You get to play one act of one stage. If you blink you will miss it. I like to think that the purpose of a game demo is to show off at least a little bit of everything that game is going to do. So if the Sonic the Hedgehog 4 demo is any indication, all this game does is let you run for fifteen feet until your momentum dies, run into lots of absurdly-placed monsters and traps, and doesn’t let you fight any bosses.
My main complaint is that Sonic is so huge in relation to the screen. Here you have a cartoon hedgehog whose super power is to run at blinding speeds… but he can only see ten feet in front of him. In the eighteen seconds I played, it seemed like every time I was stopped by some obstacle I could have easily jumped over if I had only seen it coming. And since the demo is just Boring Green Hills Zone again I have absolutely no reason to believe the entire game won’t be like that.
How dare Sonic 4 have this problem. Never mind the fact that the Genesis trilogy avoided the issue by drawing Sonic’s sprite relatively small in comparison to the rest of the screen — this is the HD era. The goddamn screen should automatically zoom and pan to keep pace with how fast I’m going. Zoomed-way-in is absolutely fine when I’m navigating tricksy platforms or bouncing off a chain of bad guys, but when I’m zipping through loops and corkscrews I want it pulled way back so I can see where I’m going. I don’t need to be right in the center of the screen; this is not Zelda. The screen should pan slightly in the direction I’m headed, to give me more room to maneuver.
Those fixes alone, even with the level design and momentum issues still in place, would have sold me on the game. As it is, I don’t feel like running into spikes and robots every couple of feet.
The sales blurb in the Xbox store proudly beams, “This is the game you’ve waited 16 years for!” No, Sega, it’s not. The Sonic Cycle is alive and well.