Ruth's Diary


Now that I have spent pretty much the remainder of my Summer playing 'Sonic Generations', to the point that I allowed my inner completionist to take over
and get the platinum trophy, I feel I can finally talk about it. I was going to do a review, but...the game actually made me research the past 20 years of Sonic's history.

My quick review is this: it's an excellent game. If you're a fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, it's a must-play. If you're not and you want to know what a good Sonic game looks like, get it. If you hate Sonic, well...I doubt this game will change your mind. To play through initially is relatively quick but fulfilling and challenging, while the challenge acts and tasks to complete in order to get all trophies does lengthen the game if you need a longer task to occupy your time with. I agree with some of the critics' sentiments that this game is a bit of a sour reminder of how far the quality of the Sonic franchise has fallen since its heyday, but considering that the quality has gone up recently, I think this game promises something to look forward to. I'll get into that.

Now, Sonic Generations is a game that was produced specifically to celebrate Sonic's 20th birthday. So, suitably enough, the game opens with a cutscene showing Sonic's friends organising a surprise birthday party. Tails' present is a chili dog (it really couldn't be anything else). This does put a thought into my head: since Sonic is actually seen celebrating his birthday, will he finally be 16 and not 15 (the same age he has been for the last 20 years)? Anyway, the party is interrupted by the Time Eater (although you don't find out it's called that until the end of the game) and suddenly everyone is whisked away to a bland dimension populated by Sonic's memories, which become the levels of the game.

Each stage is a reconstruction of a memorable stage from a previous game. So the very first stage is (what else?) Green Hill Zone from the first Sonic the Hedgehog. Now each stage contains 2 acts, Act 1 being Classic (2D) Sonic's playthrough, with Act 2 being Modern (3D) Sonic's playthrough. There are 9 stages altogether, divided into 3 eras (Classic, Dreamcast and Modern/Current). Funny thing, one of the stages from the Dreamcast Era is from Sonic Heroes, which was never on the Dreamcast at all and apparently the best version was on the Nintendo Gamecube. Of course, it is likely that development on this game started while the Dreamcast was still making money. Where was I? Oh yeah. There is 1 boss fight at the end of each era, being a recreation of a previous one (Classic and Modern Dr Eggman, while Dreamcast Era gets Perfect Chaos). Also within each era is a Rival Battle, which you also need to do in order to get all the Chaos Emeralds, necessary to defeat the final boss, being Time Eater and an all-new original level designed specifically for this game. Also a very satisfyingly challenging boss with an epic defeat. Anyway, the rival introduced in Modern Era is Silver the Hedgehog, Shadow the Hedgehog for Dreamcast and Metal Sonic for Classic Era. Which brings me to a point that I find amusing: in theory, only 9 previous games are showcased in this game, as a lovely touch is that during the credits sequence you see gameplay footage of the stage's original form as featured in the original game. BUT Metal Sonic was never introduced until Sonic CD, from which the only stage featured is his battle.

So what was it about this game that spurned me into doing research? Well, the collectibles actually. You can collect memorable tracks and songs from previous Sonic games as well as artwork for both Sonic Generations and original examples for previous games. That and I had no idea which game the stage Planet Wisp came from.

So what have I noticed? Well, while Sonic's personality has never changed, and he refuses to leave the 90s (Modern Sonic's victory pose when he gets an S rank involves break-dancing...who does that anymore?), not only has he gotten taller and better-proportioned but he has also become a bit more grim. Classic Sonic is very wide-eyed and awed by everything, rather cheeky and looks childlike thanks to his rather round belly. Modern Sonic seems to either smirk or frown most of the time, usually smirks in front of Eggman while frowns when faced with a rival, like Shadow.

In terms of gameplay mechanics, I discovered that 3D gameplay for Sonic was finally perfected in Sonic Unleashed, apart from those stupid quicktime events. Sonic Adventure is dearly loved by many Sonic fans but some gameplay hitches and scuffs do mean that it's not as universally loved as the original 2D games. I also properly learned the content of Sonic Riders. What I mean by that is I collected a music track that originally featured in Sonic Riders and I liked it so much it intrigued me. So what did I do? I looked up Sonic Riders gameplay examples and was blown away by what I saw and heard. I mean, an animated intro (how old school), a fully techno soundtrack that was reminiscent of Ridge Racer, and fun courses involving racing on Extreme Gear (their name for a hover board), with all the characters redesigned as if they were going snowboarding. I would have totally bought that game...had I been aware of it back in 2006. Back then I was concentrating on exams and getting to University, that and the hotly-anticipated Sonic game of that year was Sonic '06. What a disappointment that ended up being. (It also began the era of yearly churned-out Sonic shovelware that irritated everyone.)

So what is the highpoint of the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise? Sonic CD, without a doubt. This game featured an animated intro and an animated ending, which differed slightly depending on if you completed the necessary criteria for a good ending or not. It also meant that this was the first Sonic game with a clear plot, other than 'complete level, defeat Robotnik' as he was called at the time. (I found it funny that Sonic Generations acknowledged Eggman's former English name.) Sonic CD demanded you travel to the past when necessary, as well as meet certain criteria to get either the good or bad future. The aim was to free the chained-up miracle planet, but if Robotnik is allowed to keep a timestone, the time loop will restart and Sonic will have to try and save the miracle planet again. I also noticed 2 things about this game: it was the first game to feature golden buckles on Sonic's trainers (a feature I'll never agree with) and the first to feature Amy Rose, as well as Metal Sonic.

Another thing to note about Sonic Generations is that the team did their best to feature the highlights of the past 20 years. Frankly, I don't understand why this meant an obligation to feature at least one musical track from every game (including the truly terrible, like Shadow the Hedgehog) and sometimes the choices were only narrowed to 1 track from a game, and they made the bad one. I found out that the most memorable track from Sonic Riders was Metal City, which even featured in later Sonic Riders games. Why didn't Sonic Generations feature that instead of the track that plays during the stat reading? Oh, and they really flubbed on a level choice. The recreated level from Sonic Heroes is Seaside Hill, which is the critics' favourite from a technical and presentation standpoint, but the fans actually preferred Bingo Highway or Bullet Station from Sonic Heroes; far more fun despite the rampant bugs, I can testify to that.

Oh and I was surprised I had never heard of Sonic Colours. That game came out while I was doing my gap year but I'm still stunned at how quiet the attention was on it. I mean, it was the highest rated Sonic game for 10 years and was/is genuinely positively regarded. Sonic's future looks pretty bright folks.

But Team Chaotix still need their own game. If Shadow got one, why can't they?

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