Sonic is thrown a surprise birthday party by his friends. The group are having a good time until some monster appears and kidnaps everyone except for Sonic. The blue blur takes off after this creature with no idea what it is or what's going on. -summary
Sonic the Hedgehog has been a legend in the gaming world after bursting on to the scene back in the early 90's on the Sega Genesis. His first four games were nothing short of amazing as they featured some airtight platforming with serious attitude. For some reason over the years his games have hit a snag in qualtiy (although not all were bad), especially with the transition into 3D being the most aggravating. It really got to the point where it seemed as if the little blue guy had seen his best days go by. That was until Sonic Colors was released in 2010, in which many fans considered it a return to form and after a recent replay, I guess this is something I can agree with now. 2011 came around in which we saw the release of Sonic Generations, and this game was meant to celebrate his 20th birthday. So was this a birthday party Sonic could look back on thinking it was a blast? Well, let's find out.
This is a single player game where the player will be able to control one of two Sonics before a level has been selected. Now why are there 2 Sonics? The deal is this, that same monster called The Time Eater is causing time and space to collide, as a result, Sonic comes face to face with his past self. Present Sonic is referred to as Modern Sonic, while his past self is Classic Sonic; this breaks the game up into two play styles. Classic Sonic features the old school 2D platformer style many fans from back in the days loved with a passion. Modern features the third person style that focuses on speed.
Before choosing a level, you will be able to select which Sonic you want to play with. Act 1 can only be played with Classic, then when you win with him, it's time to use Modern for Act 2. There are three main gates for you to play per world made up of the two acts, and there are nine worlds total. Once you finished these three main gates, both classic and modern, 5 additional gates will open for each of those three main gates. These gates are the challenge arenas which really are additional acts. Now in truth, you only need to complete one of these challenges per main gate in order to obtain a total of three keys to unlock the boss battle, but the fun and challenge is in trying to complete these challenges. The challenges are different from the main stages because they have different requirements, such as racing your doppelganger or Sonic's friends Knuckles, Tails, and others to the finish, or just plain beating the clock. The challenges have one thing worthwhile to offer and that's additional practice, and believe me, you're going to need the training if you hope to survive Modern Sonic's acts and boss battles.
Sega had high hopes in making this a game to remember for the loyal fans. I have to admit that my nostalgic buttons were indeed pushed. The game features re-imagined stages from the past, such as Green Hill Zone, Chemical Plant, City Escape, Planet Wisp, and others. It runs across decades of memories and it was a joy playing these different takes. Some people liken Classic Sonic to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 of the original series. I will admit that the 2D platforming experience took me back, and there is a whole lot to offer with various spring boards to propel Sonic higher in the air, many really cool ramps to dash through, the super sneaker power up, along with his spin dash. There are plenty moments of side scrolling fun, but if you decided to pop in Sonic 3 only for a little while, you will be able to quickly identify how weird this game kind of feels. Sonic doesn't seem to have the same jumping power he use to have and he even feels sluggish.
Modern Sonic's worlds are pretty awesome, and I can imagine someone new to the series being blown away. Heck, even I was a little impressed despite playing Sonic Colors. Some of the levels are very well designed with City Escape coming to mind; here you will use Sonic on a skateboard as he leaps from ramps pulling off stunts and later attempts to outrun a maniacal truck. His skill list is pretty long, because he probably uses everything introduced since maybe the Sonic Adventure series; homing, sliding, boosting, drifting, and other skills that can be used to customize him. While Sega did attempt to improve this portion of the game play, it still suffers from some of the issues as previous games in the series using the on-rails system. For example, during your earliest play throughs you will always be tempted to boost your way through the stages at super speed, but certain stages like Crisis City are poorly designed, and you will suffer a lot of deaths due to over-boosting or simply just falling off ledges. It felt like Sonic's sneakers were made of banana peels the way he slipped off platforms. Another thing too, like in Sonic Unleashed, I still found it difficult to pick up rings. The game play still has room for plenty of improvement.
Despite my issues with the game play there is still plenty I enjoy here; the boss and rival battles are still fun with a twist. When Sonic ends up in a rival or boss battle, the re-imagined fight will take place with the Sonic that originally fought the battle. In other words, modern Sonic will not battle against Metal Sonic, since this took place during the Genesis Era, in contrast, classic Sonic will not face Silver the Hedgehog since this took place during the Modern Era, PS3 and 360. Although some of these battles can be easy they still have an epic feel to them. For some reason the battle against Perfect Chaos still feels grand, even though Sonic is battling him without being in his Super form. The final battle is the only real disappointment though, but after all it took me to get to him, it really didn't bother me at all to smash him on my first try.
In this modern age, game play has always been Sonic's achilles heel and it seemed no matter what Sega did, they just couldn't get it right. This time though, I think it works out better, and it's just too cool playing Modern Sonic in a variation of Chemical Zone, and Classic Sonic through a side scrolling version of Planet Wisp. For the most part, most Sonic fans will enjoy this game, but if you been put off by everything since the original series, then this game more than likely is not changing your stance.
This is actually the make or break section for many people. The controls are way too sluggish, at times unresponsive, or laggy. Classic Sonic suffers the least here, but I died during jumps that normally should have been easy. The jump feels very floaty and you will mainly notice this playing modern Sonic; and getting on him, no matter how much practice I have, just collecting rings and hopping on platforms can be a hassle some times. I actually thought at one point that maybe I sucked at the game; so I took a look at some of the "pros" on youtube. Yes they blew through the levels during their time trials making it look easy, but I did notice they left a lot of rings behind. If you play the game for yourself, you'll be able to tell that they did try to grab those rings. I was forced to run those exact same paths they did grabbing maybe one ring. They chose to leave them behind because they couldn't grab them at that moment. Like me, they had no choice. I even noticed how they fell to lower levels of the stage despite them attempting to hit a higher area. They can try and tell me it was a planned strategy all they want but I can see for myself they're bullsh*ttin'. This is an area you're just going to have to work with.
Looking pass the weak and uninspired cut scenes, the visuals have moments of being pretty amazing. The backgrounds are lush with various details, and the 2D world looks better by far. The HD remaster does the stages justice with Planet Wisp looking better here than in Sonic Colors. The fiery, post apocalyptic Crisis City appears as if it suffered one napalm bombing after another. The animation moves at a break neck pace, and the camera follows the high speed action as it transitions from 3D to 2D quite well. It could be better though as I did notice a slight frame rate drop on maybe one occasion. For the most part, the visuals are very intense and it actually required a little work to keep track of Sonic. I did die a few times because the graphics plain had me hooked. Now there were some occasions where I died because of the graphics, the setting would actually cover Sonic from vision, and some times it was difficult to see where I would land. Despite the improvement here, this area can still use some work.
I love the remastered soundtrack. I can sit down and jam out to rock tracks like City Escape and Live-and-Learn. The lyrics to these songs are usually stuck in my head for days. Crisis City stands out with a beautiful violin piece that changes cadences. While Final Rush is a zoned-out trance instrumental that seems to fit just right for the Sonic vs. Shadow battle, which takes place on a multi-lit highway with various colors, in a night time setting creating a rave like atmosphere. Besides just being some really good pieces of music, the soundtrack works really well with the fast-paced, high tempo, go for broke personality of the game. It will no doubt get you pumped up and deep into this world. Classic and Modern have two variations of the songs, and as an added bonus, there's unlockable music that can be swapped with the stage music at any time. Now outside of the Boost effects, ring collecting, and some voice acting here and there which all sounds well done, I can't say that the overall sound effects really stood out to me, because if they did I would remember something more.
If one chooses to do the bare minimum, and they don't die an unreal amount of deaths. There's probably 4-5 hours of game play. I know that's bad in this day and age, but seriously, you will be robbing yourself if you skip the remaining challenges. If you hit up everything then you can actually double that time. More of the fun is attempting to earn the highest rating per stage which is an "S". There were stages I blew through on my very first try to earn the rating. While there were others that took many tries. You can increase the difficultly on boss battles after you beat them the first time. You can also unlock the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but really, that's a very weak bonus since it's part of a compilation for most systems. And I heard that the game has DLC through extra stages. I don't know if they must be purchased since I rarely care for these things.
Who would I recommend this too?:
Definitely not to casual gamers. This game requires quite a bit of patience and practice. There are moments where the levels can be too sinister for someone who doesn't regularly play games. For those gamers I recommend something more forgiving like the New Super Mario series for the DS and 3DS. This is for the hardcore and fans of the franchise.
In this day and age, the lack of online multi-player will be an issue for some but it doesn't bother me. The game play has more good than bad though; I think the control issues is what's really going to make or break this for a lot of people. I do believe that sharper controls is very necessary for a platformer like this and the game does lose points. This is one of those times half increment ratings can be useful. However, despite the frustrating moments, there were many stages I found very fun to play, and I appreciate the moderate difficulty. Overall, this is a step in the right direction, and I hope Sega manages to fine tune the game play and controls come the next outing. After this game, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors, there's just no reason why these ailments should continue hanging around.
As a side note, if you own either PS3/360 or a Nintendo 3DS and you're stuck on which version to get. Well, ignore the 3DS version unless you're a serious Sonic fan or just very curious.
Pros: -Interesting and well done concept, replay value, incredible music score
If I had to choose which game was really a return to form for the blue blur, then I would more than likely lean towards Sonic Colors. However, Sonic Generations is a step in the right direction. Despite the control issues that can lead to some cheap deaths, this is a difficult game for me not to come back to because the multiple challenge stages have something to offer. Full review... some day.