Better late than never, right? Sonic 4 is meant to be an immediate sequel to Sonic 3 (or Sonic 3 & Knuckles, as it is lovingly called), even though it's been 16 years since that game appeared on the Genesis. But to be fair, it came to XBLA last year and Nintendo's Virtual Console this year. So really, we're just getting a continuation of that experience.
What We're Seeing Now:
There's not much to report here, other than yes, it's Sonic. And it's a new Sonic, which is refreshing, although you're only able to play as Sonic himself, which is a bit of a bummer. They couldn't toss in a few extra characters? Apparently they're saving those for Episode 2 ... if there is an Episode 2. It looks like Sega is hedging their bets and seeing how this one does before they move on.
The game features 25 "unique but familiar" levels, according to Sega, and it will be available on PSN (with Move support), XBLA, Wiiware, and even the iPhone and iTouch sometime later this year. We played the Xbox 360 version, and ... it's Sonic. That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but they've taken exactly what we love about the little rascal, the speed and platforming, and chucked it into a gorgeous HD package.
We'd love to know how they planning on pricing these episodes, but they weren't ready to talk pricing. Hopefully this trip into nostalgia won't set you back that much, because it's very enjoyable. Now if it weren't just one of the four upcoming Sonic titles, it would feel a bit more special.