Sonic 4 Already Attempted the Return to 2D
In 2010 SEGA was already well underway with their celebration plans for Sonic’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 2011, and launched the first episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4. It was the first numbered Sonic title since 1994, and fan expectations were high. Sonic 4 brought back the 2D side-scrolling platformer action of the early Genesis games, but with shiny 3D renders for the levels and characters. The game released episodically with a year and a half between episodes 1 and 2, which seemed an odd thing to do. While the first episode received mostly positive reviews, the second was more harshly criticized and quickly forgotten.
Ultimately Sonic the Hedgehog 4 was mostly an ode to fans from 20 years ago at the time, and it failed to give Sonic the resurgence SEGA seemed to be aiming for. Sure, next year’s Sonic Mania looks amazing with its pixelated levels and designs; but after the generally well-received Sonic 4 didn’t help, what makes SEGA think Mania will fare any better?