Sonic has had it rough over these past 20 years. From saving princesses and driving karts to turning into a were-hog and competing in the Olympics he’s been put through his paces with varying success. Fans have been harsh on him though, complaining that the little chubby Sonic from yesteryear is what they really wanted instead of his leaner, long legged, and green-eyed grown up modern Sonic. To try to give the best of both worlds, Team Sonic developed Sonic Generations to celebrate the blue blur’s 20th anniversary. Will this fusion of the past and present please Sonic fans, or will Generations be another disappointing note in the character’s career?
A Worthy Background Story - After the defeat of Dr. Eggman in Sonic Colors, Modern Sonic and his friends gathered together to celebrate his birthday. But the celebration is cut short as a mysterious creature tears through their reality scattering his friends throughout time. At that same time, Classic Sonic and Tails are confronting Dr. Robotnik before he gets caught by the same creature, who tears apart space/time in the past as well. Here, both Sonics meet up and agree to team up to try and figure out what is going on. The story is pretty simple, but good nonetheless. It explains some things that fans of the series might remember from past games, such as Chaos gems, the name switch from Robotnik to Eggman and other little bits of trivia.
Past Meets Present - To me, it’s amazing to see the two Sonics together to see how he has evolved since the 90’s. Although their styles are completely different, their attitudes remain the same towards Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman) and chili dogs. Seeing classic levels re-done both in HD and in a modern style is also a treat. Seeing Green Hill Zone remastered in HD brought back feelings of nostalgia as I cruised through it. I did notice that parts of Green Hill Zone 2 and Emerald Hill were integrated with Green Hill to make it a bit longer, though. Each of the classic levels gets redone in the same way up to the Dreamcast era. They are given both the side scrolling look of Classic Sonic and get the speed feel that Modern Sonic has. As for the Modern Levels, Modern Sonic will feel at home with these stages, while they get the classic treatment when Classic Sonic runs through them.
Classic Tunes Get Modernized - The Sonic games always had the best music on the Genesis when I was growing up. In addition to bringing classic stages into the HD era, the music also gets a remix reflecting Modern Sonic. At first I wasn’t too sure how they would do the remix or if it would even match the feeling of the original. Those doubts were soon forgotten as soon as Modern Sonic took the stage for his run on the HD classic level. Since the emphasis of Modern Sonic is speed, the songs each have a faster tempo, matching his style.
Challenge Levels - New to Sonic Generations are the Challenge levels. These give each Sonic specific challenges to do based on their abilities. For example, there is one challenge where Classic Tails comes in and lends a hand with his flying ability. Another one has Modern Sonic using his homing attack to get through the level as fast as he can. These challenge levels provide a really nice distraction from the main game.
A ROTTEN EGGMAN
No Casino Night - All Sonic fans agree that one of the bestlevels of any Sonic game second to Green Hill Zone was Casino Night Zone. The bright neon lights, the sounds of the slot machine chimes when Sonic was launched into it. Even the music was catchy, giving off the feeling that we’ve entered a high class casino with Lady Luck on our side. Sadly, for console owners at least, Casino Night was not one of the levels to make it to the HD consoles.
Classic Sonic Feels Stiff - For some reason, while playing as Classic Sonic, the controls felt kind of stiff. At first, I thought it might have been just my controller or the default control settings. So I popped in the Genesis Collection and fired up each of the Sonic games to compare his movements from those past games to Generations. After playing through one level in each of the games, I came to a couple of conclusions: the D-pad for the 360 controller sucks, and there have been tweaks to Classic Sonic in terms of this spin dash and jumping. In a platformer, precision is a key factor in getting through the stages. This requires a steady hand, an eye for timing and a responsive D-pad. The 360 D-pad just doesn’t have that response needed for timing jumps. With the D-pad, jumps are either overshot or undershot, causing Sonic to fall to his death. As for Classic Sonic, the time it took for his animation to go from standing to running seems to be a bit slow from previous games. It not a game breaker by any means, but he just doesn’t feel like Classic Sonic.
No Act 3 Boss Battles - It was kind of a disappointment to find out that there were no Act Three boss battles. It would have been cool seeing these battles in HD and done with modern Sonic in mind. Sega did it in Sonic 4, why not in Generations?
Sonic Generations was a blast to play. It is a fitting tribute to Sonic, showing how he has grown over the years. While Classic Sonic may feel a bit stiff and there are no Act 3 boss battles, Generations does a really good job of mixing the classic and modern play styles of both Sonics. Fans really need to lay off on the Sonic hate. Does it really matter if he’s short and chubby or tall and lean? No, as long as the gameplay is fun and challenging it shouldn’t matter. Sonic Generations is a good first step in bringing back the blue blur by showcasing what made him a household name in the first place.
*This review was based on the Xbox 360 version of the game with a review copy provided by the publisher.*
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