Sonic: Generations isn't swept up in the HD remake craze we're seeing with other franchises of a similar age. It's a different tour of its titular hedgehog's greatest moments, giving some classic 2D levels from the series a 3D interpretation, and vice versa. Fans have shouted for an end to the gimmicks, and for Sega to just give them what made the game great in the first place. This is Sega's response. Should you pick it up?
Owen Good, who may be the sports writer, but can still handle a D-Pad and hum the Green Hill Zone theme, thank you: Sonic sits at the exit door of my first console gaming era, in my late teens and early 20s. I think I last played it in a fraternity brother's garbage-strewn room with an iguana (which I would later kill) perched on my shoulder. It says a lot that those vivid memories come to life, 20 years later, after hearing Sonic's distinctive Vegas slot-room cacophony of collecting rings to a chiptune calliope.
As much as I disliked being along for the ride in the Sonic series' many set pieces (which says a lot for a platformer), there is an obvious brilliance to this game's level design, and branching paths that pose the game's basic question: Go explore, or finish as fast as you can? Sonic Generations has littered its experience with unlockables and skill upgrades and, of course, a coveted Sega Genesis Controller to play the original game, to make the levels well worth a replay after that first speedrun.
The perspective shifts are the game's real sell, between Acts 1 (2D) and 2 (3D, with some 2D platforming) that reimagine Sonic's best levels (as "memories" Hedgehog) in alternative forms. Some sidescrolling levels get a 3D warp; some levels from 3D-era Sonic get the side-scrolling treatment. It's a lot for me to keep track of, all I know is in the Act 2 stage of things, I keep my upgraded 3D controls, such as quick direction-shifting on the bumpers or a home-in spin attack.
I can't speak as a Sonic expert, and the disparagement of the series, especially in its 3D iterations, has become an Internet meme. I've yet to have that a-ha moment sieze me where all I want to do is play the game. But if, as an outlier to the Sonic community, I find Generations to be enough of an invitation to get reacquainted, then I can't help but feel true fans will get an even greater payoff in their high-speed trips down memory lane. Yes.
So you can keep your two generations of Sonic. Stuff your compelling mix of old school 2D gameplay with tightened up 3D levels. I care not for the return of classic villains and rivals from games past, or levels that pay homage to ones in all the games I've loved or loathed before. Not this time, my Japanese friends. This time I have the power.
I like the construction of Generations, the presentation of two different designs for each level (to say nothing of the sight of old Sonic meeting new Sonic and friends). I like the trimming of the playable roster, the clean interface and the presence of lots of unlockables to discover. But I also think of modern Sonic games as disposable, since they make at least one new one a year and none of them reach the echelon of elite games. I wouldn't plan to keep this game, but I recommend picking it up to experience one of the best Sonic experiences than I've played in my Dreamcast-and-beyond Sonic ownership. You're going to have to care about playing a Sonic games to enjoy this, of course. I don't think this one is transcendent beyond that (large) crowd. Should you buy the new one? Yes.