Sonic Generations: Where All the Playtesters At!?

Sonic Generations proves that Sega can still make a good Sonic game, then give up halfway through and make a train wreck.

Sonic Generations proves that Sega can still make a good Sonic game, then give up halfway through and make a train wreck.
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I’ve been playing Sonic the Hedgehog since I was but a wee one, starting off with the second game for the SEGA Genesis. Playing (almost) all of them up until Sonic Adventure 2: Battle, I dropped ship roughly around the time the quality did, as well. Sonic Generations, though, caught my eye, and it was a game I had been meaning to play but didn’t get around to until recently. What a mistake I made.

Well, sort of.

Sonic Generations has one of the greatest concepts in history for a game based off of a long running franchise. You take levels from all the major releases and give the player the ability to play through them in updated graphics, playing as both the old and new gameplay style. This is the perfect idea on paper, but as this game shows, in practice, it can go wrong.

Sound

The music for this game ranges from nostalgic deliciousness to something that makes you want to rip your ears off and eat them. Hearing all of the old tunes was amazing and even some of the new ones were done really well, but there were a few remixes that were pretty bad, with the Escape from the City song played in the old Sonic version of the level being an absolute mockery of the actual song.

The original song from Escape from the City is a corny, but catchy poppy punk song about running through cities and following rainbows. The updated version features enough synth to take a New Wave and create a tsunami along with some of the worst application of autotune I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot of bad autotune songs!)

In terms of voice acting, this game is par for the course. This series is known for having voice acting cheesier than the chili dogs that the titular character enjoys on a regular basis. In some cases, though, it goes from being comically bad to just plain annoying. During the final boss fight, the entire cast repeats the same few lines at you, leaving you praying for death’s sweet release.

Graphics

This game shines here quite well, for the most part. All of the characters look just as good as they did in the previous Sonic games from this generation, but the old Sonic and Tails look ridiculously adorable in their new 3D forms. Seeing the chubby little Sonic run around at the speed of sound makes you wonder, why did they have to make him so extreme?

One of the only faults Sonic Generations has in the graphics department is that some of the bosses from the later stage seem like they’d be more at home in a Final Fantasy game than in Sonic’s universe. This has been the trend, though, since Sonic’s self-titled game from 2006.

Level Design

I love the level design in Sonic Generations. It has its flaws, especially at the end when it gets a bit hard to properly navigate (though this is more likely due to a soon to be addressed, different problem), but the 2D levels, overall, translated really well into 3D and vice versa.

Gameplay

Oh, Sonic Generations, you are one fickle mistress. The gameplay ranges from being the best Sonic game I’ve played since Adventure 2 to feeling like you’re playing programmer’s first attempt at a video game.

In the start of Sonic Generations, everything plays silky smooth. 2D Sonic’s levels are fun, 3D Sonic’s levels are fun. Everything is dandy until you get to the last third of the game, where, apparently, no one playtested it.

During the last few levels of Sonic Generations, Sonic would randomly start going to the left, he would fall through in places he shouldn’t, and he would randomly just disobey inputs. This is due in part to controller related issues that I’ve read were PC only. Regardless of if the problem is port only, this seriously took away from the enjoyment of the game. At the end of it, I was just playing through it out of spite.

I also had a hard time enjoying all but the second bosses. They felt glitchy and like they took way too long, especially the last two. In the fight where you’re facing Eggman prior to the last battle, I actually had the displeasure of going through him due to some awful glitch, landing in some weird, off-screen area, then being brought back to the area I was originally in, but invisible, and in the middle of being harmed. It seriously felt like Sonic Generations went out of its way to make sure you would lose.

Verdict

I loved almost every second of the first 2/3 of Sonic Generations. After that, it turned into one of the worst games I’ve ever played. I’ve heard the console version is free of these bugs and if that’s true, I’d give it an easy 8/10. However, the PC version I played managed to disappoint me in too many ways to make it worth anything other than a 4/10.

About the author

Joseph Rowe

World traveling English teacher, writer, and aspiring front-end developer.