Let’s face it, Sonic has had a mixed (to put it nicely) library of games. Starting life as a genuine threat to Mario’s title of platformer king, Sonic quickly descended into a disappointing leading franchise for a failing console made by a troubled developer. While there have been ups over the years (Sonic Adventure), there have been equally disappointing moments (such as Sonic The Hedgehog), so the concept behind Sonic Generations is one fans should approach with lukewarm anticipation; a game that actually celebrates Sonic’s twenty years in gaming by revisiting all the past games… all of them, even the ones that left a bad taste in our mouths.
So it is with total surprise that Sonic Generations, a homage to the past games in the series, is possibly the best Sonic game in the last ten years. Sadly, that statement doesn’t quite mean as much as it should, but the real surprise of Sonic Generations is that not only is it a good sonic game, it is a good game overall. Combining elements of the original Sonic games with the Sonic of the 3D era manages to do what Sonic just hasn’t been able to do with other attempts; satisfying gamers by providing the best of both worlds.
The game’s basic premise involves a mysterious villain that is tearing apart space and time. As a result, the Sonic of Sega Genesis meets the Sonic of Sega Dreamcast (and beyond). Both Sonic’s must speed through each level, which is representative of different era’s in the series past, in order to restore them to their proper time. Each stage has two acts, the first being the traditional side-scrolling style sonic, the second being the 3D Sonic. The first act in each stage is typically a bit easier, but overall each one has a slightly different take on a classic Sonic stage. As the story progresses, the Sonics face old enemies, gain Chaos Emeralds and rescue their friends who have been frozen in time by the mysterious villain while uncovering the mystery.
The game does favor the taller, slender 3D version of sonic slightly, mostly in the fact that the majority of the game’s bosses require playing as the newer Sonic, and the newer Sonic’s levels are more difficult and as such require more time. Both sides of the game feel very true to their source content though, and in many cases just feel like updates (or an additional level) to the classic games. Additionally, it is fun to play as classic sonic in levels from more modern sonic games and to some extent vice versa. The controls are tight, and just overall it feels like playing a well balanced, well made Sonic game which is notable in itself.
The sounds and visuals also pull at the nostalgia strings. The classic levels feature updates of the classic themes, and a personal favorite was the very nineties-esque corny songs that were featured in the levels based on Sonic Adventure. Visually the game really just looks like an update of the classic games, and somewhat ironically, the over the top unrealistic visuals of Sonic Generations actually looks better than most of the other games developed by Sega in recent years. Additionally, the game’s simple story line actually plays nicely into the series and actually offers a bit of an explanation for the change from the classic Sonic to the modern Sonic as well.
There are really only two large areas in which Sonic Generations comes up short. The game’s overall length is, well short. A veteran player could easily make their way through the primary campaign is about three hours, give or take. It is a solid three hours with very few shortcomings though, which is of course better than six hours of mediocre gameplay. The only other shortcoming is the bosses, which just weren’t much fun. Particularly true of the end boss, which is one of the dumber end boss levels in gaming, they mostly just felt annoying rather than epic or challenging. Considering though that a boss only comes along every three stages it is possible to overlook the disappointment they can and probably will bring.
Ultimately though, Sonic Generations is a great mix of classic and modern Sonic that highlights the best of the series and reminds us why we loved Sonic in the first place. Classic twist on modern levels, modern twist on classic levels and the overall combination of both game styles will satisfy long time Sonic fans while at the same time providing a great introduction to Sonic for new gamers. It often feels like every new Sonic game is greeted with bated breath, as gamers reluctantly get their hopes up that this one will be different than the last; well finally years of letdowns finally produces something noteworthy and satisfying. Sonic Generations may be, at least in part, celebrating a fair amount of mediocrity over the years, but manages to avoid being mediocre in the process; an accomplishment worthy of checking out in itself.
Final Rating: 8/10
CBR Break Down:
Console Played On: Xbox 360
Time to completion: Main campaign: ~3 hours, much longer if you go for all challenges/unlockables.
Achievements Earned: 500/1000
Price Bought at: ~$26
Current Price: $34.98 (Amazon)
Recommend Purchase Price: Unlike many previous Sonic games, this one probably won’t tank in price. Anything in the $25 or under range is a good buy.
Why you should buy it: To be reminded why Sonic is still around.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: Fast moving objects make you feel dizzy, or you hate the color blue.