Sonic Generations

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn, Posted on 2012-03-09


Developer: Dimps/Sonic Team Publisher: Sega
Release Date: November 22, 2011 Available On: 3DS

Sonic Generations - logo

Feeling Blue, Sonic Fans?

Sonic the Hedgehog has blazed down a rough trail for over a decade, stumbling time and time again with the likes of the Sonic Riders series, Sonic and the Secret Rings (Wii), Sonic the Hedgehog (360/PS3), Sonic Unleashed…I’d rather not continue, because somehow I’ve managed to maintain my respect for the speedy little guy over all these years. Admittedly, I believe the series gets a pretty bad rep, considering there have been a number of decent Sonic games in that same general time frame. Let’s give some credit where it is due, shall we:

Sonic Adventure? Not a bad way to start the Dreamcast’s doomed life cycle.
Sonic Rush? The greatest Sonic title I’ve played since the Genesis days.
Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1? You had me until the final infuriating boss fight with Eggman.

Sonic Generations appeared to be the long-awaited answer to the most dedicated fans of the franchise: Sega was finally going back to Sonic’s roots, ditching the extra character shenanigans, the lame gameplay gimmicks, and the mindless attempts at developing a plot. How did the most recent installment turn out?

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A Blast From the Past

Sonic Generations accomplishes what it sets out to do in the sense that it returns to the basic fundamentals of the series, while incorporating some of the modern concepts seen over the last decade or so. The result is a hybridized, 3D-enhanced version of some of Sonic’s most memorable moments, without all the additional frills that slowed down the hedgehog in the past.

Sure, there’s some background nonsense about the “classic” and “modern” Sonic characters meeting in some time-warp conundrum, working together to thwart Eggman and a handful of the series’ villains – but trust me, this is Sonic the Hedgehog at its purest form. Tails is only minimally involved in the plot. There’s no love interest with Amy, or digging for Chaos Emeralds with Knuckles. You won’t be fishing with Big the Cat, or transforming into any melee-fighting werewolf-hedgehog-abominations. Praise the gods, indeed.

Each of the Zones have been seen before in classic Sonic titles: Green Hill from Sonic 1, Casino Night from Sonic 2, Mushroom Hill from Sonic & Knuckles, Emerald Coast from Sonic Adventure (includes the killer whale chase, awesome), and Radical Highway from Sonic Adventure 2 are all included. Revisiting some of these areas is a real treat, and long-time Sonic fans will appreciate the exact replicas of these classic stages with the 3D effect and the enhanced visuals of the 3DS.

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Stages are split between two Acts, one with Classic Sonic and one with Modern Sonic. There is also a Bonus Stage for each Zone. Each of these areas challenge players to dash through a gauntlet of obstacles, similar to the “3D” bonus stages in Sonic 2. Strangely enough, the 3DS port of Sonic Generations closes the gap between the major differences seen in the Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic stages from the console version.

For the most part, the two characters feel the same – the only major difference seems to be Modern Sonic’s “2.5D” areas, which pull out the camera and show the action from an angled perspective. It’s unfortunate to see that the full 3D areas aren’t as common – they looked fantastic in the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions, and could have really shown the power of the 3DS’s graphics. Classic Sonic can use the “Spin Dash” move that locks on to everything in the environment, which eliminates a lot of the challenge – but the tricky level design and punishing death traps won’t disappoint hardcore Sonic veterans.

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Oldies but Goodies?

I would actually go as far as to say the Modern Sonic stages are more entertaining and feel more intuitive than the ones with Classic Sonic; the increased slickness beats out the touchy retro-style controls of the past. Even with the sliding, rail-grinding, combo tricks, and crazy loops, Modern Sonic just seems to be more fun throughout the game.

Perhaps Sonic Generation’s greatest accomplishment – something that even Sonic Dash struggled with – is that it doesn’t lose control of its sense of speed. Misinformed Sonic fans will say that the series has always been about “speed speed speed”, but if they would lay off the nose candy, they’d remember that the original Sonic the Hedgehog games balanced their speedy moments with tricky, challenging platforming sequences. Generations does this very well, particularly in some of the later levels.

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Speedruns? Check.

Unfortunately, Sonic Generations isn’t very long – even shorter than its slightly-beefier console brothers. Nonetheless, true Sonic fans know how to get the most out of each game, and the insane challenge of earning perfect “S” ratings on each stage returns with this installment. Playing through the game and unlocking all the stages will feel rewarding, but going back and perfecting each one is where the game really takes off.

Like all Sonic titles, Generations boasts stages with multiple branching paths, stretching high and low from start to finish, covering plenty of virtual real estate. Hardcore Sonic fans will want to memorize and master them all for the best times and grades. Online Leaderboards allow players to compare their stats with friends. Additionally, the variety of “Mission challenges” extend the replay value a great deal, offering more to play beyond the core story mode.


Ultimately, Sonic Generations makes some great progress for Sega’s iconic mascot. Although it isn’t perfect, the 3DS version offers some legitimately thrilling stages, a brutal challenge, and plenty of extra content to extend the length of the game beyond its short story mode. It doesn’t fumble around with the touch screen gimmicks or gyro controls; Generations gets back to the basics and reminds me of why Sonic was ever worth all the love to begin with. Sonic fans should enjoy this portable adventure – at the very least, it’s worth checking out, and stands as another solid title to play on the 3DS in 2011.

Graphics: 7.5
Sound: 7.5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 7.5
Final: 7.1 out of 10
Written by Cliff Bakehorn Write a User Review

Reviewed by Cliff Bakehorn