The turbo-fueled blue hedgehog is back with a game that is worthy of his past accomplishments.
There was a time, in the not too distant past, where the Sonic and Mario rivalry was as closely contested as this generations battles between the Call of Duty franchise and the Battlefield games. I don’t know what happened, maybe Sonic got weary, but one day it was like he had just stopped trying. Mario continued to release impressive games through Nintendo, but Sega’s pet hedgehog began to release one unimpressive game after another. Although none of the more recent games were particularly broken, indeed some of them were quite enjoyable, they just didn’t have the flair or excitement that the original games had.
But that is all set to change now as Sonic Generations looks like it has rediscovered some of the lost sense of speed and enjoyment, and all in time for Sonic to turn 20 years old. Sonic Generations is a great way to celebrate a 20th birthday.
The story is simple. A time traveling beastie has kidnapped all of modern Sonic’s friends, right in the middle of a party no less, and now modern Sonic has to team up with retro Sonic (time travel, remember) and work their way through a bunch of levels to free their friends.
Each level has to be played through twice, once with modern Sonic and once with retro Sonic, in order to free the friend. The retro Sonic levels are all 2D side-scrolling affairs in a classic way that will please gamers that remember the original games, whereas the modern Sonic levels take on a variety of different forms, with both forward running 3D sections and 2D areas to work through. The modern Sonic levels will see Sonic making extensive use of his homing jump to clear gaps or take out enemies, along with rail sliding, platform jumping and a massive sense of speed. That same sense of speed can be felt with the retro Sonic levels, which also contain all of the “loop the loops”, swinging platforms and pinball type areas that we know and love.
The levels themselves are based upon those found in the Sonic games from the past – to the point that modern Sonic comments on a sense of deja vu. Retro Sonic just nods in agreement as, at this point in his video game past, he was unable to talk. Long time fans of the series will easily recognise the level themes as they play the game, and will be pleasantly surprised. All of the levels seem to be well thought out and, with the mixture of old and new gameplay, offer a nice variety.
Every few levels, the player will have to fight a boss battle. But before that they must collect enough keys to open the boss battle door by completing challenges. These challenges add a huge amount of extra gameplay to the game and offer incentive for the player to keep coming back even after the game is finished. The player only requires three keys to open the boss battle door, but there are a lot more challenges to try out if the player chooses. The challenges take a variety of forms, such as a simple dash for the finish within a certain time, or more complex challenges that make use of Sonic’s friends abilities. In these challenges, the friends can be called up to perform their ability when needed, such as Amy using her hammer to knock Sonic higher into the air, or Knuckles digging for coins. There is a nice selection of challenges and plenty to choose from, so if the player gets stuck on one they can simply move on to another.
When it comes to the boss battles themselves, they don’t hold a huge amount of challenge and generally see Sonic taking on another of Eggman’s contraptions. This will usually involve spotting a pattern and then exploiting it, in a time honoured tradition that is reminiscent once again of the early Sonic games. Beating the boss will unlock the next batch of levels and the player progresses. Of slight disappointment is that there are only four boss battles to play, but that is just a minor complaint.
The game, in glorious HD, looks as bright and colourful as one would expect from a Sonic game, with the modern re-imaginings of the classic levels from Sonics past looking absolutely stunning. Retro Sonic manages to look retro without looking old, whilst modern Sonic has grown, is a darker blue and has much cooler shoes.
Sonic Generations is not perfect, but it is worthy of being called a Sonic game. It almost seems too much of a coincidence that Sega have released this game around Sonic’s 20th anniversary. With a brilliant sense of speed and requiring precision platforming skills throughout, Sonic Generations is the reboot that the franchise needed. Welcome back Sonic.