Sonic Team – Sega – PS3/Xbox 360 – Out Now (coming soon on 3DS)
Reviewed by Juanvasquez, Videogames editor
It’s hard to believe that Sonic the Hedgehog is 20 years old this year! So Sonic Generations is here to celebrate two decades of the blue blur, with a new spin on things. The game sees us reacquainted with the old side-scrolling Sonic, as well as the 3D version we’ve come to know for the past 10 years.
First of all you start things of as Classic Sonic, on the ever familiar Green Hill Zone, in a beautiful 3D remake of the side scrolling platform level. While not an exact replica of the old Sonic the Hedgehog level, first seen on the Megadrive, way back when, it’s a frantically paced visual delight, with a superb re-recording of the music we’re so familiar with. Once you’ve whizzed through the short but sweet Act I, we are introduced to all the friendly characters from Sonic’s adventures over the years, around a picnic table to celebrate the Hedgehogs 20th birthday. However things are cut short when a huge purple cloud monster called the Time Eater, appears from nowhere, sucking all the party guests through time portals, trapping them in a limbo like space/time stasis. It’s from here that we are introduced to the hub world, a sterile looking environment where you choose which zone to play next. Act II sees you take control of the current version of Sonic and taking on the third person view we’ve become so familiar with since his first outing on the Dreamcast, in the brilliant Sonic Adventure.
Surprisingly, things start of exceptionally well for the 3D iteration. With the again, extremely fast and brilliant looking Green Hill, only from a different perspective, the action, unlike the more recent generations output, is a joy. All the staples of the current Sonic games are present, such as the grind rails, lock on targets and the occasional dubious platform section. The difference with this Sonic however, is much like the previous multi-platform release, Sonic Unleashed, the perspective will occasionally switch to 2D side-scrolling in certain sections. You’ll also notice that the music has been altered to suit the ‘attitude’ of this version of the Hedgehog. Once you’ve finished Green Hill, you can progress on to Chemical Plant Zone, previously seen in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and it’s just as fun as Green Hill.
Each zone is comprised of two Acts, I and II, with Act I always being classic Sonic and Act II always being current Sonic. Every Zone is one level from each of the main Sonic games released from the last 20 years, however Sonic 3, 3D Blast and Sonic CD seem to have been left by the wayside. Completion of each Zone will see one of Sonic’s friends released from their space/time captivity.
After every three Zones, there is a boss encounter. However, in order to play these, you must complete three challenges. These challenges appear after the completion of every third Zone. They involve certain tasks in sections of each of the Zones that have just been completed, and in order to the get the key, you must complete one challenge from each of the individual Zones. This can range from time attack, racing an opponent or completing the level with certain restrictions or changes. Once you enter the boss fight, you may notice that it is a reimagining of previous boss battles from over the years, including a brilliant section seen in Sonic Adventure.
While the difficulty does spike the further you progress, the 3D Sonic seems to be more hit and miss, which isn’t necessarily down to the quality of the gameplay itself, but I did find myself dying cheaply as a result of the games sense of depth on some of the more platformy sections of the second acts. Along with difficulty changing, you will notice a change of pace in the most part as well. Where early levels allow you to whizz your way through in no time, the further you progress, the more you need to take your time for certain jumps, enemies and environmental changes.
There’s a new feature to Sonic Generations, in the form of a shop. Here you can buy upgrades for use during levels. They’re purchased with the points accrued during the game, so they actually come in use rather than just being a score for the sake of it. The power-ups available for purchase range from super speed, double rings and invincibility. Also available is a control pad, which can be used for… Well that would be telling!
For the sum of its parts, Sonic Generations is an impressive title, boasting some lush visuals and a brilliant soundtrack. The current Sonic levels do let the side down a little and the challenges feel like an unnecessary chore at times. Couple that with the fact there could be room for more remade levels, and that it’s reported this is the last time we’ll see classic Sonic, meaning we’re unlikely to see more of this superb format. It’s a great trip down memory lane and although it includes levels from some of the stinkers (Sonic Heroes, Sonic The Hedgehog 2006), it’s one of the better platformers of recent years. If like me and you’ve been an avid follower of the hedgehog for the last 20 years, this is a must have title. Old Blue’s return to form.