Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog hasn’t had it easy lately. With new entries failing to appeal to Sonic fans due to questionable game designs, it began to look as if the franchise was destined to fall victim to the times and suffer a painful defeat. When all hope seemed to be lost, Sega finally got their act together & decided the best way to revive the franchise was to look at the series’ roots and return to the fast paced, challenging, ingenious level design that made Sonic successful. Sonic Generations 3DS offers a unique blend of old & new to create a pleasant, though short, experience.
Sonic Generations 3DS has little in common with its console brethren but the premise remains the same: Modern Sonic & Classic Sonic are abducted by a mysterious monster & are tasked to venture through a small helping of levels from their respective pasts. Character design differences aside, the two hedgehogs don’t play all that different as the only major difference between the two will mostly be Modern Sonic’s boost meter & quick-time event moments during levels.
Unfortunately, this creates a sense of similarity & leads to many of the game’s Acts feeling nearly identical. Going from Classic Sonic in Act 1 to Modern Sonic in Act 2 doesn’t offer much variety in terms of gameplay, save for a few minor elements. The biggest difference between the two is Modern Sonic is prone to larger obstacles & quick-time event scenarios in key areas of levels, while Classic Sonic isn’t victim to such conditions. Even with the two Acts feeling similar to a certain degree, Modern Sonic’s more action oriented level design is a nice change of pace when compared to Classic Sonic’s emphasis on speed and well-timed jumps which offer a strong challenge akin to the Sonic Genesis titles.
The level design found in Sonic Generations 3DS is subject of concern. The opening Acts are levels from the early days of Sonic and these sections play beautifully. With several alternative paths to discover, gravity defying loops, and exhilarating speed, the levels capture the essence of what Sonic used to be. As you progress to the modern levels, you begin to see why the franchise has declined in recent years. Levels become more cumbersome with quick-time event-like situations that require fast reflexes & start to feel like you’re watching the game be played rather than actually playing. Still, even with these now common Sonic problems present, you can’t dismiss the fact that the game remains fun.
One of the 3DS’greatest assets is its means to enhance gameplay via the 3D effect. While Sonic Generations 3DS is displayed in typical 2D fashion, with Modern Sonic going for more of 2.5D presentation, the 3D is used wonderfully during the ‘Special Stages’. Each Special Stage is held within in a long 3D tube that is heavily filled with land mines to delay your race to obtain the Chaos Emerald in the allotted time. The 3D greatly improves these stages as you can accurately tell how far a mine is away, thus allowing for a swift and easy dodge. Visually, Sonic Generations 3DS is very crisp, looks great, & runs handsomely on the 3DS hardware.
Story Mode is short, totaling just over two hours to completion. However, there is a lot of additional content to be found here. In ‘Mission Mode’ you’ll be able to replay each level with a certain assignment to complete. These range from completing a level without getting hit or defeating X amount of enemies in a small time window. Featuring over fifty missions, this mode gives the game lots of replay value as each delivers challenging & fulfilling tasks. Online racing is one of the game’s most addictive modes. Racing against another person through a level is great fun and delivers an addiction similar to what you’d find in Mario Kart.
Sonic Generations 3DS offers fun platforming and delightful gameplay, but you can’t help but feel the game could have been so much more. Frustrating level design in the second half of the game slightly stifles the enjoyment one may have, though the overall package remains fun & one a Sonic fan will thoroughly enjoy. It’s not the best portable Sonic game on market, but it shall satisfy your Sonic needs quite sufficiently.
(A copy of Sonic Generations 3DS was provided by Sega for review purposes. The main game was completed for review.)