A generation of gamers - and, by extension, a generation of game critics - grew up with Sonic The Hedgehog. We remember how good things used to be in the spiky speedster's heyday.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II was supposed to take us back to the Blue Blur's golden age of the early '90s, and Episode I seemed like it was on the right track. The gimmicks and extra characters were gone, and while there were still some frustrations, it felt like it could be the start of a revival for the series.
Unfortunately, that revival has come to a premature end.Tails of yore
This time around, you're joined by Tails, who's either controlled by the AI or by a friend playing on a linked iOS device. Your erstwhile, multi-tailed companion isn't just along for the ring-collecting ride, though: there are sections in every level that can only be traversed through the use of one of the duo's range of co-operative moves.
You perform these collaborative manoeuvres - which range from a dual-spinning, rock-smashing roll, to a helpful piggyback ride using Tails's appendages to fly above danger - by tapping on buttons. The flying, in particular, is frustrating, especially in the first part of the third level when you're forced to soar through a sandstorm.
The game is split into three zones: Sylvania Castle, White Park, and Oil Desert. Each of these zones is divided into three acts and a boss battle.
The zones look gorgeous and distinct, but you spend far too much time in the first two submerged. The underwater physics turn the game into a sluggish battle of attrition, stripped of all the speed and precision for which Sonic titles are famed.Sega Poor Drive
There are too many bells and whistles here, too many distractions from the core platforming experience for which gamers are clamouring. Sandstorms, oil slicks, and exploding roller coaster tracks all merely serve as unnecessary - and unwanted - interruptions.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II is a confused mess of a game. There are moments of genius, sure, and occasions when everything gels together to create a brilliant experience.
Too often though, those moments are spoilt by annoying controls, poorly designed levels, and an overreliance on the very problems that the game was purportedly designed to address.