While a few fans took offense at my lighthearted history of Sonic piece, the rest of you were probably waiting for a more serious look at the latest entry into the Sonic series.
Your patience has paid off: after hundreds of minutes of playing Sonic Generations, my thoughts are complete. See the full review below to learn why this game may just spin dash its way into your heart. And through it.
If you’re the lazy type, check out the video review below all those messy “words.”
For millions of Sonic fans around the world, the last few years haven’t been easy to bear. Hell, the last decade hasn’t been easy to bear. Yes, there have been some decent entries into the Sonic series, but amidst a sea of so much so-so, it’s understandable that fans of the blue bur haven’t had much cause for celebration as of late.
Would Sonic Generations prove to be the linchpin title needed to guarantee a future for our favorite supersonic hedgehog?
In a word, yes. In two words, fuck yes. While it’s not perfect by any means, Sonic Generations pulls together the best elements of our spiky hero’s double-decade legacy and frames even the less fun eras of his existence in a flattering light.
Let’s face it, the story implementation of every Sonic game after Sonic and Knuckles has been terrible, thanks to the inclusion of voice acting. Actually, scratch that. The story has been terrible solely due to the fact that Tails has a voice. By now, SEGA should have learned that fans hate Tails – even in his debut game, Sonic 2, players went out of their way to kill the character off, over and over again.
Disregarding Tails’ many, many lines of annoying dialog, the premise of Sonic Generations is simple and cute in the same way a dog chasing its own ass is. It’s all a big, furry mess of spinning, time travel, and masochism, and in the end, nothing really changes. But boy if it isn’t fun to watch and laugh.
Luckily, Sonic Generations is one dog that knows how to laugh at itself. The self-effacing humor sprinkled throughout the game, as well as the omission of some of the most painful parts of Sonic’s history, speak volumes to SEGA’s increasing awareness that it’s made a few missteps in the past.
Gameplay in Generations is broken into two distinct parts. As Classic Sonic, you sidescroll your way through traditional, 2D levels, collecting rings, spin-dashing, and defying the laws of physics with general indifference. While the controls aren’t exactly the same as in the old games, the changes to the way springs, spin dashes, and other mechanics work are largely welcome. Fans of the Genesis/Megadrive era, as well as of Sonic’s handheld incarnations, will be pleased. Response is tight, and the simplicity of the mechanics is a welcome throwback to a time when the word Sonic wasn’t used as all-purpose profanity.
Modern Sonic, while still fun, still carries over some of the kinks from Sonic Unleashed and the like. No, there’s no werehog or swordsmanship, but vast sections of the game devolve into holding the boost button down. It’s basically impossible to die to enemies, and you’ll more frequently find yourself plummeting to your doom after you missed a single lock-on attack by one tenth of a second. That said, Modern gameplay is almost better for it, since it requires a level of precision and perfection Classic Sonic doesn’t. If you want good level times, you’re going to have to carefully weigh the benefits of speed with the risks. Anyone who’s ever been hopelessly addicted to cocaine knows what that’s like.
In addition to playing through each of the nine or so stages of the game as each Sonic, players will have additional challenges that require different styles of gameplay. Some modes are reminiscent of older mechanics, such as Knuckles’ treasure-digging from Sonic Adventure, while others verge on the bizarre, like playing through a level of spikes using constant invincibility power ups. Beating these challenges is mostly optional, though doing so earns points that can be spent in an in-game store to purchase upgrades for either version of Sonic.
If you’re not absolutely terrible at platforming, you’ll finish Sonic Generations quickly. Some players have claimed 5 hours, but I’d wager it’s even under that. Finishing the side quests will take longer, of course, and getting an S rank on each stage even more so. Of course, the real long-term value of Sonic Generations stems from its replayability as a time attack game, so your decision to buy it should be based on your love of netting new high scores. Or, in this case, low scores. Or something.
Aesthetically, Sonic Generations is beautiful. From the stark, but elegant hub world to the colorful recreations of each epoch of Sonic’s past, the game is a great mix of old and new. Havoc physics lead to fun explosions and interactions with breakable objects, and the animation for both Classic and Modern characters pays tribute to their trademark personalities.
Of course, I’m playing Generations on PC, where it runs at 60 frames per second at 1080p. If you’re playing on Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, your results may vary. And by that, I mean they’ll vary between “kind of choppy” to “really choppy.” But hey, it’s not all bad – the lower your framerate is, the more time you’ll have to appreciate the intricate detail of each level’s jaw-dropping background.
Did I mention the PC version costs $20 less and came with 2 extra Sonic games?
How about the sound in Sonic Generations? Simply put, it’s a joy on the ears. While you can listen to the music in the video review below, you can also download the entire OST here.
Sonic Generations is the most comprehensive, engaging, fun-to-play Sonic the Hedgehog title since possibly Sonic and Knuckles. It’s difficult to say, but Generations is a definitively good game. It’s a good Sonic game. Wow.
What could possibly be the cause of this about-face after a decade of nearly total failure? Perhaps SEGA finally listened to its fans. Or perhaps it finally stopped listening to its fans. Or, more likely, a giant time-tearing vortex sucked the development team into the past, forcing them to learn lessons in game design from 20 years ago before returning to the present to stop Biff from stealing the sports almanac and creating a future where Sonic still sucked.
Is SEGA in the clear for good? By all means no. But for the first time in a long time, they have given Sonic the Hedgehog a game that single-handedly justifies the existence of hundreds of furry fanfics.