Now Playing: A Review of Sonic Generations

With the release of Sonic the Hedgehog as a feature length film, I have found myself more willing to offer the blue blur a second chance. Some of you may not know this, which would make sense, given how I don’t believe I have really talked about it, but I would not describe myself as a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog. When I was brought up, I owned an original PlayStation and played and played mascot platforming games like Crash and Spyro to my heart’s content. Then, as the years went on, I, too, moved onto games like Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper. In a lot of ways, I feel like I missed the boat on Sonic the Hedgehog, and that is never the best feeling, given how famous and beloved the character is.

Sometimes it can feel bad to be on the outside looking in at something individuals thoroughly enjoy. Some people enjoy that. They relish in their non-conformist individuality, but, for me, while I would never pretend or feign liking something to fit in, I do want to like things other people like. Even if I would not call myself a fan of the Star Wars series, I admire how devote individuals can be. Mind you, sometimes fandom mentality can be toxic and alienating of new ideas and fresh perspectives, but the dazzling heights Star Wars has soared makes it something that feels like a lot of fun to be a part of. That is why, when I played Star Wars Jedi: The Fallen Order a month or so prior, I was so excited that I was able to find enjoyment in a world so many others had before.

Sonic Generations is a 2011 platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS, and Microsoft Windows. Incidentally, I own a copy of the PlayStation 3 version from many years ago, but played the Xbox 360 version included with an earlier month’s Games with Gold subscription. Produced in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the series, it follows Sonic and Tails, with an added twist – they are now aligned with their past selves in an effort to stop an evil entity that is disrupting the fabrics of time.

When I say their “past selves,” I am speaking of the original Sonic series back in the Sega Genesis days where it was 2-D, and the newer Sonic that has been seen in later 3-D experiences. I don’t really know a whole lot about the established Sonic lore (I know Knuckles is red), but I found that the story offered a satiable gateway into the series.

I also won’t say I know a lot about the Sonic fan-base and where they land. I mean, I know that 2006‘s Sonic the Hedgehog game was notoriously known for its glitches and perplexing story-line, and I know Sonic Mania seems to have been well-received.

Personally though, the original Sonic games have always been the source of my disinterest. I find they are a fleeting novelty that loses traction the longer I am exposed to them. Initially, I am enamored with the colorful scenery and music, I have fun watching Sonic run, and then, the more I am around it, the more I kind of check myself out. The platforming always felt clunky and any movement that was not super-fast felt oversensitive and just not all that fun to play in the long term.

Even if it is not popular opinion, after playing Sonic Generations, I find myself more interested in playing Sonic Forces than I do Sonic Mania. And, from my experience with Generations, I preferred the fast-paced, cinematic spectacle of the 3-D levels against the 2-D levels.

I think what I enjoy about the 3-D levels is that they feel surface-level, cinematic, and infectious. Whereas other times Sonic can feel like a classic platformer with an added twist, I find the 3-D levels are more about feeling fast and carefree. It does not necessarily speaking volumes about its depth, but I find I enjoy it for a different reason, almost the same way I enjoy a racing game, for instance.

I was surprised by how much fun I had with Sonic Generations, especially considering how I didn’t really get into it when I bought it many years ago. The visuals are colorful and have a very solid presentation about them, capturing a light-heart playfulness and they are complimented by music that accomplishes the same aesthetic. The production really comes together to create a sense of identity, which has no doubt been assisted merely by the many earlier titles it can pull from.

Whether it is justified or not, I usually associate newer Sonic games with being at least halfway broken by default. This is in part because the reception of games like Sonic Boom and Sonic the Hedgehog ’06, but is supported by my own experiences with the series altogether. The same applies to Sonic Generations, I think. I found myself freezing in place, getting stuck in walls, and many other glitches, and, while they are no doubt bad enough to take into account, I would not say it severely damaged my experience.

Sonic Generations is light on story, but that is not something I really went in expecting beyond a basic framing narrative to compliment the game-play.

I enjoyed both the 3-D levels and 2-D levels featured, in spite of what I may have said about 2-D earlier. I thought it was a really cool, unique idea the way they redid levels and allowed a new perspective for each respective campaign. Most of the core campaign is fun and I was left eager for more of that.

Unfortunately, aside from what I have dubbed the “core campaign,” what you are left with is a lot of objective-based missions that didn’t work for me. Basically, they are similar to the normal levels, but with an added gimmick to them. Whereas it may have been enjoyable for the fifth, maybe even the tenth mission, the fact there is ninety of them makes it real overkill. I enjoyed the Time Trials (racing against your doppelganger) and battles pitting you against other Sonic characters, but I would have liked to have seen more “tracks” and traditional game-play than what I felt was instead a lot of gimmickry.

The boss battles in Sonic Generations are straightforward and easy, and sometimes even fun. All except for the final boss, which may honest have been one of my least favorite gaming bosses in-general because of how awkward and strange the mechanics were. The battle incorporates both versions of Sonic on different planes. Your rings drain with every second, and if you run out, you die. Meanwhile, it’s tough trying to navigate your character to collect said rings because you’re floating and there is so much going on all at once. It is all just a mess, and it is not something I can really pinpoint as having one key issue.

So, Sonic Generations may not be to the Sonic series what The Fallen Order was to the Star Wars series for me, I did have fun with it. I was left wanting more of the core-game and the regular levels. I completed Sonic Generations in about six hours, give or take, counting some side-missions I did do, and I wish it would have had a better ratio for what was main-game and what were side-missions.

Sonic Generations does not stick the landing exactly but it is a fun game and was a fun, quick detour from some of the more demanding series’ on the market.

Placement on the List: – The Decents

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