This one probably didn’t happen as Sega intended it to. Ever since the launch of the original episode of Sonic the Hedgehog 4, Sega’s been completely silent concerning the game’s impending sequel.

Now, the Xbox LIVE Marketplace has been updated to include the game’s basic information and a slew of gorgeous screenshots (the first of which lies above, while you’ll find the rest in the gallery at the foot of this post).

Here, from the game’s description, are a few of the brand new features set to drop when Sonic 4: Episode 2 releases:

  • Play alone, or with a friend locally (and online), in an evolution of Sonic 2’s collaborative gameplay!
  • Unleash Sonic and Tails’ devastating joint attacks and combination moves to fight the united force of Metal Sonic and Dr. Eggman.
  • Episode II features an all new game engine, bringing you updated physics and an original graphical style as you race through four unique Zones and a new Special Stage.

Apparently, Sega’s been hard at work improving upon the original episode for the second in this new series of Sonic titles. Between the new engine, which looks solid in stills and might look even better in motion, local/online cooperative play and joint work between Sonic and Tails, this second episode is shaping up o be a completely new experience.

Sonic fans have been living with dissappointment for a very long time now. However, the recent light at the end of the tunnel in the form of Sonic Generations demonstrated that there’s still hope for this once loved franchise. If Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 2 can continue to drive the brand in the right direction, Sonic fans should collectively rejoice.

We’ll have more on this game, including any official trailers and announcements, as it comes.

What do you think of the future for the blue speedster as it appears so far?

[via NeoGAF, Microsoft]

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