Sonic puts me in mind of a weird game of Russian Roulette. I see in my mind the Sonic fandom passing round a hedgehog shaped chalice, where the next fan takes a deep drink and then falls on the floor, violently retching and vomiting rings before the next fan step over the convulsing wreck, wipes off the chill dog chunks still clinging to the goblet, then quickly taking in that special brew in the hopes of a taste of the sweeter days of yore.
So with my somewhat limited knowledge and experience with the franchise, I decided to sidestep the well known poisons and go with Sonic Generations. Even before this I knew I was in dangerous territory of reviewing what seemed to be known as a “good” Sonic game since Sonic only seems synonymous with terrible, glitchy, unplayable games (see Sonic ’06 or Sonic Boom) but I retort by saying I’m not a Let’s Player. Go watch Game Grumps do those games ‘cos I’m not reviewing them unless someone sends me them and the consoles play them on. I’ve only got Sonic games on Steam and, since this was released in the time before Sonic moved firmly just to Nintendo, let’s get on with the Sonic Generations review!
Generations starts out with Classic Sonic and playing through Green Hill Zone from the very first game when everything was shiny and new and untainted by Sonic voice with attitude. But, upon beating it, a mysterious creature known as the Time Eater appears which quickly allows us to flash forward to Modern Sonic, complete with outdated nineties attitude, is celebrating his twentieth birthday with his cohort of memorable, as well as completely irrelevant and forgettable, friends. However the Time Eater reappears, stealing his friends and sending Sonic to a strange white space with levels from his past strewn before him. Now, as either Classic Sonic, Modern Sonic or both, you must defeat this Time Eater and free your friends in order to restore time to its rightful place.
One thing I will give this game straight off the bat is it is beautiful to look at with the graphics being done up to the nines in order to really bring out the best of Modern Sonic as well as update Classic Sonic for the modern world. Everything looks clean and polished and, especially some cinematic running sections, just makes you marvel at the level of detail Sonic Team put in to make every piece of Sonic’s past look brilliant for the present day.
I’ll also give props for the way the game is set out with one level chosen from each of its console releases for both the normal and the boss stages. Through this you revisit the nostalgia of Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog, roll around at the speed of sound through City Escape in Sonic Adventure 2, race through the strange and wonderful Planet Wisp in Sonic Colors and even have your mind figuratively imploded as you… go through Crisis City in Sonic ’06? The hell?!
Well, aside from that bewildering choice, the levels are really fun to play through and, apparently, the DS version got Sonic Rush instead of Sonic Heroes so although they perhaps forgetting Sonic’s handheld history it’s still a nice touch and a way to briskly walk through Sonic’s history. They even got some mini bosses fights in each section with Metal Sonic, Shadow and Silver breaking up the bigger boss stages which pretty clever when you think about it. Seriously, adding smaller stages so the characters are featured in a meaningful way and not just shoehorned in for no plot purpose actually works very well.
Not only did the game look great and have a good variety of levels and bosses but it sounds freaking awesome. Not just the sound effects,
although they are done brilliantly, but the music is amazing. I knew of the tune before, but actually playing the Sonic Adventure 2 City Escape with Escape from the City (aka: Rolling Around At The Speed Of Sound) playing on a loop in my head without any sign of stopping. Damn you Tony Harnell and Ted Poley for doing that insanely memorable tune! Seriously though, while Escape from the City is the stand out tune, all the music is pretty damn good. Well done Sega, I enjoy the audio experience.
Now to the bit we’ve all been waiting for: which is better Classic 2D Sonic or Modern 3D Sonic? Well, personally, I preferred 2D Sonic just that bit more but I still had a ton of fun with 3D Sonic amazingly, well aside from Vector’s music section which was absolute agony. Bearing mind that at the time of playing the one 3D Sonic game I had played was Sonic and the Black Knight so he didn’t have high standards to beat but it was really fun to play.
While controls on certain sections were a bit buggy and getting up to speed takes a freaking eternity, I still got a whole load of fun out of the 3D sections and even got used to the homing attacks. Hell even 2D Sonic wasn’t without it’s bugs with the camera deciding to change position randomly in some areas so you couldn’t see where the platforms anymore, meaning you’d had to start the level again. But still, be it with past or present Sonic, you can still have a fun time doing either levels.
But then again, as already seen, Sonic Generations does still have some problems. Firstly the Skills Shop is completely useless, at least on PC. Sonic learns new moves as he progresses through the game, be it Stomp or Wisp powers, but getting having to spend points on extra lives and stuff seems completely irrelevant in this game. I only used it once as I only found the place by accident and wanted to see what the hell it was about.
Now here comes the spoilers but if you haven’t figured out that Sonic wins this particular game then how are you even functioning at this moment? But seriously, while the bosses throughout this game mainly are for Modern Sonic, (though Classic Sonic gets a good one too) the final one mixes them both in as, wait for it, Super Sonic! Now I know this has been around since Sonic the Hedgehog 2 but I’ll go on record saying I don’t like it at all. Not because it’s a clear rip off of Dragon Ball Z, but because it makes everything you’ve learned in the game before the final boss pointless.
Now I know games have done this in the past and some of them I’ve even liked, but this feels just a bit too far since all you do is just get close to Eggman (yes the real villain is Eggman, shocker) and just stand there. That does damages. No kicks, punches or spin attacks, just be close to him and your very aura will be enough to take him down. That is just stupid when you have all these inventive attacks in the previous levels that you now cannot use. Plus the ending is so cheesy that it could be a direct-to-video Disney release. Play it and you’ll know what I mean, that sickeningly heart-warming sort of thing.
Sonic Generations is one of those games I should hate for the amount of piss-taking times it took for me to beat certain levels, the uselessness of the Skills Shop, the boring final boss, and some general camera problems. But I kept coming back for more because, at it’s core, it’s a damn fun game. It’s got fun platforming, addictive speed sections, a great soundtrack and tons of levels for you to play and come back to. Sonic has not always had the best of life, sometimes getting the rawest end of the deal, but Sonic Generations is that bit we can look at and think, well it wasn’t all bad, perhaps we can hope for future greatness. At this point, we can just hope, but we’ll still have this fun game.