Allow me to start with a fresh outlook, say “Howdy y’all” as a newcomer to the HD Staff here, as I give to you guys a review on a game I have been wanting to review and share with you since the day it was announced…and the very video game that I believe has brought back Sonic completely to what he is supposed to be. It may be short-lived, it may be bittersweet, but trust my words when I say that Sonic The Hedgehog has returned completely. Let’s celebrate his 20 years together and welcome him back the best way we can: with a game that brings to you, the fan, everything that is his best in one single game.
It’s okay guys, you don’t have to be worried anymore.
~The King’s Return~
The goal with Sonic Generations is plain and simple: show the fans of SEGA and Sonic The Hedgehog everything that SHOULD be Sonic The Hedgehog in the best way possible. How do you do that? By creating a scenario where both the classic 1991 Sonic can run alongside his present-day version of himself. This is done by the simple story that gives us an excuse to have, essentially, NO story. Sonic is given a surprise birthday party by all of his friends *sans Shadow, though.* and it’s all interrupted when some mysterious new enemy comes out of the skies to suck his friends away into multiple holes in time and space. It’s so powerful that not even Sonic himself can do anything about it, so he’s knocked out cold and wakes up in what is comparable to the Hypobolic Time Chamber from Dragon Ball Z: pure NOTHING.
That is, pure NOTHING sans some landscape in the distance that looks awfully familiar. One quick zip over and…
OH MY GOD IT’S GREEN HILL ZONE!!!
Yes. It’s Green Hill Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog’s very first game and it’s re-imagined, in HD, in 3D/Modern Sonic’s gameplay style from Sonic Unleashed/Colors, and it’s a glorious affair.
After going through the stage as both Classic and Modern Sonic, you “restore” the entire stage from being erased and save one of Sonic’s friends: the first being Tails. What’s immediately great is that once both characters start talking about their current plight, little nods to Sonic’s history are applied here and there within the dialogue and the rest of the game.
Sonic: “Is it just me, or does that place I was just in look familiar?” *Looks back at Green Hill Zone*
Tails: “Hmm, not to me. :\ But this place looks like it had its life and color sucked out of it! Totally strange…”
Sonic: “No stranger to rescuing genies magic books or saving aliens in an interstellar amusement park!”
HA. CONTINUITY IS FINALLY ACKNOWLEDGED IN SONIC GAMES. hahaha.
As for nods towards the other games, well, that’s done in many ways but the first one we can talk about is that the level designs of other games are mostly seen in Classic Sonic’s versions of many levels in-game: even if they don’t appear outright. An example is Classic Sonic’s underwater pathways in Seaside Hill resembling very closely to Hydrocity Zone from Sonic 3, or Flying Battery Zone’s influence on Rooftop Run.
…and when you talk about the gameplay, it doesn’t get any better than this.
Classic, 1991 Sonic plays like how he did in the Genesis games: the only exception being that his standstill rolling physics aren’t developed FOR this game but that’s okay because at the scale the levels are done here you’re better off running or spin-dashing through them. You get the jump, the spin dash (with a quick-charge button available) and that’s it! Oldschool gameplay Sonic like it should be. Playing Classic Sonic like a pro will reward you with a beautiful performance and time similar to how the oldschool games ran. But you can add more to Sonic’s moveset if you want to improve him or give him some variety. If you perform the missions in-game or collect all 5 Red Rings per “Classic” iteration of a level, you gain new abilities all reigning from the old days too!
Want an Electric Shield? You Got it!
Want an Instant-Shield? You Got it!
Want an extra life? You got it!
Want better acceleration? You got it!
This game’s keyword for the entirety is “Choice”. The choice to allow the player to play this game how he/she wants, and this is what SEGA has massively succeeded in.
But perhaps new moves isn’t just what you want: maybe you want to change the music because you don’t like that new remix or want to up your “nerd” factor a bit and gush a little with old tunes remixed for this game OR simply brought back and played WHILE you are playing these levels. Well Sonic Generations hits your eardrums with over 50 unlockable tracks from every installment in the Sonic franchise in all his 20 years: seriously!
Whether it’s switching the final boss’ theme to “What I’m Made Of…” from Sonic Heroes or switching the music in Green Hill Zone to Angel Island Zone from Sonic 3…this game is basically catered to you, the Sonic fan, and is begging you to check out EVERYTHING it has to offer.
Now when it comes to what the actual game has to offer for levels, SEGA and Sonic Team gave us the entire franchise in 3 distinct ‘eras’.
~Sega Genesis Arc~
Green Hill Zone (Sonic 1)
Chemical Plant Zone (Sonic 2)
Sky Sanctuary (Sonic & Knuckles)
~Sega Dreamcast Arc~
Speed Highway (Sonic Adventure)
City Escape (Sonic Adventure 2)
Seaside Hill (Sonic Heroes; it counts since it was meant as a Dreamcast title)
Crisis City (Sonic 2006)
Rooftop Run (Sonic Unleashed)
Planet Wisp (Sonic Colors)
Because you have these 9 stages, you are also given 3 “Rival” battles and 3 “Boss” battles…not including the final, 7th boss battle. Side missions are also aplenty which add variety to the already given stages and act as “Act 2″ “Act 3″ and so forth but with different goals for each one. There are 90 missions to check out, meaning 5 per (version of) Sonic, and per (Act of) level.
While some are memorable and fun to complete (Example: Racing Knuckles in Green Hill Zone) others are definitely more challenging to do (Example: Dodging Rouge’s attacks in City Escape) which offers a bit of variety. Unfortunately some are also frustrating and forgettable. However it’ll be in these missions you hear remixes of other tunes you probably haven’t heard in YEARS or never thought would be remixed. Two that come to mind is a remix of “Baloon Park”, a multiplayer level in Sonic 3 and a new remix of “Super Sonic Racing”, but others are definitely out there to unlock.
~Stepping into 3D Sonic’s shoes one more time~
I’ve given you a taste on what to expect when it comes to Classic Sonic: he controls, acts, and BAMFs it up like his proven, legendary formula does. But while he’s come back for more butt kicking, how does Modern Sonic hold up nowadays?
Well the best way I can describe it is that Sonic Generations supplies the player with a fusion of “Sonic Unleashed + Sonic Adventure” gameplay, and this is quite possibly the best formula for how to work Sonic in 3D modern gaming. Now I’m not saying it’s because it’s mostly Unleashed or Adventure based. Some of you may be outright confused too because of how much I have complained about the Adventure style. Well let me say a few words as to why this is great for both sides.
It’s great it’s not too like Unleashed because: The game’s Modern Sonic’s levels are not racetracks after Green Hill Zone. While some levels allow lots of speed depending on their place in the timeline of Sonic’s video games and overall difficulty (Like how Speed Highway lives up to its name and yet has more speed sections than Green Hill Zone, despite it being a later stage) it’s good that the player is no longer dealing with a game where you’re watching the game auto-play for a minute. Unleashed suffered from a high difficulty curve and…well..no plateau for improvement or extra excitement because once you were locked into the high speed sections and found your “flow”, there was no room for error. Which means no surprises.
Which means eventual boring gameplay. This speaks for both the 3D and 2D sections under the “Unleashed” gameplay.
Adding in Sonic Adventure-esque style gameplay, platforming, and alternate pathways branching as early as the very start of the level (As shown in Chemical Plant Zone Act 2) shows that Sonic Team doesn’t have their thumbs up their collective behinds relying on the same old tricks to design Sonic’s world: they are showing you that yes, he can run upside down, grind rails, and do things like that but they also show you NUMEROUS TIMES that they know how to give you an exploration feel in his world and not treat you like a dummy.
In the words of EgoRaptor, a favorite cartoonist of mine, the game does a lot less of “Yeah, I get it.” than other instances because it doesn’t treat you like an idiot but rewards you when you overcome the higher difficulties later.
…that is, so help you that you have all of those absurd hints and Omochao himself turned off. Seriously.
It’s great it’s not too like Adventure because: Adventure was the first outing of Sonic in 3D, and while it worked for its platforms it mostly relegated Sonic to even more linear/tiny corridors with little exploration at somewhat-fast speeds. He was more like a speedy Mario clone instead of actually being Sonic The Hedgehog in 3D. This is changed up in Generations by offering many multi-tiered 3D areas that aren’t too fast in some sections, and aren’t too slow to be simple Mario-like platforming.
The issue too with the Adventure platforming of the old days was it was prone to a lot of retarded and unneeded glitches like falling through floors, or unnecessary/cheap traps like bottomless pits at terrible places. In Generations you don’t have to worry about those problems: if you die, it’s because you made a stupid mistake, though more often than not the game’s levels are designed to keep you running if you make mistakes.
While playing mostly like Sonic Unleashed in its easy difficulty, it shows off just how much the new Sonic Team has learned about handling Sonic in his 3D form. Each stage is multi-tiered with multiple pathways (and one path that is the fastest but hardest to maintain), classic & modern enemies, the best control Sonic’s been given at both high AND slow speeds, all of the conventional gimmicks (grind rails, jump pads, speed boosters, jump rings, rainbow rings…) and now a fully fleshed out trick system.
In Unleashed you saw this as a pre-determined QTE (Quick Time Event: Where button prompts flash onscreen to be executed before an action takes place) sequence, while in Colors it had you repeatedly tapping/mashing one button as fast as possible to get a higher bonus score. Here in Sonic Generations you press Up, Down, Left, or Right to perform tricks in mid-air BUT ONLY once you have launched off of a yellow dash pad or through a rainbow ring. Perform multiple tricks and pull off a “Finish!” with LB+RB (L1+R1 for PS3 users) to keep whatever added boost you’ve gained!
~Right Through Gravity!~
But of course, maybe you’re a bit of a cynic to an extent, hmm? You probably have one of these responses to me:
“Okay so these are old stages remade: whoopity f***ing doo dah, what do you mean by that and is there anything else to this game?”
“I’ve been lied to by SEGA on these Sonic games before, is this REALLY his return?”
“I’ve only played a few of the games..am I going to get anything out of this even if I have no idea who these characters/what these stages are from?”
You are probably one of these kinds of fans stated above and I’ll take the time to answer each one.
1) Nostalgia is what is selling the game, and while the stages are familiar, the level designs and how each piece plays is NOT familiar at all. In fact, each level has instead a repeating motif per respecting Sonic in their first 5 seconds of each level. Example: The beginning of the 3 Genesis stages are made EXACTLY like their original stages, but after you pass them, the design is brand new. The same hails for Modern Sonic on the remaining 6 stages….the only exceptions being Crisis City and Planet Wisp. Sonic Generations prides itself on 20 years of Sonic history and if you want to remember the best WHILE playing the best, this game is indeed for you.
2) Understandable, completely because of the roller-coaster of quality that is Sonic’s games since reaching the third dimension. While in my opinion the only TERRIBLE game is Sonic 2006, it is debatable there are other bad and mediocre titles. Sonic Generations has literally turned (read: nearly) every cynic I have seen into a fan again of Sonic; having rekindled their love for a franchise that caught their attention in the first place.
3) Yes, I believe that even if you do not know certain eras of this game’s history you will still enjoy yourself. This game is bringing you the best of BOTH worlds, and when you pit his greatest gameplay enhancements with the game’s gargantuan soundtrack of prime music and gorgeous visuals you can’t go wrong. Besides if you remembered Sonic at some point in time for being “simple, clean video game fun” then you will find it here.
But of course I do have some complaints regarding the game, as they range from minor nitpicks to noticeable errors with either the game’s programming or a review of how Sonic has aged throughout the years. For one, the battles of all rivals and bosses clock in their defeat at about 4-6 hits. This is noticeably much lower than the iconic 8 hit defeat count of many of the battles in the old days, so it’s a little depressing when the final boss goes down quickly *If you manage to figure out how to beat it quickly, that is*. Some things don’t function properly at certain times like light-speed-dash with Modern Sonic, and other things just sorta make you that much more aware of shortcomings of other games…unintentionally, of course.
I won’t take the easy route and say that this game highlights even terrible games like Sonic 2006 with its reimagined Crisis City, but I will say it’s hilarious when you gain the ability to have Classic Sonic equipped with a Homing Attack and proceed to play him in Green Hill Zone. Why? It’s everything that Sonic 4 Episode 1 SHOULD HAVE BEEN! ell oh ell
..and while this game isn’t terribly difficult either (You have to truly go out of your way to SUCK to rank a C or lower) there is a plethora of “Oh, that’s pretty cool” moments because of the spectacle being shown onscreen. Which, to me, as a video game lover, is perfectly fine: if a game isn’t exactly that hard to you the more you master it, the best it can do is still manage to entertain you in any way possible with its “Oh, that’s pretty cool” moments.
Such examples are:
- The GUN Truck in City Escape chases your MUCH FASTER, improved Modern Sonic now equipped with sawblades and rocket boosters
- The revelation of who’s behind the whole plot. It’s a dream come true for Sonic fans.
- That this game has helped re-establish that Dr.Robotnik is to be very feared and is Sonic’s main enemy. The fires of the good-vs-evil battles that fueled the Genesis days are slowly coming back thanks to Sonic Team’s dedication to making Dr.Robotnik the main villain.
- Nods to previous characters in certain levels
- Hearing the new remix of “Open Your Heart”
- Facing Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway is now a BATTLE while still involving constantly moving forward
- Seeing time lapse in each stage via the missions. (Planet Wisp is gorgeous in the morning time, for example)
- The ability to [SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER] after beating the game.
~They Call Me Sonic, Cuz I am Faster Than Sound~
This has honestly been the best year for me as a gaming otaku/nerd/passionate fan that grew up from 1985 to play Sonic on the SEGA Genesis since 1991. I almost feel like this game was made for -me- due to just how much care has been put into this game. Yes, it has some flaws but I have to REALLY try to find them for those flaws to come out noticeably and anything else would be just nitpicking. Yes, the story is absolutely crap and only an official SEGA-approved excuse to play through stages and fights from games from the past, but if you’re going to celebrate an anniversary then holy shit you can’t beat the way how SEGA and Sonic Team do it.
The guys creating Sonic video games were already on the right track when it came to Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, and it only got better when it came to Sonic Colors. While Sonic 4 Episode 1 only highlighted what NEEDED to be further done to mimic classic gameplay, and while Sonic Colors showed that a mostly-3D-game-played-in-2D can be stale, Sonic Generations takes those problems and fixes them AND EVEN many other plaguing issues the franchise has had for years and wipes them effectively off the map.
Clearing the game nets you a tearjerker of an ending melody of fully remixed tunes that in absolutely every single way oozes with “This is what SEGA does what Nintendon’t” and makes you feel damn accomplished.
Okay, so I’m gushing. But honestly, this is an anniversary game and if an anniversary game makes me feel just -that- much better about myself and the one video game character I love the most, then doesn’t that mean it’s done its job? We won’t even know (for sure) if we’ll see this amount of effort and love put into Sonic games in the future but one thing is for certain is that he’s in good hands, as displayed through Sonic Generations.
..and that it’s okay guys. It’s okay to like this game, maybe even love it.
Posted by MrHaru on Dec 01, 2011Tags: Classic, HD, Modern, MrHaru, review, SEGA, Sonic, Sonic Generations, Sonic Team, Time Eater, White Space, Xbox 360