Preview: Sonic jumps the Generations gap

June 15, 2011

Sonic Generations, at first glance, is Sega’s attempt at appealing to two demographics it had lost long ago: the veterans who loved the 2D installments on the Genesis, and the middle range who liked the Dreamcast games but tired of the constant cast additions, gimmicks and general lack of focus.

There are three things wrong with that assessment.

One: those 2D fans? They weren’t abandoned. Though Sonic 4: Episode One was not well-received, there have been some wonderful installments on the DS (like Rush and Rush Adventure), and Sega had been releasing 2D games on the GBA and, before that, the Neo-Geo Pocket Color. Sure, there weren’t console installments, but they put the gameplay on a platform where it made sense.

Two: the 3D demographic? Last year’s Sonic Colors was a return to form for the series, so those crying for redemption just aren’t paying attention.

Three? This is the important one. Sonic Generations isn’t a celebration of the original games’ fun. Yes, it’s there, and when you play as original Sonic in the new game, it feels very similar. Then, though, you play the same level as modern Sonic, and it clicks: this game is supposed to highlight and explain the direction the series has gone in for the last decade.

See, the modern segments aren’t fully-3D levels. They mix the 2D gameplay in with the 3D, and many of the 3D segments are purely a perspective change with no lateral movement. It’s similar to the way Sonic Colors fixed the series: by infusing it with what worked in the originals.

We only saw a few levels, but the visuals are nice and the soundtrack is fun as always. We just wonder how it will hold up, and if the two will interact in interesting ways. If things build up to some crazy finish, that would be great. (Possibly something reminiscent of the final levels of Sonic Adventure 2.)

Sonic Generations releases November 22 for PS3, 360 and 3DS.