7.5 Overall Score
Fantastic controls | Great Gameplay | Nostalgic Soundtrack
No special zones | Bosses are poor | Too Short
There is nary a blue furry werehog in sight as Sonic is returning to his roots… But the question on everyone’s mind is whether or not the hedgehog can still cut it?
For years now Sonic has had release after release of sub-par games of questionable quality, leaving fans such as myself waiting for the day that Sega just get it right again. As the game attached to the 20th anniversary of the Hedgehog himself, Sega promised this game to be a playable tribute to all of Sonics past.
Well I can put your minds at ease as Sega have listened to the fans for a change and left the gimmicks out and concentrated on pure speedy action, yet there are still some things missing and the game just doesn’t quite reach the lofty heights of old.
The game opens up in a very clever way, no cut-scenes or anything, just straight into the Green Hill zone as old-school Sonic. The opening few steps are perfectly replicated in 3-D graphics, as well as the music having a new remixed form, yet still oddly retro in its style, to anyone who has been playing since the days of the Genesis such as myself, this was a purely amazing and nostalgic thing to walk into. You play through the whole act, which while it varies and adds new elements to the formula, it keeps the original side scrolling feel and the only abilities available to Sonic are the ones that he had in the genesis days, once you clear this though the storyline steps in and this is where the cracks begin to show…..
The opening cinematic re-introduces us to the modern day Sonic and has large variety of friends, which appear to have gathered for Sonics birthday and are throwing him a surprise party. Now I know that the Storyline is not what people are going to play this game for but do the characters really have to be so incessantly annoying? While watching any of the cutscenes throughout the game I would literally cringe at line after line and the story is very throw away, I honestly think that the game would be better off without it and simply got down to the game itself. Anyway basically a big purple cloud thing steals Sonics’ friends and scatters them throughout time, in which both Sonics decide to journey through their past to rescue them.
But enough about that, let’s talk about the gameplay itself. The game has been split into two major styles, classic Sonic and modern Sonic. Classic Sonic is representative of the genesis era of Sonic game, and therefore both looks and plays in that way, it seems that to make this happen they took the engine from last year’s Sonic 4 and changed up some things as it seems to work a lot better.
Modern Sonic is represented by adopting the style from the normal Sonic sections of Sonic Unleashed (you know, the parts that were actually good), and there is not much change from it, boost system remains intact along with homing attacks, drifting and sliding. It’s fair to say that modern Sonics levels give the game a massive sense of speed and in many ways play much like a racing game which works to its advantage, as you get into a good rhythm of performing certain actions and stringing together successful homing attacks that it makes the game feel really tight, it’s safe to say that this is the best that 3-D Sonic has ever controlled.
You enter the levels via a hub world which is completely white and by moving from left to right you will come across the zones one by one, with a boss gate situated after every three zones. The game limits you by splitting the hub world into sections which have been dubbed ‘Eras’, while you can enter the zones of each era in any order you must complete each of these zones and defeat the era boss to advance onto the next.
There are three sections in total which are the Genesis era, the Dreamcast era and the Modern era. Each contains three zones (from three different games of that era) and every zone has two acts, one for Classic Sonic and one for Modern Sonic. Through the whole game none of these zones are bad and all have their own aspects to them, saying that though some of the later stages start to become less fun and more annoying, specifically the stage from Sonic Colours, to me it goes on for far too long and the sound for one of the power ups is really irritating, and you’re forced to use it a lot throughout the level. Another complaint I have was that the zones needed some more variation, there were three city themed stages and no sign of the series’ iconic casino level, I mean c’mon guys.
Another major omission to do with stage structure that I cannot let go is that the game contains no special stages! These are an integral part of the classic Sonic series and I cannot believe that Sega overlooked the chance to bring them back, especially considering this is meant to be a tribute to the past. Instead you acquire the Chaos Emeralds as you defeat bosses and rivals, I was very disappointed by this.
This brings me nicely to my next point which is the Boss stages, which I think is an aspect of the game that has been treated very poorly. None of the bosses that you have to fight are that fun to fight at all and end up bordering on being an annoyance, I can see that they tried to introduce some cool mechanics, specifically from the first boss fight but they are still far too easy. I believe that if the bosses provided some more challenge then I would have enjoyed them much more, but alas they ended up being the worst part of the game, the biggest offender being the final boss who put a real downer on the game. Alongside these bosses though were three Rival fights, in contrast to the boss battle these were actually handled very well with them having some cool mechanics to use and were actually fun to participate in, they were still a little on the easy side though.
Graphically the game performs well; it’s nothing exceptional but suits the games style and provides a good visual aspect to the game. In my experience the frame rate held very well (which considering the speed you moved at times is very impressive) and there are no graphical glitches to report. The sound also fairs very well, the Genesis era has amazing soundtrack and has been remixed wonderfully, the songs from later eras while not as good are still satisfactory. The game also contains all of the classic sounds so any Sonic veterans out there will feel right at home.
The game also contains a customisation aspect to the game, you are able to use the points you gain from completing levels (why not just use rings like before?) to buy upgrades to Sonic to help make the game easier. These upgrades include things such as faster speed & acceleration, bigger boost meter and longer breath amount for underwater sections. There are also 5 red medals per act to be collected and a myriad of challenges (often involving Sonics friends) for every act as well, which help to extend the lifespan of an otherwise very short game that will only take you a day or two to get through. While some of these challenges are fun, such as the racing and the Tails based ones where you use him to fly about (reminiscent of the old school co-op), the majority of them are just frustrating and end up being an annoyance.
So while this is easily the best and most concise Sonic game that we have had in years, it is still not without its faults, while it does everything that you want it to do there are some annoying things that are just holding it back from greatness. The game starts off amazingly and I was loving every second of it but the further in I got it just became less fun to complete, which is a real shame since by the end I was left a bit disappointed by the whole experience. Despite this though Sega are still on the right track with their Sonic releases, so it’s a worthwhile tribute to the series and a good sign for the future to Sonic!