sonic 4

For a few short hours yesterday, anyone who preordered Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II on Steam (the most popular provider of downloadable PC games) had the chance to download and play a near-complete beta version of the game. Not long thereafter, somebody realized the error, removed the beta, and deactivated it from users' Steam libraries. Before that happened, several players managed to rush through the game, capturing some lovely new screenshots and videos for the rest of us to see.  This sneak peak gives us a feel for what's in store for our Windows Phone later this summer.

Head past the break for new gameplay details and videos.

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Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, the long-awaited sequel to Sonic 4, finally has a release date. And when I say that, I don’t mean just the Xbox 360 version has a release date. Even the Windows Phone and PC versions have them! That’s something you don’t see every day.

The information comes from a new trailer that debuted at GameSpot today. The Playstation 3 version rolls out on Tuesday, May 15; the XBLA version on May 16; iOS and PC versions sometime in May; Android in June; and last, but certainly not least, the Windows Phone port comes in July. Considering the wait for Sonic CD, a mere two months for Sonic 4 Episode II doesn’t sound so bad.

As mentioned a few weeks ago, Sonic 4 Episode II will also reportedly be the first Xbox 360 game to feature synchronous game play with Windows Phone, meaning you can pause your game on your phone and pick up the game in the same spot on your Xbox 360.

The other big news revealed in the trailer is that the already-released Sonic 4 Episode I is getting a surprising new feature. Gamers who buy both Episode I and its sequel will unlock Sonic’s robotic rival Metal Sonic in Episode I! Plus four new levels. How’s that for Lock-on technology? The new content won’t cost anything extra besides the purchase of Episode II. The trailer doesn’t mention whether any platforms will miss out on the Metal Sonic bonus (besides Wii, heh), so it’s safe to assume that he’ll be coming to Windows Phone as well.

Sonic 4 Episode II coming to Windows Phone in July is great news, but what about Sonic CD? That game hit XBLA, PSN, iOS, and Android in December and PC a month later in January. The Windows Phone port is nowhere to be seen, and we have it on good authority that it’s definitely not releasing in the next two weeks. Readers keep asking about Sonic CD, so we’ll repeat what we know. WPCentral has repeatedly asked SEGA, Microsoft, and even the actual developer of the Sonic CD remake for a status update or estimated release date for the Windows Phone port. Even if the game has no concrete release date (few Windows Phone games get solid dates more than two weeks in advance), it certainly has an internal projected date. They simply won’t tell us or make any comment on the subject. Disappointing, but at least we now know it’s likely to come out before July!

Source: GameSpot; Thanks Aaron K. for the tip!

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Back in 2010, we first reported that Microsoft was planning to bring the ability of "three screens and a cloud" to modern devices. That involved a demonstration of playing a game on the a Windows Phone 7 Series device, pausing it and then picking it up on the Xbox 360.

Users salivated over such a feature, yet here we are in 2012 and it still does not exist between the Xbox 360, Windows Phone nor the PC. However... Sonic the Hedgehog: Episode II, due later this Spring, is evidently going to be the first title to support such a feature.

The Official Xbox Magazine site (oxmonline.com) ran a story this evening featuring a "hands on" demo of the new Sonic game destined for Xbox 360, Playstation, iOS and Windows Phone (called erroneously "Windows Mobile 7", grrr...). At about the 4:20 mark, we can hear Ken Balough, Digital Grand Manager on Sonic Episode II, talk about this unprecedented new feature:

"...and one of the cool things about it is that the Windows Mobile 7 (sic) and the Xbox are going to be able to work in tandem in ways that are completely new. So when you pick up the Windows Mobile 7 and you'll be able to play Sonic Episode II, save it, stop, boot up your Xbox 360 and pick up right where you left off. And that's a really cool thing Microsoft has going between the devices and I'm a huge fan of it..."

Call us crazy, but that sounds exactly like the feature first demonstrated two years ago that the world has been waiting for on their phones, perhaps the coup d'état between gaming and mobile that Microsoft desperately needs.

Could this Spring be the begriming of a whole new Xbox-Windows Phone interaction? We anxiously await. Check both videos after the break...

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Now that SEGA has revealed Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II to the world via a gameplay footage trailer, they’ve releasing more and more information and assets for the game. But these details are spread out all over the place online, and who has time to find them all? I do, of course!

First up, the Sonic 4 website has been updated to provide story, character, and background info about the new game. The official Episode II story:

"The fierce battle from Episode I was only an overture…

What was Dr. Eggman searching for in the Lost Labyrinth?

What was Mad Gear built for?

They were all a mere puzzle piece of a grandiose project schemed by Dr. Eggman.

As Little Planet, where “Sonic CD” took place, approaches Sonic’s world once again, Dr. Eggman’s whole scheme will be revealed!"

I love how it ties both Episode I (which had no in-game story) and Sonic CD into Episode II’s events (which Ken Balough mentioned in our interview last year). The site also reveals what happened to Metal Sonic after his defeat in Sonic CD, details about several of Episode II’s new robotic enemies, and descriptions of two of the game’s expected four zones, Sylvania Castle and White Park Zone.

The SEGA blog is also a great source of Episode II news. They’ve posted a ton of shiny new screenshots. Remember, the screenshots are from the Xbox 360 version of the game; SEGA is playing the mobile versions close to its chest for the time being. Concept art is shared across all versions though. The aforementioned blog has a few bits of artwork here and here. Want more concept art? The Sonic Facebook page has seven more pieces, mostly depicting Sonic’s enemies.

Sonic 4: Episode II has no official release date yet, but the XBLA and PSN versions will likely launch in May. We expect the Windows Phone version to arrive several months later. In the meantime, SEGA will surely keep pumping out more Episode II art and details. WPCentral will keep you posted!

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