Sonic Generations 3DS Review

Overall Score: 6.5

  • Gameplay: 7/10
  • Style: 6/10
  • Value: 7/10

Looks great | It’s classic Sonic! | Plays just like it used to | Interesting new moves

Modern Sonic is the same as Classic Sonic | Lack of imagination | Frustrating

So, Sega have decided to cram 20 years of Sonic the Hedgehog into one small cartridge that snugly fits into the Nintendo 3DS. Does this scaled down version match up to its big brother? Read on to find out.

The first thing you’ll notice about Sonic Generations on the 3DS is how darn good it looks in 3D. The game starts off as you would expect in the fantastic looking Green Hill Zone, which is a sight to behold with the added depth. This is followed by (you guessed it!) the Casino and Mushroom Hill Zones before heading off to the Dreamcast era for a visit to Emerald Coast, Radical Highway, Water Palace and Tropical Resort. Unfortunately, all the pretty graphics that initially impress diminish rapidly. A blurry picture with bits of scenery in three dimensions doesn’t really cut it, downfalls that are even more apparent if you let your eyes wander. Nonetheless, the zones are, if nothing else, a true homage for the series.

It’s a comprehensive homage too; there is a lot of Sonic here. It’s nice to have the retro style back in action, with nothing more than some pixel perfect platforming and a basic spin attack reminding you what made the games great 20 years ago. Later on classic Sonic gets the welcome addition of the homing attack, a move first seen in Sonic Adventure. But just as you’re getting comfy with your rose tinted glasses, modern Sonic speeds on to the scene with levels that are a non stop roller coaster ride where you not only use a homing attack from the off, but can slide under objects and build up a sonic [ha!] boost that makes the blue one into a literal blur.

As you’ve gathered by now, the idea behind Sonic Generations –  in case you missed our console review – is to bring together the best of Sonic’s history. From 20 years ago, when Sega’s Megadrive mascot was the talk of the playground, to the  modern and sour-taste-leaving 3D era. This worked out fine on the console version with two distinct styles of play: the totally flat, 2D platforming from the hedgehog’s golden days juxtaposed with the 3D running-at-the-speed-of-light-into-the-hurtling-scenery gameplay used for all Sonic games since the Dreamcast. The trouble with the 3DS version is that rather than give you a full 3D level, Sega have opted for “2.5D”; 2D platforming with a pseudo 3D effect. It looks good, that much is certain, but what this essentially translates to is two versions of 2D platforming gameplay, which hardly fulfils the “two generations” concept.

Funnily enough, some of the best gameplay elements come from modern Sonic. Not his actual stages, but rather the bonus stages. Here you have to race in a tube after a Chaos Emerald while bombs are placed all over the place along with boost building balloons. The trick is to strategically time your boosting  so you  can catch up with the escaping gem. If done correctly you can run the whole level with full boost. But if you mess up the timing, you’ll never catch the gem. These are challenging, satisfying alternatives to the more generic gameplay that both generations of Sonic have to offer the player.

Thankfully the game does get split up with some boss battles, which begin very well. Facing Metal Sonic is pretty awesome, and seeing some of Dr Robotnik’s contraptions always brings a smile to the face. That is, until later on in the game when both Sonics have the spin attack, thus making each boss fight the usual jump, homing attack, repeat three times – and so ends the boss. It’s a shame that some more imagination and ingenuity aren’t used to make these more memorable rather than rely on 20 year old muscle memory.

My biggest gripe I have with this game, and this is one of preference, is that the gameplay is so frustrating. You run through the level a bit get to top speed, then hit a wall or an enemy that you can’t see because you’re travelling so fast. When you do slow things down and start exploring the levels you find yourself making tons of leaps of faith, something that I thought was banished to the platforming graveyard years ago.  But then if you like Sonic the Hedgehog, then you’ll know what to expect from the gameplay and will love it, not matter what you read here.

Which just goes to prove really: classic Sonic had it right after all; no need for any extra bells and whistles. After all the attempts Sega have made to bring Sonic up to date, it looks like it’s taken a generation for them to realise they had it right first time round. Perhaps that’s why it’s called Sonic Generations.

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