Do You Like Fun? Then You'll Probably Like Sonic 4

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Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog 4 comes out next week for the Xbox 360 and PS3 (and on tomorrow for iOS), but I’ve already played it.Believe me when I say this: if there were ever an award for best digital download-only game, then you’d have to figure that Sonic 4 would be right at the top of the list.

Sega was in town yesterday, and Sonic was the star. (Shogun: Total War also played a big role in my day, but that I’ll save for a bit later on today.) In fact, a bunch of video game companies are in New York this week, and then I remember why: oh, Comic-con is on Saturday. I plan on being there, capturing the sights and sounds!

But back to Sonic.

The game is plain ol’ fun. Yes, I have no problem sitting there and playing World of Warcraft for hours on end, or figuring out where to go on the immense Fallout 3 map, or swearing in foreign tongues because children half my age are schooling me in Call of Duty or Battlefield, but I wouldn’t exactly call those experiences fun. I wouldn’t want to come home from a long day’s work in the factory—let’s pretend that they are still factory jobs in America, and that I have one of them—and lock horns with some 12-year-old Call of Duty addict and die within three seconds of spawning.

That’s not fun, you know? A challenge? Perhaps. But the P90X is also a challenge, but you don’t see me even pretending to be able to do that, now do you?

Sonic 4 is whimsy: bright colors (not to be confused with Sonic: Colors which I actually played and actually enjoyed as well), happy music, and a sense of speed that may only be matched by WipeOut.

I saw two levels: one, the Mad Gear Zone, which instantly brings to mind the Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2, and Casino Night Zone, also known as “the casino level.”

Mad Gear Zone has a steampunk feel without being, well, trashy about it. Steam jets shoot Sonic into the air, and he bounces off bumper after bumper, navigating his way through the metallic environment.

Casino Streets Zone has Sonic jumping on top of playing cards.

Sonic runs to the right the whole time—as he should! There’s no transforming into werewolves or any of that nonsense. It’s pretty much Sonic as you remember it, back when it was fun.

Considering Sega only wants something like $10 for the game, and considering I spent $11 for lunch at Quiznos yesterday, I’m pretty sure the game will be one of the better deals when it comes out next week.

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