Sometimes it's annoying being a gamer my age. You never stop hearing about the "Glory days", back when 16bit was king and I was still a bloody fetus. Since then a lot of Gaming's debut stars made sinful falls from grace, leaving newborns to discover them in degrading, shameless titles to come. Not the least of which, Sonic the Hedgehog had a rep for being Sega's superstar that made the Genesis great, and yet when he moved into the Third dimension, everything went flop. Attempting to combine the old with the new and appeal to fans retro and real-talk, Sonic Generations is the Phthalo pin-cushion's latest title, celebrating 20 years of blazing blue speed. A good Sonic game? That is worth celebrating.
With it being his birthday and all, Modern Sonic (that's the taller, annoying voice, makes lame puns Sonic) is having a party with some of his retarded anthropomorphic friends. Suddenly a mysterious power sucks in everyone through a purple vortex. Meanwhile in retro Sonic's world (Short, pot bellied mute sonic) the same thing happens, and he is sucked into the vortex as well. After meeting together in a eerie, colorless world, the two Sonic's begin to save their friends, and after a brief explanation from Tails, it is "clear" that an evil power has ripped through the very fabric of TIME AND SPACE. So the two Sonics must work together and travel through TIME AND SPACE to save their friends and return everything to normal...TIME AND SPACE.
Sonic games have never been good with story elements and there's no change here. It's a silly, predictable little story with cameos from a small chunk of the approximate 1 million Sonic characters that have appeared over the years. It's fun enough to watch, and I guess it's nice that they went to all the effort of coming up with a story behind the two Sonics, but y'know, It won't be winning any awards anytime soon.
Just like the protagonist, generations gameplay is split into two halves, Playing as either Classic Sonic, or New Sonic. You navigate a colorless hub world from which you choose what levels you want, and here you can switch between the two rodents at will. Once you enter a stage as your selected Sonic though, the gameplay shifts to the respective character.
Playing as classic Sonic is simple and straightforward. You're glued firmly on a 2D axis at all times, and you have nothing but your trusty jump and spin-dash to help you get to the goal. Classic Sonic's levels are just like the original games with a shiny new paint-job. Controls are tight and functional, and you'll have a blast speeding through levels, hopping on enemies and careening skyward. You'll use power ups, collect rings and race to the finish. This is Sonic in his native, simple and largely enjoyable form.
Modern Sonic however is inspired from his more recent exploits, and though playing as him will occasionally have you side-scrolling on a 2D section, the majority of his gameplay is done within a 3D space. Modern Sonic has a much larger variety of moves, including a mid air homing attack that lets you slam into enemies, a sidestep for quickly ducking left or right, and even a slide for zooming under obstacles. What's more is the inclusion of a boost meter, which fills as you collect rings and defeat enemies. Once you have some boost, you can hold down the button and enter a blistering dash, smashing through obstacles and breaking the sound barrier in style.
Despite essentially being the same character the two forms of Sonic really handle and feel different. Though fans of the early originals will love classic Sonic's untouched, uncorrupted vibes, Modern Sonic strike a fun and exciting style of play. Recent Sonic games receive criticism for poor handling and awkward level advancement, but Generations has solved many of these issues. Sure you'll likely fall into a pit because of an awkwardly aligned jump now and then, and moving the mammal at slower speeds feels a little chunky, but once you get going, Modern Sonic's gameplay really shines brighter than the former. Gameplay is much more dynamic in 3D, and using the boost to blaze through a level in literally seconds ironically gives modern Sonic a great sense of what makes the series so great; Speed.
I actually ended up enjoying the modern Sonic portions more than the classic. Modern Sonic felt faster, more exciting and kinetic, with all those awesomely over-the-top sequences, while classic sonic's stages often grind things to a halt to focus on slow, cautious platforming. Dashing through levels with the boost is just immensely fun, and retro-maniac cynics may like to give the new Sonic a chance, now that he's had a bit of a tune-up.
With an obvious setup for dual level design, there are thankfully few problems with the experience as a whole. Advancement is always clear and constructive, and after beating a new zone with both sonic's you'll unlock the next one, as well as a bunch of supporting challenges for each area. These challenges reuse the same stages, but the objectives run a wild gambit. Everything from collecting rings to saving animals, defeating enemies, rival battles or pairing up with one of the extended cast members are included in these challenges, adding for a good sense of variation in the gameplay.
You'll have to complete a few of them to gain 3 keys to unlock a new boss battle and the next 3 zones but they are easily overshadowed by the main, race to the finish levels. Bosses themselves are a little light on challenge. and are more notable for their scale than anything else. Just like anything you can retry for better times and ranks but unless you're determined to unlock all of the hidden content, these side missions are thankfully ignorable. They're not bad, they're just not as fun as speeding through a course at the speed of sound.
Though it's a short experience in all, which you could easily beat in about five or six hours, Generations holds a bit more depth for the completionist. Hidden within the main stages for both Sonics are 5 red star coins, and with 90 in total, collecting them all can be challenging endeavor. Trying to score an S rank on your favorite stages is fun too, and there is even a minor skill set system in the game. It offers a little customization/tweaks to how the hedgehogs function, but if you're understandably not interested, then you can easily shun the cart without any problems.
Presentation wise the game is just fantastic, and the worlds taken from historical Sonic games all look beautiful and interesting. Classics like Green Hill zone and Chemical plant look great with an HD coat, and there's Inspiration taken all the way up to the very recent Sonic Colors. Planet Wisp looks amazing with it's ethereal, fluorescent glow, and each level has a distinctive look and atmisphere stitched into it. Stuff like character models are pretty too, animations are speedy and swift, and the overall technical performance is good, without any significant faults.
Whats more Sonic Generations has to be praised on its sound, and what a great sounding game it is. Featuring a custom soundtrack with awesome tunes taken from every era of the Sonic saga, classic beats and modern songs are all remastered, remixed and remade for your listening pleasure. The ability to select any song you've unlocked to play during any stage is a beautiful feature that lets you appreciate the music that much more. Sound design is also good, Sonic's classic hops sound right, and neat touches like music blurring into distortion as you enter the light speed boost really add punch to the audio experience. A great sounding game from start to finish.
Making a light-speed return to the world of welcome titles, Sonic Generations is an enjoyable combination of Sonic the Hedgehog both old and new. The dual gameplay is intuitive and rewarding, and though you could view playing through the same world twice as cheap, the variation in play style should really sellout any cynics at the door. Playing the game is fun, fast, and coupled with a stellar presentation and soundtrack sweep, Generations is easily the best Sonic game to come out in a long time. You won't get a hell of a lot of play time out of it, and some levels undoubtedly break flow more than others, but for anyone with a love of speed and great platforming fun, Sonic Generations should not be ignored.
Let Loose and Run fast, speed has never felt so good.
Written by ChatterboxZombie.