Hands On: Sonic Generations

There’s no doubt that Sonic has had it rough since the move to 3D. Every time a new friend or gimmick is introduced, a small part of our childhood dies. Recently, things have been looking up for the Hedgehog. Sonic 4 was actually good, half of Sonic Unleashed was playable, and Sonic Colours wasn’t that bad at all. Sega obviously wants to keep the positive momentum going and that’s where Sonic Generations comes in.

When dealing with a game that flirts with nostalgia so much, you have to take a step back and question whether or not your judgement is being clouded. Is this game actually good or am I being fooled into thinking that it is? If you have been keeping up with the game then you most likely have already seen some footage. There were two playable levels for the PS3 and 360 versions of the game. One for classic Sonic and one for modern Sonic, both taking place in Green Hill Zone.

Classic Sonic feels almost exactly as he should. Obviously it’s not going to be perfect, but it’s as close as we’ll ever get. Sonic’s jumps aren’t too floaty, the physics make sense, and there are no speed boosts after every other step. The result is a stage that has much better pacing. The multi-tiered stages from the past that promote platforming (all while maintaining a fast speed) are still intact. It was actually fun replaying the stage and going through a different path just to see what it’s like. There’s a sense of direction, and that is something Sonic games haven’t had in quite some time.

[drop]Green Hill Zone wasn’t exactly a duplicate of the original but it did share landmarks that any fan would recognize. Familiar enemies, power ups hidden inside trees, clever level design, it’s all there. The remixed theme was also quite beautiful. Despite being on a 2D plane, there are moments when the camera shifts to a more cinematic view. It doesn’t at all break the flow of gameplay and it actually looks really good. The only real complaint is that the environment seems slightly over-sized. Considering how much fun it was playing as classic Sonic, it’s not that big of a deal.

The other half of the game is basically the good portions of Sonic Unleashed. If you didn’t like that type of gameplay this won’t change your mind. Sonic still feels largely uncontrollable and there’s no real sense of direction – just speed. You can still grind and jump through hoops, speed boost, slide, and use the homing attack. Sometimes the perspective shifts into a side-scrolling view and there are slight hints of old school platforming. Overall, the gameplay is mostly on rails and it tries to be as exciting as possible by throwing amazing imagery at you. It was by no means bad, but after playing the classic Sonic stage it’s clear that one is better than the other.

For the 3DS version of Sonic Generations, modern Sonic uses the Rush style of gameplay. Sonic can speed boost, slide, and grind. You’re essentially getting two types of side-scrolling platformers, one that’s old school and one that’s new (and underutilized). Unfortunately, there were some frame drops. It didn’t matter if you had 3D enabled or not. The level design for classic Sonic wasn’t nearly as impressive as the console version, either. Seriously, Green Hill Zone was about half the length on the 3DS. That’s just ridiculous.

Unlike Sonic Generations on the PS3/360, a classic Sonic boss stage was also playable. Robotnik’s mech was pretty much identical to the final boss from Sonic 3 (the one with two arms that can grab you). It wasn’t just a remake of an old encounter. There were some new patterns and tricks thrown in to keep you guessing. During this battle, it was somewhat difficult to attack Robotnik because he flew really low to the platform Sonic was standing on. You basically had to lightly tap the jump button to do the lowest jump possible or else you’d hit spikes. The height of the jump when pushed normally just seemed far too high, which is weird since it seemed fine everywhere else. Hopefully this will be adjusted in the final version.

Sega is trying to appeal to two types of fans with essentially two different games in one package. Right now, half of the game is fun to play while the other half is passable and easy to ignore. Sonic Generations is scheduled to launch this November. Sega announced that a demo will be hitting the PSN and XBL sometime soon. It’s definitely worth trying out.


  1. Good preview, shame about the 3DS version being ‘cut’, it should be full like the others… it’s a powerful thing!
    What’s happening with Sonic 4, then?

    • Yeah, I liked it and fancy Episode 2

      • Hoping Episode 2 is still around O_o. They’ve been silent.

  2. The Best? Sonic Adventure 2. thats City Escape, what? Sonic Adventure 2 mechs? holy s*** Sega found there last good Sonic game… although with the Unleashed style it would be strange.

    Sonic 4 wasn’t really a seqeul to Sonic & Knuckles eh? maybe Episode 2 isn’t needed, this is beyond Episode 2!. or what Sonic 4 really was Sonic’s Greatest hits.

  3. i just never have liked sonic since sonic 1 and 2. I used to play it on the computer a lot and would easily complete it, but now on the ps3 i am just awful at it really awful :( still havnt tried out a sonic which isnt 2D yet :L

  4. It is a bit worrying that they’ve gone completely silent about S4: Episode 2, but I guess they are looking at getting this right first. Maybe they working on level levels which is taking them a lot longer than they expect. But it’s looking like a long period between the first one and the second. I’m not 100% sure if this is a good thing yet.

    As for Sonic Generations, looking good so far. I love the way they’ve managed to turn the 3D City Escape level into a good looking 2D level. I think Sega may actually pull this one off yet as a truly classic Sonic game but also a great modern Sonic too!

    Great news they’ve announced a demo then. First I’d heard about that!

    • Well Generations should be better than Sonic: EP 1, the animation and levels where poor. I don’t know Dimps could do better…..

      • I liked Sonic 4, in fact the only thing I could wrong with it was the length. But this does look like a return to form. One thing that worries me is on a video I saw was act 1 was old Sonic and act 2 was new Sonic. Hmmm mm. Would like to play through the whole thing as one Sonic or the other. Then again I haven’t really played modern Sonic a lot.

  5. Il liked Sonic 4 EP1. This is sounding good as well.

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