by Jason Clement
reviewed on 3DS
A blast to the past
Gamers have been breaking the sound barrier with Sonic the Hedgehog for 20 years now since the debut of his classic game back in 1991 on the Genesis/Mega Drive. The Blue-Bur attempted to turn the platforming genre on its head by introducing a brand new element: speed. Fortunately for SEGA, it worked. Sonic's main gameplay mechanic was enough to separate him from the hordes of Mario clones at the time, and in turn create something wholly unique. It also resulted in a definitive mascot that SEGA used to champion its products from then on. But over the years, many would argue that Sonic's games have gone downhill, especially so in the last 10 years. Sonic Generations is not only an attempt to change that, but it also marks an important milestone in the hedgehog's career.
The basic premise behind Sonic Generations is that it attempts to give fans what they've been wanting all these years: Sonic returning to his roots. No more useless extra characters, no more werehogs, no more motorcycle-riding, gun-toting, evil dark versions of himself. Just good old Sonic returning to what made the series great in the first place: a focus on speed and platforming. In fact, it could be said that this is not even a new game, at least in the creative sense. Instead, Generations acts more as a "Best of Sonic" compilation in which Modern Sonic meets up with Classic Sonic via a time warp of sorts in order to stop a new threat. As such, you'll revisit classic levels from throughout his career, such as Green Hill, Casino Night, Emerald Coast, and more.
Same Hedgehog, different perspectives
First off, the game looks great visually. It's very apparent that this is a Dimps developed game much like the Sonic Rush titles for DS, but it gives off much more of a 2.5D look in the same vein of Sonic the Hedgehog 4. The 3D doesn't do a whole lot other than give the playing field a little bit of depth, and at times the game can look a little blurry while viewing it with the 3D at high settings. Fortunately, the frame rate does not suffer like some other 3DS games when the 3D is turned up, so at least Dimps had that part optimized.
There are two acts to each level: Act 1 sees you playing as the potbellied Classic Sonic with his signature spin dash move intact, and in Act 2, you control Modern Sonic, who has his speed burst and homing attack skills. Moreover, Classic Sonic's stages unfold similarly to the 2D levels from his early years, whereas Modern Sonic's levels take on a more modern re-imagining of the same level, occasionally changing view to a dynamic perspective from behind him to the side. Surprisingly, I enjoyed these levels much more than Classic Sonic's. Not only are they faster-paced, but they're also better designed and more exciting thanks in part to the shifts in dynamic camera angles.
Can't outrun all of the Issues
As great as some of the levels may be, they still suffer from awkward placement of spikes and enemies in certain areas, oftentimes breaking up the pacing in a strange way. In addition, one would think that a game that reflects on the best of Sonic's games would focus on some of the better boss battles against his primary antagonist, Eggman, but instead it just features a few races against classic baddies such as Metal Sonic and Shadow and a few not-so-classic boss fights against Eggman and some others. Fortunately, the level selection fares a bit better in this regard; while it would have been nice to have some of the levels that appeared on the console version of this game, this version benefits from the exclusive inclusion of levels from some of the DS Sonic games.
All of the classic Sonic music from these levels are intact as well, which means that you have heard about 90-95% of it before. The good news is that the music in Modern Sonic's stages are remixes of the original songs, and, for the most part, they're fairly good. Also, the game includes a number of different extras such as a music player, art, and character models that are unlocked by completing the various tasks in Mission mode, giving you incentive to come back and play more after you finish the main story.
Modern Trumps Classic For Once
I never thought I'd say this, but I was actually more excited to play as Modern Sonic than Classic Sonic after playing through his levels. In fact, if all the levels had been designed for Modern Sonic, it would have made for a fantastic title. Perhaps it's a testament to how much Sonic has actually progressed and been refined over the years for this modern day and age. But as it is, Sonic Generations is still a fun romp through the series' history. It's definitely short; you can beat it in a few hours, but the mission mode helps give it a little more life. If you're a big fan of the hedgehog and only own a 3DS, I recommend checking it out, but otherwise the console version is the definitive version to play here.
Graphics are good, Modern Sonic's levels are great, 100+ missions to play through
Main campaign is a bit too short, story is unoriginal and lacklustre, the more modern levels don't translate as well for Classic Sonic.