Hands On: Sonic Generations

I know that there’s a good number of you who will have seen the words “Sonic Generations” and groaned. We all remember that demo, just how bad of an impression it made and, if you’re like me, you’ll recall a faint feeling of motion sickness.

Sure, Sonic Team had clearly tried to bring things back to the “good old days” of Sonic but it seemed that yet again Sonic fans like me were going to be left disappointed and turning back to the 16-bit era for a dose of their favourite hedgehog.

[drop]That’s honestly how I felt when I saw the booth at EGX, I casually glanced with a thought of “Oh dear, Sonic Generations”. However, it was still Sonic and I have an infinite capacity for forgiveness when it comes to that little blue blur. So I headed over, sat down and was, quite frankly, amazed.


Yes, the demo was broken, we all know that. However, looking back at it in comparison to what I played it seems clear that Sonic Team were forced to get something out in time for the 20th Anniversary celebrations that Sega had planned; never mind the fact that it might well tarnish the game when it actually came to be released.

The version of the game I saw, which I was told was still not close to the final code, contained four levels, two in Green Hill Zone and two in a stylized version of San Francisco. In each of these zones one level was for Classic Sonic, and the other was for his modern incarnation. Back at E3 Alex saw the levels from Green Hill Zone so I won’t focus on them too much, I only want to say that they were brilliant and both interpretations of the level felt fantastic and true to the original.

As for the San Francisco styled zone (the name wasn’t on display) it’s quite simply brilliant. With Classic Sonic you’ll play through a variety of platforming sections set largely in construction zones. Jumping over and through scaffolding feels true to the series and fresh at the same time. It may be a new level, but everything in it still feels close to the Sonic of memory and you won’t be left scratching your head as to why it was included. It also features a few quick switches into a fully 3D view as a truck chases you down and you turn around corners to link up the platforming sections.

Modern Sonic’s level is a completely different kettle of fish, with it mostly being a downhill race against a different truck, this time armed with buzz-saws and looking faintly like a half transformed Optimus Prime; as if it got the weaponry out and then gave up on actually becoming a robot. This is certainly a section that reminded me more of recent Sonic titles, but it never felt bad or like it was thrown together.

[drop2]Essentially, for a large chunk of the level, you’re sliding downhill on a skateboard/snowboard. I’d like to say a skateboard would make more sense for a pursuit on city streets but it didn’t seem to have any wheels. Anyway, as you begin it’s pretty standard stuff, going down hill and trying to collect rings, jumping through boosts, that sort of thing. The only mild frustration is that the camera is in a position behind Sonic that can make it tricky to see at times.

However, everything changes when the crazy truck decides to come for you. The camera switches to back facing position, so you can see Sonic with the truck bearing down on him, and it feels oddly cinematic. The problem is that it feels a little too cinematic, you don’t feel like you’re in any real danger of the truck actually catching you. It’s good the first time, but if you revisit it you might be left feeling a little underwhelmed.

Look, I love Sonic, I absolutely adore the franchise. It’s my second earliest gaming memory (after something that I can’t recall on the Spectrum). With the exception of Sonic Rush on the DS I’ve been left feeling disappointed by the series for quite some time now. From what I’ve played of Sonic Generations it looks like that may be over. My only hope is that Sega don’t throw us a last minute curveball, throwing in a Werehog or having sections where you need to go and pick up missions from people on the street. That’s not what I want from Sonic, that’s not what anyone wants. If they take the type of levels they have now and tie them together with an interesting story that informs us of how the two Sonics crossed paths, I will be more than happy with Generations. I’ve just got to wonder if that’s what we’ll get.

Come back later today to see our interview with Lynne from the Sonic Generations stand at EGX.



  1. Everything Sonic has been in since the Megadrive has annoyed me almost beyond redemption. Sonic 4 offered hope as it felt like an HD remix and I really enjoyed it but it seems it went down quite badly overall and another episode now looks unlikely :(

    I am not expecting Generations to be anything other than another disappointment and despite the positives in this article, I find that expectation hard to overcome

  2. Yup, maybe they would’ve went for a Skateboard… but the truck and the copter wing?… is what made City Escape epic whenever I played for the first time on the Dreamcast haha, hope there’s more from the Sonic Adventure series, the 2nd was a great game shame they couldn’t do wonders once it went multiplatform with Heroes..

    I’m so glad Sonic Generations is looking to be great, Colours seemed be amazing so I’m happy that its returned to its best. I’m really tempted to save money to buy the limited editon…

  3. There’s 5 extra missions for each classic and modern level they’re accessed by what look like portals above the levels entrance.

  4. How can Sonic be your second earliest gaming memory if you can’t remember the first one? Isn’t the point of a memory to actually remember it? :P

    Anyways. I haven’t really followed Sonic Generations but I recognized the San Francisco style level from the GameCube Sonic game. I totally loved that game and it’s Chao Garden where you could breed different Chaos. This seems like a best of collection from different Sonic generations taylored together so I guess the Chao Garden will not be part of this? :( Got my hopes up for a second there…

    • I doubt there will be a Chao Garden. But you can download Sonic Adventure in the PSStore to do your gardening on the PS3.

      • Thanks for the info. I didn’t know it was up there!

  5. I for one rather enjoyed the Sonic Generations demo, and it is what Sonic 4 should have been (though I enjoyed that too). I’ll likely end up buying this game, and this hands on has only gone further to convince me it’s worth my money.

  6. My son did a little Homer Simpson tippy toe excited dance the other night when, by coincidence, he saw the Sonic Generations sponsor ad next to the Simpsons on Sky.

    I hope this game turns out good as I wouldn’t mind a go on it myself.

  7. My first post, although I’ve been an avid reader for several years. It seems quite apt that I comment on a Sonic game, as it was one of my first console experiences and have been a fan ever since I first heard and saw the SEEEEEGGGGAAAA logo. I hope SG will be the Sonic game that I and many others have been seeking for far too long.

    • Welcome :)

      I agree. Sonic was a great part of my early console infatuation but I haven’t enjoyed a Sonic game since the Mega Drive. The elements of this that I saw certainly look like it’s at least a move back towards that, although I’ll admit that the perspective shift and 3D bits did make me a little bit nervous.

      • Yes welcome. I am looking forward to this. Sonic was my first game on a console back in the Master System days.

  8. After getting to play the two City Escape’s at Eurogamer I’m still left with the feeling that something not quite right with the game play. Just didn’t real responsive in the hand but I’m sure the code has been polished since then. It’s better than the demo coding at least.

    Sonic has seemed to struggle with the consoles since he moved on from the Megadrive. Sonic Advanced series were good games but by the 3rd they were trying too hard to add new things and ended up ruining the series. I just hope this has an after affect on Sonic 4: Episode 2 and hopefully influence a Sonic Vita game.

    Generations is about pleasing both sides of the fan base, 2D and 3D lovers of Sonic. I’m in the former but as this game proves they can do good things with either. I just hope they learn from it and introduce some originally gaming (both this and Sonic 4 are unoriginal levels wise really) in the next round of games to come.

  9. My name isn’t Alex :P

  10. Was also put off by the demo but after reading this I’m more interested. Will see how the game gets reviewed before I make up my mind. If it’s an 8 or better, count me in.

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