Published by – SEGA
Number of Players: 1
Platform – PS3 (Reviewed), Xbox 360, PC, 3DS
Release Date – November 1st, 2011 (PS3, Xbox 360), November 3rd, 2011 (PC), November 22nd, 2011 (3DS)
Genre – Platformer, Action Adventure
ESRB – Everyone
MSRP – $39.99-$49.99
The speedy blue hedgehog is 20 years old this year (20 years old!), so to commemorate this milestone, Sega have released Sonic Generations. It’s a combination of the old 2D side scrolling Sonic that we know and love from way back when, and the much less revered Sonic we’re familiar with these days.
At Sonic’s birthday party (the whole gang is there, Tails, Knuckles, Amy, that weird purple thing), a giant cloud monster, the Time Eater, appears out of nowhere and sucks everyone through time portals, freezing them in time and space. As Sonic progresses through the game, he frees the characters from their space/time stasis. The game contains several zones, as you’d come to expect from Sonic, and each zone is comprised of 2 acts. Act I sees you in control of classic Sonic, in the superior side scrolling view. Act II is contemporary Sonic, the version that’s become progressively worse as the years have gone by. This version, similar to some of the levels we saw in the not too terrible Sonic Unleashed, sees the action in both the third person and the occasional side scrolling section.
It’s safe to say that the classic Sonic levels are much more entertaining and better to control. These are loose 3D remakes of a level from each of the previous Sonic the Hedgehog games, although Sonic 3, 4 and Sonic CD have been omitted from the line up. The opening level, Green Hill Zone, has a wonderful sense of rose-tinted nostalgia and is fantastically fast paced. The same goes for zone 2, which is the Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic 2. As soon as you hear the music it all comes flooding back!
The further you progress through the game, however, the more the nostalgia wears, particularly when you venture onto levels from the likes of the barely playable Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), the patience testing Sonic Heroes and the more recent Sonic Colors. The current Sonic starts off surprisingly well. As with the first act on Green Hill, it’s exceptionally speedy and for the most part, handles really well. The same can be said with the Chemical Plant level as well, which also has a fair amount of side scrolling but on the whole is very enjoyable. Unfortunately, things soon revert to the Sonic we’ve come to know and the usual complaints soon arise. Most of these complaints stem from problems that cause cheap deaths due to a poor sense of depth when it comes to jumping from platform to platform.
After completing every third zone, several challenges set in the previous 3 zones are unlocked, ranging from time trials, races and replaying stages with various handicaps, among other things. In order to progress any further from the previous zones, you have to complete one challenge from each zone, to obtain a key, enabling you to enter a boss stage. The boss stages, like the levels, are taken from the previous Sonic games and redesigned, with one particular boss from Sonic Adventure, being as enjoyable and frustrating in equal measure. There are also rival challenges, where Sonic has to compete against one of the bad hedgehogs from throughout the years, completion of which, will obtain you a Chaos Emerald. These challenges aren’t easy to come by however, as the rivals are hidden around the hub world along with the other challenges.
As is the norm for Sonic, get past the first few levels and you find the difficulty gets steeper and steeper. Where at first you can fly through the levels in under a couple of minutes, some of the courses prove a little more complicated than just running from left to right, really changing the pace of the game, particularly on the classic Sonic levels.
A different addition to the game is the shop. This allows you to purchase power ups and perks with the points you earn from each level. These can range from invincibility, faster running speeds and even the classic Super Sonic. There’s also the option to purchase a control pad. But I won’t tell you what it’s for, that would ruin the fun!
The 3D look of the classic levels works really well. The colors are vibrant, yet sometimes dizzying (trying for the ‘finish Green Hill in 60 seconds’ trophy/achievement left me a little motion sick after a while!), but overall really capture the feel of the classic games. The music has been given the makeover treatment too, with re-recordings of the classics giving them a better sound, as well as a more up tempo version for the contemporary Sonic equivalent, with added ‘attitude’. The J-pop music of the more recent games is also present, and while as cheesy as expected, there’s something great about it, particularly the ones from the Dreamcast years. But that might be nostalgia rearing its head once more!
Sonic Generations is a mixed bag, but overall a very satisfying trip down memory lane, with plenty to keep the older fans happy. There’s potential to expand on this format but apparently this is the last we’ll be seeing of classic Sonic, which is a shame as this game should have opened the door to some potentially great sequels. The classic sonic levels are everything Sonic 4 should have been.
Gameplay: 4 / Story: 3 / Graphics: 4 / Sound: 4 / Overall: 4