Sonic the Hedgehog 4 for WiiWare is a return to two-dimensional form where the hog really belongs - loud and proud on the living room TV screen. Officially seen as the follow-on to 1994's Sonic & Knuckles, the Sonic template has been stripped back down to its roots and the rest of the cast have been confined to their burrows. This is the simple tale of one hedgehog running from left to right very, very quickly indeed.
You can either play for a high score or a low time and, as ever, the challenge throughout is to keep up your momentum and your quota of rings - without which you'll be cruelly exposed to the fatal dangers of the mechanised wildlife that roam through each of the three levels that are attached to all four of the game's zones.
The Splash Hill Zone is a loving tribute to the beauty and simplicity of the Green Hill Zone and confrontations with Eggman are reminiscent of former battles yet all have a fresh spin.
The highlight of this episode is the Casino Street Zone - which has the hog journeying through levels made of fruit machines, pinball tables, neon lights, bumpers, flippers and stacks of cards. It's a platforming masterclass.
Beyond the neon retro pleasantries of Casino Street's spinning racks of dice there are the ancient stone loops of the Lost Labyrinth and the green metal of Mad Gear to contend with, the latter being an insane network of valves, pipes, spinning cogs and hedgehog-threatening machines.
The gameplay is inspired throughout, and for every returning gameplay hero (Sonic leaping for oxygen bubbles in flooded ruins), there's a new and intriguing concept (Sonic running through darkened halls with a flaming torch, lighting dynamite fuses as he passes). The original game's special stages, in which you roll Sonic around floating mazes in the pursuit of Chaos Emeralds, also return here - motion control comes by tilting the Wiimote.
This game could have been an outright classic, but sadly there are a few moments that jar. Generally the difficulty levels are perfect - the early levels are a breeze, while the climactic Robotnik battles and the winding paths through his Mad Gear machines are suitably fiendish, yet satisfying to defeat.
Sad to say, then, that once in a while Sonic 4 conjures up show-stopping puzzles or platform sections that don't quite feel fair - suddenly robbing the game of its momentum and discolouring the sheer brilliance that's otherwise on show. This happens rarely enough to forgive, but too frequently to forget.
Despite this, Sonic 4 is a blistering sequel that hammers every nostalgia button going, yet at all times manages to feel like it's an entirely new game, rather than an exploitative rehash.
This is an edited version of a review that will appear in the December issue of Official Nintendo Magazine which will be on sale on 28 October. For more in depth analysis, screenshots and boxouts get the mag when it goes on sale.