Video Game Reviews: Sonic 4, Comic Jumper, Super Meat Boy

Our latest batch of video game reviews tackles downloadable games that you can buy right now through Xbox Live, PlayStation Network or WiiWare. We take a look at the return of one of video gaming's biggest characters, as well as two new debuts.

Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1
Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, WiiWare

Sonic the Hedgehog is one of video gaming's most popular characters, but he has seen a bit of a slump over the past several years. Thankfully, Sega is returning to the speed that made Sonic famous in the first place with the new Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. Available as a downloadable game on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, Sonic 4 focuses on what made the Sonic games so memorable on the Sega Genesis.

The action is all about pure speed, from the loops and curves found on most levels to a homing attack Sonic has brought over to this 2D environment. Sonic 4's colors pop and the world is presented in gorgeous high-definition, making anyone who has ever played an old school Sonic game geek out. The music can get a little annoying, and they're the only part of the package that hasn't tried to evolve, sticking to the chip tunes of old.

A return to form, Sonic 4 is just what Sega needed to kickstart this video game icon's return to the mainstream. The levels show enough variety and the gameplay is speedy enough to make this a fun time, and it's a must-have for anyone who wants to relive Sonic's speed in brand new HD environments. Overall Score: 4 (out of 5 sonic booms)
Joystiq: Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1

Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley
Xbox 360

Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley is a new downloadable game from Twisted Pixel Games, the makers of other Xbox Live titles The Maw and Splosion Man. In Comic Jumper, you take control of Captain Smiley, a hapless comic book super hero that has probably seen his best days behind him. Teamed up with Star, a (wait for it) star that is embedded into his chest, Captain Smiley travels through different comic book-themed levels with guns a-blazin', all in the hopes of regaining his original street cred.

Graphically, Comic Jumper is very impressive, with some great animation to accompany the varied environments as you go from comic book to comic book. Each level has a unique visual style that should be familiar to anyone who has read comics. The first level, set in today's world, has a normal color palette, but as you get into the game, you'll see that the next book (loosely based on The Adventures of Conan) has a more washed out appearance. It's a really cool touch that will make you want to play more.

The gameplay also shows variety, as the main action takes place as a side-scroller with bullets flying everywhere, but there will be moments in the game that will have it turn into a brawler, and other times as a timed-button game where you have to press the correct button at just the right time to plow through the level. Some of the levels can get a little long, but just when you start to get bored, Comic Jumper mixes it up for you.

All of this makes for a pretty good game, but Comic Jumper becomes a great one thanks to its uncanny sense of humor. The script has lot of funny moments, from the jerk who yells out insults when you lose a life ("Hope no one's watching!") to the dialogue Captain Smiley has with Star and the other characters in the game. Just play until the end of the first level for a priceless encounter between the two heroes for an example of the humor.

Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley really came out of left field for me, and is one of the best games to hit Xbox Live this year. If you're a comic book fan or in need of a good laugh, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. Overall Score: 5 (out of 5 BLAM-KAPOW-BAMs)
Joystiq: Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley

Super Meat Boy
Xbox 360, WiiWare

Super Meat Boy started life as a playable web game on Meat Boy at and since release has gained over 8 million plays. Now, Super Meat Boy is splattering onto consoles with enhanced graphics and new levels as a downloadable game.

The premise of Super Meat Boy is pretty standard save-the-princess fare, but with a bunch of characters that are very unique in video games. The graphics are a strange mix of cute and gross, so it's not for kids. However, if you're looking for a mix of jumping action with some puzzle elements, Super Meat Boy is worth a try.

Our hero, SMB, has the ability to run quickly and jump, and he must navigate cliffs and platforms to get to your heroine in as quick a time as possible. The game can be very challenging, but the more you play, the better you'll get at it. Sometimes, the game's challenge can be frustrating, but practice makes perfect.

If you're looking for a game with a bit more edge, and you want to play the sequel to one of the web's most popular casual games ever, Super Meat Boy could be for you! Overall Score: 4 (out of 5 band-aids)
Joystiq: Super Meat Boy

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