I have been a fan of the Sonic series since the early 90s and so, naturally, a game that pays homage to the entire history of the blue hedgehog sounded great to me from the start. I initially bought the 360 version of the game and really enjoyed it very much, but I had heard that the 3DS version wasn't quite as impressive so held off buying it until I saw it at a lower price.
When I got it I was plesantly surprised. The game is very fun to play, with wonderfully nostalgic environments, and a few great remixes of classic tunes which I grew up hearing. It is clear however that this version of the game had a significantly lower budget than the console version, with much shorter levels and a few music tracks which seem just like the classics, but with a few instuments added or changed. With Emerald Coast's tracks I can't even decide if any changes have been made at all.
Another sign of the lower budget is the reduced number of levels in the game. Instead of 9 main levels (with a modern and classic mode for each) there are only 7. However, apart from Green Hill Zone, which was also in the console version, this gives many other levels the chance to get an updated modern-day treatment. The new levels you will find in the 3DS version are:
1. Casino Night Zone (Sonic 2)
2. Mushroom Hill Zone (Sonic & Knuckles)
3. Emarald Coast (Sonic Adventure)
4. Radical Highway (Sonic Adventure 2)
5. Water Palace (Sonic Rush)
6. Tropical Resort (Sonic Colours)
It should be noted however that, unlike in the console version of the game, the classic versions of Green Hill Zone, Casino Night Zone and Mushroom Hill Zone are just that; the original classic level layout taken from a single act and copied into Sonic Generations.
There are many, many missions which you can choose to do which greatly expand the length of the game. Each one of these missions unlocks new art, music or character models in the in-game museum, so not only can you have fun playing the levels again with extra challenges, but you also get rewarded for it. There are many music tracks from the 20 years of Sonic unloackable in the museum and it is really fun listening to them all! A drawback however is that these missions need to by unlocked, and the easiest way of doing this without having other friends who own the game is to use the 3DS's pedometer to earn coins while the console is in standby. These coins can be used to buy new missions, however you are restricted to earning 10 coins a day. (100 steps will gain you 1 coin)
Unlike the console version, both classic and modern levels use a 2D perspective. The main difference between the 2 types is the addition of a boost for modern sonic instead of a spindash and the inclusion of rail-grinding.
This is a fun game and I would recommend it to anyone who has a 3DS and fond memories of old Sonic games!
Sonic has had his ups and downs over the last twenty years. Originally launched as a rival to Mario on the Sega Mega Drive, Sonic never really made the transition to 3D gameplay and so in recent years has starred in a series of disappointing releases that don't really live up to the brand. The exception to this pattern has been on handhelds, where development team Dimps has stayed more true to the original gameplay of Sonic games and had a lot more success. For the 20th anniversary of the franchise, Sega has cranked out Sonic Generations, a celebratory look back at the history of Sonic games.
The gimmick here is that the game revisits classic sonic levels, one from each of the main games in the series. Each level is divided into two zones, the first of which is played in the style of the 90s Mega Drive games, and the second which is more like a modern Sonic title. On the consoles, the modern sections play something along the lines of Sonic Unleashed or console version of Sonic Colours, on the 3DS however the games takes the DS games as its model. The result is a slightly mismatched experience that is playable, and often a lot of fun, but lets itself down. The DS Sonic titles have all been very well made, but putting the gameplay next to classic Sonic really shows up just how much tighter those 90s games were. The classic Sonic levels are a joy to play, particularly when you're exploring a retro interpretation of a famous 3D level. Modern Sonic, on the other hand, is overpowered and fiddly to control. It's never quite clear if there's any skill involved in reaching the end of the level or if you're just holding boost down the whole time and sliding through on auto-pilot. However, the complete package is a lot more satisfying than the PS3 and 360 versions where the two halves feel completely at odds with each other.
One change I would have made is in the distribution of the levels. For a great celebration of Sonic's past, it all feels a bit stingy. One level from Sonic 1, one level from Sonic 2 and so on, and it's not even a collection of the series' greatest levels. Aside from the first level, the 3DS and Console versions are a completely different selection and it's pretty obvious that consoles got all the most memorable (and fun) ones. 3DS owners are left with some really oddly chosen dregs. The levels aren't bad in themselves, though there's a bit too much trial and error for my liking, but they seems to become less and less imaginative as they go on.
Graphically, this is an interesting one as so many unusual factors are involved. The game is a sidescroller, a lot of its levels are remakes of 16-bit era levels and it features a lot of familiar elements. In the end this was the area where the game impressed me the most. It has the usual problems with aliasing on the 3DS' relatively low-res screen, but beneath that it features smooth, clean visuals that are bright and cheerful. The 3D is used really well here, with a very distinct separation from the background that really changes how you look at Sonic games. I found myself interested in the world off in the distance, beyond the one plane the game is locked too. It's not going to win any awards, but it's polished and pleasant in a way the rest of the game just isn't.
In summing up, Sonic Generations on the 3DS is a bit of a hard game to judge. There's some great gameplay here in the Classic Sonic levels and it's a type of gaming that is a joy to revisit. But there's an element of reluctance about it. The Classic Sonic levels are shorter, easier and contain less original elements. Despite the fact that they play so much better and shine out among the cluttered nature of the Modern gameplay, the game seems to cling insistently to the notion that Modern Sonic is what the player is their for. There's a faint cynical edge to it all, as though Classic Sonic is only included here as Modern Sonic's foot in the door. However, the Modern Sonic half isn't that bad, it's certainly on worse than Sega's Sonic games on the DS and I praised them. I suppose I'd have to say that Sonic Generations is a decent game, and a decent idea, for a series that has lost its way, but that it lacks commitment. It feels like a token effort that fix a problem that developer doesn't see as a problem. It's worth a play and there's fun to be had, but it's a mildly frustrating experience at the same time.