20 years ago, a gaming legend was born. Not only would he become the rival of Mario, but also one of the greatest video game characters of all time. Sonic The Hedgehog first debuted on the Sega Mega Drive on June 23rd 1991 and has become an icon to many since then. Now the year is 2011 and it's the 20th Anniversary for the blue blur. To celebrate, Sega have given us not only one of the greatest games in the series history, but also one of the greatest celebrations of a franchise's history ever. Sonic Generations brings together fans and gamers young and old to celebrate this Hedgehog's 20th anniversary, and it does it with style and pure fan service.
The plot is as basic as it gets. It's Sonic's Birthday and his friends put together a party to celebrate. Suddenly a mysterious entity appears out of the sky and sucks in all of Sonic's friends. Sonic tries to stop this being but is easily knocked out. He wakes up in a strange dimension where everything has lost its colour and notices locals that look very familiar to him. Not only that but he also meets up with his younger Classic self. It's up to both Sonic's to rescue their friends and figure out what's going on. It's a very simple tale that works well and has plenty of references and injokes of the series history that fans will appreciate.
The gameplay is split into two styles for both Sonic's. Classic Sonic plays like the Mega Drive games. 2D style platforming with momentum based physics. You'll be collecting rings, jumping across platforms and destroying badnicks just like the good old days. The old TV box powerups are back such as extra rings, extra lives, invincibility and more. Classic Sonic's controls are solid and handle just like they did in the Mega Drive games. He has a new feature by pressing the X button to activate the spin dash, but for those who prefer the old way of doing spin dash, it's still here. Classic Sonic is represented perfectly and his gameplay will please those who loved the old games.
Modern Sonic's gameplay uses the formula of Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colours gameplay. His levels are played in 3D and 2D. While he doesn't have the spin dash like his classic self, he has his own abilities which are the returning homing attack which auto targets enemies, the slide which is used to fit through small gaps, the stomp attack which sends Sonic slamming on the ground and his boost which propels him at high speeds as long as he has enough energy in the boost gauge. He also has a new feature where he can do freelance tricks when he jumps from a trick ramp or a rainbow ring. When you perform tricks, it builds up Sonic's boost meter and can even extend beyond the meter. Modern Sonic's stages are much faster than Classic Sonic's stages and are a blast to play. The controls for Modern Sonic are the best they have ever been. They are much smoother and you feel more freedom in Sonic's movement then he was in Unleashed. The controls are a great upgrade.
The game has a hub world called White Space. The hub world is played from a 2D perspective and you can go around the various levels of the game and take higher paths to find challenge missions. There is a skill shop where you can buy skills to equip to both Sonic's which will give them new abilities. Also there is Sonic's collection house where you can view the extras you unlock.
Each level has two acts. Act 1 for Classic Sonic and Act 2 for Modern Sonic. As you complete levels, you will be able to play challenge missions which have 5 for each level for both Sonic's. As you complete missions, you will unlock boss keys which will be needed to take on the bosses of the game. There are also rival battles with other characters from the Sonic universe. As you beat rivals and bosses you unlock more levels and Chaos Emeralds.
When it comes to level design, Sonic Generations has this nailed. Each level comes from a past Sonic game such as Green Hill Zone from Sonic 1, Chemical Plant from Sonic 2, Sky Sanctuary from Sonic & Knuckles, City Escape from Sonic Adventure 2 and much more. These classic levels have been re-imagined with new level design and even nods to the levels original design. There are plenty of alternative paths to take which makes for fantastic replay value and aiming to finish stages in the fastest time possible.
While the main quest will only take you about 4 hours to finish, the amount of extras will keep you busy for a while. There are plenty of unlockable extras such as music, artwork, character bios and videos. You unlock these by finding Red Star Coins hidden in the levels which have 5 in each act. There is also an online mode where you can go for the fastest time in levels you've unlocked and try to get to the top of the leaderboards.
The graphics are absolutely beautiful. The hedgehog engine that was used in Sonic Unleashed once again makes for brilliant visuals, lighting and outstanding character animations. The levels are bright and colourful and the older levels such as Green Hill and Sky Sanctuary really shine.
The soundtrack is hands down the greatest soundtrack in the series history. Classic tunes and vocal songs are remixed and all sound fantastic. The nostalgic feeling you get from them is overwhelming and you'll love every minute of them. The new voice cast who joined last year with Sonic Colours and Sonic Free Riders are still top notch and give solid performances, especially Roger Craig Smith as Modern Sonic.
Wither you are a long time fan who's played the classics or a fan of the modern games, Sonic Generations is the perfect Sonic game to bring both sides of fans together and hands down the best celebration of a video game series to date. Make sure to check out this one. Happy 20th Anniversary Sonic the Hedgehog, and here's to 20 more. 10/10