Well, well, well… what have we here? It appears to be a leaked screenshot from Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, though one unconfirmed as such by SEGA (hence the “rumor” tag and lack of inclusion in our gallery proper).
Odds are, anyone who cares about Sonic 4 at all in the first place recognizes the above scene: it is pretty much a perfect (albeit more contemporary) re-creation of the first boss battle from the first Sonic game. Some have leveled criticism at the developers for a lack of originality, but I think that’s hardly fair, given the way a lot of us applauded the very similar throwback at the end of New Super Mario Bros.’ first world.
You can find the full story of how these got out at Sonic Retro– something about IRC and validation and whatnot. And it sounds as though they are trying to get more.
It should be noted, however, that these seem to be unrelated to the person who previously gave their impressions on the game and spoke of dumping it onto the internet. Apparently, SEGA of America Community Manager RubyEclipse managed to somehow talk him out of that one.
Still, the Sonic community seems convinced of their legitimacy, so that seems like a good sign. With that said, here’s another pic from the Splash Hill Zone:
And finally, there is this most curious of images, which alleges a price for the whole shebang:
And there you have it: 400 Microsoft Points, or about five dollars.
Personally, I think that if anything might condemn these screens as fake, it’s that. And only because I find myself having a very, very difficult time believing that SEGA would release something like this for less than 800 MS Points/ten dollars.
But if it’s true? It is so sold; I imagine even Sonic Cycle-posting skeptics would give it a chance at that price.
Beyond that, there isn’t much more to speak of right now. If anything should surface, we’ll update you on it. For now, enjoy the screens, but keep a grain of salt handy… just in case.