Sonic Generations Preview (PS3)

I am a huge Sonic The Hedgehog fanboy at heart. Sonic T-shirts outnumber all my other gaming shirts. I have every single game, even the cheap LCD handhelds. I have more than one of his animated series’ on DVD. I am sharing far too much with you lot right now, but I just want you believe me when I say that the cool blue one’s adventures of this generation have been one long continual disappointment. And this is from someone who liked Sonic Heroes.

Something screwy about that mirror… the reflection looks much better than the real one
Sonic Generations sounded like an act of desperation, SEGA’s last-ditch effort to try and recapture the fans and stop Sonic fading into obscurity alongside Crash Bandicoot, Alex Kidd and Bubsy The Bobcat. New Sonic and old Sonic? Recreations of classic levels that we’ve all played a million times? Lots and lots of 2D, even in the supposed “modern” Sonic sections? Desperate, desperate, desperate.

But then I played it, and I must admit I’m excited. I completed two levels of the game, ‘Green Hill’ from Sonic 1 and ‘City Escape’ from Sonic Adventure 2, using both classic and modern Sonics. And you know what? I had fun. You hear that Shadow The Hedgehog? Remember “fun” Sonic 2006? Good.

There were numerous things I liked (and a couple of dislikes), so let’s start positive. First of all, graphics. This is a very pretty, colourful game that’s packed with detail, such as the billboards in ‘City Escape’ for Chao In Space 2 (the original level in SA2 had adverts for the first film). I also really like how the game plays with perspective, particularly with Modern Sonic who goes in and out of the screen, with the camera twisting and turning and yet you’re never confused as to what’s going on. Quite a feat.

Another neat touch is that Classic Sonic doesn’t equate to “original Sonic”, which means that while Classic Sonic plays the remixed 2D Sonic levels as they were in the ‘90s, any levels from Sonic Adventure onwards play like they were originally with Modern Sonic instead. This basically means that if you play Classic Sonic on ‘City Escape’ you’ll get a retro 2D version of a 3D level. Yes, complete with truck chase.
Remember this?
Classic Sonic was lots of fun on this level, but when that famous truck turned up it added a new dimension to the level: destructibility. Platforms I climbed suddenly vanished as the truck smashed through their supports, adding haste to my efforts rather than speed – which was quite refreshing really in a Sonic game. Some more desperate jumping is always welcome… just don’t go all ‘Labyrinth’ boss on us. Shame the Classic version was just a bit easy, as while I missed many jumps I didn’t die once.

That wasn’t the case with Modern Sonic. I died a lot, pretty much all in the same section. Oh yes, prepare for a dislike. There was one area where I was propelled through three Boost Rings on to a small platform, but Sonic’s artificial inertia was so high every single time he would shoot off the platform and into the large pit beyond. Which of course I couldn’t see, because Sonic Team’s Rule Number One is still law: “On no account must the camera be user-friendly or useful in any way”. In the end I had to give up on those boost rings and just went the easy points-less route below.

Despite this moment, and a few other times where the camera still got in the way or wouldn’t show me what I wanted (13 YEARS, 7 GAMES GUYS), I actually enjoyed it. While it hits similar beats to the original ‘City Escape’ it’s very much a remixed version. For example, the truck chase is utterly insane now – it has blades! ‘Green Hill’ was much the same, and was incredible amounts of fun with Modern Sonic. There are more places to go, and not to mention more ways to use Sonic’s moves set.

Classic Sonic’s moves are simple: he has just jump and Spin Dash. Modern Sonic has more, like the Homing Attack and the Dash from Sonic Rush, but otherwise it’s still quite simple. And this is a very good thing indeed – don’t overcomplicate Sonic The Hedgehog. It’s a shame then that there’s still some things Ultra Sonic Fans will still complain about, like springs forcing Sonic into a directly vertical trajectory, but no matter – this is still the most fun I’ve had with Sonic in ages and I’m looking forward to getting the game, which is especially remarkable after I swore I’d never get excited about one of his games again after Sonic Unleashed.

If I have to press ‘X’ to slide under that I’ll scream

It may be partly on rails nowadays, but I think SEGA are on to a good thing with Sonic Generations. Sonic Colours proved that fans want Modern Sonic games as long as they are good, and this could be the ultimate package of 2D and 3D. I’m cautiously excited. Just as long as there aren’t any bloody Moon Medals in it I think we’ll all get along fine.

Most Anticipated Feature: Getting to play a 3D version of Chemical Plant Zone with the remixed music. I’m getting that tune for my phone.

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