Developed by Sonic Team and Dimps
Published by Sega
Some games exist in such a wave of controversy that it can be impossible to remove the game itself from it. Sonic 4 was simultaneously loved and hated on its release. With the dust settled and both episodes out, how exactly does Episode I stand on its own? To be short: not well.
Not to say that it's bad by any means. In many ways, it's very nice to go back to a pure Sonic experience. There's no characters besides Sonic and Eggman. There's no gimmicks like Colors' aliens system. There's no cutscenes breaking things up. It's just a 2D experience as you speed through robots and loop-de-loops. While Sonic does have some definite acceleration problems (he seems so slow from a standing start), when he takes off, it's the same exhilarating experience you know and love. And when the game brings some new mechanics to the table, it's always entertaining.
There's two problems here that take away from this game. The first is its length. There's only 4 zones, each with 3 levels and a boss. You can easily blast through this thing in an afternoon, and while getting the chaos emeralds may take a little longer, it's still not much. The other big problem is that it is near-impossible to get past the “been there, done that” problem. The enemies are all copied from the Genesis games. The level themes are so same-y that there's no shock. Pieces of the levels are even taken directly from the original games, and the bosses are just classic bosses with small tweaks. If this game had been, say, Sonic 2 Remix it would've been acceptable. But there's that big 4 there that you just can't ignore while you play. At the end, the worst thing I can say for it is that Sonic Generations was a game entirely based around taking levels from the older games, and even it didn't feel as redundant as this game.
Sonic 4 is $10 on Steam. For that same price, you can get Sonic 2 AND Sonic 3 and Knuckles. Unless you're a hardcore Sonic fan, there's little reason to play this, and fans will only get mild amusement from it.