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Sonic 4 Legacy


BaronGrackle

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I was out of the Sonic fandom from the late '90s until 2010, when I saw this:

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Do you remember it? I saw it on the internet randomly, and it struck a nerve. I grabbed my pitchfork and stormed the official SEGA forums.

I was there because nothing titled Sonic 4 should've excluded Tails and Knuckles. I coined the term "Sola Sonica".

There was also an introduction story that absolutely butchered the storylines of S3&K (and gave Sonic 2 a bad ending to boot!).

To my left and right, other enraged fans had come for various reasons as well. Bad physics. Modern design with green eyes. Rehashed enemies and bosses. Episodic releases. Cheap production value. Screeching cats.

We yelled. We raged. Metacritics gave Episode I a decent review, but that only convinced us that critics were brainless hacks.

Episode II added Tails but not in the way anyone asked for. They tried to improve graphics and physics. Metal Sonic was given his own levels. But it was all too little, too late.

Metacritics finally woke up and got on board, giving Episode II the treatment that Episode I deserved. Sonic CD had its rerelease, Generations came out, and as a result the Sonic world got a taste of better Sonic nostalgia.

Ah yes. Sonic 4 tried to recover, but we dragged that bitch down and killed it. We killed it dead. It's gone. In the following years since, the events of said game have never been concluded or even referenced in official products. Sonic's universe pretends like it never happened. That's pretty much the definition of noncanon. And now, we have Sonic Mania gloriously built over its ashes. Rest in peace, you worthless chunk of trash!

. . .

So a few weeks ago I actually bought Episodes 1 and 2. It's kinda fun. I like having Sonic and Tails cooperate the way they do, using flight to beat a boss.

I'm still proud to have helped kill it, and I'm still glad it's noncanon. :)

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2 minutes ago, BaronGrackle said:

Metacritics gave Episode I a decent review, but that only convinced us that critics were brainless hacks.

Really? I think the critics are spot on with it.

The main issue with Sonic 4 is it's title. If it were called 'Sonic the Hedgehog Mobile' or it's SONIC DL title, people probably wouldn't rage as much.

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37 minutes ago, Mayor D said:

Really? I think the critics are spot on with it.

The main issue with Sonic 4 is it's title. If it were called 'Sonic the Hedgehog Mobile' or it's SONIC DL title, people probably wouldn't rage as much.

The name is what did the most brand damage. But it's a bad game no matter what it's called. Sluggish controls, poor physics, bland level design, ugly graphics, annoying music, over-reliance on automation. It's one of the worst games Dimps has ever made, and if it weren't for Sonic Blast on Game Gear and Sonic Jam on Tiger GameCom it would easily be the worst 2D Sonic platformer.

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20 minutes ago, BaronGrackle said:

Do you think the events of S4 are ever going to be referenced in a future product?

That would discount a ton of games as being non-canon.  If the Phantom Ruby is never used again, that'd make Sonic Mania non-canon.

At the end of the day it doesn't mean much.  It's still a mainline Sonic platforming game, it still exists, regardless of whether it's story amounted to anything (and the only thing left hanging is incredibly easy to explain away anyhow - with the Death Egg Mk II inoperational, the Little Planet vanished back to whence it came as usual).

 

As for my feelings on Sonic 4, I still like the games.  They were servicable little platformers.  The game-feel is janky as fuck and I ALWAYS have to readjust to it every single time I boot up Episode I after not having played it for a year or so (bless me it always takes me until the end of Splash Hill Act 1 before I get back into the mindset of not trying to roll down hills), but once I'm in I enjoy the way they feel like Sonic Rush but with more unique stage gimmicks (a unique one per ACT no less, which few Sonic games do) and while they have dumb booster placements and such, there are few sections where I feel like I'm just holding right and watching the ride play out - Advance 2 through to Colours DS had about ten times that across the whole game.

Soundtrack-wise, the melodies are decent, but I still hate the soundfont used (and of course the godawful repetition on Episode 1's final boss theme and Episode 2's Eggman theme).  The visuals of the game were "what if a follow-up to the classics were made TODAY?", I don't understand why the sound design wasn't as well.  Also just as a nitpick, it kind of drives me nuts that Jun Senoue played Oil Desert completely straight by having each act be a remix of the same basic song, while (almost) every other act across both games had unique melodies.

I kinda wish we had gotten Episode 3, because the way it was left hanging just plain bothers me, and I just really wonder what could've been.  It also definitely ticked me off that Episode II was considered worse than I by critics - completely unfair considering the developers clearly TRIED to respond to Episode I's complaints as best they could without changing the entire game feel or throwing out everything they'd done in the backend for the game thus far (I'm sure from the start they had no real plans to tweak the backend stuff and were hoping to be able to produce episodes 2 and 3 for cheaper than episode 1, but they scrapped that idea anyway, so good on them).

My final thought is that Sonic's "looking up" animation in Sonic 4 is one of my favourite animations in the entire franchise.

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25 minutes ago, BaronGrackle said:

Do you think the events of S4 are ever going to be referenced in a future product?

Will SEGA ever tell us when it happened, if it did?

Will the story ever be concluded?

Right now, Secret Rings has a stronger canonical foothold.

Take Doctor Who and pick one episode that was never referenced in later episodes. You'll find one, it's a long show.

Is that episode not cannon?

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It’s my headcanon that after the camera pans down to Earth in S4:E2’s credits, the malfunctioning Death Egg’s upper and lower halves break apart, detaching Russian-doll style, freeing the Little Planet.

Have any musical themes from Sonic 4 featured in any recent-ish stuff? I know Mario and Sonic at the Soichi games had a few new arrangements of Splash Hill, but not certain of anything beyond that. But yeah, I agree that the “4” in the title created a certain criteria and expectation in people’s minds. Even calling it something bland like “Sonic Episodes Part 1&2” (as terrible as that sounds) perhaps would have quelled things a little. To this day, a lot of the gaming press still appear to think it was developed by SEGA, often comparing Sonic 4 to Mania and implying the former was SEGA’s own attempt at a new 2D Sonic game. I guess SEGA may have been more hands on with S4 in terms of decision making etc. than they were with Mania.

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1 hour ago, BaronGrackle said:

Do you think the events of S4 are ever going to be referenced in a future product?

Will SEGA ever tell us when it happened, if it did?

Will the story ever be concluded?

Right now, Secret Rings has a stronger canonical foothold.

Forces kinda concluded it on a sad note. Death Egg had to be destroyed by Classic Sonic and that was the end of the Little Planet. Mirage Island was never visited again, however. I also didn’t mind the overall gameplay. It’s lack of features and innovation compared to the handhelds made me sore, as did the goofy boss music. In the end, it’s easily the worst major 2D Sonic, excluding things like Shattered Crystal, Fire and Ice, Blast, And Jam. 

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9 minutes ago, Miragnarok said:

Forces kinda concluded it on a sad note. Death Egg had to be destroyed by Classic Sonic and that was the end of the Little Planet. Mirage Island was never visited again, however. I also didn’t mind the overall gameplay. It’s lack of features and innovation compared to the handhelds made me sore, as did the goofy boss music. In the end, it’s easily the worst major 2D Sonic, excluding things like Shattered Crystal, Fire and Ice, Blast, And Jam. 

The Death Egg in Forces wasn't Miracle Planet. It was a different Death Egg. This shouldn't be so hard to understand.

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48 minutes ago, Splash the Otter said:

The Death Egg in Forces wasn't Miracle Planet. It was a different Death Egg. This shouldn't be so hard to understand.

Oh, I get it now. (I assumed Eggman added additional plating to obscure the Little Planet further, but I guess Little Planet is in the Human World instead.)

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2 hours ago, Gotta Go Rational said:

It’s my headcanon that after the camera pans down to Earth in S4:E2’s credits, the malfunctioning Death Egg’s upper and lower halves break apart, detaching Russian-doll style, freeing the Little Planet.

Have any musical themes from Sonic 4 featured in any recent-ish stuff? I know Mario and Sonic at the Soichi games had a few new arrangements of Splash Hill, but not certain of anything beyond that. But yeah, I agree that the “4” in the title created a certain criteria and expectation in people’s minds. Even calling it something bland like “Sonic Episodes Part 1&2” (as terrible as that sounds) perhaps would have quelled things a little. To this day, a lot of the gaming press still appear to think it was developed by SEGA, often comparing Sonic 4 to Mania and implying the former was SEGA’s own attempt at a new 2D Sonic game. I guess SEGA may have been more hands on with S4 in terms of decision making etc. than they were with Mania.

Sochi also had a re-arranagement of White Park Act 2, but I believe that's the last time Sonic 4 has had any major reference (obviously there's a nod to Splash Hill in Forces which I'm sure is intentional, but still, just a nod).

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3 hours ago, JezMM said:

That would discount a ton of games as being non-canon.  If the Phantom Ruby is never used again, that'd make Sonic Mania non-canon.

Not at all! Sonic Forces.

3 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Take Doctor Who and pick one episode that was never referenced in later episodes. You'll find one, it's a long show.

Is that episode not cannon?

But you know this ain't Dr. Who. :) Pick another "canon" mainline Sonic game that hasn't been referenced yet. I think Forces is your only option, since it's brand new.

S1-S2-S3&K are the same series.

SA references S3 and CD.

SA-SA2 are the same series.

SA2-Heroes-ShtH-S06 link through Shadow's epic.

Generations references a slew of games including Unleashed and Colors (and Secret Rings). Colors came after S4.

Mania references S1-CD-S2-S3&K and even Generations (the Death Egg Robot has an extendo-arm now).

Forces references Genesis locations, Generations, and is a sequel to Mania.

Then just factor in that Generations, Mania, and Forces all had chances to reference S4 locations (e.g. Forces could've mentioned Splash Hill instead of Seaside Hill) and plot points (e.g. the Little Planet Death Egg, instead of a brand new Death Egg). But no.

They dropped that series like a bad habit.

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I mean technically Sonic 4 is linked as a follow-up to Sonic CD (whether we like it or not), and the absence of story references (musical references have come up as recent as Sonic Forces, so yeah) does not mean something becomes non-canon.  Sonic Mania hasn't overwritten Sonic 4 until a SEGA representative says it has.

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53 minutes ago, JezMM said:

I mean technically Sonic 4 is linked as a follow-up to Sonic CD (whether we like it or not), and the absence of story references (musical references have come up as recent as Sonic Forces, so yeah) does not mean something becomes non-canon.  Sonic Mania hasn't overwritten Sonic 4 until a SEGA representative says it has.

If nothing in Sonic's universe acts like Sonic 4 ever happened, then SEGA can say whatever they want. It won't matter. ;)

EDIT: And that's only if they even want to say it's canon. I'm not convinced they do.

(Though the use of remixed Splash Hill music for Green Hill in Classic Sonic's stage? That makes me wonder if my "Phantom Ruby created Sonic 4 and then the Classic Sonic universe" theory isn't so crackpot after all.)

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In my headcanon, Sonic 4 is canon and it's placed in the classic timeline (Modern design means nothing to me, just art style), and the story is finished with Sonic the Fighters.

There are a couple non-canon things, such as the eighth emerald and the shape of Death Egg II being completely different in Fighters, but I take those as retcons such as the Super Emeralds in Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

What makes me think this way is that both Death Eggs are called 2/MkII (still 2), if they were different models, one would have been called 3/MkIII, it's still the Death Egg MkII in my headcanon... the different shape may be due to a different art direction or simply Eggman is trying to repair it in Fighters. Future Death Egg models are just called Death Egg again, without any number.

At the end of Sonic the Fighters, the Death Egg explodes, so Little Planet is free.

Metal Sonic plays an huge role in this theory, because Sonic 4 is the first game in the timeline where Metal Sonic returns after CD, and Sonic the Fighters has Metal Sonic, so it must happen after Sonic 4.

Sonic Mania is IMO not in the main canon but in a parallel canon that's originated by Sonic Generations, when Sonic travels back to his time (timeline split); it takes place when Sonic 4/Fighters happen in the main timeline, in fact, Little Planet is involved again, and you meet Bean/Bark/Fang for the first time (even if most of those things are illusions of the phantom ruby).

Well, aside of party games and weird spin-offs such as Labyrinth and Spinball, I think that most games are canon... only Chronicles is not, because the story is not finished and it will never be... but some elements of the story are canon IMO, like the Gizoid lore (since Emerl appears in a canon game); that or the beginning of Unleashed is the untold end of Chronicles.

Anyway, just my headcanon, nothing of this is official.

BTW I think Sonic 4 is a fun little game if you consider it as a mobile game. I bashed the game as well when it was released, and I still think it's not as good as it should have been, though it's still quite enjoyable... not the best Sonic though.

I agree with the critics about Ep 2 being worse than Ep 1: there are a couple of improvements in physics and visuals, but overall the game is more boring (part of this due to the forced tag team gimmicks), Ep 1 on the other hand, while a lot more rough, is more fun IMO.

I'm sad for Dimps leaving Sonic team, I enjoyed their GBA and DS games a lot, and I'm convinced that it wasn't completely their fault for games such as Sonic 4 being that flawed, now that Dimps is gone, Sonic Team isn't doing any better. Probably there is something wrong in the management and organization of Sonic Team/SEGA, so no matter what company will take the franchise, the games will always come out rushed and with questionable game design decisions.

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As much as I rag on both episodes, I can still appreciate Episode II for giving us the first Unbreakable Bond gameplay in years. I can picture it as a lesser spinoff to the Genesis titles.

But Episode I? No soft spot in my heart whatsoever. It was almost a perfect storm.

And so help me, that version of the S3&K storyline will never be true! Nor their version of S2's ending! Travesties. :)

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7 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:

But you know this ain't Dr. Who.

 

Why Sonic has special privileges like that? What about Megaman, Metroid or Mario? Are Megaman 5/Mario 2/Other M not cannon or you're using that special kind of logil only for Sonic?

Are Advance games canon? Sonic Advance 1 has zero new things, so it's very hard to be referenced, just like Sonic 4. But Sonic Advance 3 is as canon as Battle and Sonic Advance 2 is canon, sooooo?

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15 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:

I like having Sonic and Tails cooperate the way they do, using flight to beat a boss.

Oh you mean like in Marble Garden Zone?

So yeah, even that wasn't a new idea when you think about it. Barely anything in that game was new.

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4 hours ago, MetalSkulkBane said:

Why Sonic has special privileges like that? What about Megaman, Metroid or Mario? Are Megaman 5/Mario 2/Other M not cannon or you're using that special kind of logil only for Sonic?

Are Advance games canon? Sonic Advance 1 has zero new things, so it's very hard to be referenced, just like Sonic 4. But Sonic Advance 3 is as canon as Battle and Sonic Advance 2 is canon, sooooo?

I never play Megaman or Metroid, and for Mario I never played past the SNES, so I can't tell you. I don't know why their fans aren't more discerning. Maybe it's because Super Mario World didn't link so directly with Mario 3, so the pattern of noncanonicity was established in his golden age. Who knows?

(I can tell you that I probably would've bought New Super Mario Bros. on the old Wii, but them using two playable Toads instead of a playable Princess Peach was highly offensive and lazy to me because of the series history with Mario 2, and I still don't own that game probably because of the bad taste in my mouth. So I don't think I'm using double standards.)

EDIT: Are Sonic Advance 2-3 and Sonic Battle actually treated as canon? How so? I thought AAUK shot them down in his little post years ago?

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3 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:

Are Sonic Advance 2-3 and Sonic Battle actually treated as canon? How so? I thought AAUK shot them down in his little post years ago?

Advance 2 is canon, since it introduces Cream and she appears in other games as well (and Knuckles is found in Sky Canyon that according to the overworld map is a floating island, so it's probably Angel Island - a game where Knuckles is actually trying to protect Angel Island). Not sure about Advance 3 but Battle is probably canon too.

And BTW why they shouldn't be?

10 hours ago, BaronGrackle said:

And so help me, that version of the S3&K storyline will never be true! Nor their version of S2's ending! Travesties. :)

Honestly I don't know what's the problem with Sonic 4's version of the storyline, I'm pretty sure there are no references to stories of the other games in the actual game; the closest thing to a story reference is Stardust Speedway bad future, but even that is not important really.

If you mean some old stories on the Sonic 4 websites, I doubt they are that relevant anyway, there are a lot of inconsistences even in the instructions manuals of the actual games, especially in different regions, an obscure promotional website is not more important than an instructions manual.

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