Published on November 26th, 2011 | by G. Bargas, Managing Editor
Sonic Generations 3DS Review
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Release Date: November 22, 2011
SRP: USD 39.99
The year 2011 should be remembered for its celebration of two notable franchise anniversaries. We paid homage to a Link, Zelda and the inhabitants of Hyrule-a franchise hitting 25 years and still going. There was another character that has grown and shared the most recognizable spotlight for about the same amount of time. Can you guess who he is? Here are a few hints: He’s got blue spikey hair and his name rhymes with Flonic the Bedgehog. Give up? The masked character is none other than…….Sonic the Hedgehog.
Sonic Generations on the Nintendo 3DS released almost two weeks after the full-fledged, more traditional console release. Although I didn’t buy the console version, I did however get to spend quite some time with it at E3 2011. The GAMINGtruth crew got to spend some hands-on time at the Sonic Boom celebration and on the show floor. The game was playable on the floor in full 3D.
At the Sonic Boom celebration, we watched and glared onto the stage where the original music creators shredded and jammed multiple tracks from the Sonic series. The audience enjoyed the sounds as we watched as scenes play overhead on a huge screen in the Nokia Theater. Watching all of the fans cheer, especially those who had dressed in full costume–it was really evident as to how many loyal fans truly appreciate our little blue buddy.
Having a release of a title spanning generations of fans left me with a growing curiosity as to where or how the title was going to implement a storyline, or if this would simply be another compilation title. The game’s general storyline doesn’t necessarily set up a new trajectory, but explains how and where the two versions of Sonic, Tails and Dr. Eggman (Robotnik) are meeting. The faux story gives us a little substance and doesn’t just drop us in to a non-personable level selection screen.
With the preexisting knowledge that the level design in the game would be reimagining’s of former levels, it also left me to wonder how the difficulty would be spread across these games. A similar thought was in how the button layout would satisfy both styles of control. It was great having such a gentle button layout with varying options for both “newer” and “older” Sonic characters. There was no such feeling of being cramped and the swivel pad was really responsive for our high speed platforming needs.
The controls of the game were simple, yet had a tighter feel. The swivel and directional pad both controlled Sonic’s moves. The swivel pad did perform well being that it isn’t your typical joystick and didn’t over-correct after making it to ledges. The other buttons were implemented well. Like most of the older Sonic titles, the homing attack and charged spin were present. Using the ‘B’ button for these attacks, they also played a large role in boss battles as they were introduced as quicktime events.
From the newer games, the dash and grind were also brought on scene. By pushing the ‘Y’ button and collecting rings, players could make this quick dash over gaps and through enemies. The older version of Sonic learned some of these moves, such as the grind, in order to survive and proceed through levels later in the series. Sonic Colors also received some references and provided some of those special powers at Sonic’s disposal.
With so many traditional control schemes, you might ask, “Where are the improvements?” Some things like missed routes and loose controls plagued former titles. Sonic’s jumps and platforming abilities felt a lot tighter and rarely felt the pinch of missed moving platforms, or elements misdirecting him to the next ledge. There was however a few missed/choppy button pushes left to a few cheap deaths. Although there were a few faults, the majority of the game was set at a great pace and kept me wanting to attempt the next run through. This was extremely important being that there is the possibility of multiple playthroughs of each level just trying to create that perfect run-through. I’m not going to lie, I did have to restart a few times on the Radical Highway, but it was well worth the satisfaction of completion and seeing the Sonic Adventure level in a new light.
The level design for the Nintendo 3DS was specific to platform. In the regular console version, players get to choose which Sonic character, old or new, that they will be playing with and can even swap them out during the pause screen. In the 3DS version, players have only two character options before unlocking the bonus levels or boss stages. It does not hinder the gameplay being that the game isn’t just some port of the console version and gives a slightly different-yet-similar type of experience for 3DS owners.
It is hard not to compare this Sonic title with the others that released the weeks prior. The only big difference that we saw in the release of the Nintendo 3DS version was the levels made exclusively for it and the lack of high powered HD quality graphics. Although we didn’t see the same exact levels, they were however, for me, some of the most fun to play in the series to date. They did not host the same HD graphics, or quite as much 3D as the console version, but were still just as good. Even the nostalgic music of the Emerald Coast level made me think back to that 9.9.99 launch day. Going further back in time, the general feel of Mushroom Hill Zone and its hedged loops were very reminiscent of a 16-bit era.
Something else that brought back memories of new and old were the various musical tracks that have carried the series. In the latter years there has been quite the emphasis on “cheesy” rock melodies that any front man would love to belt with the mic bottom raised to the heavens his vocals ripped the airwaves. This style has carried on from Sonic Adventure on the Sega Dreamcast and was surprisingly perfected on the handheld. Although all of the tracks didn’t include vocals, the quality still shined through. This is not the only style the game has to offer. The other tunes vary in style, but still showcase familiar cheery speedy tracks that correspond to the fast action occurring on screen.
Sonic Generations hosts more than just the music, graphics and gameplay, although these are top priority for me in any game. Additional features that take advantage of new consoles abilities are the reason why the “console” platform is still surviving in this day and age. SEGA and the Sonic Team did exactly this when they set out to produce a game that best represents all of the features that made the game popular, but include the modern uses of the 3DS.
The main menu to the game allows players to navigate the various options and select the standard story mode to the game. Other than that, there are Time Attack, Multiplayer and Mission challenges. By completing levels in the games main storyline, mission levels are unlocked. All of these other areas host their own challenges, which only means more replay value. This isn’t where the quality of the overall game halts.
The online modes incorporate the Wi-Fi ability and give players a forum to battle it out from Green Hill Zone and beyond. Wins during matches unlock other features such as game art, and players can also cash in Play Coins to buy missions in the Mission Select. In the Time Attack mode players can compete in smashing through each level as fast as possible.
The online modes also allow players to pick an online profile. Your player profile is decked out with unlockable art and other totals over the course of play. Your online profile also tracks your wins and showcases your Mii and things such as favorite title and how long you’ve been a fan are selectable. Fearful that your triumphs will only be celebrated by you and your lonesome? The online leaderboards can be updated and will show your region and times. Most developers for the Nintendo 3DS leave out these type of inclusions that are far more than just “options” in this day and age.
Sonic Generations has been hands-down the Sonic game I’ve been wanting to play, but never knew would exist. The level design has become something that is almost near perfection, and is leaps and bounds far more fluid than whatever title you thought was best in the the series.
The game hosts plenty of unlockables for those players who like a challenge, but there is also a ton of replay value in trying to grab that top score through each level. The online modes also provide a great experience over a Wi-Fi connection and the online profile is a perfect match for such an arena.
There is no doubt that this a “true blue” Sonic title. Sonic Team created a top-notch title that crammed generations of platforming perfection into one little cartridge. One of the cool things about this rendition on the 3DS is that, if you buy it on the PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360-you will still have a new experience on the handheld. It would be wrong to hold it to the same standards as the HD counterpart. It is however just right at home for the 3DS.
[xrr label=”Rating: 8.75/10″ rating=8.75/10]
+/–3DS Exclusive levels
+/– Few Cheap Deaths