I'm two years late to the party, but who cares?! You love my reviews. :D And people love Sonic - maybe the same way an abused spouse loves their partner, but love is love. This is a review of the best Sonic game since the 90's - Sonic Generations. Which version is better? Is the game worth money? What the fuck is a Sonic? All these questions and more, answered on tonight's episode of Dateline NBC. And by Dateline NBC, I mean me. Tonight's episode of me.
Why Would You Even Make This?
Let's start with the version more people (by a wide majority) have played, the PS3/PC/360 version of the game. I bought this game last summer on Steam for $10 - quite the outstanding deal at the time. There is one thing that I remember most about it - IT WON'T PLAY ON MY TV! To explain, I have a dual-screen set-up - my small computer monitor sits in front of me, and I have an HDMI running to my HDTV a few feet behind me. See, growing up a console gamer, I prefer to rig up a controller, set up Big Picture on the TV, and sit me lazy arse on the couch and play some vidya. The trouble? No matter what I do, even if I unplug the monitor, the game refuses to run on my TV at any resolution. It's absurd. Full point off for that.
But that's a subjective experience, and no one cares - I DID play through most of the game despite this. First thing I would tell anyone about this game? The 3D Sonic (modern Sonic) levels are some of the worst things I've ever played in my life. They're these poorly-designed shitfests that artificially create difficulty through things like tough-to-avoid insta death pits popping out of nowhere, unexpected quick time events, and a "lock-on system" that doesn't always work; on more than one occasion, I would be prompted with a lock-on, only to have my air dash send me in a completely random direction. It was terrible. I seriously dreaded playing these levels, as I found them to be more exercises in patience and frustration than anything resembling enjoyment.
It's not ALL bad though - the "classic" Sonic levels (at least the first few of them) are really well-done, and represent some of the finest platforming seen in the series since the Genesis originals. Trouble is, about half-way through the game, they start forcing "new Sonic" game mechanics like the lock-on into "old Sonic" gameplay, which works about as well as potting soil on ice cream. Again, that lock-on system is so picky and finicky that it's not even worth using. But like I said - the first few levels were really good. I should also bring up the boss battles, which are... "Meh". They're nothing special. Definitely forgettable.
Overall, the game's about a 6/10. I mean, the first few "classic" Sonic levels are good, but they're almost not worth wading through the "new Sonic" bullshit for.
Wait, the Handheld One is Actually Better?
You bet your gorgeous ass it is! This is why I did this dual review - Sonic Generations 3DS is, without question, one of the best platformers I've ever played. Let's DIVE RIGHT IN [cliche].
The first thing you'll notice about this version compared to the "bigger" one is that the controls are... Dead on. Its console counterpart has the same problem most 2.5D and "retro throwback" games do - the controls feel like they have a slight delay, and everything just feels awkward and clunky. Not in this version! If you press left, you go left. If you hit B, you jump. There's no bullshit. Even the lock-on system, which I hated with a fiery passion on the Steam version, works perfectly in the 3DS version.
Not only that, but the levels - both for classic Sonic and new Sonic - are significantly better. While it still has that "hold right to win, go as fast as possible" shit that new Sonic games seem to thrive on, it's pretty much completely optional. If you want to go it old school and move at your own pace through the levels, you totally can - and in doing so, you'll find new routes and hidden item boxes, just like in the older games. The classic Sonic levels handle pretty much exactly like you'd expect - if, like me, you drooled over the Genesis Sonic games as a kid, you'll "get" it immediately. The slot machines in Casino Night Zone, the bouncy mushrooms in Mushroom Hill Zone, they all work exactly as you'd expect. And most importantly? THEY'RE FUN! Every time I played a level in this game, even if it was from one of the newer games I never played, I had this stupid childish smile on my face, something that most games just can't force on me. You're eventually forced to use the lock-on with Classic Sonic as well, but it feels much more natural here than in the console version.
The new Sonic levels play well too - while I think the boost mechanic is silly and pointless, the levels are actually pretty good. Instead of going full 3D like in the PS360 version, these levels take place mostly on a 2D plane, and play similar to the Rush and Advance Sonic games. These levels are by no means as good as the classic Sonic levels, but they're still pretty enjoyable, and in no way do they detract from the the quality of the game.
It's also worth mentioning that the boss battles here are INCREDIBLE. Seriously. There's only four of them (Sonic 3 final boss, Biolizard, Egg Emperor and Time Eater), but they're all so damned good. For those of you that only started gaming in the 00's, boss fights are these things where a giant enemy with tons of health attacks you with unique patterns and has some kind of "weak point" that will allow you do beat them. I've re-played each of the bosses multiple times because, man, they're just incredible. The very last boss, Time Eater... Dear god, it's downright epic. It's Kingdom Hearts-tier of final boss, this enormous, multi-stage enemy with a huge variety of attacks and strategies. I have to knock it a bit though, because it has this one attack where is tries to smoosh you with its hands... It's basically a quick time event, but it doesn't always work. It's extremely frustrating, but if you get lucky and have it work 100% of the time, it's not too bad.
Overall, the 3DS version gets a solid 9.5/10. It's an absolute must-buy if you own a 3DS or like Sonic, platformers, or awesome boss fights. It's easily the best 3DS title I've played.
So to summarize a massive post, the 3DS version is better... Which is weird. USUALLY, the big-budget one is great and the handheld one is a cheap cash-in... Not here. In fact, it's the opposite. Go out and buy SOnic Generations 3DS. Now. It's incredible. There's a reason it's still sold for $30-40, two years after release. Enjoy!
Here's a pretty-decent first impressions video I did of the 3DS version:
Here's a funny picture:
And here's a picture of The Ventriloquist: