With Sonic 4: Episode II due on the Android Market any moment now, it makes sense for Sega to unleash Episode I of the series onto your smartphone. Featuring some lush side-scrolling graphics, as well as the usual fast and furious gameplay, this app would stand amongst the best Android platformers if it weren’t so short-lived.
Sega’s entry onto the Android Market has been met with a rush of praise and mega-selling downloads. While both ChuChu Rocket! and Sonic CD were ports of ancient titles, Sonic 4: Episode I is brand spanking new. Well almost brand spanking new, it came out on iOS and Windows Phone in 2010, but that’s new enough for the side-scroller to contain some sprightly semi-3D graphics and be specifically designed for a touchscreen platform.
Sadly, despite being created for smartphone use Sonic 4′s controls are a source of semi-constant irritation. For a game centered around speed, its tiny touchscreen D-pad doesn’t allow for the kind of precision necessary to traverse a landscape filled with obstacles and enemies.
Even more disappointing is the tiny lifespan of Sonic 4 with only 12 levels to play through and none of Sonic CD’s bonus Soundtrack or Extras features for longtime fans of the series. While stages like Casino Street and Splash Hill are reminiscent of the best of the blue hedgehog’s Mega Drive adventures, they’re also extremely short and sweet.
At least there’s a Time Attack mode to celebrate this brevity and provide the app with a much needed dose of longevity. With Episode II also promising the return of Tails as a playable character, it at least looks like Team Sonic have taken these obvious sticking points on board.
Despite these complaints, Sonic 4 is still a solid app download and plenty of fun while it lasts. It’s just a download which is undermined by some easily fixed flaws which should be resolved by the time Episode II dashes onto the Android Market.
The Bottom Line
A short but sweet Android platformer which is undermined by some frustrating controls.
Version reviewed 1.0.0
Requires Android 2.1 or higher