November 13, 2011
It’s official. After years of fumbling around with strange topics and awkward, seemingly untested gameplay, Sega has pulled out a truly excellent Sonic the Hedgehog game. Although short, it’s a sweet ride that hopefully will get the Spin-Dash ball rolling again.
The game follows an incredibly simple storyline. Sonic’s friends are in the process of throwing him a birthday party when a giant monstrosity (which I shall henceforth refer to as the Flying Purple People Eater) appears out of nowhere and creates a vortex which sucks in all of Sonic’s friends. Sonic chases them into what appears to be a giant white limbo. Eventually, he and the rescued Tails note that the areas and enemies are suspiciously familiar. Upon stumbling on versions of themselves from the past, they discover that they’re traveling through time. It sounds kind of silly, but the storyline of this game isn’t the point.
The person really travelling through time is the player. Every level in the game comes from some Sonic game in the past, spanning the whole history of the series from the very first Sonic the Hedgehog to the recent Sonic Colors. You play through each level as both Modern Sonic, who handles like you’ve come to expect from Colors or Unleashed (or, if you’re unfamiliar with those, Sonic Adventures, only with a few new powers and occasionally sidescrolling) and Classic Sonic, who handles the same way he did in the Genesis days. Each level is brilliantly reimagined, ranging from incredibly familiar feels with the “correct” Sonic for the level to fitting and interesting spins with the other Sonic.
Everything about this game is designed to tug at the nostalgia strings. The levels both look and feel familiar, with the same enemies and many of the same recognizable areas as in their original titles. What evoked the most nostalgia from me, however, was the music. Each level features two takes on the original music for that level, ranging from almost-cover reperformances to new and interesting remixes. I took far longer than I should have to beat the game because I probably played my most memorable level, City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2, ten to twelve times before moving on.
Apart from the main story arc and stages (which is, sadly, an incredibly short ride that lasts under 5 hours), the game is full of challenges of all sorts using portions of each stage. Some revolve around other characters, such as having to use a searchlight to find a camouflaged Espio, or running through a level with no rings save for the ones that Cream the Rabbit drops for you. Others involve using specific items from past games to clear stages within a limited time, or racing a doppelganger Sonic. If you really feel like having a nostalgia journey (or you’re too young to have experienced it and want to see what it was like), you’re able to play the original Genesis version of Sonic the Hedgehog after buying a controller in the item shop with points you earn by playing levels.
I loved this game, and without taking anyone else into consideration, I would have given it a 10. However, there are a few drawbacks to Sonic: Generations. As I’ve already said, the game is rather short, but bears the weight of a $50 price tag. That’s $10 less than the usual game price, but still a rather hefty cost for the amount of time you’ll spend with it. Also, some of the dialogue is incredibly childish. I understand the need to be able to market a Rated‑E game to children whether it’s nostalgic or not, but a few select lines made me feel like I was watching Nick Jr. or PBS Kids. Lastly, some of the bosses took a while to beat, not due to difficulty, but due to sheer confusion. The final boss, namely, was so confusingly “simple” that I had to double-check my methods by looking on the internet. Yes, for a Sonic game.
Complaints aside, Sonic Generations is an excellent game for all ages, but most of its effect comes from nostalgic value. If you were ever a Sonic fan, you’ll definitely enjoy this game. It is a massive step in the right direction after Sonic Unleashed (seriously… a werewolf?) and Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 (a game so broken I’ve dubbed it my biggest personal gaming disappointment of all time and considered giving it an AVGN/Spoony-style Let’s Play beatdown.), and proof that Sonic is NOT dead. With Sonic certified “alive”, perhaps all hope is not lost for what could be the greatest Sonic game of a generation, should it come to be: Sonic Adventure 3. Hear me, Sega? Sonic Adventure 3. We want it, preferably with Crush 40 creating the title theme.
- Excellent, solid gameplay
- Quality soundtrack, creative remixes
- Very short for a $50 game
- Dialogue rather childish at times
- Not much of a plot to speak of
- Boss fights can be confusing
- A bit too reliant on Nostalgia