It’s been a long time since I have looked forward to playing a Sonic game. To be fair, I was never fond of any of his 3D outings with the original trilogy the stand out games. When I first seen Sonic Generations image and video coming from E3 I thought it at least had a good chance of reinvigorating the Sonic franchise. The promise of playing as classic Sonic and new age Sonic appealed to me. Although it wasn’t on my must buy list, it was one of those games I hoped I would get around to playing.
The story starts with a birthday party being thrown for modern Sonic with many of the characters we know in attendance. The party doesn’t last long when the Time Eater appears throwing Sonic and his friends into separate portals in time. When Sonic comes to he finds himself in “white space”, worlds with no color where he and classic Sonic must race through levels to return color to the worlds and restore time.
Each act in the game is taken from a different Sonic game starting with Green Hill Zone from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. There is only one zone per act, but the game play is doubled as you have to play through the acts as classic Sonic and modern Sonic. Thankfully, there is a different experience depending on which Sonic you are controlling. Playing classic Sonic shows the world level in 2D while only using original moves spin attack and spin dash. Switching over to modern Sonic changes the world into pseudo 3D environment where the camera will pan from a view behind sonic hurtling forward to side-scrolling sonic. The developers also included moves taken from recent sonic games. The homing attack from Sonic 4: Episode 1 makes an appearance when playing as modern sonic. This is a great inclusion as it helps Sonic flow with speed through the 3D levels easier. And lets face it, Sonic is always better when you are able to glide through the act as fast as you can. Other notable mechanics are available in Planet Wisp from Sonic Colors. It maintains Wisps allowing Sonic different properties to reach other parts of the level.
Using the Wisps is by no means bad game play, but it does distract from the game and feels much less of a Sonic game. I found most acts that were based on pre-Dreamcast games felt excellent whereas post levels didn’t have the same flow to them and broke up the pace of the game. This may be down to level design as latter levels feel less colorful and it loses its cartoonish charm. With only nine acts in the game, the main story is very short and can be completed within a few hours.
To give the game some longevity, there are many challenges in each act. The challenge levels vary from speed runs, ring collecting or using a friend’s skill to complete the mission. Although there is no need to complete all challenges, one per act is required to release a key. After every 3 acts, Sonic will have a boss battle activated by using the key from each of the acts beforehand. Further time can be spent gathering the elusive chaos emeralds. Three of these can be obtained by locating the familiar faces of Shadow, Silver and Metal Sonic between the challenge areas. Each has a test for Sonic to pass. Although it fleshes out the game somewhat, it still feels incredibly short.
This may not be the full return to form that the Sonic team at SEGA were hoping for, but it is definitely a huge leap in the right direction. If you are interested in Sonic, I would recommend this as a rental or maybe picking it up if you are able to get it in the £15/$20 range.
Sonic Generation garners a 3/5