I was a huge fan of the Genesis Sonic games. Sonic 1, 2, and 3 & Knuckles were some of the best 16 bit era platformers to come out of the pipeline. However, ever since the Genesis died, Sonic games have gone in the wrong direction.  Sonic Team claimed to realize their missteps, and after hearing their fans (some of them rather shrill, but being annoying didn't make them wrong) they promised to "return to Sonic's 2-D roots". What we got was Sonic 4: Episode I. After failing miserably to truly bring back Genesis era "momentum based physics", Sonic Team tried to appease the fans with Sonic Generations, which did a slightly better job, but honestly only had about three good levels, so chalk another one up for failure.

All this was supposed to change with Episode II. A "return to momentum based physics", bringing back Metal Sonic, and many other promises to those of us who still love dearly the Sonic games of old. Well, turns out this game is utter crap. While some of the levels are kind of aesthetically pleasing, the game still doesn't feel like "Sonic 4". The gameplay feels nothing like the Genesis Sonic games, and this isn't from lack of memory. I dust off the Genesis and play the old games with my girlfriend every summer, and they are as fun as they ever were. This game is not remotely like the old games. The level layouts are rigid and claustrophobic, and the designs yell "Dimps" from the rooftops. I know Sonic Team defends the homing attack as gameplay evolution, but it just ruins the experience for me. Homing chains and scripted spring sequences are just annoying, uninspired, and downright lazy.

Another problem with this game is the music. The music is absolutely impossible to stand. The tunes sound more like music from children's educational television programming than a hardcore platforming soundtrack. I have to wonder if the music developers have played ANY of the Genesis Sonic games. All of those had killer soundtracks! The boss music is one of the worst offenders. Instead of an intimidating track full of heavy suspense, we get a short and uninteresting loop. Not only is the music itself bad, but whatever instrument set they have used to play it makes my ears bleed. I have no problem with synthesized music, in fact I already stated how much I love the tracks from Genesis Sonic games, but the interments used in this game need to die in a fire.

Next, I want to talk about the boss battles. Man, they are terrible! I'm happy that they didn't rip them straight from a previous game like the bosses in Episode I, but they could have at least created new bosses in the same style. The egg man battles are just plain boring, and the Metal Sonic "battles" are more like crappy gimmicks. I don't want to see another "race" or side scrolling boss ever again in a Sonic game. They were an interesting novelty in Sonic Advance 2, but by no means should more than one ever appear in the same game, and none at all should appear in a game with only 4 actual levels. The bosses were probably the best part about Genesis Sonic, and these pitiful encounters pale in comparison to the dumbest bosses from the Genesis games.

The next item on my hit-list is the Tails gameplay. First of all, it is unnecessary. I want to play Sonic, and having Tails is a nice addition, but certainly shouldn't be a required component for key gameplay elements. In addition, the gameplay elements themselves are annoying. If you want to fly, you have to watch a 2-seconds "co-op animation" every freaking time you want to fly. This is cool to watch ONCE, but anytime after that, it becomes tedious. Sonic should be fluid, and taking a short pause every time you fly really gets in the way of fluid gameplay, and it just ruins the immersion.

I bought this game because I had high hopes that wrongs would be righted. I made a mistake. Having completed the game once, I will not boot it up again on my PS3. In fact, if I ever run out of space on my hard drive, that will be the first thing to get deleted to make room. I can only hope that one day Sonic Team will create a true sequel to Sonic 3 & Knuckles; but I am pretty sure that day will never come. I've decided to move on. After Sonic Adventure, I made an oath to never play Sonic again. I kept that oath until I bought Sonic 4 Episode I. I then bought Generations and Epsiode II. I should have continued to stay away, and just been content to boot up my old friend the Sega Genesis. I'm done playing new Sonic, again. The next time Sonic Team promises me that they have "brought back that classic Genesis gameplay", I will wait for the Gameinformer review to tell me whether its safe to come out and play. If a true return to form occurs, I'll buy it in a heartbeat, but I'm fairly sure I won't ever be buying another Sonic game ever again.