Posted Tue 24th Apr 2012 8:58am by Ashley Martin
Sonic Generations Review (3DS)
I've always had mixed feelings about the Sonic franchise. While I have fond memories of some of the earlier games, I often return to those titles and find they aren't as good as I remember (I'm looking at you, Sonic Adventure). Sonic Generations attempts to capitalise on some of that nostalgia by bringing together Sonics both new and old, but despite flying high on consoles, the portable version of the game is not quite the runaway success it could have been.
In Generations, an evil being has interfered with the flow of time and space, leaving the Sonic heroes in a state of limbo. Uniting with their former selves, Sonic and Tales set out to defeat the monster and restore order to their homeland. While this narrative tool isn't the worst I've come across, the bare-bones, textbox-heavy presentation of events leaves a lot to be desired. Granted, the 3DS system may restrict what developer Sonic Team can do visually, but the tiresome back and forth between characters really didn't pull me in. It would have been nice to have been treated to the occasional cut-scene just to get a better idea of what was happening.
Once in-game, you'll have the opportunity to play as both 1990's Sonic and his modern-day equivalent. Each area is broken down into two "Acts" and a special stage, which involves chasing after a Chaos emerald. The player can't choose which Sonic they'll play as; instead, each hedgehog is tied to a specific Act (with retro Sonic always taking Act 1). This felt a little jarring as old Sonic didn't possess some of the abilities that his new and improved self did, or rather, I'd have to progress further before he acquired those moves. Understandably, Sonic Team wanted to differentiate between the two heroes, but as the majority of stages in the game are 2D in design, it was sometimes easy to forget which Sonic I was controlling.
Most areas tended to rely on a fast/slow-fast/slow formula which became frustrating at times. There are some great adrenaline-fuelled moments that create a real sense of speed, but I was annoyed that I'd frequently run into obstacles, bringing me sliding to a stop.
Specific "dangerous" platforming sections (where a fall will kill you) also kill the game's pace and are flagged by orange warning signs depicting Sonic plummeting to his doom. While I've nothing against an added bit of challenge now and again, a considerable bulk of these sections were simply not fun and I'd sigh to myself each time one cropped up.
You'd think that the graphical limitations of the 3DS hardware would shoehorn Sonic Team into doing something interesting with the 3D effect. Sadly, this isn't the case and the 3D serves as nothing more than a tool for expanding the image depth. Nothing really pops out or dazzles the eyes. I also noticed a drop in frame rate when the 3D was turned on and for that reason alone I mostly chose to have it switched off. That's not to say a 3DS title needs to utilise the 3D tech in order to make its mark, but the lacklustre use of the effect here reinforced my feeling that this package is largely half-baked.
Those who want to squeeze some more playtime out of the single-player campaign will be relieved to know that the 3DS version includes the Missions mode similar to the console offering. Whether you're tasked with collecting a specific amount of rings within a time limit or attempting to beat a stage without taking damage, this play option provides a much needed level of challenge. Unlockable music, artwork and character models expand the game's longevity, a definite plus for Sonic die-hards. Personally, I'm not going to sit around listening to the theme from the Green Hill zone, but I appreciate that hardcore fans of the series might want to.
The game does make use of the system's wifi features too, incorporating online leaderboards and a Versus mode designed for competitive face-offs. Although I did encounter some pretty dismal lag in the online multiplayer, the leaderboard functionality will definitely appease those with a passion for time trials. As the game only consists of seven real zones - with boss battles fleshing out the rest of the experience - this mode gives players a reason to come back.
All in all, Sonic Generations for 3DS is a pretty disappointing package. While it includes all the loop-de-looping and rail-grinding spectacle the series is known for, the limitations of the 3DS hardware mean that this port is streamlined to the point where the cracks begin to show. I'd much rather Sonic Team focussed on whole new Sonic adventure than an experience that is constantly tripping over its own feet.
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