E3 2011: Sonic Generations Hands-On Preview

I'm seeing double here--four Sonics! Wait no, it's just classic and modern. *UPDATED*

For over a decade the fans of Sonic the Hedgehog have boomed an outcry for a return to the classic side-scrolling high-speed action. They exclaimed "nay" to finding the computer room, interspecies romances, or a red sea of furry anamorphic pals. This time around, Sonic's new friend is Sonic: the classic '90s chili-dog-eating, family-band-playing, fastest-thing-alive version. Not wishing to alienate current-gen fans, both the New Age and the old-school Sonics are fully playable, and they travel through levels custom-tailored to their respective play styles.

We first played through the Green Hill Zone as classic Sonic. The level was overwhelmingly faithful to the original Genesis incarnation. Every golden ring and dastardly "no-goodnik" robot remained in their respective locations. The backgrounds captured the magic of the retro title rendered into crisp high-poly graphics. The scenery was further enhanced by an upbeat remix of the iconic Green Hill Zone tune. The only real visual change came from the camera panning into a dynamic chase view when we reached top speeds around the more complex loops and ascents off ledges. Another additional element was the ability to quickly enter Sonic's hyper speedball form at the push of a button. This wasn't always the wisest choice, because several times this smacked us straight into an oncoming pit. Still, it was fairly simple to make it to the goal line.

For the modern Sonic, we entered into a reimagined version of the Green Hill Zone. From the start, the music was more intense, and Sonic raced onscreen with a rolling start from a behind-camera view. We quickly had a need to move around the three-dimensional speedway to collect rings and smash down enemies with high-speed airborne rams. The terrain was filled with speed-boost tiles and springboards to further launch us up insane heights. After whipping around a spiraling mountain and through a gauntlet of bumpers, we found ourselves far off in the background. The camera zoomed in further, and the stage quickly transformed into a sliding side-scroller. Sonic grinded across the rails like a pro boarder as we dodged enemies and quickly leaped to snatch up rings.

The winding path soon led us into a waterfall cavern where we were chased down by a humongous robotic piranha. The camera panned yet again to get into the heat of the action as we jumped across gaps to evade our hungry pursuer. When it seemed like the end of the line, the game entered bullet time, and Sonic barely managed to escape as the electronic fish made one false leap straight into a cave wall. We escaped the cavern and landed back on the grassy Green Hill. The remaining seconds of the level involved furiously zooming across miles in no time and bouncing through another maze of springs. The blazing ride came to a halt as we briskly sailed across the finish line.

The next level we saw took us to a reimagining of a famous Sonic Adventure 2 level, City Escape, which originally featured a semi-truck chasing Sonic down the hills of a San Francisco-like backdrop. Like other levels, the classic Sonic version of this stage is played from a 2D perspective with Sonic maneuvering across old Victorian houses while avoiding enemies and various pitfalls. What's interesting is that the semi from the Sonic Adventure 2 level now acts as a constant nuisance, driving in and out of the action in an attempt to attack Sonic and destroying actual level geometry. For modern Sonic, the level is basically a slightly remastered version of the Sonic Adventure 2 level with updated visuals and some new mechanics and additional areas that weren't a part of the original. It's also worth noting that the semi-truck chase sequence got a nice upgrade--the truck now features enormous buzz saws and other horrible appendages that reach out and try to attack Sonic.

Sonic Generations contains two excellent play styles that offer a plethora of excitement for fans. Both old-timers looking for nostalgia or those who enjoyed the newer titles will find something to enjoy in this flurry-filled package. Sega said it plans to include some online elements in the form of a time attack and that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 versions will support stereoscopic 3D. Additionally, the 3DS version of the game will feature the same Green Hill level from its console counterparts, but the rest of the levels for that version will be completely different. Check back for more information as the game's November 22 release date draws near.

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Discussion

61 comments
DL_gamer
DL_gamer

When is Capcom going to follow the example and bring us a new Mega Man X?

BigBadJohn626
BigBadJohn626

When is Gamespot going to post a review for this game?

AdGoytia
AdGoytia

This is an outstanding idea. You get old-school fans to come back and play as the cute chubby Classic Sonic, which I love, and the Nex-gen fans get the best of the badass Modern Sonic, which I also love. And at the same time, they are atrracting new fans for the following years. Congrats, SEGA! You nailed it this time.

ChaosUndivided
ChaosUndivided

Will get this game for sure was a huge fan of Sonic in the early 90's

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

Sonic. If you Sonic 06 me,or Sonic unleash me. WE'RE THROUGH!!!!!!!!

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

And half way through....Sonic turns into a Were-Hawk! And hilarity ensues as he's joined by his new best friend and sidekick Bucko a time traveling squeeky voiced female rabbit who ate a chao and starts a love triangle with herself, Amy and Sonic. The party really heats up when Silver makes the scene. I'm joking...I really want this game to be good.

Wensea10
Wensea10

2d and 3d gamplay elements should be highlight

kazumashadow
kazumashadow

I can't remember the last time i got this excited about a new sonic game, this looks really promising and an almost sure buy to me, i long to relive the time i spent playing sonic on the megadrive in my childhood.

reyace
reyace

it comes out in november

Sheyla_mn
Sheyla_mn

Rescue the old games in one game, it was a great idea Sega to commemorate the 20 years. The classic and modern together will be cool, is very interesting and creative. Even the music of Green Hill Zone is the same. Sega Very good, congratulations, this game will surely be for me.

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

I still want Sonic Adventure 3.........*sigh* But this'll be good. I hope. But I said that before Sonic 06. :(

Eclipse-015
Eclipse-015

Super hyped!, i'm getting this day one, this gonna be the best sonic yet!

Dschadir
Dschadir

Played the demo today and it is great. The music reminded me of something ... where did I hear that before ... :-):-):-):-):-):-) Wonder if they are going to keep the original soundtrack in the final game. Definitely looking forward to this one. Was Sonic 4 Episode 1 just Old School Sonic HD or something? They should delete Sonic 4 and call this one Sonic 4: Generations.

Curtisisgaming
Curtisisgaming

The person that was playing in the background really sucked! Heh. Anyway, I must admit that I am really looking forward to this, and I haven't been excited for a Sonic game since.. well along time!

BelmontWolf
BelmontWolf

either final levels or as an unlockable i'd love to see new sonic playing as classinc and classic sonic playing as modern XD

warrner11
warrner11

Hands of those who makin Chilly Dogs the day this comes out...

omenjamlord
omenjamlord

At least they've realised what a flop Sonic 4 ep1 was. The only way Sonic will prosper will be keeing it oldschool

cobaltmike
cobaltmike

hmmm, 3ds or console?? or maybe both depending on how much they are

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

And i loved 1:58+ when poor Sonic counldn't reach the platform!

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

I LOVED the opening when sonic kept bumping his @SS on the spikes! LOL

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

.........Sonic you @ss stop taking this people's money.....including mine......

Z9ST
Z9ST

A must have! Very impressive

HaloPimp978
HaloPimp978

It really impressed me with the gameplay. Looking like a day one buy for me.

NinjaSiK
NinjaSiK

looks so much better than sonic 4

Phil-teh-Pirate
Phil-teh-Pirate

@al_win Trust me and we will escape from the Cit-ay!

al_win
al_win

lyrics from the bgm of city escape in sa2 in case people were wondering

al_win
al_win

@sonictrainer "Follow me oh YEEEAHH!"

sonictrainer
sonictrainer moderator

Ironically, I got the urge to replay Sonic Adventure 2 over the weekend.

toddx77
toddx77

Can't wait, I haven't been this excited about a sonic game since sonic adventure 2.

Amaterasu_11
Amaterasu_11

Aleluya, i love the sonic games this maybe will be really good

Crazy_Legs87
Crazy_Legs87

Sure this game will get panned by superficial ignorant people like what they did with Sonic Unleashed (that game was awesome), but for everyone else, this game will be a whole lot of fun. City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2 is in this game, that got me even more excited.

StarKiller77000
StarKiller77000

I'm going to start replaying most of my Sonic games while I wait for this.I loved almost every Soinc game of the last decade(Lone exception being Sonic 06,but even that wasn't as bad as everyone said it was)but Sonic Generations may just be the hedgehogs return to mainstream greatness.I can't wait to see what the game looks like when it's finished!

DrEvilKoala
DrEvilKoala

I for once, have faith in this one too. After striking gold with Colors, I believe they may have more greatness on hands here. No gimmicks, no nonsene, just Sonic The Hedgehog. I can't wait to buy this one to be honest, even after all these disappointments!

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

@Yarvem Playing a game of 3.5-rating(to the reviewer) is clearly torture. I guess masochism still exist, weird fetish, isn't it?

soulless4now
soulless4now

So many memories with Green Hill Zone. Good stuff, Sega.

Fragnarok
Fragnarok moderator

@night-dreamers as Kevin Van Ord would tell you, my opinion of games if often different than the review team. Also this preview is just of the two levels, I'll let the reviewers contemplate for themselves if quality tapers off.

PoindeJ
PoindeJ

It's okay guys - Sonic Colors broke the Sonic Cycle. This game will be good, mark my words. (*still crosses fingers*)

cloud12892
cloud12892

Definitely giving this a shot, excited for Sonic

night-dreamers
night-dreamers

Well they're saying it's an excel game now, but wait till you see the rivers of blood of a review.

BrunoBRS
BrunoBRS

HE'S THE FASTEST THING ALIIIEEEIIIIVE HE'S THE FASTEST THING ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!!!!!! you know you had this song on your head the moment you read the first paragraph.

Yod-a
Yod-a

I'll play when they bring back chaos.

Ulfern
Ulfern

I have 100 percent faith in sega, just as I had when they made sonic colors. It just seemed right, and it does this time too.. I did like unleashed though, although the pacing in that game was baad, too much yadayada story and the werehog took the spotlight way to much

Blazakenki
Blazakenki

Sonic has let me down so many times.... God is forgiving, gamers on the other hand are not so easy.

majin_lebeau
majin_lebeau

I used to be a hardcore Sega fan until the end, they lost me when Sonic started to suck. I'll never forgot my gaming roots though. Come home Sonic, I am waiting for you.