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Sonic Generations Review

Sonic Generations (Available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC, and Nintendo 3DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Parent Talk: Sonic the Hedgehog is a classic game mascot. He’s a perfect, family-friendly character, like Nintendo’s own Mario.

Plays Like: Other Sonic the Hedgehog games, specifically a combination of the original series and the more recent Sonic Colors.

Review Basis: Achieved S rank on all Acts, completed most of the side missions.

Note: The Nintendo 3DS version bears significant changes compared to the console and PC versions of the game.

The media hasn’t been kind to Sonic the Hedgehog. Most Sonic game reviews begin with a clichéd statement about the series’ fall from grace. Well, my opinion is that Sonic has been “back” for quite some time. After a successful line of great platformers on the GBA and NDS, Sonic has returned successfully to consoles with the pleasant surprises like Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1 and Sonic Colors. Generations arrived in time for the blue blur’s 20th anniversary and Sonic Team did its best to celebrate all that is Sonic. If you’re a fan, Generations is a must.has done its very best to celebrate everything that is Sonic. If you’re a classic Sonic fan, this a must-have.

The Great:

A perfect mix of old and new. SG caters to the older, grizzled retro-game enthusiasts who grew up with Sonic the Hedgehog on the Genesis in the early 90s and to the younger crowd who were introduced to SEGA’s mascot with Sonic Rush, Sonic Unleashed, or Sonic Colors. The game is divided into two halves, represented by the two playable versions of Sonic. Classic Sonic looks as you remember, complete with cute, chubby little pot belly. Modern Sonic has more advanced skills, an edgier style, and attitude to match.

Both play styles are perfected here. Classic Sonic plays similarly to the original Sega Genesis classics, right down to the physics. Modern Sonic finally comes into his own too, fully developing after years of experimentation. The result is a satisfying and fresh platforming game that longtime fans will love.

The Good:

+ Colorful, expressive graphics. Sonic’s world has never looked prettier. Classic levels enjoy a dramatic makeover, now presented in brilliant current-gen graphics. The retro and modern stages come with unique nuances, but both were given proper effort and dedication. They’re filled to the brim with detail.

+ Great level design. Sonic the Hedgehog’s mission is always to balance the thrill of speed with solid platforming. A quality platformer challenges the player to find the best route to the end. Sonic takes that to the extreme; you must react fast enough to reach convenient pathways. Doing so nets you hidden goodies and handy shortcuts. Every level is layered well, with many alternate paths.

+ Excellent boss fights. Several of Sonic’s old enemies return. Metal Sonic, Shadow the Hedgehog, Silver the Hedgehog, Dr. Robotnik, and more appear as potential foes. Battles are unique and interesting because they each come with unique rules and gimmicks. Classic Sonic fights Metal Sonic, so the rules and play style for that mimic the original games. The battles against Shadow and Modern Sonic could have been ripped right from Sonic Adventure 2.

+ A celebration. So much of Sonic’s repertoire is found here. Levels are faithfully recreated (including my personal favorite, Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant), and tons of songs throughout the franchise play out.

+ Classic Sonic perfectly represents old-school StH, which should satisfy purists. Sonic is still fast, but the focus is more conservative. He can run, jump, and spin dash his way through intricately-layered 2D levels. The character model and physics are on par to emulate the right feel.

+ Modern Sonic is satisfying and fun, finally solidifying his play style. Compared to Classic, he has a wider variety of maneuvers. His levels are a combination of 3D and 2D elements that come together beautifully. Sonic can use his homing attack and boost abilities to soar to areas that Classic Sonic can’t touch, speeding through areas with amazing speed. Classic Sonic’s levels evoke nostalgia, while Modern Sonic succeeds due to thrill ride levels.

+ Unique level gimmicks. For example, Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors introduces some of Sonic’s abilities from that game.

+ RPG elements. This is the most unexpected aspect. Sonic unlocks abilities by completing missions. These can be equipped after they’re purchased from the store, and bring a wealth of different effects. They dramatically affect the game’s balance, making revisiting previous levels more fun.

+ Sonic’s friends are back, but in the appropriate context—Sonic is the star, while they’re helpers in side missions.

+ English and Japanese voices. The voice work is much better than in previous games.

+ Fantastic remixes of classic songs.

The Bad:

– Framerate hiccups. During some intense scenes, the action freezes briefly, but that is debilitating for a game intended to be fast. Across several stages, I experienced an occasional hiccup upon a key moment where I needed to jump or move, which often resulted in losing rings.

– Camera problems. Though infrequent, the camera can be problematic. During one mission, I had to bounce a music note back and forth by hitting it with Sonic’s homing attack. However, several times the camera shifted behind a piece of scenery, making it impossible to see. The camera also failed to keep up with me in another stage, which is never good.

– The abilities aren’t necessary. They’re fun to play with, but not essential to the game. I finished all the Acts before I bothered to equip them.

– Control issues. For several sequences, you need pinpoint accuracy to guide Sonic. Several times trying to make Sonic boost, he instead took off in the opposite direction and vaulted off a ledge. I also found it difficult to drift and turn properly at times.

– Too dependent on nostalgia. Generations relies on catering to fans. The gameplay and secrets are tailor-made for Sonic lovers, but if you’re new, the attachment won’t be there.

The Lowdown:

Sonic the Hedgehog may still fall short of Mario’s AAA standards, but claims of his demise are exaggerated. Sonic Generations is an excellent love letter to fans old and new, and another great notch in the belt for the franchise. After Sonic Colors, Sonic 4, and now Generations, the blue blur is on the right track. If you ever loved a Sonic game, please check out Generations.

Score: 8.5/10