 ball of death, which allows the two to spin dash very fast and destroy more durable obstacles, and being able to fly for a short period of time, a la Sonic Heroes. Unfortunately, the latter kind of breaks the game, as you can easily fly above obstacles or reach certain optional areas you'd normally get to in more "traditional" ways.
Also fixed, in my opinion, at least, was the level variety. Not only does every Act look different, but the Zones are certainly more original than the ones in Episode I. Well, they still are mostly rethreads from the classics (mainly Sonic 2, this time), but at least they tried to make them even slightly different. Like, Sky Fortress is yellow, while Wing Fortress was kind of sort of beige. Totally different.
This game finally has something resembling a structure: you don't have every Zone available from the start, though the three Acts in each Zone can still be played in any order, this time in a more "incomprehensible" manner. Let me explain: Sky Fortress begins with Sonic and Tails flying the Tornado to reach Eggman's huge battleship. In fact, the entire first Act is about them getting there. So why can you play Act 2 and 3 first, which are set on the fortress itself?

...Or did they?
As you can probably tell, fixing each problem led to new ones, and that's if they fixed it in the first place. For example, the homing attack still leaves you vulnerable whenever you use it, leading you to, again, unfair hits. The game still shoves extra lives into your throat. There still is pretty much no story at all; no secret ending if you collect all the Emeralds either.
Though boss fights are actually original this time around (I laughed so hard when they teased one of Sonic 2's bosses before smashing the pillars with huge mechanical tentacles), they're dragged out way too long, including their introductions.
Finally, a certain stage was pretty terrible. I'm talking about Sky Fortress Act 1, which is one of the most tedious and boring stages I've played in a long time.

Episode (Scrap) Metal
If you bought both Episode I and Episode II, you're able to play the so-called Episode Metal as soon as you finish the first level and restart the game, which tells the story of Metal Sonic's return after its defeat in Sonic CD and is set before the events of this game. What this means is that you'll replay four of Episode I's Acts, bad graphics and level design and all, with the addition of countless falling platforms and bottomless pits.
Yes, Metal Sonic plays exactly like the blue hedgehog he's trying to emulate - down to some of the animations - even though he's clearly able to fly during the handful of cutscenes that are present in this short side story.
It's not worth playing.

It took me a little over two hours to finish this game, and this time I didn't get stuck on a stupid unfair boss. For some reason I had the urge to collect all the Chaos Emeralds, which is done by collecting 50 rings and getting to the end of the stage. The special stages play almost exactly like Sonic 2's, main difference being that you can actually see what's ahead of you. Once I found out that you can select retry on the pause menu before failing them, I "broke" the game.

I enjoyed my time with Episode II. I really did.
Or maybe I like this game only because I love night stages and Sylvania Castle Act 3 made me scream with pleasure about three times.
Final score: Sure can't wait for Episode III / 10
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