Developer: Dimps/Sonic Team
Release: Nov. 22, 2011 USA / Nov. 25, 2011 EUR / Dec. 1, 2011 JPN
Rated: E for Everyone
Through Sonic's ups and downs on the consoles, he continued to thrive on the portable scene throughout the 2000s (with Sonic Battle being the exception). Dimps' Sonic Advance trilogy on the Game Boy Advance served straight up 2D Sonic action. These games didn't play exactly like the Genesis games of old, but they were fine games and a great source of comfort for those that sought out a fresh Sonic fix. Sonic would find further handheld success on the Nintendo DS with Sonic Rush and Sonic Rush Adventure, also developed by Dimps. There was a DS version of Sonic Colors but it was no where near as good as it's big brother. SEGA celebrated Sonic's 20th birthday with the release of Sonic Generations, featuring two Sonics with two distinct forms of gameplay. The console version of Sonic Generations was met with much acclaim, catering to fans of 2D and 3D Sonic. Sonic Generations on the 3DS may not have received as much attention as it's HD brethren, but it offers more than enough differences to make it worth a look.
Sonic Gereations tells a tale of a meeting of the past and the present. Its Sonic's birthday (don't ask how old he is because SEGA isn't sure these days) and Tails was throwing him a surprise party but he showed up early. Like, really early. I mean, when Sonic arrives, only Tails is there. Before the rest of the gang can arrive, some creature appears, sucks Tails up and Sonic finds himself in place void of color. Sonic eventually meets up with his Classic self along with Classic Tails. The creature that appeared is the Time Eater and is responsible for sucking the life and color out of all the past locals that Sonic once visited. The two Sonics team up to put an end to the Time Eater's rampage that leads them to an all too familiar face. Story is pretty weak for a 20th anniversary game. Yeah, Sonic Color's yarn was no masterpiece but Generation's defeinitely comes up short. But it does get Modern Sonic to meet Classic Sonic so hurray for that.
|Act 1 stages have you playing as|
|While Act 2 stages place you in control of|
There's an overwhelming feeling of nostalgia that comes with Sonic Generations' levels. Each Zone comes from one of Sonic's past adventure, consisting of two acts each. Act 1 has you playing as Classic Sonic who controls a lot like he did in the Genesis games. Classic Sonic has the Spin Dash and no Sonic 4: Episode I physics. While Classic Sonic plays a lot like he did on the Genesis, it doesn't feel 100% like Genesis physics, but he comes so close that nitpicking would just be stupid. Since it's been more than 10 years since gamers played a Sonic game with Classic Sonic, it will no doubt feel like coming home. Act 2 places you in control of Modern Sonic, who controls very similar to the way he did in the Sonic Rush titles, though he has the Homing Attack. Some people have complained about Classic Sonic learning the Homing Attack. About midway through the game, Modern Sonic shows off the move and Classic Sonic picks it up. While Classic Sonic learning a move that Modern Sonic uses may turn off some, these Sonics still feel different enough. In fact, Classic Sonic's Homing Attack doesn't feel as reliable as Modern Sonic's. Maybe its due to Classic Sonic's age but I found I had to be even closer to enemies to get Classic Sonic's Homing Attack to work properly, otherwise, I'd lose my rings. Switching between the two Sonics can also be jarring. You may get so used to using the Spin Dash that when you try to do it as Modern Sonic, all you'll do is slide. Or you may want to Boost through a pack of enemies as Classic Sonic only to get hit because you for got to use the Spin Attack. Classic Sonic gaining one move that Modern Sonic uses doesn't change the fact that the differences between the two is like night and day.
The 3DS version of Sonic Generations isn't just a slimed down version of the console versions. Once you leave Green Hill, you'll be going through stages that are not present in the HD versions. Yeah, this game also has a Casino Night, but instead of merely being a pinball machine, it has two full Acts. As fun as it is to speed through familair Zones as Classic Sonic, his Acts from the Genesis era are carbon copies of the originals. I've ran through the original Green Hill Zone more times than I can count and I thought the 3DS incarnation of Green Hill Act 1 looked familar. Just to be certain, I fired up Sonic the Hedgehog on the Virtual Console and did a side by side comparison and sure enough, Green Hill Act 1 on the 3DS version of Sonic Generations is the Genesis version of Green Hill with a fresh coat of paint. Same deal with Mushroom Hill Act 1. It just screams of taking the easy route with level design. As iconic as those Zones are, it would have been nice to see them get an overhauled design like Modern Sonic's Act 2 stages.
|It ain't Stardust Speedway, but at least you can|
still race against Metal Sonic.
|Just like the Genesis game, the fall setting|
of Mushroom Hill Act 2 is presented here.
Even with the rehashed Act 1 levels, the Zones represented here are pretty sweet. There's the aforementioned Green Hill, Casino Night, Mushroom Hill Zones along with Emerald Coast, Radical Highway, Water Palace, and Tropical Resort Zones. Both Acts of each Zone is populated with loop-the-loops but some elements are tailor made to cater to a specific Sonic. In Emerald Coast, Classic Sonic has to jump across the docks to escape the orca. In Green Hill near the end of the stage, if Modern Sonic doesn't Boost for all he's worth, he'll be crushed by a huge falling totem pole. Some of the stages are actually easier depending on which Sonic you're playing as. Racidal Highway is a fairly lengthy stage no matter which Sonic you're playing as, but Modern Sonic definitely has an easier time with the level than Classic Sonic. There are plenty of different paths you can take to reach the goal but a few of Modern Sonic's stages actually have you jumping back and forth into the foreground, which can be a tad confusing at first. You may be inclined to speed through the levels as fast as possible (which is required to get an S rank), but there are still plenty of sections in the levels where both Sonics will have to slow down or they'll fall into a pit. You're alerted to these pitfalls thanks to orange signs, much like that of road signs that show Classic Sonic's death spirte.
Boss battles, like the levels the Sonics visit are also straight out of their past adventures. The Big Arm boss from Sonic 3 returns and he's learned some new tricks. The Biolizard and Egg Emperor bosses work like those in Sonic Rush, meaning you running on a circular field, evading attacks until you have a chance to damage them. A few of the encouters are rival battles, but these function more like races where you have to beat your opponent to the goal. Classic Sonic faces off agaisnt Metal Sonic but this time you can slow his progress by hitting him when he's not emmiting those nasty yellow sparks. Modern Sonic has two rival battles, one against Shadow and one against Silver. Unfortunately cut and past design rears its ugly head once more. Races against Metal Sonic and Silver are regulated to Casino Night and Tropical resort. Seriously, was adding the actual levels these boss encounters took place in too much effort? Ah, well. At least the actual races are fun.
|The orca isn't picky about his meals and will try|
to devour any Sonic that passes by.
|Real life road signs should be like this one.|
You can turn up the 3D for some added depth and it looks quite nice in this game, though I actually played with it off. Speaking of 3D, the only real 3D sections of the game are the Special Stages. While it is regrettable that these Special Stages are yet another rendition of the half pipe from Sonic 2, the main objective here is to keep up enough speed to catch the Chaos Emerald before time runs out. As you run you can pick up orbs that are the colors of the Chaos Emeralds to keep Sonic's Boost Meter full. Again, an interesting take on the Special Stages, but can't Sonic Team and Dimps think of something else besides reusing the half-pipe over and over?
With only seven Zones, the game is rather short. You can easily breeze through this one in a day but there's a sizable amount of bonus material to keep the game crammed into your 3DS. There's a collection for all kinds of unlockables like art, models and music. You can add things to your collection by completing various missions in the Mission mode. There are up to 100 different missions to play with differing objectives. You can unlock missions under certain conditions like getting a higher ranking on certain Acts, clearing certain stages, or alternative, you can use Play Coins to buy missions. There are 50 different tracks you can unlock for Sound, but sadly, these are for listening only. The console version of Sonic Generations allows players to listen to the music they've unlocked in any stage. Why wasn't such a great feature available in this version, too? It boggles the mind.
Sonic Generations is a visually stunning game. Even with 2.5D graphics, all of the zones look jaw droppingly beautiful. It obviously isn't as good looking at the HD versions, but the likes of Green Hill and Radical City still look stunning, nonetheless. Being a Sonic game, the music is of exceptional quality. The title, menu and Green Hill these are the same from the console versions but once you pass Green Hill, you're treated to some incredible remixes that you won't hear in the consoles. Classic Sonic's Genesis era music uses a few drum beats and notes from the Genesis but they still sound different enough from the original tunes that they aren't copies. Once Classic Sonic waves bye-bye to the Genesis era, his music starts to sound more like what you'd find in Modern Sonic titles, which certainly isn't a bad thing by any means. Modern Sonic's music is mostly rock based with a few techno inspired tracks. Mushroom Hill Act 2 gets a rocking guitar remix by Jun Senoue and Radical Highway Act 1 is arguably better than the original track. Act 2 of Radical Highway doesn't sound as good as Act 1 but it did grow me. Neither hedgehog got the wrong deal in the audio department.
Sonic Generations on the 3DS may not be as good as its big brother but the different zones over the console version make it worth checking out, and besides that, it's a competent Sonic game. Like its HD brothers it is short, but the extra stuff like missions give it some replay value. This is also one of the 3DS games that isn't priced at $40. I found a copy for $30 at Best Buy and in time, it will probably be priced at $20.