God knows I love old Sonic games. I fire up Sonic Mega Collection for the Gamecube every year or so to refresh my love of the blue blur’s speed, badittude and so-funky-it-hurts-my-feelings-sometimes soundtrack. So, why am I only tentatively excited about this apparent Mega Man 9-esque revival? Well, I obviously don’t know much about it yet (all we’ve gotten is the name and a silly, overdramatic teaser trailer), but I have the sneaking suspicion that Sega may have missed the point of Capcom’s bold experiment in retro gaming altogether.
I was specifically calling for a game called Mega Man 9 for at least a year before it was announced, but even with my zealotry, I couldn’t have imagined how awesome it was gonna be. All I wanted was a new side-scrolling Mega Man game with old-school sensibilities, but they said FUCK THAT and made it so authenitically NES-styled that if the little experience-ruining Achievement notification message didn’t pop up every once in a while, you’d swear it was the late ’80s.
And herein lies the problem. I don’t trust that Sega learned anything from Mega Man 9‘s success besides that a throwback could make them a ton of money. Sonic 4 seems like it might be just a next-gen wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The graphics are very pretty and detailed, and while that may seem nice, anyone who’s ever played Donkey Kong Country or Mega Man 8 can tell you that the better a platformer looks, the worse it probably plays. It’s gorgeous, sure, but there’s a reason Mega Man 9‘s gameplay felt so tight in comparison to newer platformers. The hitboxes for jumps and attacks were spot on because the characters were only 20 pixels high. The higher res you get, the more it tends to get mucked up.
Aaaand of course there’s the big old “Episode 1” slapped underneath the title graphic. Sigh. Sega says it’s “…the first part of a much larger adventure…what you are looking at is the beginning of a new story arc.”
Good idea guys. Let’s throw back to better days by shoe-horning in the most baleful of next-gen conventions: episodic content, or as I like to call it UNFINISHED MOTHERFUCKING GAMES.
Oh well. It all comes down to the gameplay. And the music. Does it feel like Sonic? Does it sound like Sonic? We’ll have to wait and see.