Review: Sonic: Generations
A Sonic game with two Sonic characters? In a series that has gone in many different directions over the years, could this new direction possibly be a good idea? The answer to that question may just surprise you.
Sonic The Hedgehog has been through a lot over the years. Sonic had his glory days on the Sega Genesis in the early nineties rivaling Nintendo’s Mario for mascot supremacy and being one of the most recognizable faces around. In the last decade, the quality of Sonic games has been on the decline and many have considered most of the recent titles as mediocre at best. Despite that, Sonic still holds a special place in the hearts of many today, he just hasn’t been put into situations that made the Sonic experience so compelling in recent titles and many fans had begun to grow impatient. These fans finally have something to be excited about because Sonic: Generations is the definitive Sonic game we’ve all been waiting for.
The story will jump out at you right away in Generations and in a good way. We join Sonic’s cast of characters at a birthday party where a brand new enemy to the series called, The Time Eater shows up. The Time Eater disperses all of Sonic’s friends throughout different places in Sonic’s history. This brings us to the level select screen aptly referred to as, ‘White Space’. In ‘White Space’ everything is drained of colour and each of Sonic’s friends are stuck in a different level comprised of re-imagined levels from previous Sonic games. The story is simple enough and it gives the game the extra boost it needs instead of just speeding through levels like a normal game.
The big feature of Sonic: Generations is the use of two separate Sonic characters and this feature makes for a lot of differences in gameplay and some great variation between the two. There are two different acts for each level, one for each Sonic. Act 1 is generally the easier act to complete and is played by Classic Sonic while Act 2 is a bit harder and is played by Modern Sonic. Classic Sonic levels are generally 2D and he uses all the moves from the original Sonic games from the Sega Genesis like the Spin Dash whereas Modern Sonic levels are generally a mix between 2D and 3D and he uses moves like his homing attack.
The level select screen creates a really good atmosphere. Sonic Team created a very different world than most games for Generations to take place in with ‘White Space’. At first glance, it’s just a white world with some levels and nothing more, however, as you start to complete different levels, the colour starts to return. As the colour returns, you’re able to interact with the other characters, and the world is revealed. The main levels are just the tip of the iceberg though. As you progress through the levels, challenges start to open for each of the different levels; testing things like speed, ring collection, and defeating enemies in races. For the collector in everyone, there’s also a Collection Room with art, music, movies, and characters that are collected through various means throughout the game. The Skill Shop rounds out a very complex world with some great perks to buy that you can get through points you earn completing levels which I’ll touch more on a bit later. As you can see, ‘White Space’ creates a whole new experience never seen before in a Sonic game.
The gameplay in Sonic: Generations is simply stellar. I can’t remember the last time I had this much fun with a Sonic game. Not only do you have one great experience, you have two. Each Sonic brings completely different elements to the table. While playing as Classic Sonic, it really brings back feelings of the Genesis days with a modern day twist. The levels are fluid with multiple paths to the goal and many different obstacles and enemies. There isn’t a lot of variation to the Classic Sonic levels and yet they’re still incredibly fun to race through. Playing as Modern Sonic is where this game really comes into its own though, with a large amount of different things to use and the homing attack taking out numerous enemies in seconds. The 3D levels make all the difference in fun; switching back and forth from 2D seamlessly with incredible speed. I found myself flying through levels so fast at times that I couldn’t believe I was reacting to what was going on around me in time. Speaking of time, as with other Sonic games, time is of the essence in Generations. The quicker you are and the more rings that you collect, the better you score at the end of a level. The scoring system is based on a school-like grading system.
An ‘S’ is the highest mark (practically perfect) you can get, going above even an ‘A’. Then there are the bosses which take a bit of a different approach this time around. Instead of having just one boss per set of levels, there are now two. There’s a boss that you race that you can beat at any time and then there’s a boss that you have to collect keys from challenges to battle, and is typically the harder boss to defeat. The race bosses bring back iconic characters from the past such as Shadow and Silver while the challenge key bosses are mostly re-imagined from previous games with the exception of the final boss. With each defeated boss, a chaos emerald is unlocked.
Sonic: Generations is the most complete Sonic game released in quite some time. Sonic Team brought back the fun and speed to a much beloved series that had fallen on hard times. The Skill Shop brought something new to the table, allowing players to buy a things like bubble shields, 10 rings upon restarts, extra lives, a Genesis controller to play Sonic 1, and other useful skills to complete levels. To put it quite bluntly, Sonic: Generations is beautiful and a joy to play. The barely-existent online modes and lack of other playable characters and multiplayer is a bit of a concern yet, not a huge problem. Sonic: Generations is a single player game at heart and one that far exceeded my expectations in every conceivable way.
For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.