Let’s face it – Sonic the Hedgehog hasn’t exactly been the most consistent of video-game mascots. Revered during his 16-bit glory days as a worthy alternative to Mario, Sonic has since fallen off the wagon. Sega are attempting to give the Blue Blur a new lease on life with a “best of” compilation – featuring some of Sonic’s most popular (and least popular) stages, taken from varying points in his career.
That sure seems like a great idea… right?
Sonic Generations is Sega’s attempt to satisfy the needs of two sets of Sonic fans – the “classic” fans, who feel he was at his best in his 2D days and the “modern” Sonic fans, who enjoy his 3D adventures. By including both versions of Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as dual-versions of old and recent stages, Sega are taking the best of both worlds and creating something that everybody can enjoy.
Sonic Generations sees the long-legged, long-spiked Sonic from recent years team up with his fat-bellied past self to fight the Time Eater – a purple cloud-monster that’s ripping through reality and destroying parts of Sonic’s past. Naturally it falls to the blue duo to save the day. It’s certainly not a sensible story, but it’s fun and lighthearted with enough self-referential jokes and knowing nods to the past to make it enjoyable.
There are nine main chapters, each one is based on various stages in Sonic history. The likes of Green Hill Zone and Sky Sanctuary are there to represent “classic” Sonic levels, while you have stages like Speed Highway and Planet Wisp as representations of “modern” Sonic. Each stage has a “classic” and “modern” variant, with Classic Sonic running across old-fashioned sidescrolling platform levels and Modern Sonic dashing through 3D-oriented stages, with a higher focus on speed than precision, leaving you with 18 stages in total.
Classic Sonic plays almost exactly how you remember him from his 16-bit days. His spin dash is back as well as his inability to home in on enemies – meaning you’ll be back to just bouncing off their heads. Nostalgic fans should be happy, Classic Sonic stages are focused more on old-school platforming and they handle well. Although, it should be noted that the old trial and error gameplay is still present, meaning you may be running into enemies you couldn’t foresee and some platforms require almost perfect timing to hit.
For better or worse, Classic Sonic is just that – Classic Sonic.
Strangely enough, I actually found the Modern Sonic levels to be the most enjoyable part of Sonic Generations. Even the 3D versions of “classic” Sonic stages are great fun to play-through thanks to their sheer speed and intensity. My personal favourites include a brilliant new take on Green Hill Zone and the exhilarating Speed Highway. While there are some truly enjoyable 2D stages, a lot of the 3D variants are more fun thanks to a greater sense of speed & some fantastic visual effects – enhancing the replayability.
That’s not to say the stages are perfect, of course. There are a few duds thrown in for good measure. Crisis City is a badly designed mess and unlike the rest of the game, is incredibly dull to look at, while Planet Wisp is overly long and tedious no matter which Sonic you play as. I’m still surprised though at how many of the stages are actually good, which for a 3D Sonic game is quite impressive.
As well as the main stages, Sonic also has a few “Rival” battles against some of the series’ most popular characters – Metal Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog and Silver. These battles usually involve Sonic running to avoid the enemy attacks before hitting them when they’re vulnerable. These levels are reasonably fun and serve as a decent break from the usual stages. Just don’t expect to replay them anywhere near as often as the main stages in the game.
There are also a set of challenges to complete on each stage, most are optional but you will need to complete one or two before being able to progress. Some require you to collect a certain amount of rings, others see Sonic team up with one of his friends, each with their own special ability needed to complete the stage. Luckily you get to choose which challenges to play and some of them are quite fun, while also often being specially designed levels in their own right. You can also pick the Sonic you’re most comfortable playing as for these challenges, which is a nice touch.
Skill points can be earned upon the successful completion of any of these stages and challenges, which can be used to unlock new enhancements for either of the Sonics. These can include speed increases, the chance to get back up immediately after falling and the ability to equip various bubble shields. You also get the chance to play as Super Sonic when you’ve collected enough of the Chaos Emeralds, although doing so isn’t quite as much fun as you’d expect, the speed boost is minor and the effect doesn’t last long either.
You can also unlock new music tracks to be used on any of the stages, worth mentioning thanks to the sheer brilliance of “Sonic Boom” alone. Playing any level with this song blasting in the background increases the “epicness” tenfold.
Sonic Generations isn’t exactly the longest title – it can be beaten in around 4-6 hours. There’s plenty of replay value even without the optional challenges (which often feel like padding), simply replaying the main stages can be quite an enjoyable experience. Finding the hidden stars to unlock more artwork and music, as well as getting the perfect “S” rank on these stages provides plenty of extra incentive. Even weeks after release, I often find myself replaying a few levels here and there, just for the fun of it – that’s not something I do often with games these days.
Visually, Sonic Generations is a great looking game. From fully HD reimaginings of classic Sonic levels, through to more modern stages that look better than ever, the levels are colourful and varied, keeping things fresh throughout. There’s some great animations too, seeing either Sonic shift effortlessly from jumping to combat to running across varying dimensional planes helps keep a sense of flow and momentum, classic Sonic is particularly adorable too as he celebrates at the end of each stage.
The sound in Sonic Generations is also worth a mention. Each stage has two equally thrilling versions of some memorable Sonic tracks, as well as the aforementioned unlockable songs, making this game a delight for the ears as well as the eyes.
Sonic Generations is by no means a perfect game. There are some occasional glitches with buttons not responding and seeing Sonic fall through the odd platform, as well as a couple of dud stages and a mediocre final boss fight. You could also say that this is only a small slice of Sonic history, rather than a full celebration of it – some more stages wouldn’t have gone amiss either. All in all though, this is a promising return to form for Sonic – and a long overdue one at that. As long as Sega continue to take these steps in the right direction, the future is bright for the Blue Blur.
Just don’t @*%£ it up again, Sega!
This is a review from www.thereviewcast.com
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EDIT: Apologies for the strange positioning of the images, fixing them on forums is an ability I somehow lack...