Two Sonics don't necessarily mean two ways to play in Sega's somewhat disappointing 3DS adventure.
Missed opportunity. That's one way to describe Sonic Generations 3DS. Although it follows the same basic formula as its console counterpart, with classic and modern Sonics working together to save their world from destruction, Sega played things too safely. As a result, the game never comes close to matching the intense moments from the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 version, while a strange decision will probably leave some hardcore Sonic fans scratching their heads.
This title provides a few hours of fun, with "few" being the key word. You can plow through Sonic Generations' single player campaign in roughly three hours, maybe less.
That's largely because each world (be it Green Hill, Casino Night, Emerald Coast or Radical Highway, among others) features three stages, one for both Sonics, and then a special stage where you chase after Chaos Emeralds.
Thankfully, the majority of these levels play to classic Sonic's strengths, with traditional 2D side scrolling boards full of gold rings, loops, jump pads and plenty of imagination, particularly in the casino stages, with the pinball flippers and slot machines that always seem to pay out.
Thing is, modern Sonic's levels don't fair so well. They're decent, just not as ambitious as we would've liked. Sega keeps the action in either 2D or 2.5D, unfairly dangling 3D over our heads, but it never fully materializes. As a result, both Sonics essentially feel the same, particularly when the more "hip" hedgehog teaches his 16-bit counterpart how to do the homing attack. Yes, Genesis Sonic can now perform modern Sonic's trademark maneuver. If you eat, sleep and breath Sonic, you may need to sit down.
Sitting? We hope so, because the presentation is equally strange. No cut scenes, just partially animated characters with comic book style speech bubbles and very limited dialogue.
As for extras, you'll get the most enjoyment from the Missions that task you with completing various challenges, from beating a level in 45 seconds to clearing a stage without killing enemies; you purchase missions with 3DS Play Coins.
There's also a Versus mode with off and online play, where you race against another player. Not having to input Friend Codes is a huge plus, but unfortunately, online matches are full of lag. What's more, Sega drops these annoying black orbs onto the play field that slow Sonic down, forcing you to rapidly press B to escape. We've lost one too many matches because of those.
On the positive side, the game looks great in glasses free 3D, as the developers did a nice job separating objects in the foreground and backgrounds. It's almost on par with Super Mario 3D Land.
Then there's the audio, which is full of remixed tunes from Sonic games past. We enjoyed listening to the Emerald Coast theme from Sonic Adventure, as well as the tracks in Mushroom Hill, yanked from the Genesis classic, Sonic & Knuckles.
Don't get us wrong. There's decent fun to be had with this portable Sonic Generations, but not enough to warrant spending $39.99. Ultimately, the entire package feels rushed. Odd, considering Sega wound up releasing it almost a month after the console iteration.
The verdict? Sonic Generations doesn't have enough meat on its bones to stand alongside the best handheld Sonics on the market, but it's still worth a look.
Review copy provided by Sega
What's Hot: Visually stimulating 3D effects, classic music, challenging Mission mode, spot on Sonic physics.
What's Not: Lackluster presentation, cheap deaths, not enough levels, lag filled online play.