Friday, November 25, 2011

Demos: Sonic 4 & Medieval Moves

Sonic 4 It's different, but good.

Ah, Sonic 4. The game fans wanted. A return to that core Genesis-era gameplay that entranced a generation. A return that fans didn’t get.

Sonic 4 isn't what players wanted. There were many complaints about Sonic’s style and the gameplay. One of the paramount complaints was that the game featured the homing attack that was introduced in the 3D Sonic the Hedgehog games.

When I first tried the demo for Sonic 4 so long ago, I didn’t like it either. It was weird to me. Things didn’t look or feel right. Now that I’ve played, and enjoyed, Sonic Generations, I decided to give this game another try. I believed that my positive experience with the ‘new Sonic’ gameplay in Sonic Generations might have given me a new, more positive outlook and experience with Sonic 4. It did.

Sonic 4 doesn't play like Sonic 1, 2 and 3 (or CD) and that’s okay. Not every game in a series has to be the same. If gameplay doesn’t evolve within an established series, people become bored with it. If you’re willing to cast off your retro-tinted glasses you can see that this game is actually good. The speed has been lowered a bit, to where you can reasonably see obstacles coming and the homing attack adds significantly to the game. The demo level provided me with a fun experience and I definitely plan on buying the full product.

One complaint that I always had about the classic, and one that is fixed in Sonic Generations, is that the game wants you to go as fast as possible. For Sonic, this is very fast. The problem is that you’re going so fast you can’t see the obstacles ahead of you with enough time to react. This leads to the classic problem of running headlong into spikes because the game hates you. In Sonic Generations, you’ll often find the camera is either forward facing, so you can see everything ahead of you, or it pulls out during those particularly speedy segments to give you more warning.

The classic Sonic games couldn’t do either of these things, due to the strength of the hardware. To pull the camera out would require storing more objects in memory and drawing more object. Old console games were designed in such a way that they couldn’t afford to do that. The camera needed to have a fixed number of objects on screen to manage memory efficiently. Sonic 4 doesn't do this either, but the speed has been somewhat lowered to account for it.

I like this game, and I definitely suggest other people try it out to. Just try and cast off whatever expectations you have for it and evaluate independently.

Medieval Moves: Deadmund’s Quest Really solid motion control gameplay.

I went into this game not expecting much. I got a ton out of it, however.

Medieval Moves is a on-rails medieval combat game targeted toward a younger crowd. This is a game designed to be played solely with the Playstation Move. I believe there was an option to also use the Navigation Controller, but I didn’t use that configuration. I believe there is also an option to use two Move controllers: one as a sword and one as a shield.

The combat was very enjoyable. The character swings his sword in tune with your own movements, with very little lag. You can also shoot a bow, block with a shield, use a grappling hook, and throw shuriken. All of this is done only utilizing the Move button and the Trigger button, which are analogous to the Wii’s A and B buttons.

And you know what? It was really fun. Surprisingly fun, really. The actions that I was making really felt like I was acting as the character on the screen. Unlike Twilight Princess, where the use of any item was predicated by pressing a button, the use of your shield, bow, grappling hook, and shuriken is predicated by a particular movement. No item selection, just do the proper movement to use it. To shoot the bow, raise your arm over your shoulder as if you’re drawing an arrow from your quiver. To throw a shuriken, make a motion like you’re throwing a Frisbee. To use the grappling hook, lower the controller and bring it up, like you’re lifting a crossbow from your belt and raising it to fire.

Within the scope of the demo, the battles were all easy. There were times when certain enemies required the use of your shield, so block or deflect attacks so that the enemy’s weakness was exposed. I suspect the gameplay becomes more complicated as the game progresses, since the tutorial area requires you to attack specific body parts.

Someday, if I work through enough of the other games that I need to play, or write them off as not being worth my time, I may buy this game.  This was an excellent demo and I definitely recommend checking it out.