Sonic After the Sequel Review
Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog has seen more facelifts than Michael Jackson, packing frivolous things like swords, werehog forms, and even guns into his fuzzy blue world. However (ironically), true blue fans seem to appreciate his more down-to-roots entries the most. One such fan has ditched all this fluff with his fangame Sonic: After the Sequel, a free PC release that sticks to the 2D platforming that put the hedgehog on the map. The question is, is simplicity really the answer?
Modeled after the Genesis games that kicked off Sonic’s career 22 years ago, Sonic: After the Sequel is a 2D sprite-based platformer that is easy for pretty much any gamer to pick up. Simply avoid the badniks, get to the goalpost, and destroy the evil Dr. Eggman’s mechanical contraption at the end of each zone. It’s straightforward stuff, but it’s a time-tested formula that works.
Sonic: After the Sequel takes advantage of modern luxuries with some more advanced touches including (but not limited to): an original guitar-based rock soundtrack, cutscenes with original spritework, and special effects that would make the Genesis sputter and die. Each zone has tons going on — almost too much so. The background action is a lot to take in, and some foreground elements blend into the background (and vice versa). It can be distracting at time, and leads to a number of cheap deaths, but trial-and-error has been a staple of the series since the original release.
A number of new elements have also been added to Sonic: After the Sequel. New shield powers (a la Sonic 3) give Sonic double-jumps, spikes, and other abilities, while Power Stars (ripped straight from Nintendo’s Kirby series) give our hero the ability to break through walls. These are all nice additions, but some (like the aforementioned Kirby ability) come off as more of a childhood dream than a competent gameplay mechanic.
So how does the whole shebang play? The mechanics are thankfully safe and sound. Unlike recent official 2D entries, Sonic’s momentum and physics feel as they should, which will make longtime fans feel right at home. Level design is also creative, with multiple paths and very few deaths (the dearth of bottomless pits helps). Each stage also packs a gimmick, ranging from a train to a lightning storm that shows invisible platforms each thunderstrike. They add some character to each level, and are most certainly welcome.
So is this is Sonic title that fans have been begging for? While Sonic: After the Sequel is not the be-all and end-all Sonic game, it is still a worthwhile endeavor for all fans of Sega’s mascot.
You can download the game for free here.