Sonic Generations (Xbox 360) review
"Blast to the past...and back"
SEGA returns to us Sonic the Hedgehog. We do not get Sonic the werehog, Sonic the Knight, nor even Sonic the co-star friend. Nope--we get our revered blue blur back in his own game playing as only him...and him. For those of us responsible for Sonic's longevity, Sonic Generations is a nice throw back to old school Sonic that should even pull you back if you've abandoned the chili dog(?)eating hero anytime over the past 20 years. Now, I would not put myself in either of the heated camps that have formed over those years in either praising or damning each and every "Sonic" game that's released (and associated voice actor) even if I own many of the games in the series from the Genesis, Dreamcast, GameCube, DS, Wii, and Xbox 360. In fact, the only main Sonic games I don't own or have not played would be: Sonic '06, The Secret Rings, and The Black Knight. So, I can still groan at the poor decisions that Sonic developers make as well as praise them when they do good--as they mostly have done here.
At first fear might strike those who have returned to Sonic with this game as the opening offers Sonic and his pals, except for Big the Cat, having a party, but none of them save for Sonic will be playable on this adventure. Relieved? So was I, as I really don't like most of his animal pals and rivals. Tails, Knuckles, Amy, and Shadow? Fine. Even throw in Metal Sonic, but that's about all I can stomach really. I mean, they put breasts on a friggin' bat and turned it into a prostitute, and they made me fish with a giant cat. As much as I like animals in reality, I wouldn't mind seeing most of the Sonic zoo meet their demise under the high heels of a woman with low morals. While Sonic is gratefully the only playable member, you still get the others via story or battle. The gist of the non overexposed story is that a force known as the Time Eater has sucked all of the cast into a white world where Sonic must enter and beat classic and present levels with his classic pot bellied and present slender self (classic Tails also shows up) to restore color and life to this void and trapped "friends." The levels are divided into two stages, each putting to use your Sonic of choice: pot bellied 2-D and Slender 3-D.
You can switch from classic to modern Sonic with the press of the Y button and travel throughout a 2-D hub. The 3-D stages, I found, to be fun with their great sense of speed, and the 2-D ones offered up some great side scrolling with a nice modern coat of paint. And it was great to experience classic levels in a modern mold and modern levels in an older mold. Green Hill was the first level given and its representation in 3-D was excellent: fast and gorgeously lush with nice transitions from the foreground to the background. Likewise Sonic Adventure's Seaside Hill was great to play in 2-D with an excellent water level presentation. Both versions of the nine levels presented do offer up difference in appearance and layout, giving a fresh yet familiar feel even if you have played the inspired from levels before. Even the familiar music and sounds offer a resonance that will make you at home if you're a longtime fan (although I would have liked for the classic Sonic 1-Up from the Genesis days be continued). After you finish the levels you are graded depending on how well you scored and are awarded points that you can spend in a skill shop to buy abilities, and shields (such as the bubble from classic Sonic) that you can equip. You can also collect Red Star Rings hidden in the levels that unlocks additional skills, along with art and music that you can change to whatever tune you want in the levels or boss battles.
While I did enjoy playing through the levels, a bit of Sonic dread did annoy me at times while playing. You see, I actually like the idea of segregating the 2-D/3-D gameplay. Although you do a bit of side scrolling in the 3-D levels, and throughout the modern series actually, I really don't like platforming with Sonic in 3-D. Ever since Sonic Team ridiculously enlarged the hedgehog to human proportions in Sonic Adventure, he has been way too damn slippery and ornery. I hate having to navigate him in 3-D and here it proves annoying too, as when you try to jump to a platform only to skid off it, or when it's a chore to try and turn him and all around navigate with him in 3-D. Yes, you do have his homing attack to easily move forward while taking out enemies, and yes you can equip him with an ability that makes him not so slippery, but I don't understand why the hell the developers still don't let him have to get up to speed *then* tear loose, along with fine tuning his 3-D movement. I need some "grip" and ease of movement in my multiple dimensional platforming, and I would love it if this game's set up was taken and tweaked for the next big Sonic game: let you fly through the 3-D levels and have the platforming only be done in 2-D (won't happen).
The levels, though, are overall fun to go through, but as I said there are only nine chosen for reevaluation. Taken from Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Sonic Heroes, Sonic '06, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors there is still only a small selection of levels for my liking. I would have liked for more of a selection from the classic games at least. There are more areas though, as boss levels and challenge levels are also presented. The boss battles also take on a new yet old approach as in the battle with Dr. Robotnik's Death Egg Robot from Sonic 2 offering up more dimensions in battling than the classic version of the nemesis. Speaking of which, Metal Sonic also returns and battles with rivals Shadow and Silver can net those wonderful Chaos Emeralds which let you battle the final boss who is an annoying bastard. The challenge levels, or challenge gates as they're named in game, are just that, as they offer tasks for both versions of Sonic not limited to: racing against a doppleganger or Tails, trying to find Espio via searchlights, or just trying to collect tons of rings before the level ends.
As an anniversary celebration, Sonic Generations offers a nice glimpse of what the series has brought over the past 20 years. It could have been more lengthy, but as it stands, along with Sonic Colors, it's a nice return to form. If the developers keep on this path and improve, Sonic may have another 20 years left in him, and that's a whole lot of damn chili dogs.
Community review by crestfallen_dreamer (July 18, 2012)
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