Sonic Generations (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, 3DS)
Developer: Sonic Team
Release: November 1, 2011
Price: $49.99 (360, PS3) / $29.99 (PC) / $39.99 (3DS)
Sonic Generations is the game that Sonic fans have long been waiting for. An amalgamation of almost all Sonic games across the blue blur’s 20-year history that features both classic platforming and modern speed, this game has something for everyone.
While it doesn’t reinvent anything, Generations is the purest Sonic experience in years and trades the gimmicks of more recent games, such as Wisps and Werehogs, for nostalgia.
The story may be stupid, but Sonic isn’t your speed if you’re looking for plot. There are still a ton of great references for die-hard fans, like chili dog callbacks to the 1993 Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon and the first instance of Eggman’s previous moniker of Robotnik in over a decade.
The biggest love letter in the game - and easily its best component - is Generations’ phenomenal soundtrack. All of your favorite tracks from Sonic’s entire history are complemented by the addition of modern remixes and over 50 extra unlockables. Better yet, you can select whatever song you want to play for a given level, opening a variety of musical options to re-live all of those great moments of Sonic past.
RUNNING THROUGH THIS WORLD AND NOT LOOKING BACK
The game is broken up into nine levels - each representing a major game from the series - and 2 acts; one for modern Sonic and the other for classic. The order in which you can play the acts is optional, but it is required that you play both to progress.
This may seem like a small amount of content, particularly because we were able to get through the entire game in about five hours, but there is a decent amount of Sonic for the budget $49.99 price-tag. There are tons of challenge missions to complete as each Sonic, some of which are entirely new levels within themselves. Completing at least one of these for each level is required in order to access the game’s bosses, and adding the rival matches against those “other” hedgehogs into the mix creates a nice concise game.
ROLLING AROUND AT THE SPEED OF SOUND
It is because Sonic Generations is so focused that it is truly able to shine. The polish in this title is astounding, with each level gorgeously crafted to represent the era and game it has come from. Even the levels from the atrocity that was Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 are fun to play, though not fun enough for anyone to ever forgive Sega for that game.
The remix of Sonic 2’s Chemical Plant perfectly relives the experience of playing your old Genesis and Sonic Unleashed’s Rooftop Run delights as it takes you down the side of a building and through a wall of confetti. If you’ve got a group of Sonic junkies for friends, you can take to the online leaderboards and compete to see who’s the speediest in Ranking Attack and 30 Second Trial.
TRY TO KEEP YOUR FEET RIGHT ON THE GROUND
Generations isn’t perfect. You’ll still find yourself dying for no reason as modern Sonic because you randomly ran off a ledge or missed a jump that you shouldn’t have - a problem that has plagued the hedgehog in the 3D space ever since Sonic Adventure.
Switching back and forth between Sonics isn’t always the best, as it can sometimes be confusing which Sonic has what moves, especially since 2D segments are scattered throughout modern Sonic's levels. An option to play the game straight through as one character, and then the other would’ve been an easy fix.
There’s also an RPG element to the game that lets you spec your Sonics with special abilities, such as the aqua shield from Sonic 3 and the ability to land on your feet after getting damaged. Unfortunately, these abilities are hardly noticeable in gameplay and honestly don’t make much of a difference.
LIVE AND LEARN
Short length and minor headaches aside, Sonic Generations is the best game for Sega’s flagship mascot to come around in a long time.
Sonic has been through some rough days in recent years, and part of the charm of this game is that it’s not afraid to acknowledge that, even calling out the ridiculousness of recent titles.
Purists may wonder how Sonic Team can possibly make a better game, especially without the inclusion of classic Sonic. However, modern Sonic’s levels were often more fun than classic’s. It’s almost as if Sega was trying to tell long-time fans that Sonic has plenty of great things in store for the future, and modern Sonic is more than capable. We’re hoping that Generations is just the start of that.