Sonic After the Sequel Review
Sonic After the Sequel is a fan made retro-inspired Sonic game set between Sonic 2 and 3 that was released as a free download this week. It’s not a hack or a rebuild of something SEGA decided to ditch, but a full game designed and made from scratch, with new levels, new opponents, new obstacles and new music.
If you didn’t know much about Sonic history, you’d be forgiven for thinking this game is some long lost Genesis title. Perhaps the biggest compliment I can give it is that it feels like that regardless of when it was released or which platform it calls home.
Blurring the Lines
What makes a Sonic game great? SEGA have apparently struggled with the concept for years (so have the fans). Is it the sheer speed? Is it the multiple paths that you can take through each level? Is it cool music and interesting enemies? Perhaps it’s just the “you had to be there” touch of nostalgia?
More frustratingly, it may be all those things.
Sonic After the Sequel certainly goes a long way towards ticking those boxes. It’s as fast as the original games were (which means not that fast), and you’ll be able to explore each level fairly extensively. If you want to speed through, that’s an option, although slowing down may offer other rewards.
It’s a nineties Sonic game, with everything that entails. There’s a good chance you already know whether or not you want to play it. Sonic After the Sequel is by no means a rehash though. There’s a lot of original content in there, almost everything in fact. The levels are made from scratch, as are many of the enemies. The music is new as well, and it sounds fantastic. It’s closer to the original tracks in theme than even Generations managed.
That’s not all. The inclusion of cutscenes really help incentivise continued play and the boss fights are unparalleled. Fun, well designed and, best of all, logical. A joy to beat over and over.
One Guy, Six Musicians
It’s hard to judge Sonic After the Sequel as its own game, and that’s a shame. Most the people who play it will be from Sonic fan sites and will either tear it apart or use it as proof that if one guy and six musicians can make an awesome Sonic game, SEGA must be doing something really wrong.
And it’s hard to argue with that. Sonic After the Sequel isn’t only a decent Sonic the Hedgehog game, but it’s a decent platformer in its own right. There are still issues. The controls can feel spongy at times, as if Sonic doesn’t really want to go the way you want him to, and he’ll quite happily stick to the side of a wall at walking pace.
Similarly, the level design, while visually stunning, can be more that a little confusing at times, and that’s a huge barrier in a game that’s almost entirely based around forward momentum.
Add to that the fact that the settings are a little oddly placed (and controllers can be fiddly to get working) and you have a well-intentioned but occasionally flawed game. These frustrations are unlikely to distract from the excitement of playing a “new” Sonic game, but only if that’s the sort of thing you’re really excited for. Even then, the annoyances will only last until you get into a game, or until you work out where you’re supposed to be going.
Reaching the Finish Line
Sonic After the Sequel probably isn’t as good as Sonic 1-3, although I have to say that I enjoyed it as much as Sonic and Knuckles. That’ll all come down to personal preference though, to the things you loved about the franchise years ago and what you expect from it now. If nothing else, play it for the soundtrack – it’s rad.
After the Sequel is a free game, available for download right now. If you have any interest in Sonic as a character or as a game franchise, you need to try it out.