Sonic Generations Review

By Mike on 9:09 pm

Filed Under: , , , ,

We've said it time and time again. You got your hopes up only to have your dreams dashed. This time I can say it with confidence. The Hedgehog is back. In fact, Sonic Generations is easily the best Sonic game in 15 years.

As a long time Sonic fan, I don't make the above claim lightly. I was a huge fanboy back in the Genesis heyday. I mastered every game of the main series, played every other at least once. I religiously watched Sonic SatAM, and collected all the Archie Sonic comics. I loved the blue blur. To seem him fall so low in the 3D era pains me. It's like watching a piece of your childhood die. 

Saga is trying hard to turn their struggling mascot around. We've seen three major releases in the last year. Each one has improved upon the other. Generations finally manages to capture the spirit of the Genesis games, while at the same time perfecting them for the modern era.

Story & Gameplay

Thankfully, Generations keeps it simple for once. No bad dialogue, no weird ineterspecies romance. The story is kept light. Sonic's friends are captured by a time beast and thrown into the White World. This acts as the level select screen. There's no unnecessary over-world, which is refreshing. The story has plenty of nods and in jokes for fans. It even mocks the ludicrous stories and bizarre characters the 3D era is known for.

The game is structured like a classic Sonic game. There are nine zones with two acts each. Each zone is taken from the nine games released in the main series, from Sonic 1 up to Sonic Colours.

The zones are split into a Classic Sonic act and a Modern Sonic act. Seeing the chubby Sonic of yesterday puts a smile on any fan's face. Seeing him race through modernized versions of Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant managed to put a huge grin on mine. Everything is just perfect with these classic levels. The focus on speed, speed, speed is gone. Instead, we return to good old fashioned platforming. That's really what the original series was all about. Physics are as close to the original Genesis games as you can get. You do tend to loose momentum in rolls quicker. The jumping is spot on though, a big improvement over Sonic 4.

Green Hill Zone looks great in the 21st Century

Compared to the original Green Hill Zone in 1991
After that first act, you move on to 3D Sonic. I actually enjoyed playing these levels just as much as the classics. Building on what they learned in Unleashed and Colours, Sega has perfected Sonic in the third dimension. There's a lot of great speed but a lot of good platforming. You get the feeling of a blistering pace, but without the cheap deaths that went along with previous games. One difference over the past is a boost gauge, which allows for temporary bursts of speed. You fill up the gauge by collecting rings, and doing mid air "tricks".

Both classic and modern levels are just a blast to play. The difficulty feels just right. It gets harder as the game progresses, without overwhelming the player. There's no sense of cheap traps here. Except maybe in Chaos City. Why Sega would want to revisit that rotting disaster known as Sonic 2006 is beyond me.

The game can be completed in a few hours. Some reviewers have complained about the length. I think they forget how short the original games were. Though Sega is not completely cheap here. Each zone has several challenge levels for both classic and modern Sonic. Completing these will more than double the game time. Plus, you get to unlock lots of goodies by finishing them.

Graphics & Sound

Sonic Generations is a gorgeous game. Sega has really taken attention to detail seriously. They're good at making their games pretty. The levels are crisp and colourful, which is nice in today's shades of grey games. The recreations of the Genesis levels in 3D are stunning and true to the classic design. Levels have been carefully designed to add challenge and excellent platforming.

As fast and as beautiful as the game is, modern consoles can't keep up. Sega took the unfortunate step of trading fluid motion for beauty. Sonic has to be played at a high frame rate to create smooth motion. In traditional games, this was 60 frames per second. The PS3 and Xbox 360 can only manage half that. It creates a fair bit of lag and motion blur. This takes a lot away from the Sonic experience.

Sonic Generations is a beautiful game best played at the PC's fast frame rate
 The best platform to play Sonic Generations on is the PC. The game still has a locked frame rate, unfortunately. However, it will run at a full 60 frames per second on Windows. This is how the game should be played, provided you have a powerful enough system. In my case, I'm running an AMD Phenom II X3 at 3.0ghz, Radeon HD 5770 1gb, and 4gb of RAM. This is enough to run the game at full speed without breaking the bank.

The game has no major technical issues. There's the occasionally frame rate hiccup but glitches are at a minimum. Thankfully, Sega learned from the disastrous Sonic the Hedgehog 2006.

Aside from looking good, the game sounds amazing as well. Even in it's darkest days, music has always been the Sonic series' strong suit. We're not getting anything new here. Instead, Sega has recreated and reinterpreted classic tunes with help from their original composers. The new versions of the old Genesis tracks really stand out for classic Sonic fans. Listen for your self. As you play, you can unlock the original tracks for a blast from the past. Even as a Sonic fan since the beginning, I still prefer the new versions.


Sonic Generations is the best console game in the series since Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Period. Sega has made a lot of mistakes with their flagship series. This is the game that finally gets it right. Classic Sonic plays like classic Sonic should. Modern Sonic is fast and fun. Both modes balance each other perfectly.

That said, the game isn't perfect. It has a few pitfalls. Later levels return us to a few cheap deaths, and the frame rate is too low on consoles. Some have complained that the game is short too. While that's true, it's no shorter than the Genesis classics.

Sonic Generations is a pure and unabashed lip service to fans who started with the series' roots. It's a fantastic game that really shows what Sonic should be, and what he can be. No stupid stories, no nonsensical friends. Just pure speed and smart platforming.

Score: 8.5 out of 10

What Works
-Classic Sonic plays like classic Sonic
-Colourful graphics and reinterpretations of classic levels
-Re-imagined music will make Sonic fans smile
-Modern Sonic gameplay finally perfected
-Lots of stuff to unlock, with missions that add variety

What doesn't work
-Cheap pit deaths in later levels
-Low frame rate on consoles

0 comments for this post