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.
Forum impressions from those fortunate enough to play Sonic 4: Episode II in advance indicate that the game's physics have improved over Episode I's as promised. Sonic no longer loses momentum during jumps; and he gains some during rolls too, though less than in the actual Genesis games. Stage design apparently shows more personality than the previous game's, but they feature an overabundance of boost pads (which automatically increase Sonic’s speed when touched) - in this particular beta version at least. As for the quality of the music (a sore spot in Episode I), opinions vary as usual, with some praising and others decrying it. We can all form our own advance impressions by sampling the new batch of YouTube videos the beta has spawned.
Now for two mostly spoiler-free videos. The first depicts an early level, while the second reveals one of the 'Episode Metal' levels that unlocks for owners of both Episode I and II. It's taken directly from Episode I, with the twist being players can now control Metal Sonic instead of the hero. Watch out for video creator ShadowofRui's YouTube channel though - he does reveal pretty much the whole game in video form. Also, SEGA could pull these at any time, so watch them now if you're interested.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II comes to Xbox Live on Windows Phone in July. It first releases on May 15 on PSN and PC and May 16 on XBLA, so big-screen players won’t have quite as long to wait. As for Sonic CD’s ambiguous Windows Phone release, we covered that a while back.