Sonic Generations is a proper way to look back on 20 years of Sonic.

User Rating: 9 | Sonic Generations PS3
Sonic's had a lot of ups and downs over the course of 20 years, but one thing's for certain: he doesn't die. His fanbase, determined and forever following, will continually observe his highest highs and lowest lows. Sonic Generations tries to recreate the best moments of Sonic's history, and in a few select case, rebuild the memories the player was meant to have. After playing a portion of the game, I had the impression playing Generations felt like being hit by a GUN truck filled with SweetHearts and love letters from Sega. By the time I played enough to review it (in my case the entirety of the main game)... well that opinion hasn't really changed.

While enjoying a birthday party one day, Sonic's lounging around with some friends... before a wild Time Eater appears! The strange monster only made up of dark clouds and gears swirls through Sonic's home, dragging Sonic's freinds and even old memories with it. Somehow, in a rift in space that's the homeworld of the dropped-off enviroments the Time Eater has eaten, a second, younger, more innocent Sonic has found himself lost and has to find his way home. Each of the 9 zones holds one of Sonic's friends hostage through being frozen in time, and it's up to the Sonics to complete each zone and free his/their friends. It's through that that the adventure begins.

Sonic Generations begins with the player, much like Sonic Colors from last year, being dropped right into the action. The player begins in the luscious expanse of Green Hill under the control of CIassic Sonic. If the player takes the time to familiarize themself with the controls here, they'll find CIassic Sonic plays almost, 100%, exactly like he did in the oldschool Genesis titles, although the Spin Dash is far more powerful and also has a 1-button shortcut. There's a large emphasis on momentum-based gameplay, and CIassic-era Sonic has all his old-school arsenal to his name, from the Spin Attack to the Spin Dash.

CIassic Sonic can even find monitors with rings like in the old games, and some monitors even hold extra lives. Sonic, in these retro romps, will have to avoid memorable obstacles and enemies. While getting the hang of controlling the cute, pudgy blue hero in HD is originally tricky, I admit this is some of the best 2D action Sonic's seen since the days of the Genesis. Bouncing off springs, spin-dashing through peril after peril, and using Sonic's sheer momentum to catapault yourself through level after level is an absolute joy.

In addition to the CIassic stages which are played as CIassic Sonic and comprise entirely of 2D and contain throwback setpieces to the games of old, players can also jump into the shoes of the edgy, 'tude-filled Modern Sonic, whom plays exactly like he does in Unleashed HD, though with tighter control. Homing attack and trick ramps abound this older Sonic's stages, and through clever use of Modern's arsenal, a player can expect an adrenaline-filled composition of speeding hell across locales like Green Hill, Sky Sanctuary, City Escape, and Planet Wisp. Modern Sonic's perspective shifts between 2D and 3D, and oftentimes some 3D segments will play out much like a dream Sonic Adventure level would. The controls for both Sonics are exceptional and weaves together a smooth gameplay experience.

The level design of the 9 zones (which each come with 1 CIassic Act and 1 Modern Act) is often highly impressive. I personally was never a huge fan of Sky Sanctuary and never understood why so many people loved it, but the remastering of the integral plot point of Sonic & Knuckles truly shines and is just one example of just how damn good the levels of Sonic Generations are.

The branching paths oftentimes give the player a lot of wiggle room to let them go anywhere they want and still be able to acquire an S rank at the end of the stage (which seems to be time-based again). Some levels the path branches so much it's hard to tell if there even is a main path, but that works better for the game, considering you can't really go down a "wrong path" while playing. Well, unless that path is straight into a bottomless pit. The zones are separated by a hubworld not unlike that of Sonic Advance 3, which works quite well but can be a bit confusing to navigate once challenges are introduced.

What's a shame is that later levels fill up on too many bottomless pits and hazards you likely just won't know how to avoid on first instinct. Spagonia, how am I supposed to know there's electric field right in the way of next platform I need to land on? The first several stages are admirably rendered and dollar for dollar can go toe-to-toe with their original incarnations. It's great to have a remix of City Escape to play since playing that level back in Sonic Adventure 2, no matter how much one may love it, got old eventually. And CIassic Sonic being chased by the GUN truck for half the level can be an intense affair leaving the player breathless. City Escape isn't the only stage to rekindle the flare some Sonic games once had. The new Speed Highway controls so much tighter than its original.

Some of the experiences you can get out of Sonic Generations' levels might just be some of the best in the series. It's disappointing, though, that later stages fall to the typical foul play that can plague other Sonic games. Sure, Asteroid Coaster had a crap-ton of open death traps in Colors, but you could usually see them coming. In Crisis City? Well, be prepared to die. A lot. Thankfully, these stages, even including the later, more trial-and-error are all a blast to play, and even after obtaining an S it wouldn't be surprising to see the same level played several dozen more times.

The bosses of Generations are split into 2 factions. There are core bosses that require boss gate keys to unlock. These boss keys are obtained by completing any 1 challenge (out of 8) for either Act 1 (CIassic) or Act 2 (Modern) of a zone. It takes 3 boss keys to unlock the boss level. For instance, to fight the Death Egg Robot, the boss of the CIassic Era, one must get a boss gate key for Green Hill, Chemical Plant, and Sky Sanctuary. The other bosses which are rival battles, and these seemingly can be done at your leisure, but will be required by the end of the game.

The player needs all Chaos Emeralds to fight the final boss. Of these, 3 are obtained for beating the rival battles, 3 are obtained for beating the core bosses (1 each for both of those cases) and 1 is obtained simply for beating all 9 zones. The final boss takes place in a strange time tunnel against the Time Eater with both Sonics going super to stop it.

The bosses are a little bit stronger overall than the bosses of Colors, as there's no rehashed bosses. However, some boss fights, like the Death Egg Robot or Perfect Chaos, just somehow don't feel quite as epic as their originals. A few of the bosses seem to have been condensed enough to give the player a decent fight but not be the full-blown fights they once were. The fight with Shadow is completely different than in the original, requiring the player to gather 2 Power Cores before he does through a race, and attack in a powered-up form thanks to the cores. Many of the bosses are quite a lot of fun, though one can't help but feel like a few could've been better. Although, I admit it... I liked the Silver battle! There I said it!

Challenges, as mentioned earlier, are not full-on new stages but rather little trials taking place in existing levels, either completely as the level was, or with small edits. Since only 1 challenge per zone is required to beat the game, you don't need to play the ones that sound stupid to you or are annoying. It's unfortunately they couldn't replace these challenges with more stages, but many of them are just straight-up time trials so they're still fun nonetheless.

All of Sonic's friends return for at least one challenge per zone, like CIassic Tails helping Sonic fly through Chemical Plant safely (which I admit was a nice spin on the level). Of course, this means Knuckles is going to be doing what he thinks he does best (digging), but since most challenges aren't even needed to beat the game, you can play the ones you like and ignore the ones you don't.

Returning to Generations from Colors are red rings. The player can collect these for bonuses, though, instead of Chaos Emeralds. There are 5 red rings each in either the cIassic or modern level of the same zone, for a total of 90. Each red ring the player collects adds one piece of Sonic's history to a collection room accessed by going to the far left end of the hubworld. Next to that is a stand run by Omochao (whom also gives you hints in the middle of levels and while a level is loading) which sells skills you can use to upgrade your Sonics. You can unlock a few skills through progressing the story, but most of them are available at start.

Rest assured, both Sonics control perfectly fine without them, but it's nice to add +10 rings to every new life or a shield for CIassic Sonic, or the option to get a free boost if you hit the boost button at the right time beginning a stage as Modern Sonic. These skills are equipped to skill sets just like in Sonic and the Secret Rings. Huh, so that's why they showed Secret Rings in their timeline ad. Overall, the goodies are a nice addition to Sonic's 20-year celebration, but like challenges, you don't need to pay much attention to them if you don't want to.

Let me begin by saying this on graphics: it's a new Sonic game, hyped up a lot by Sega. Can you expect nothing less than the most dazzling visuals the system the game's on has seen? Really, almost every single time Sonic has been in a new game for a home console, he tends to push the graphical limits of that console.

Players can find jaw-dropping gorgeous scenery at every single given turn, from Green Hill all the way up to Planet Wisp. The scenery is even absorbing and spares no expense at detail, truly embracing Sonic's cIassic roots in level design where all the stages really pull you in and provide excellent atmosphere. Even the out-of-place-feeling Crisis City is outstanding visually, with the destroyed city perfectly capturing not only Sonic's destroyed gameplay control from that game and games released around that time, but also the scenery of the level itself. Planet Wisp is even more gorgeous in HD than it was on the Wii, and it was already nearly tearing my eyes up at how beautiful it was back in Colors.

Character models are crisp, colorful, and are perfect recreations in cases applicable. CIassic Sonic and Tails both look just like their adorable 16-bit days, and grown-up Sonic and Tails (and the rest of all his friends) look just like they have been looking, but in sleak HD. The Time Eater is full of high-detail graphics and the hubworld looks beautiful enough for one to want to explore it. Levels blaze by without a stutter, and characters and enemies move smoothly and naturally. Enemy models are perfect recapturings of their originals as well, even the strange enemies from Crisis City are quite pleasing to the eyes.

Sonic games are usually full of arual splendor and in most cases Generations is no exception. The cIassic and modern remixes of stage themes are almost all groovy and a joy to the ears. Speed Highway has reminded me just how awesome its stage music is. The more gentle hubworld themes, which are more timid renditions of the stages you're hovering to the entrance of, work well in their setting, and the rival and boss music is still great. Even the story select theme from Heroes makes a return as the options music, which is a welcome addition. It's a shame a few of the tunes are forgettable (looking at you, modern era). However if all else fails the player has the option to sub in music when they enter a stage from the tunes they've unlocked. Yes, you could run through Crisis City or Rooftop Run blasting Splash Hill if you damn well wanted to.

While the voice acting has improved, there's still a few instances where it can be annoying. I won't spoil the details, but that last boss? Sonic's friends are going to be yelling advice to you for almost the length of the fight, which is a sad reminder of how annoying they could be back in games like Sonic Heroes or Sonic Adventure 2. However, the main trio: Sonic, Tails, and Eggman, all have great voice acting and are a blast to listen to. Sonic cracks jokes at his past (mis)adventures, and Eggman still shows his charismatic determination after countless defeats, while Tails is informative and collected.

The sound effects are standard Sonic fair, and in this case, that's a good thing. Ring loss as CIassic Sonic has never felt so, well, cIassic, and the spring sound effect from the old games returns with a noticeably higher quality. The popping sound of destroying enemies is ever so satisfying to hear, and all the little sound effects that create the aural atmosphere throughout the game mesh well with one another.

It's great to hear some sounds return, like the old spin dash. Oh, how you were missed. Other sounds can inspire a reaction from the player. Personally, I panicked (in a good way) while I heard the crashing and destruction behind me in City Escape as the GUN truck was attempting to kill me in probably the most gruesome of ways. It'd be none too surprising if the sounds get equal, memorable reactions from you.

Pros and Cons
+ Outstanding gameplay across 9 zones
+ Non-linear gameplay and level design
+ 2 Sonics really is better than 1
+ Great soundtrack and amazing graphics
- Not enough core levels and challenges range in quality
- Annoying voicework for friends returns in a few parts

Score Breakdown
Gameplay - 9/10
Presentation - 10/10
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 8/10
Tilt - 9/10

Overall - 9.0/10

Unfortunately, annoying friends return to plague your memories in the final boss encounter, and sadly, instead of just giving us extra stages, we're given challenges which range in quality from great to... oh, hi Knuckles, digging for Master Emerald shards I see. However, the core gameplay is an absolute blast, and a well-made, refined one at that. Whether your tearing the city apart in City Escape, bouncing through Sky Sanctuary, or showing Shadow who the real hedgehog is, all the core levels of the game add up to a beautiful experience. While it's a shame it couldn't be longer or given more to play like Colors, Generations is in all essences a proper way to celebrate 20 years of the blue blur. Don't be surprised if you find yourself enjoying Generations' renditions of some levels even more than their originals: some of them are just that good. With non-linear gameplay that essentially turns the game into what you want to make it into, 9 zones full of Sonic's rich history, and of course, 2 Sonics, Sonic Generations is a game that will have you happy to go down memory lane.