Three eras, two Sonics, and one epic adventure: Sonic Generations celebrates the franchise's twentieth anniversary of the good, the bad and the mediocre. Does Generations give Sonic the birthday he deserves or show that its time for Sega's mascot to take off his running shoes?
As with Sonic's recent successful games (Sonic Colors and Sonic the Hedgehog 4), there isn't much focus on the story. While this may be good for players solely invested in the platforming, I feel the writers missed many an opportunity to poke fun at the series. There are some funny, entertaining cutscenes at the beginning of the game that reflect on the characters' déjà vu of the stage they are in, but their scarcity leaves me with the impression that Generations was rushed for a November release.
So for what little story there is, Sonic attends a surprise birthday party organized by Tails and his other friends until a creature known as the Time Eater shows up and knocks Sonic out, sucking him and his friends into white space. Meanwhile, Classic Sonic and Tails get the same treatment from the mysterious Time Eater, and they themselves end up in the same dimension. Now it is up to Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic to team up and race through the re-imagined zones of previous games, restoring color and life back to their worlds whilst rescuing their friends – all in a day's work for the spiky, blue hero.
In accurate fashion, only Modern Sonic can speak.
All the remastered levels from prior Sonic releases are split into two acts. Act 1 has you playing in 2D as Classic Sonic using his momentum-based gameplay from his Genesis days while Act 2 switches to Modern Sonic in 3D and 2D environments using his gameplay staple of boosting and wall jumping from Unleashed and Colors. As well as the two acts, each zone features ten challenges: five for each Sonic. These challenges can be fun, and only one per level is necessary to move on in the game. The other nine are completely optional.
Generations' nine levels are split into three eras. The Genesis era includes Green Hill, Chemical Plant, and Sky Sanctuary Zone; the Dreamcast era includes Speed Highway, City Escape, and, for some reason, Seaside Hill (Seaside Hill was not featured on the Dreamcast); the Modern era includes Crisis City, Rooftop Run, and Planet Wisp. While I was fairly happy with the level choice, four of the nine levels are city themed. Although these stages were chosen based on popularity, a bit more variety like Twinkle Park or Holoska would have been appreciated.
Each level is a faithful recreation of its prior generation counterpart.
However, there are some issues that hold Generations back from a perfect score. The game is short for a normal playthrough. Doing the bare minimum necessary will probably take you to four to five hours. Another issue rests with Modern Sonic's control in 3D. Even when not boosting, turning can be a little awkard without using drift. The final boss also underwhelms due to its simplicity. Just boost to hit his big weak spot three times. Boom! Game over. While this is happening, Sonic's friends enthusiastically warn players of his attacks. Ugh... Several challenges can be boring and annoying, too. Chemical Plant's ring challenge and Knuckles' challenge in Sky Sanctuary come to mind.
There is a lot of replay value to Generations. As previously mentioned, doing the bare minimum will take four to five hours, but if you invest the time in gathering collectibles and completing all the challenges, your play time will easily increase. An online feature is avaliable in Generations. There are two modes, a half-minute trial and a normal time trial that provide for some good, heated competitions among friends. The half-minute trial allows players to pick any level and see how far they can get in thirty seconds while the normal time trial entices gamers to see how fast they can complete said level.
Sonic Generations is pure fan service, designed for those who have a history with the franchise. Its primary aim is the nostalgia associated with the series' favorite levels. While Generations does stumble a bit, it's still great in its own right and a fantastic celebration of the Blue Blur's twentieth anniversary.
Developers: Sonic Team (360, PS3), Devil's Details (PC), Dimps (3DS)
Release Date: November 1, 2011
Number of Players: 1
Platforms: Xbox 360 (Reviewed), PlayStation 3, PC, Nintendo 3DS