Perhaps there is no series in gaming as controversial as Sonic the Hedgehog. The Blue Blur has been a staple in gaming since 1991. A mascot of the Sega Genesis who followed Sega everywhere, except the Sega Saturn, guess Sonic wasn’t quite ready to go to space. Sonic was a heavily requested character for Melee. Sega was just exiting the console market and releasing Sonic Adventure 2 on Gamecube! Sonic almost didn’t make the cut for Brawl. Actually causing the game to get delayed just to include him. Proving how important he is, even to Nintendo and Sakurai, that he can get Smash delayed.
Sonic Generations was released to coincide with Sonic’s 20th anniversary. Bringing back fan-favorite levels from the series past. The game was either going to be a huge hit or a supersonic flop. Sega decided to bring back “Classic Sonic” as a second character. A divisive move in hindsight, but it brought tons of excitement back in 2011.
All of Sonics friends gather to throw him a surprise birthday party. Just after Sonic arrives, an unfamiliar creature kidnaps all of his friends, setting him on a collision course with the stages of his past! In another time, Classic Sonic is running through Green Hill zone, before being swallowed into a white void. After meeting up with Tails, Classic Sonic, and Classic Tails, you must run through many places familiar to save your friends and stop the Time Eater!
The game is split up into two gameplay styles. The 2D Classic Sonic, and 2.5D Modern Sonic. The game divides them by acts, Act 1 going to Classic, and Act 2 to Modern. After every third stage, there is a boss gate. Boss gates are unlocked with keys you need to beat stage challenges to acquire. Classic and Modern both have many challenges per stage. On top of all this, there are three rival battles across the game. Metal Sonic, sporting his classic appearance, challenging Classic Sonic on Stardust Speedway, Shadow the Hedgehog, probably with another dose of amnesia, who pulls you into a race on the Space Colony Ark, and Silver, simply distrusting if you’re the real Sonic, who throws everything he has at you in Crisis City.
Classic Sonic’s gameplay is very familiar to fans of the Genesis games. He bounces high off of enemies, he gains speed rolling into a ball, and he even can spindash-jump! Something about Classic Sonic’s physics always felt off to me. Never quite right to the Genesis games, which is fine as they were never trying to be, but also never quite fun in its own right. While his gameplay isn’t poor I did sort of wish I could just skip his Acts.
Act 1 stages are very long and usually monotonous. After a certain point early on, they stop throwing stage hazards unique enough to freshen up the experience, I felt like I’d seen it all by the time I was halfway through the game. Most late-game stages often hit six to eight minutes in length. I just wasn’t a fan of them going on for so long. Especially when nothing about them stuck out as super unique. The wonder of seeing Classic Sonic traverse through City Escape, or Planet Wisp, wore off very quickly
Modern Sonic keeps the boost gameplay, and homing attack, established in Sonic Unleashed. The game also gives you the light-speed dash, a stomp, and drift moves that are situationally useful. Modern Sonic might be the most fun here out of any games that use the boost formula. Everything flows together so nicely that you can, most of the time, keep moving!
Modern Sonic’s Acts usually have big set-pieces. The cool scenes, and pretty visuals! Unfortunately, Modern Sonic Acts can often feel very automated. This is always going to be an issue with the boost formula. I don’t think it is as big of an issue with Sonic Generations. Yet, it’s always something I need to point out. There’s a lot of grinding on rails or holding boost down corridors.
There are some things that both gameplay styles do I wanted to point out. Each Act has multiple Red Rings for you to find. Unlocking a couple of different bonuses for your troubles. You’ll have to beat each stage a few times to get them all. My biggest gripe with the game is the platforming itself. Sonic isn’t good for precision platforming. However, the game expects it way too much for my taste. Especially with Classic Sonic. Both Sonics are too fast, and too floaty, for it to feel fun. Boss fights, including rival battles, were a mixed bag. I wouldn’t call any fight particularly bad. Some of them far too easy, others very confusing, but they were just challenging enough to be fun. Most bosses come from past games in the series. All of them were heavily changed to better fit Generations. I enjoyed all of the new takes.
I really like Sonic Generations! This game was MY childhood Sonic game. I played it on both Xbox 360, and 3DS. I have a lot of nostalgia for this game. That was most of the reason I chose it for this series. I think it still holds up to what I remember. If not a little bit better than I thought. If you’re on the fence, or itching to revisit, catch the game in one of its copious sales on Steam. It runs in 60 FPS on PC, and has a highly active mod community, worth double-dipping just for those!
Sonic was rushed into Brawl. Of course, they did give themselves more time. However, they certainly didn’t give themselves enough time. Sonic is usually curled up into a ball in Smash. Otherwise, he also has very simplistic animations. Even over a decade later, two games removed, you can still feel the fallout of this decision. Sakurai himself has lamented it, and as a huge Sonic fan, so do I. Sonic certainly isn’t under-represented in Smash. With multiple stages and assist trophies to him. Sonic has dozens of spirits and music tracks too! The game treats the series like a king. Sort of making his half-baked moveset even more of a disservice.