Platform: Xbox 360 under review. Also on PS3
Oh Sonic, it’s been a rough few years buddy. Once right near the top on the Sega Genesis, only to fall from grace once 3D mixed with you like oil and water. Their have been some peaks and valleys, but it looks like your upward climb is continuing with Sonic Generations. A game that is in every way a love letter to your fans and the last 20 years.
Sonic Generations is very self aware of the ludicrous premise it sets for itself as an excuse to revise past levels in classic Sonic 2 side scrolling bliss, and blistering racetrack style Sonic Colors sprints. A mysterious force throws Sonics old and new into a time void, and now they need to run really fast through recreations of older locals because that fixes time somehow. Overall there for the sake of a loose narrative, but at least it’s able to poke fun at itself.
Gameplay is essentially broken into 2 distinct halves, each MC’d by a sonic and a gameplay style. Act 1 of the games nine stages have the classic sonic spinning, bounding and breaking through remade stages with a move set reminiscent of Sonic 2, while Act 2 brings today’s hedgehog barreling through environments that swap between a behind the back 3D perspective and a 2D side scrolling affair focused on speed, and split second timing over his more rhythmic doppelgänger. Challenges for each are unlocked following each of the three sections of the game that push your abilities with both hedgehogs, as well as unlock concept art, or alternate songs to play on each stage. Both play well, and control similarly enough to not cause undue shock to players switching between them, but have distinct abilities to complement their two styles.
Visuals are sharp and clean, giving plenty of eye candy at the rare moments you can stop and enjoy the scenery, but the game is built to be sped through quickly, much like a racing game. Slowdown is incredibly rare, and little is going to pull you out of the game. Sharp remixes of tunes throughout the series are matched to each stage in a classic and modern variety, with the challenges backed by even more obscure tunes from lesser known titles like the Game Boy Advance brawler, Sonic Battle. The game gives you the option to switch up the music in each stage if you simply cannot hear City Escape again and it’s a welcome addition.
Sonic Generations sends gamers on a wild, if brief trip down memory lane. With plenty of replay value from the online time attack mode, memorable stages given the newfangled touch and dozens of challenges for players to master, Sonic may be back on the fast track to fame.