The speed oriented action platformer Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II is as janky and clunky as its extra-long title. The second (and final) episode of Sonic The Hedgehog 4, sees everyone’s favorite Hedgehog in hightops speeding through an underwater labyrinth, snowboarding through a mountain top that’s curiously close to an amusement park, and fighting robot dung beetles in what appears to be a saudi oil field.
Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II has two equally bad control schemes. The first scheme features two ‘buttons’ on the right for jumping and “team up” powers with your cohort Tails, and the other is used for jumping. On the left side of the screen, is a virtual thumb stick used for navigation, which is a particular pain in the butt, since a majority of this game is reliant on quick jumps and directions changes, and the touch screen is not made for these sorts of gameplay elements. Sonic will move left when you want him to go right, he’ll jump down when you want him to jump up, and so on. The second control scheme allows you to “tilt” the screen to navigate Sonic back and forth, but it’s impossible to charge your power spin using this scheme, thus rendering it useless.
And like a cow caught stealing, this is an udder shame. Because for all intents and purposes this game should be excellent. It’s fun, it’s bright, it’s colorful, and it’s the kind of thing a dad can take turns playing with his kids. But the control scheme kills it. At any point in the game where one needs to move quickly against a rising tide or quick-sand, it’s nearly impossible to move Sonic in the way he needs to be moved. Beating these levels are often trial and error, instead of an exercise in skill and quickness like the best Sonic levels typically are. If you’re a serious Sonic fan dying to play this game on an Ipad, it’s possible to adapt to it and make progress, beat the game, and enjoy yourself doing it, but this is despite the control scheme, not because of it. And the idea of actually *replaying* levels to get a better score and collect chaos emeralds, is a largely joyless thought. Ultimately, speed without precision is chaos, and alas, that’s what Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II, is, Chaos.