Sega’s Project Needlemouse announced as Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Fans of Sonic have long since been yearning for a true 2D sequel of their favourite mascot ever since the less than successful 3D renditions of the iconic hedgehog. When Project Needlemouse was announced it sent Sega fans into a frenzy as the trailer showed off Sonic running through some nostalgic stages and sounds.

Now Sega has officially unveiled what Project Needlemouse actually is and will now be known as Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1.

Sonic 4 will strictly be a 2D game with 3D visuals and will be a multiplatform title coming to the XBOX360, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii this summer. With the “Episode 1” moniker it suggests that this will be an episodic release and Sega’s brand manager Ken Balough had this to say about it.

“When Sega released Sonic 3, ultimately it was the part 1 of a story that saw its conclusion in Sonic & Knuckles,” Balough told GameSpot. “In that same spirit, Sonic the Hedgehog 4 is a bigger story, and this is that first chapter. I think it’s also safe to say that by the end of the episode one, fans will be very excited to see what’s in store for episode two!”

Sonic 4 will take place directly after Sonic & Knuckles but it has a brand new story arc to take the plot in a new direction. In terms of gameplay it will stay as classic as possible but with special moves such as the Spin Dash, Power Sneakers and the Homing Attack from Sonic 3D Blast added in along with online leaderboards for fastest times.

While all three versions are designed to be as identical as possible with the exception of the image output (480p for Wii, 1080p for PS3 and Xbox 360), the main difference lies in the controls. According to Balough, gamers will be able to use the Wii’s motion controls and the PS3’s Sixaxis controls in certain areas. The Xbox 360 version will presumably be a pad-only affair.

Recently it was rumoured that Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 would also appear on the iPhone after finding an image in their assets folder on the website. This is yet to be confirmed but would make sense for Sega to expand their market share on the Apple iPhone platform.