Review: Sonic Generations (X360)

Sonic the Hedgehog has always been a love-hate relationship to me, but I’ve always given Sonic games a chance, despite the bad rap the blue guy has been getting. With Sonic at his 20th Anniversary, it’s probably a good time to sit back and reflect on past mistakes.

Sonic Generations is an all-new Sonic adventure (as in an adventure with Sonic, not “Sonic Adventure”) with the good ol’ hedgehog-style platforming, although calling it “all-new” is an understatement. See, Sonic Generations is a mix of the old and the new, and I mean that literally, because the short, stubby old-school Sonic is back in the game.

The story opens with Sonic and legion of friends ready to celebrate his birthday with chili dogs and presents, but the creators can never catch Sonic a break and they’re all thrown into separate time portals by a mysterious being of evil known as the Time Eater. Sonic regains consciousness in “white space”, the hub where all the different levels are held, deprived of colour and life. It is also here where he catches sight of someone familiar, Classic Sonic, and it’ll be up to the two to save the day.

The game is split into several different worlds that represent the history of games through different eras, the Classic, Dreamcast and Modern. The experience starts off with a sense of fantastic nostalgia, as the opening remastered Green Hill Zone splashed with vibrant, eye-melting graphics and colour will testify. The levels are split into two acts. The Act 1 levels consist of some old-school platforming with Classic Sonic, who has no special skills whatsoever, apart from jumping on enemies and pulling of a spin dash.

The feel of speed is better emphasized on Act 2 levels, seeing as how players will mostly be watching Modern Sonic burn his rubber soles with the hit of the Boost button. Modern Sonic also has the ability to unleash a homing attack against enemies or nearby objects such as springs that will propel him towards goal faster.

On a bit of a personal bias, I haven’t enjoyed Sonic in 3D platforming more than I do in his 2D adventures, so I haven’t been very good at flinging myself across one platform to another since Sonic Heroes. So I had trouble with some of the later levels that bring back to mind the problems with the games they represent. If you’ve been comfortable with Modern Sonic, then you’ll feel right at home with the latter acts.

How well you do at the end of the level, especially if you manage to skim towards the goal without losing a life, is ranked by your time and the amount of rings you have. That score is then translated into points to make purchases with at the Omochao Skill Shop, which provides helpful toggled skills to make your life easier in the course. Skills can be customized into sets of limited capacity, allowing you to mix a variety of skill presets.

In-between each set of 3 stages is the boss stage, which are locked until you complete one of the five challenges on each stage. These challenges range from racing your AI opponent to the goal to collecting a set amount of items before time runs out. The subsequent boss stage you encounter is a recreation of familiar bosses from past games, such as the Death Egg Robot from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Perfect Chaos from Sonic Adventure. Defeating the boss earns you a Chaos Emerald and the right to move on.

As with all Sonic games, Generations is pretty fast paced, so you can get the story done in less than ten hours if you’re really good. You could drop the controller there, but you’ll be missing out on the amount of unlockables, full of level-based and soundtrack-based nostalgia, waiting for you to revisit stages to find. Each act hides 5 red rings and each unlocks collectable artwork or soundtrack, which can be used to play over the default soundtrack on the level of your choice. Collecting all 5 red rings, unlocks a new skill for your exploits. Completing each challenge gives you a chance to earn an unlockable as well.

Sonic Generations reminds gamers of what a blast Sonic games were, rectifying years of lackluster console titles, while not whitewashing over them. The mix of the old and the new helps to see how far the blue hedgehog has come these 20 years and he’s ready to win the hearts of fans once more.

Graphics 9.0
Colours range from the extreme vibrance of the Green Hill Zone to the lacklustre dullness of the Next Generation Sonic stages.
Sound 9.0
There’s plenty of music to be had, many of which pay homage to Sonic stage themes of old.
Gameplay 8.0
A mix of 2D and 3D Sonic helps to keep things interesting, but they are marred by their non-tranferrable skills.
Lasting Appeal 8.0
There’s plenty of art and music to unlock with plenty of challenges to go with it.
 How the RGB Scoresheet works

Sonic Generations is a Sonic Team game for Sega on the Xbox 360, as well as the PlayStation 3, Windows PCs and the Nintendo 3DS. Xbox LIVE and 3DTV features were not tested.