Review round-up: 'Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Episode 1'

Sonic's blue blaze first burned its way onto TV screens in 1991s, the now-classic slice of retro gaming a resounding success for SEGA's new mascot. Since then, his fortunes have waxed and waned with as many misses as hits and the series in steep decline, but at last Sonic 4 seems to have rediscovered the original's zest and zip.

It's no easy task to revitalize a failing franchise, but there are notable exceptions. Resident Evil 4 was a shot in the arm for the then struggling series, Street Fighter IV marked a return to fighting form, and the very recent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow struck out boldly towards gaming greatness.

Though purists will recoil at certain changes in Sonic 4 - the way Sonic moves, a soundtrack that doesn't quite hit the required retro heights, and a character style taken from the worse games - early reviews indicate that there's enough here to please those with a need for 2D speed.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Episode 1 (Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, Apple iOS)
Dates and prices: iTunes, October 7. $9.99 / €7.99.
Xbox Live Arcade, October 13. 1200 Points (~$15/€11).
PlayStation Network, October 12 in North America, October 13 in Europe. $14.99 / €12.99 .
Wii Shop Channel, October 11. 1500 Wii Points (~$15/€11).

GamesRadar - 9/10
"After the shaking stopped and the fear of change subsided, I started to have fun. A lot of fun." "Probably as long as Sonic 1, with more routes to find and just as many reasons to come back."

Eurogamer 9/10
"Whizzy fast bits are punctuated by slow, tense sections, smart set-pieces and moments of seemingly impossible hardness." "The game SEGA should have made 15 years ago"

IGN - 8.0/10
"Adds enough bells and whistles to make it feel like something new." "SEGA did a nice job of making this feel like the original without looking dated."

VideoGamesDaily - 8/10
"If it's not the prettiest 2D platform game ever made, then I'd like to know what is." "Reminds me why I liked playing games in the first place."

Game Informer - 8/10
"Packed with familiar enemies, power-ups, and speed devil set pieces like loop de loops." "Looks, feels, and sounds like an upgraded Sonic game... but more variety would have been welcomed."

1UP - B
"[Boss] fights, the occasional puzzle, and some really lousy music are the flaws.. but for every element that Sonic 4 gets badly wrong, it gets four or five others exactly right." "I'd love to have seen more of a progression from the game I played as a kid."