Loops, hoops, springs, and rings play a significant role in the life of Sega’s iconic mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog. The little blue demon has been spin-dashin’ and ring nabbin’ since the early 90′s, and while we’ve grown attach to Sonic’s earlier years, his latest adventures haven’t been as engaging as we’ve liked them to be. It seems Sega has been vigorously feeding off the success of Nintendo’s obese plumber attempting to get by as second best.
Making use of the criticism Sonic Colors garnered, Sega was capable of recreating an entirely new game for the current generation of consoles that literally takes Sonic back to his glory days, re-imagining what fans saw back in the early 90′s. It’s great to see Sega treading back to Sonic’s glory days, and I’m proud to say that Sonic the Hedgehog is back to redeem himself after the many failures gamers endured through the years, this time with a little help from himself.
The Sonic universe is at a total stand still where past and present come together building up one of the best Sonic experiences we’ve had in a long while. While racing through a timeless world, Sonic encounters his younger self and must work together to restore time back to where it was. Blazing at high speeds, gamers will run through beautifully re-imagined areas of Sonic’s past once more to uncover the mysterious force that lurks through time and space.
The unoriginal plot will be forgotten by fans, and for good reason. Where the story lacks, the gameplay makes up for it. Players will take control of either Classic Sonic or Modern Sonic and blaze their way through many zones we’ve come to love as Sonic fans. Both Modern and Classic offer up different styles of play, each with their unique actions and perspectives and offering up hours upon hours of addictive gameplay elements.
Taking gamers back 20 years, Classic Sonic’s gameplay consist of fast-paced, addicting, 2D side-scrolling action that fans of the original Sega titles should be familiar with. The classic 2D side scrolling gameplay is kept intense as Classic Sonic makes his way through the lush areas of Green Hill Zone at his trademark blazing hot speeds, or shimming his way through a sky bound temple of the Sanctuary Zone while the Death Egg rises in the background giving gamers a great sense of nostalgia. With the help of the Hedgehog Engine, players will be able to spin-dash their way through loops and corkscrews at invigorating speeds.
Classic Sonic is stripped away from Sonic’s boost abilities and stripped of his ability to utilize the homing attack against his foes throughout the game, although the homing attack can be unlocked and equipped via skill set later on in the game. The player will have to rely on speed, a simple jump button, and the spin-dash in order to get by in the classic levels. The intensity of Sonic’s speed varies on how the player is able to maintain a steady path towards the goal. There are multiple paths to be taken in each level. Depending on how quick the player’s eyes and thumbs correspond together, they can take higher paths that are much quicker, however far more demanding of the player’s skills. Or, if things are a little too difficult, they can take the lower paths that require a little less skill but ask for a little more time. At any rate, the Classic Sonic gameplay is an engaging experience for those who are nostalgic over Sonic’s Genesis days. Fans will savor the Classic Sonic levels, as they are a joyous stroll through memory lane, and a reminder as to why they’re Sonic fans to begin with.
In contrast, Modern Sonic changes things up a bit. The modern gameplay will place the camera behind Sonic at all times giving the player a completely different perspective of the world around them. The 3D perspective adds in a lot more flavor to the classic Sonic gameplay we’ve come to love by granting Sonic his signature homing attack and boosting abilities, as seen in the more recent title Sonic Unleashed. The boosting ability can be triggered using the square button and can be triggered whenever Sonic’s boost meter is filled up. When boosting, Sonic becomes nearly invincible, allowing him to ram into enemies without taking in any damage. Boosting adds a lot more intensity to the Modern levels and feels extremely satisfying as he makes his way to the goal ring. There are also Quick Step sections throughout the modern levels. Quick Step gives Sonic the ability to quickly move to the left or right without losing any momentum, and it’s an awfully fun move when speeding through a level. Quickstep works beautifully as Sonic smashes into oncoming enemies by knocking them into other foes, or walls. Yellow boost pads only add to the fun, as it will allow Sonic to perform a few cool stunts while sustained in mid-air. Moving the left stick in any given direction can do this, then when the player is ready to end the combination of tricks, pressing the R1 and L1 buttons add in a finishing move. The more stunts Sonic can perform, the more boost will be added to his boost meter.
Playing as Modern Sonic in Green Hill Zone was an exciting venture for me all thanks to the blazing fast speeds and the opportunity of viewing Green Hill Zone in a way I never thought possible. Speeding my way through the rampant sectors of the fan favorite level filled me up with delight at every jump, turn, and loop. Grinding through Green Hill Zone was simply awesome.
The Modern Sonic gameplay is not perfect though. I found there to be many control errors throughout a few sections of the game where the controls were completely irresponsive. When I was making may way down a few straight paths, the R1 and L1 Quick Step buttons refused to work when trying to dodge oncoming walls, causing me to take in damage and lose a few rings. There are also sections where Sonic can use his Ring Dash ability. However, thanks to some control flaws, I was unable to execute the ability properly. I repeated this multiple times, specifically on Planet Wisp, and no go. After a few attempts, I got it through but that required the mashing of the triangle button multiple times. It became rather frustrating. The Modern Sonic gameplay also feels a bit floaty during platforming sections, but it won’t be much of a hassle as Sonic will mostly be homing in on enemies or boosting through the level.
The boss battles in Generations are all redone for the more modern Sonic fans. They’re extremely fun, but incredibly short. The first boss battle Sonic encounters will be the DeathEgg Robot from Sonic 2 in which only Classic Sonic can fight against. The Boss Battle, while fun in its many ways, can be taken down within a minute’s time. The same goes for many boss battles including the rivalry fights against Metal Sonic, Shadow and Silver. Again, each is incredibly fun, but incredibly short as well. Had Sega made them a little longer, it would’ve made for a much more fun experience. I wish Sega had given the boss battles classic and modern versions rather than being locked in for one Sonic.
There’s no doubt that you’ll comeback to replay through all of the levels or boss battles out of pure pleasure and delight. There’s plenty to do in Sonic Generations including discovering an abundance of unlockable content within the challenge modes, or collecting the Red Rings from each individual level, or perhaps fighting through a rivalry battle between Metal Sonic, Shadow, or Silver.
The level designs are magnificent! The landscape across the map as Sonic jumps through a loop or accelerates through a jump pad can be a sight for sore eyes. The landscapes and scales of each zone become a jaw dropping adventure for the player. Flying freely through the skies of Green Hill Zone while looking off in the distance to see a lovely blue ocean glimmering in the sunlight, the far off loops and hills casting back in bright green, the small lakes and ponds in between the tracks, and the lovely white waterfall raining down as Sonic jumps through it redefines “re-imagination”. The zones and locations in Sonic Generations are beautifully constructed be it through the temples of the Sky Sanctuary Zone or through the evergreen areas of Planet Wisp.
Attention to detail in the game is a key reason for its visually stunning success in such places as Speed Highway or the Perfect Chaos Boss fight. While riding away on a chopper in Speed Highway, I noticed Sonic’s reflection being casted back at him from the glass buildings, or perhaps during the Perfect Chaos battle, when Chaos sends Sonic a line of raging water to attack him, I noted a watery Sonic reflection within the water. Sure, it’s just a little reflection. Big deal, right? It’s a very big deal. If Sonic Team went through all the effort just to cast a reflection in water or on a building, there was more emphasis in detail when developing each world, and it shows.
Much like most racing games, Sonic Generations is a visually stunning masterpiece when in motion; all that is done away with when everything comes to a complete standstill. The attention to detail is visibly present, however, there are a lot of textural flaws that make things look a little less beautiful. The annoyance of framerate drops can degrade the quality of some of the most stunning visuals present in Generations. All in all, the visuals are amazing with the exception of the frame rate drops and textural flaws.
Sonic Generations incorporates all of Sonic’s most memorable tunes into one by remixing each song, delivering a new refreshing tracklist fans will appreciate. Both modern and classic Sonic have their own unique remixes to their levels and not one track is the same. Personally, I found the Rooftop Run: Modern Remix to be amongst my favorites throughout the entire game. It’s absolutely wonderful. Jun Senoue takes an original Sonic Unleashed tune and mixes it with an upbeat, cheery, piano-orchestrated mix that goes well with the level design and atmosphere as Sonic beams his way up the walls of a clock tower and atop buildings of the Rooftop Run. While the Rooftop Run track is only a few years old, many of the songs in Generations go as far as twenty years. Green Hill Zone has it’s own mix, Chemical Plant has it’s own mix, and so on. Each mix is amazingly fun to listen to while playing through a level. Throughout a greater duration of my playtime, I was dancing in my seat or singing along to a song. It’s pretty crazy, to say the least, how these tracks add more of an affect to how awesome the game is, more especially for me, a Sonic fan. It’s without a doubt that most fans will nostalgically speed through levels happily because of the remixed tunes Sonic Generations has to offer.
Roger Craig Smith and Mike Pollock are back in this adventure to reprise their roles as Sonic and Eggman. The two voice actors, as well as the rest of the cast, improve upon the voice acting, making characters a lot less annoying than in previous Sonic games. Much like Sonic Colors, the dialogue is a little more child-friendly as Sonic sticks to his comedic puns and quirkiness. A setback with the dialogue is that there’s hardly any interaction between characters. For a game that has Classic and Modern Sonic in the same world, it doesn’t have much interaction between the two. I’m sure most fans will find the lack of dialogue disappointing as well.
Despite Sonic’s daunting past at many failed attempts to bring him back to his glory days, I believe Sega, and the blue hedgehog himself, should stand tall and proud with this accomplishment. Sonic Generations is the game that fans have been waiting for within the last few years. It’s a game that fans should take in with appreciation, and smile, for it has been a long rough road for our blue hero and the Sonic community. This accomplishment that is Sonic Generations is not only a game to be played for fun, it’s a tribute to the blue hedgehog’s 20 years.
As a Sonic fan, I feel a great sense of pride; I feel ecstatic; I feel absolutely wonderful. To play Sonic Generations was an honor for me, as it took me back to my childhood reminding me what it’s like to be a kid filled with an imagination and a future with endless possibilities, and wishful thinking. The sense of nostalgia from Sonic Generations is intense for anyone who’s grown up with the blue guy.
With all this said and done, I’m happy to say Sonic Generations is the best Sonic title to be released within ten years. I’m not sure what that may mean to many of the Sonic fans out there, but it means a great deal for me personally. I’m proud to present Sonic Generations with a 9 out of 10 for it’s intense thrill ride, beautifully re-imagined arenas, and for staying true to Sonic’s glory days.
Stand proud, Sonic. And cue the ending credit medley.