After a lackluster half a century with gaming’s most loveable hedgehog, Sega finally seemed to have smartened up when it announced Sonic Generations. Combining the classic, two-dimensional gameplay that made the franchise famous with the three-dimensional Sonic of the current generations, this game promised to at least deliver a game that was half great. That’s about what it comes out to.
The jist of Sonic Generations revolves around some convoluted story about a monster that eats (?) time, and somehow pulls the two generations of Sonic together, thus the title. There isn’t much more introduction than that before you jump into the first stage. Where the story succeeds, however, are the brief moments that border on meta-humor, almost insulting the direction the franchise has gone in recent years. Even with the cutesy dialogue and writing that is worse than the most innocent of Saturday morning cartoons, you’ll laugh a few times at Sonic Generations.
You’ll also have a bit of fun with the game. It all starts off very smoothly. You can swap between 2D and 3D Sonic before you pick a stage, creating two different stages in the same area. Initially, it’s neat to see Green Hill Zone from a 3D perspective, and City Escape from a 2D one. The novelty wears off about halfway through the game, however, when you realize that separating the two Sonics makes for some awkward moments. Don’t get too used to using the homing attack that 3D Sonic has; 2D Sonic has very little control in the air. Do you like being able to gauge your jumps on the 2D plane? Forget about it when playing in 3D; the platforming is pretty loose and frustrating.
This is the general problem with Sonic Generations. It isn’t even a terrible game; it just has terrible moments. By the tenth time that you try to clear a jump with Classic Sonic, only to have a horribly placed enemy knock you off the ledge before you can react, you’ll be swapping the game out for something a little more fun. The areas that require you to slow down and use precision over speed are really killers of both momentum and fun. You’ll see plenty of branching paths with both Sonics, but rarely will you be able to react fast enough to choose one, because Sonic is moving too quickly.
Those last two lines may sound like a contradiction, but each reaction will pop up at different points throughout the game. Overall, both Sonics move way too quickly. It isn’t even a matter of player error forcing you to miss a possible shortcut, or better route. Often times, you don’t see the grind bar off to the side, or the tunnel you could have jumped into, until it is almost off the screen. This applies to enemies, as well. They’ll pop on screen just in time for you to run right into them, rather than allowing you to react. There are even more moments where, even though there are no enemies or difficult jumps to be made, you have no idea what’s going on because things are moving far too quickly.
The obvious question about Sonic Generations is whether or not one form of Sonic is better than the other. The answer is no. There’s actually fun to have with both Sonics, and the boss battles are a clever blending of both elements. You’ll suffer from more cheap deaths with Modern Sonic due to the wonky controls, but often times his levels are better than Classic Sonic.
Sonic Generations had the potential to ressurect a franchise that was on the verge of extinction. Instead, the end result wallows in the mediocrity of the last few entries. Conceptually, this is the best Sonic game since the orginals, but the execution is far too flawed to raise it up to their level. Of special note is the abysmal final boss battle that is an excercise in repetition and frustration. You are better off watching the ending on Youtube. Rent this game, and decide for yourself, but it’s hard to recommend the purchase of a game with so many significant flaws.