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."
"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."