Zero Lives Left – Sonic Generations

Game: Sonic Generations
Released: 2011
Available On:  Xbox 360 (Review), Playstation 3, Nintendo 3DS, PC
Genre: Platformer

When I was a kid I was a Sega fanboy. My first game console was a Sega Genesis I received for Christmas ages ago. I had the Mighty Max game and an X-Men game that I don’t really remember as much. I never actually owned a Sonic game in my entire run on the Genesis but I sure liked them. I would rent them constantly and play the hell out of them; I’d go to friend’s houses and watch them play the hell out of them. Knuckles was my favourite video game character as a kid.

Big emphasis on the past tense in all those memories.

Looking back at it all I can’t imagine why I liked Sonic game as much as I did. Maybe it’s because as a kid I could handle the speed of the game a lot better than I could now because I just can’t handle these games and their pace any longer. Frankly, to be perfectly blunt and self-deprecating, I have just become terrible at Sonic games. Every Christmas the old games go on sale on the XBLA and I usually buy a few of them, I own pretty much everything but Sonic CD currently and every purchase just serves as a stark reminder that I suck at Sonic now.

A friend of mine describes the games as ‘too fast for him to comprehend’. I’m finally beginning to understand exactly what he means by that…

I wanted to try Sonic Generations because all of the whispers from the Internet world seemed to speak positively of the game. I heard it called ‘the best Sonic game of this generation’. That isn’t really saying much considering its competition is Sonic Unleashed and Sonic 2006. Saying Sonic Generations is the best Sonic game of this generation is like saying that eggs taste better than poo. It’s kind of a no-brainer considering the competition in this tasting challenge is poo. These comments all interested me because I’ve always wanted Sonic to be as good as I remembered, so I was hopefully optimistic when it came to me in the mail.

Was it as good as I remembered Sonic to be? Unfortunately no. Was it the best Sonic game of this generation? Well, do eggs taste better than poo?

The story for the game is nothing spectacular; as is the case for most platformers. A monstrous entity called the Time Eater causes a riff in the dimensional time gates or whatever and this causes classic ‘2D Sonic’ and modern ‘3D Sonic’ to bump into each other. Instead of ripping apart time and space like you’d expect when you’d meet yourself the two work together and travel through old stages to find all the chaos emeralds to get enough to kick the Time Eater’s ass and fix the riff that he created. At least that’s what I gathered from skipping all of the cut scenes.

Visiting the old levels in a newly designed design and 3D world was pretty sweet. Green Hill Zone and Chemical Plant Zone have not looked this good in a long time. It’s also neat, to an extent, the comparison of the worlds between Act 1 (2D Sonic) and Act 2 (3D Sonic) as you can see the connection between each. The big thing is that each Sonic has their own distinct play style– or at least they should. 2D Sonic runs through his levels on a 2D plane, 3D Sonic runs through some of his levels in a 3D plane but you’ll find yourself constantly in a 2D plane in 3D Sonic’s levels. It’s not a bad thing, because he has abilities that 2D Sonic doesn’t but it seems kind of pointless to me. It would’ve been cool if 2D Sonic was actually 2D or maybe had a really awesome old school but HD sprite art, but this is Sonic. The idea of originality in Sonic is to revisit all your glory days to try and remind your fans you were good, once.

Maybe it’s harsh, but this game wasn’t more than a tech demo of nostalgia long gone. It was neat to play a level inspired by City Escape, but all the hype of the level vanished quite quickly when I remembered that the game controlled like utter shit to me. Once again, I can admit this is possibly because of how I lost the ability to play Sonic games but when I’ve played amazing platformers like LittleBigPlanet and Rayman Origins a game like this should compare if it wants to be considered as good. If Rayman Origins had me gliding through the levels like some sort of magical dragon-unicorn, Sonic Generations had me stumbling through the levels like some sort of blind fish-elephant. I know if I practiced I could get good enough to breeze through, I saw videos of people doing it online, but the game just didn’t interest enough to drive me to try and get that good.

Essentially Sonic Generations was a chore to play. I enjoyed the first few levels but when I realized that the game wasn’t exactly offering anything unique or new to the Sonic or platforming franchises I was kind of just done with it. I powered through to finish the game and get the thought to actually compose some sort of full opinion for my game. It is not a good sign, however, when you’re gaming and in the back of your head you’re thinking ‘man, Rayman Origins is a lot better than this, maybe I should play that game again soon…’

Sorry Sonic, but while this may be your most impressive effort in recent years, it’s still not platforming gold. It’s platforming bronze, at the most, I couldn’t even rationally offer it a silver without feeling a little bit guilty.

Now the game isn’t unplayable. It controls well enough to get into that groove to do well, but it’s finding the drive to want to do well that’ll hold this game back. The music is probably the best part of the game, every level’s music was fantastic. I can’t give that as a huge positive though, because there are just too many other things holding it back. Monotony, frustration and blandness are what really takes away from this game. If you’re not a hardcore ‘born to love Sonic forever’ fan then you probably won’t be that impressed when you play this game. It’s a nice stroll down memory lane for us gamers that grew up with Sonic, but memories are much better kept exactly as memories. It’s the exact same reason you shouldn’t get back with an ex after a long time, they’re a different person and suddenly have a lot of weird friends named Shadow and Silver the Hedgehog.

Recommended, if you LOVE Sonic, otherwise: pass on it.

Sonic Generations: 6/10

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