Sonic Generations - Xbox 360

Game Description: Sonic Generations celebrates Sonic's 20 years of life with a game that promises to reel in touchstones to all of his adventures, from the Genesis era all the way up to the modern generation of consoles and handhelds.
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Sonic Generations Hands-On Preview -- A Blazing Run Down Memory Lane

Sonic Generations Hands-On Preview -- A Blazing Run Down Memory Lane

By Adam Rosenberg - Posted Apr 18, 2011

Sega's fast-moving blue rodent mascot has had some stumbles as the latest console generation has unfolded. Fans continue to anticipate each new release in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, but there's a wariness now, a sneaking suspicion accompanying every new announcement that each release will be followed by a tidal wave of unfulfilled hype and disappointment.


There's a larger question here, of whether Sonic's brand of high-speed platforming gameplay can still be relevant today. Ponder that as you consider the newly announced Sonic Generations, which celebrates Sonic's 20 years of life with a game that promises to reel in touchstones to all of his adventures, from the Genesis era all the way up to the modern generation of consoles and handhelds. The game was announced earlier this month with a title-less trailer featuring two Sonics running side-by-side, his slim, present-day iteration and his pudgier former self.

We got a first look at the game last week, along with hands-on time in two versions of the game's tribute to Green Hill Zone. First, a little explanation is required. Generations will run through a range of Sonic environments. GHZ is all that we got to see, but content will be pulled from every era of the series. Each level comes in two flavors:  a 2D version with gameplay that hearkens back to the original entries in the series -- though the look falls closest to 2010's 2.5D Sonic the Hedgehog 4-- and a 3D version that finds similarities with last year's Sonic Colors. The map layouts are different depending on which mode you're playing in and, as is typical for a Sonic game, there are multiple paths you can follow. Also, while each level is inspired by the full range of Sonic games, their physical layouts are brand new across the board.


The "2D" and "3D" tags are largely just for reference, as neither play mode really sticks to a single perspective. In Sonic's 2D runs, the camera will move dynamically during certain sections of each level to better highlight the action. At one point during the GHZ level, Sonic reaches a point where the stone walkway he's running along twists into a series of loop-the-loops; here, the camera pulls in and angles slightly to the left, offering a better view of Sonic's footwork.

Sonic Generations

On 2D maps, Sonic controls just as he did in the classic games. Using an Xbox 360 controller as a reference point, the A button jumps while pressing down and A performs a spin dash. This move has also been mapped to the X button, trading authenticity for simplicity.

On the 3D side, the perspective (on the GHZ map at least) jumps pretty frequently between an over-the-shoulder perspective and a more traditional 2D-style side view. Pressing A (again, on a 360 controller) jumps and also performs Sonic's mid-air homing attack while holding X activates boost, depleting an on screen meter in the process. This meter can be refilled by knocking out enemies and performing tricks in mid-air -- done simply by moving the two analog sticks in different directions -- after hitting a rainbow-colored jump ramp.

Visually, it all looks pretty spectacular. Even if Sonic's gameplay hasn't always aged well, its graphics certainly have. The backgrounds are especially lovely in GHZ's 2D mode, living pictures with lots to look at, but never too much detail that your eye is drawn away from the action. The 3D mode looks solid as well; the over-the-shoulder elements pull away somewhat from the vintage charm, but Sonic's world is a richly detailed one and the less retro-styled gameplay mode offers a different view on things.

Sonic Generations

With just the one level played in each mode, there's really no telling at this point just how much fans will be serviced. There are a lot of small nods however, such as the return of classic Sonic enemy Crabmeat, who does a little dance for joy if he happens to steal some of the hedgehog's rings.

Sega isn't saying much about the story at this point either, though the game's crossover elements will be a part of it; the story opens with Sonic "and his friends" being pulled into a rift in time by a "mysterious power." There's also nothing being said one way or the other about the presence of multiplayer, leaderboards or anything like that, though more news is promised to be coming at E3. There was some mention of an "interactive menu system," though exactly what form that will take remains to be seen.

Comments are Closed

  • EvilRyuga

    Very awesome! My only gripe is that the Classic Sonic looks small; like you can barely see him. It may be intentional, but either way I think we've got another great sonic game.

    Posted: May 21, 2011 8:33 PM
  • SonicSoulFighterz

    I herd that there will be a 3DS version comming out at the end of the year and it may come out for consoles on 06.24.11 Sonic's Birthday!

    Posted: May 12, 2011 12:21 PM
  • sonicfan200


    Posted: April 25, 2011 12:48 PM
  • crazyfooinc

    This actually looks quite nice; my favorite Sonic game was Sonic 2 on Genesis, and I'm actually surprised that I'm interested and anticipating this new title :-D

    Posted: April 23, 2011 3:01 AM
  • stealthdork

    Sonic version of Epic Mickey?

    Posted: April 19, 2011 2:48 PM
  • TJWolfhawk

    Unless they refer to the main bad guy as ROBOTNIK, and not Eggman, I'll still assume the worst. I HOPE they finally make a good Sonic game again, but I'm keeping expectations low.

    Posted: April 19, 2011 11:55 AM
  • wolfman2010

    Although I take it with mountainous piles of salt, I would like to see Sonic make a comeback. The guy has been around almost as long as Mario and he deserves a good game. Now if only the developers could get it right...

    Posted: April 19, 2011 8:27 AM
  • drenalous

    I actually have hopes for this game but i've been hopeful for a decent sonic game since adventure 2.

    Story shouldn't be a problem, we've never needed much of a story in sonic when the gameplay is awesome. Robotnik tries to use the chaos emeralds on a faulty machine which sends them through a rift in time and they need the emeralds to get back. There you go.

    All they need to do is get rid of the overworld thingy that current gen sonics had, keep the classic gameplay as old school as they can and keep the 3D gameplay the same as sonic colors/daytime missions in sonic unleashed. Then avoid all gimmicks and I'd be pleased

    Posted: April 19, 2011 5:42 AM
  • EvilRyuga

    I haven't lost hope. This may definitely be the Sonic game we've been waiting for. All it needs to do is avoid lame storylines, awkward gimmics, and broken mechanics. Furthermore, it shows promise since they're bringing back the classic Sonic design and gameplay.

    Posted: April 18, 2011 8:21 PM
  • Happy_Nintendo_Nerd

    (sigh) oh look, another crappy 3D Sonic game

    Posted: April 18, 2011 1:05 PM
  • Splatch

    this one actually sounds good, it looks like the gimmicks have finally been traded in and Im especially happy to hear that there is no homing attack in 2D mode and a little bit more depth in 3D mode without adding completely useless and unfun aspects to it. my hopes are officially up for this one.

    Posted: April 18, 2011 12:40 PM
  • Bomblord

    Sonic "and his friends"
    I see

    Posted: April 18, 2011 12:37 PM