Sonic Generations 3DS: Sega's Onto Something
What's this, another quality Sonic game? We sure hope so.
Not sure how it happened (divine intervention, perhaps), but Sega apparently rescued its mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, from disaster. We saw evidence of this in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1. From there, the good vibes carried over to Sonic Colors, and now the publisher hopes to continue this high level of quality with Sonic Generations.
We recently spent considerable time with the 3DS version and came away impressed. Whereas the June demo was filled with bugs and stuck in slow motion, this one ran without a hitch, with the lightning fast speed that is the blue blur's trademark.
In case you somehow missed the whole Generations ad campaign, the game features both classic 16-bit Genesis Sonic as well as the modern day incarnation, with levels inspired by classic games, including the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic & Knuckles and a personal favorite, Sonic Adventure.
In fact, the portable edition does include Emerald Coast from Sonic Adventure, or at least Sega's new interpretation of that tropical themed paradise, complete with those annoying orange monkeys, a pesky killer whale and that foot tapping music that remains incredible more than ten years later.
Gameplay, meanwhile, is a wonderful mix of new and old. Classic Sonic explores levels through a strictly 2D side scrolling perspective, zipping through loops and bopping enemies, while modern Sonic defeats foes with his familiar homing attack. Here, Sega also takes the opportunity to show off the game's 3D features, though it's more like 2.5D, as the action shifts to a slightly over the shoulder perspective as the newer Sonic charges through the environments; it's important to note that modern Sonic's levels are much longer than classic Sonic's.
What's more, collecting rings automatically fills a boost meter that makes it easier to catch a bit of speed. This definitely keeps things moving fast and furious, while preventing those annoying moments where the hedgehog simply lacks the requisite amount of oomph to make it up hills.
The visuals, meanwhile, look great on 3DS, nowhere near the quality on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, but Sega has done commendable work bringing each location to life, with attractive fall colors in Mushroom Hill Zone (a throwback to Sonic & Knuckles), and the blue ocean/white sand from Emerald Coast; sadly, we don't have screens of the former.
At this point, the only thing that makes us unhappy is the release date. Console Sonic Generations hits shelves November 1. The 3DS copy, unfortunately, will be MIA, as Sega has yet to reveal the official date.
Just know this: the portable Sonic Generations appears to be on the right track.