Sonic Generations

I have a problem with Sonic and Generations has helped me realise exactly what that problem is. I honestly don’t think I noticed how much he had changed over the years, perhaps it was because I missed out on most of his Dreamcast games, was that when it happened? You all know what I’m talking about, he became a bit of twat didn’t he? I know he can run fast but there is no need to be so cocky about it. Back in Sonic 2 the adorable Tails could run just as fast, and he held a valid pilot’s license despite not really needing a plane to fly. I’ve always liked Tails, but that’s the point, I used to like Sonic and putting Sonic as we know him now literally next to classic Sonic makes it very clear how much he has changed. All is not lost though, the Sonic featured in the excellent Sonic Colours was very clearly the wise cracking, backwards running hedgehog I had grown to dislike but with all that nonsense dialed back enough for me to really enjoy his company again and I hoped that Generations would do the same. I’m pleased to say this is the case. Like a petulant teenager that has been banned from one too many forums, ‘3D’ Sonic has sorted out his attitude problem and has resolved to stop talking to everyone like they are morons. Except that Amy, she brings it on herself.

Generations attempts to bring together all that was great about Sonic while ignoring some of his more questionable horse/warehog/sword based adventures. Each golden Sonic moment has been recreated in both 3D and 2D form and dropped into an impressively busy hub world. As well as having to complete each area as both interdimensional versions of Sonic you are quickly given access to a number of challenges for that zone. While these are mostly optional you will need to complete one challenge in each zone to unlock the boss encounter for that set, this in turn will unlock another set of zones to play. The challenges range from speed runs and basic coin collecting to more varied, but often frustrating, partner challenges. In these you will be ‘assisted’ by a member of Sonic’s gang, adding a unique gameplay element into the mix. With these challenges being optional it seems harsh to overly criticise them as they stand as a a good example of what separates a good Sonic game from a bad one. If you add too much to the gameplay experience you will poison it. Sonic is about running fast and collecting rings, sure 3D Sonic has homing attacks, sliding and boosting but all of these things help you to speed through the level and collect more rings and once mastered will serve you well.

The worlds that Sega have picked to recreate for this game are extremely well chosen, Green Hill Zone was an obvious choice and its transition into 3D seems effortless and natural. About halfway through the game you’ll find yourself sky surfing your way into the City Escape stage, initially it appears to have been pulled wholesale from Sonic Adventure 2 and in concept it has, but the improved controls and visuals allow the player to enjoy it as the experience they remember, rather than the reality of fiddly controls and an awkward camera. I think this is the key part of what makes Sonic Generations great fun to play: nostalgia relived is often disappointing but nostalgia recreated with care and attention to detail is much more palatable. The game is a beautiful and colourful treat with more blue skies than you could ever hope for, the multilayered 2D levels are complex and detailed, they look great when the camera will pan around Sonic for a more dramatic angle, but only when no input is required by the player. Thankfully not a case of style over substance.

There are some issues here though. The game is fast, as it should be and in the 2D levels this is easy to cope with. A seasoned Sonic player should have no problem beyond the ever present issue of missing the optimal path and running into a wall at a dead stop. In 3D though the speed and shifting viewpoints can often leave you wondering what the hell is going on, you will normally make it to the end of a stage without any problems but if you don’t have any clue how you got there it takes something away from the experience. My other major gripe hails back to what I said earlier about not messing with a tested formula too much; the first boss encounter is a perfect example of this. Oddly this encounter is played out with 2D Sonic, using the Sonic Advance/Rush trick of a set of 2D platforms wrapped around a large 3D enemy. In Advance and Rush these worked pretty well but here it is a mess, the objective is unclear and requires timing and accuracy that you just don’t have available to you in the given situation. You must activate a bomb then trick the huge robot into hitting the bomb instead of you. The robot is destroying the platforms and bomb spawn points all around you and you are left with nowhere to jump that won’t result in you blowing yourself up. If you do eventually stun him you need to jump onto his arm, Shadow of the Colossus style, and spin jump his head but the arm is only there for a short time and the platforms you would use to get there have sometimes just been blown up. To compound the problem it’s easy to get stuck between his attacking arm and a respawning platform requiring you to restart the whole section. Sure, it’s just one fight and I’ve gone on about it too much, but is shows up as sloppy against an otherwise very well made game.

With nine zones, several bossfights, bonus stages and a wealth of challanges there is tons to do in Sonic Generations and the majority of it is great fun. You earn points for just about everything you do and these can be spent to unlock abilities, collectable artwork and music. A nice touch for the many diehard fans out there.







One response to “Sonic Generations”

  1. Mighty The Ardvark avatar
    Mighty The Ardvark

    They really should have just left the 3D shite out. It doesn’t and never has worked for Sonic and is the sole factor the Sonic games became so gash after the Mega Drive.

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