Sonic the Hedgehog. Everyone knows him and his games. People hold him up as the mascot for Sega, and truth be told, there have been a ton of games featuring the fast footed character. Interesting fact: I have never played a Sonic game before. Yes, I know that’s blasphemy, but it’s true. I was always a Nintendo owner. I know all the basics of Sonic, but have never actually controlled the blue hedgehog in any of his games. So, along comes Sonic Generations. Let me just say, I think I may need to go back and play some Sonic games.
The story is that some evil being has travelled through time and kidnapped Sonic’s friends. He has also frozen all the areas that Sonic has ever been to in his adventures. Because this evil force has travelled through time, it’s created a time rift that has the old Sonic from Sonic 1 and 2 run into the modern day Sonic of this generation. Now, it’s up to both Sonics to unfreeze each area and rescue their friends, all the while trying to bring down Dr. Robotnik and Egg Man, yeah, there’s two of them as well, and stop the evil being.
The game breaks down into two different levels of play. There’s the classic Sonic style and the modern Sonic style. Each level must be played twice in order to bring it back to life.
During the classic Sonic play, the game plays out in mostly 2D fashion. Sonic can spin to gain faster speeds and jump on enemies to kill them. These are all about speed and timing your jumps correctly. The classic Sonic levels are usually a bit easier to complete and more simple than the modern Sonic zones.
The modern Sonic levels are a mixture of 2D and 3D play. Modern Sonic can boost for maximum speeds, jump on enemies and homing quick dash into enemies for a quick kill that can also serve as a jump boost. The modern Sonic levels are more complex, and playing them is a fine balance of knowing when to boost, where to jump and quick reaction times on homing dash attacks.
When not in a level, Sonic is in the hub world. Here, you can chose which level you would like to play, purchase upgrades using points awarded for your rank in zones and complete stage challenges. There is also a trophy room where all the collectables and artwork can be viewed. You can switch between the two Sonics on the fly here and choose which level you want to play with either.
The upgrades available depend on what levels and challenges you have completed. Many of these upgrades you can equip offer small boosts like faster speed, stopping on a dime and starting with 10 rings after a death. Each upgrade has an associated value. The more impact an upgrade has, the higher the value. Sonic can only equip a maximum upgrade value of 100, so putting together the right combination involves making hard choices. Depending on your performance in a level, you will gain points that allow you to purchase these upgrades. You will be ranked on a scale of D to S, and if you’re not satisfied with your rank, you can always go back and do the stage again.
The stage challenges will appear after completing a section of the hub world with both Sonics. These challenges vary from completing a level in a certain amount of time, doing so while being effected by a variety of conditions, beating a doppelganger Sonic to the finish line, using your companion’s special abilities to reach certain objectives or obtaining a number of rings before crossing the finish line.
Completing challenges will unlock keys that you can use to unlock the door to the section’s boss battle. They are usually focused around Dr. Robotnik/ Egg Man. These battles usually take place in a special area and consist of multiple forms of the boss. They break up the usual grind of the Sonic formula rather nicely and are never too difficult.
You can collect chaos emeralds from bosses and mini-bosses. Shadow, Metal Sonic, and Silver serve as mini-bosses. The mini-boss levels are rather short and never get difficult. There were actually a small number of bosses in the game, which makes the overall game somewhat short.
Each stage has special red star rings you can collect that unlock new artwork and other special things like in game music. These rings are placed strategically in an area so that you will have to play the zone multiple times to get them all. Some levels are so big that I can’t even count how many different paths you can take.
The presentation and overall feel of the game really makes me smile. I may have never played a Sonic game before, but I know all the tunes. The music is beautifully crafted and remixed for both Sonics during the zones. You can tell the developers put a lot of time and effort into the game. There’s a ton of collectables and small hooks here and there that show the legacy of Sonic the Hedgehog.
Truth be told, I was a fan of the modern Sonic levels. I know in recent years many fans of the Sonic games hated the way modern Sonic played, but I think the fact that I never played a Sonic game before shows that I’m not biased toward the older Sonic games. I really like how the auto target dash works with the modern Sonic, and the transition between 2D and 3D is actually really well done. Granted, there are times where I would get a little lost or would fall to my death because of the confusing landscape, but those instances were few and far between.
I really need to explain how I felt about the game. Every time I boosted as modern Sonic or sped through an area as classic Sonic, I had a smile on my face. The game is fast, colorful and downright fun. That’s the best way to describe it. Of course, the completionist in me has a hard time moving on when I know I could have done a little better on my time, or picked up that one red star ring I missed, but the jolt of speed combined with the colorful levels and fantastic soundtrack really nailed it for me. This is one fun game. There’s no denying that fact. I may have never played a Sonic game before Generations, but you can now call me a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog after playing this game.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.