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E3 2011: Sonic Generations First Impressions

Feature; Jun. 8, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec, Robert F. Ludwick
Subtypes: Opinion, Preview
Robert and Kyle get their hands on the 3DS and HD current-gen versions of Sonic Generations
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Robert and Kyle got their hands on a version of Sonic Generations at Sega's booth. Robert took on the 3DS version, and Kyle took control of a PlayStation 3. Read to the end for some game play video.

Sonic Generations

3DS Version

Honestly, I thought the execution of Sonic on the 3DS was weak overall. I know the game is still in development, but there's definitely work to be done. For the most part, the core game is there and level design seems to be pretty good. But I have an issue when Sonic abruptly stops when you cease forward movement. There's no momentum there, but there should be. When Sonic stops actively moving forward, you'd expect his weight to carry a bit of momentum. That's how Sonic games operated classically, and we all know that we want Sonic to operate classically again.

The difference between classic 1990s Sonic and the current-generation Sonic is stark, especially because I'm not terribly familiar with the current-generation Sonic. Classic Sonic played well, physics problems aside. His level design for Green Hill Zone was good, but his boss fight left a lot to be desired -- especially since I'm pretty sure I hopped on the boss' spikes and incurred no damage. The current-generation Sonic's slide and homing attack were on display, and I'm not sure they translate well to the small 3DS screen. I also had an issue when the usage of Sonic's boost capability wasn't obvious in getting past an obstacle -- Sonic sometimes has to travel backward and up, for example, to progress forward.

The 3-D support for Sonic Generations on the 3DS was appalling. While Mario Kart 3DS used 3-D subtly and very well, it was grating to look at Sonic in 3-D. I could barely even move forward without feeling like my eyes were about to revolt and jump from their sockets. Sega needs to work the 3-D far better if it expects anybody to keep the slider at a position above hell no.

Overall, it's a good start, but it needs more work. Sega, you've got a bit more time here. Use it.

Playstation 3

I was burnt out on Sonic after Sonic Adventure 2. I enjoyed the series from its Genesis days and even enjoyed the Dreamcast outings, but once Sonic Heroes was released, I lost nearly all interest in the series, and with the release of several other titles, the quality kept declining. 

My enthusiasm going into Sonic Generations was low. Sure, they were returning to the 2-D game play which suited Sonic best, but so did Sonic 4 ... and we all knew how that turned out. 

Five minutes into the game, I was grinning from ear to ear. I was zipping through a re-imagined Green Hill Zone, and everything felt right. I was zipping along the stage at top speed, jumping over spikes and landing on enemies with minimal effort. The controls felt responsive, and the stage was bright and colorful. This felt like the Sonic I fell in love with. This felt like the old Sonic.

After the 2-D mode, I was given the option of playing through the stage in 3-D using the skinnier, more modern Sonic. The stage was the same -- Green Hill Zone -- only this time in a 3-D perspective similar to the more recent Sonic titles. 

It's here where I noticed that the game play suffering. Sonic would sometimes get caught on random objects or crash into enemies that I couldn't see by traveling too fast. These were problems that have plagued the 3-D titles since Sonic Adventure, so it's a little disheartening to see that these problems haven't been resolved. The game would also occasionally shift from a 3-D perspective back to a 2-D perspective, needlessly shifting perspective.

Overall, despite the flaws in the 3-D section, the 2-D section felt spot-on. While the 3-D felt a little unresponsive, it's nothing Sega couldn't fix before the title's launch this holiday. It was a fun title, and for at least half of it, felt like the good old Sonics of yesterday.

Classic Sonic on PS3

Modern Sonic on PS3


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