Preview: Sonic Generations

In celebration of the 20 year anniversary of Sega’s speedy blue mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog will blaze onto consoles later this year in Sonic Generations, blending gameplay elements ranging from the original Genesis all the way to the modern consoles. While a good portion of the iterations over the years has brought disappointment and wariness to fans of the series, the undying anticipation of each upcoming title remains apparent. Sega’s latest announcement may just be the spark of hope many have been waiting for.

In this upcoming installment, Sega takes all the best parts of all the Sonic games and will showcase the blue rodent dashing through 2D and 3D levels that have been completely redesigned for each gameplay mode. The demo that’s currently available on Playstation Network and Xbox Live features Sega’s tribute to the Green Hill Zone level as seen in the very first Sonic game.

The demo only allows gamers to play through GHZ in 2D, similar to Sonic the Hedgehog 4. While this mode doesn’t completely stick to this perspective, however. Periodically, the camera pans off to the side to get a better view of Sonic as he speeds past the lush green background. The controls remain the same as they were in the classic games. On the PS3 controller, the X button jumps and by holding down on the D-pad while rapidly tapping X performs Sonic’s spin dash or just tap the Square button. That’s it, simple but effective…and fun!
The 3D mode isn’t available on the demo, but based on gameplay footage from this year’s E3, this mode still shows GHZ and looks to play similarly to Sonic Adventure on the Dreamcast or last year’s Sonic Colors. The camera also frequently switches from the over the shoulder view to the classic 2D style. Sonic also retains his dash attack seen in earlier games that depletes his meter with each use, but gets refilled by defeating enemies or performing mid-air tricks. 
The game looks stunning in both the modes, despite the fact that most of the time you may not get a chance to stop and take it all in. The graphics are detailed, with a lot to look at, but not so much that it distracts from the action. 
Sega hasn’t released much about the story yet, but something has been said about a Sonic being pulled through a time rift by a mysterious power, which is where the crossover element comes into play. With only one level available for play, it’s difficult to say if Sonic Generations can pull the series out of the hole previous iterations have dug for it. The demo is only going to be available for download on PSN and Xbox Live until July 12. After that, gamers will need to wait until this holiday season to pick up their copy.

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