Sonic Generations Review (X360/PS3)

You Can Do Anything with a Sonic Boom!

What’s that you say, yet another Sonic game has been released? Well then obviously it’s going to be the bees knees and bring Sonic back to his former glory! Or oh wait no, it’s going to be the suckiest suck that ever did suck. That’s pretty much the clear cut Black & White, love/hate relationship that Sonic has with his fanbase. There’s almost no middle ground.

Each and every new Sonic game that comes out gets billed by some of his fans as showing so much potential and promise and being a revival to his former glory while other fans whine and moan that it looks terrible and lacks the physics they love from the Genesis games. When the game finally releases, it’s much the same. Some fans cream themselves with joy, professing it as the greatest Sonic game ever, while the rest berate and disown it. A few months later, most of the fans are off repeating the cycle looking at screens and trailers of a new Sonic game while taking pot shots at the previous entry, even if they loved it previously.

It would seem Sonic really can’t win. When Sega makes a 3D Sonic game, fans whine they want 2d, when Sega makes a 2D Sonic game, fans whine they want 3D. When Sega includes Sonic’s friends, Fans whine they want just Sonic. When Sega gives just Sonic, fans whine they want his friends. Nothing Sega can do will likely ever please Sonic’s fanbase because the fanbase is in fact so all over the place they don’t know what they want and can never actually agree with each other on what the best direction for Sonic is.

And for this very reason, Sonic Generations exists. Sonic Generations is Sega’s best attempt at trying to appease all of Sonic’s fanbase at once in the only way they can possibly think of, mixing and matching every aspect of Sonic’s history altogether in one game.

Sonic Generations allows you to play as both Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in full on remakes and reimaginings of levels throughout Sonic’s entire history. From Green Hill Zone all the way to Planet Wisp, there’s a little something for every Sonic fan on the planet. The question is, how well does it work?

Graphically speaking, Sonic Generations sports some pretty nice visuals. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, but it works for the game. It manages to blend both the past and the present together well in one uniform art style without making either really feel out of place. Levels are lush and detailed and look great even when blurred due to Sonic’s ever increasing speed throughout them.

Character models are as good as they’ve ever been and each stands out on their own and holds presence despite the numerous Hedgehogs and animals abound. Enemies often act and attack in similiar fashions, but yet again, are varied and unique enough in their appearances to be easily recognizable from their own era that you never truly confuse any of them or feel like they’re recycled.

The cut scenes are colorful and vivid and work well to tell the story while merging the eras together in a wondrous fashion. Dr. Robotnik looks and feels right in place with Dr. Eggman despite their vastly different appearances and art styles.

Sound wise, all the classic sound effects are as present as ever in crisp high quality. All the classic buzzers, bumpers, spin dashes and rings you come to expect are there along with the usual fare from Sonic & friends on the voice acting front. Roger Craig Smith (best known for his role as Chris Redfield in Resident Evil 5) takes over as the voice of Sonic for this installment and he does a pretty sound job. While he’s certainly not the best Sonic ever to grace the mic, he does a great job of keeping what we know and love about Sonic while adding his own touches.

The soundtrack to the game is one of it’s best offerings. It features tons of classic themes from every Sonic Game to date. From Sonic Boom to All Hail Shadow, there’s tons of nostalgia for any Sonic Audiophile. Each level also has two versions of each theme to accompany its prospective Hedgehog. Classic levels feature Classic tunes for Classic Sonic while Modern Sonic gets a more modern remix of the song for his Modern Levels. On the same token, Modern levels feature the original song for Modern Sonic with a Classic remix for Classic Sonic versions of those levels. And best of all, you can unlock new songs that you can choose for each level at your leisure. So if you wanna run through Chemical Plant Zone while blaring Super Sonic Racing, you’d be hard pressed to find someone to stop you.

Now, most importantly is the gameplay. As previously mentioned, Sonic Generations takes the dual approach to everything in this game. There’s 3 levels from each of the 3 era’s in Sonic’s history. From the Genesis Era, to the Dreamcast Era, to the current gen era, everything that ever was Sonic has been represented. Furthermore, there’s 2 versions of each level, a classic version and a modern version.

You’ll start out playing a full on remake that turns into a reimagined recreation of Green Hill Zone as Classic Sonic that will fill your nostalgia goggles with tears. From there, you’ll move on to re-exploring Green Hill Zone in a more Modern themed version of the level suited to Sonic Unleashed types of gameplay. Both levels emphasize their respective types of gameplay and feel unique, never redundant to one another.

At the end of each Era is a reimagined Boss Battle with a famous boss from that Era. Some of these boss battles are extremely fun to relive and experience all over again in completely new ways. As well, there’s also Rival battles hidden throughout the hub world that allow for mini-boss battles with classic rivals like Metal Sonic and more.

The Hub World is your base of operations where you’ll switch between Classic and Modern Sonic at will, access levels and explore to unlock additional missions, collectibles and music, talk to Sonic’s friends and gain most of your replay value from.

Each Era requires you to beat all of it’s levels and at least one mission to proceed forward to the boss of that Era. Unlike previous Sonic games like Sonic Unleashed or Secret Rings which forced it’s missions upon you to continue, Sonic Generations leaves it entirely optional, the way it should be.

Fans of Sonic’s Friends will be happy to know they are ‘all’ in the game and each have one mission dedicated to them. Each Friend Mission is unique and focus’ on that friends Ability. From Knuckles digging ability to Amy’s pika pika hammer to Charmy’s flying, they’re all represented and offer some fan service to the fans that crave and enjoy interaction with Sonic’s pals, while at the same time not forcing them onto the player in any fashion and detracting from Sonic’s experience in of itself.

This is again, Sega’s attempt at appeasing all sides of the fanbase and giving everyone a little bit of what they want so that everyone can be happy. And the fact is, it works really well. The game is, in actuality, fun. There’s plenty of classic and modern nostalgia to be had, with an interesting yet not overly complicated storyline that appeases those who want simplistic Genesis era storylines and those who loved the epic adventure storylines at the same time.

The game is also filled with self-reference to tons of Sonic’s past. Little things like Eggman mentioning that no one calls him Dr. Robotnik anymore and tons more help share and celebrate all that is Sonic in a friendly and fun way.

None of the levels are ever too short or too long. They all come out feeling just right. Controls for the most part are spot on and don’t manage to cause too many unjustified deaths that the series has been plagued with since it went 3D. They still happen, and there are indeed some levels (Planet Wisp*cough cough*) that will make you wanna throw your controller against the wall and scream in frustration. Yet, it’s extremely minor and so infrequent that it actually comes across as no worse than most games for once.

Sonic Generations is a wonderful trip down memory lane that truly does celebrate Sonic’s legacy. It doesn’t offer anything innovative or new to the series, but, it happily marries everything that both fanbases love in a simple way that just really works very well. Is the game going to revive Sonic to his former Glory and innovate a new era for the series? No. But, that’s ok. The game is fun and a great fan service and in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Unfortunately though, despite all of this, Sonic Generations is destined to be the next on a long list of games berated by fans. This is simply because the Sonic Fanbase will never be pleased with and will never agree on what they want. They’re so split down the center that nothing Sega can ever do will ever make them truly happy and thus Sonic games will continue to receive mediocre attention at best for this very reason, even when they actually do accomplish their goal.

It’s for this very reason that Sonic will never ever truly get anywhere further than where he currently is. Because it’s a lose/lose situation and the fanbase has given Sega such mixed feedback on what direction to take the series that Sega honestly has no clue where to go or what to do, and nothing they do will ever be enough. It’s no wonder Sega has experimented with the format so often. Sonic Generations is honestly the best we could hope for and the greatest middle ground they’ll ever create for the series. So Sonic Fans, try to be happy for once and enjoy the game for what it is instead of complaining that the physics aren’t perfect or the speed is too fast/slow or any other of the plethora of innane complaints that are spouted daily. The game isn’t perfect, but, neither were the Genesis ones. The one thing they all have in common though is that they’re all fun. Bask in that, forget the rest.

Pros:

  •  Wonderful Mix of Classic and Modern gameplay
  •  Amazing Soundtrack
  •  Tons of Fan Service

Cons:

  • Tedious Missions like Vector’s
  • Level Choices Included are up for Debate
  • Planet Wisp….

Score: 4/5

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About Mike McSulla

Long time Survival Horror and Fighting game fan, Mike is a jack of all trades and well known on gamefaqs, capcom-unity and many other sites. Mike is the creator of the ever popular, one and only Resident Evil 5 Versus Guide.