To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Generations has been released. Sonic makes an appearnce in both the classic 1991 2D graphics style and in the 3D style of his latest adventures. The game remains true to the Sonic theme, although with a new interactive menu, and has both 3D and 2D styles sitting comfortably alongside each other, or sometimes interchanging within a single level.
Sonic Generations is part of a recent trend that Sega has had of focusing on franchises that are considered pillars of the company. The Empire series, Football Manager, Yakuza and Sonic are the main franchises for Sega now. This Sonic game is the best Sonic game in a generation and should be lauded as such, as this game is classic Sonic all the way. In true Sonic fashion this entails flying through the game at the speed of light and looking stylish and cool while doing it. All of the things you would expect from a Sonic game are here as well. Dr. Eggman, Tails, rings and 60 frames per second and more.
The title descibes the premise of the game very well, as Sonic is going back in time to restore order. This requires Sonic to return stages of yesteryear such as the Chemical Plant and Green Hill Zone to a perfect state. Some fan favorites that do not show up as full stages are Spring Yard Zone and Stardust Speedway. (Metal Sonic is a boss character and is battled in Stardust Speedway) The mixture of levels that have been chosen are great though. Infused with love by the audio composers at Sonic Team, you are given lush remixes of previous tunes that permeated some of our childhoods from previous Sonic games.
As previously mentioned, Sonic has to go back in time to fix the past. An interesting hook to this game is that the player can use two different Sonic characters in the game. The older version of Sonic resembles the sprites from the Genesis versions and the newer version that Sega uses in current Sonic games. Basically classic Sonic and modern Sonic coexist in this game as well as classic and modern Tails. Classic Sonic levels follow the format that started it all, side-scrolling 2D graphics as Sonic moves along throughout the level. It is with the modern Sonic stages that new abilities that have been given to Sonic over the years show up in the form of homing attacks and having the ability to boost for greater speed. Additionally for the modern Sonic stages, it is a very cool thing for a level to start off in the 3D or 2D plane and change mid-level to the opposite plane. The changes are seamless and you as the player do not miss a beat. Having seen Green Hill Zone for nearly twenty years of my life, it is pretty darn cool to view it in a three dimensional form, almost as a fully realized world, where 2D can be viewed as somewhat stale.
The game has the player go through levels individually, and as they complete runs in a level, the next level will open up. Getting through the actual game is a slightly easy affair if you are used to Sonic games and their nuances, or are just plain good at games. The appeal for game player here is that some of the objectives that Sega has created for the player to complete, were created to add value to the game without it feeling tacked on to artificially lengthen it, and it does work well.
This is a beautiful game, visually and is a game with a soul, something that cannot be said for a lot of games nowadays. The writer here grew up a Nintendo guy, and always preferred Mario to Sonic. Relatives had the Genesis so I was still able to play Sonic. It was not until I got my first Sega console, that being a Dreamcast, before I got to fully understand what Sega does that Nintendon't, to steal from a popular ad from a lifetime ago. I have come to find out that Sega does a lot, such as quirky games and taking more chances. Sega had fallen off of the wagon for a while and have admitted in public that they have made bad Sonic games but since they have merged with Sammy, their focus has been laser sharp. Sonic Generations is just one more example of that change in philosophy. The child or adult in you will be happy to have this game in your library.