TSS Review: Sonic Generations (3DS)

Now, before I go into this review it should be noted that I’ve been a big fan of Dimps works up until late. Sonic Rush was one of my favorite Sonic games and I loved the first two Advance games. But lately, they seem to have been faltering. Sonic Colors on the DS was basically another Rush, but not quite as good as the previous two and incredibly sub-par compared to the Wii version. Sonic 4 I felt had good level design and was decent enough for a downloadable title, but the odd physics turned many people off. Now, they have their hands on their first foray onto the 3DS.

One thing that some more critical fans should be pleased with is that classics physics have been fixed a bit from its HD brother. Sonic now has gravity when he rolls and gains momentum downhill. It feels much more natural than in the console versions. But sadly, once the Genesis era finishes, Modern Sonic butts in and teaches Classic Sonic homing attack. This classic version of the homing attack is a permanent upgrade and cannot be undone. Now, with the game on a 2-D plane, even in the modern levels, it cuts back the differences between classic and modern Sonic greatly.

That seems to be the theme with this game; for every thing it gets right, something else goes wrong. For example, the bosses in this game are a real treat. Most of them have the old Dimps staple of Sonic fighting them on a circular platform but with different tactics. Biolizard is my favorite. You fight his full form instead of his half like in SA2. But on the other hand, you have the rivals. They play out like mini-bosses before the big boss of each era. Sadly, these are not like the rival fights in the console versions. Instead, they’re just simple races. Some of them them, like Silver, are not even in their proper game level. Also, it feels odd having what’s basically two bosses in a row. One is more than necessary. This, right after playing a special stage, piles on a bit too much after playing through the two acts in each zone. Another example of the teeter-totter of quality in this game is the special stages. They are much better than the Heroes stages they are based on, but since you need the seven chaos emeralds to go against the Time Eater, all seven special stages must be completed in order to finish the game. This is the equivalent of having to beat all the stages of Sonic 2 just to beat the game normally instead of getting Super Sonic.

Graphics for the most part, are great. The models have an almost HD look to them, especially in cutscenes. Also, the 3-D is quite well done. Especially in Genesis era levels like Casino Night Zone that have both back, middle and foregrounds scrolling independently. However, the details in the backgrounds tend to vary in quality from the highly detailed Casino Night and Tropical Resort, to areas with poor detail and pop-up like Emerald Coast and Radical Highway.

Now onto the meat of the game, the levels themselves. These tend to vary greatly. The Genesis era is helped greatly by being an almost perfect replica of the original levels in the classic versions. This helps the modern versions as well because they have a blueprint to go by. They’re large and vast with many paths to go through. With Sonic’s roll back to normal, they have more of a classic feeling about them. Sadly, the level quality takes a nose dive in the Dreamcast era. Since Dimps doesn’t have a 2-D Genesis blueprint to go by, they suffer the most in level design in the entire game, feeling flat and bland. Instead of the vast, vertical levels shown in the Genesis era, there’s just an upper and lower path and that’s it.  Radical Highway suffers the worst. Not only is it a poor choice of a level (Sonic was never even in this level.), but it’s some of the worst 2-D level design I’ve seen since Sonic Rivals. While playing as classic, there was one stretch of road where Sonic ran straight on a flat plane for over ten seconds with no interaction with anything.

Thankfully, the modern era pushes the quality back up a little. Water Palace is based off Sonic Rush. A game Dimps knows very well and it shows. It’s surprisingly fast-paced for a water-based level and closely designed after it’s original. Sadly, it commits a great crime of Sonic game design. It has no drowning music when you’re running out of air. Just a countdown and some beeping. Why would they omit that?! Tropical Resort is well done with classic based directly off the DS version of Colors. The modern version of Tropical Resort is actually my favorite of the Modern levels. It has a very fast, Rush-based feel to it that’s more in line with Dimps style of games. It’s a good ending since about half the modern levels just felt bland to me. Also, one important thing of note is that S ranks are not pathetically easy to obtain like the console versions. You really have to work at it to get a good grade which helps give the levels some replay.

The soundtrack is decent, but no where near as well done as the HD version. Granted, there are some great new tracks including the Big Arms boss, but many of the old tunes are just very slight remixes where you can barely tell what’s been added. Classic Emerald Coast sounds exactly the same until late into the song and modern Tropical Resort sounds like it’s just been boosted to double speed and that’s it.

One other minor gripe is the controls. They work fine for the most part, especially classic who loses the one button spindash. Modern however, feels off at points. His boost is still over on X, but sliding and stomping are done by holding down and B instead of just using A (the rightmost button), which takes a while to get used to.  Also, classic’s jump has that odd Sonic 4 feel to it where you can turn around in mid air easily. It’s supposed to help you aim onto platforms better, but feels off in comparison to the HD version. Another gripe is the length. With only 7 zones with 14 acts, 4 bosses, 3 rivals and seven special stages, the main game can be beaten in 2 hours (about the same time it took me to beat Sonic 4). The big difference is that Sonic 4 is a $15 or less downloadable title where Sonic Generations 3DS is $40.

It’s fortunate that the actual meat of the game is not the main game itself, but rather, the extras. There are 100 missions you can buy with your player coins you get from walking with your 3DS in sleep mode. These range from defeating all enemies in a short time, beating a level without hitting an enemy or collecting 100 rings within a certain amount of time. When you beat these missions, you get a special unlock added to your collection.

These include artworks from common game covers, rarely seen production sketches, music you can play on loop and with the 3DS shut (but not inside levels sadly) and highly detailed models of various Sonic cast members. If you are having too much difficulty defeating a level, you can use your coins to buy the reward you normally get for beating the mission. The missions come with some new music straight from the challenge music in the console versions. Sadly, this music repeats a lot and you don’t get the original music from the levels in these missions. Let’s not forget online multiplayer. You and your opponent in a race on any level of the game you choose. I’ve played a few rounds and outside of some slight framerate stuttering from time to time, I experienced no lag. You can play with strangers or folks on your friends list. There’s also leaderboards for the time attack mode which lets you compare and compete with your friends for the best time when not racing them

Sonic Generations is a mixed bag in terms of quality. On one hand, you have some great levels with designs based straight off their original 2-D sources, some great bosses, fun special stages, 100 missions, cool unlockables and well-done multiplayer. On the other hand, you have a very short main game, some poorly designed levels, pointless rivals, a forced Chaos emerald hunt in order to finish the game and sub-par modern controls. In the end, the game is just average and bland. There’s enough content in there to make die-hard Sonic fans happy but otherwise, it’s poor compared to its HD brethren or other 3DS platformers, such as Super Mario 3D Land. Sonic fans might want to wait for a lower price on this one. For me, it’s Dimps’ most mediocre portable Sonic game yet.

67 Comments

  1. Good review. Pretty much how I feel about it. It’s not bad, but there were clearly time/money restrictions because it comes off as lazy and so damn short. Thank god online play is included.

  2. Pretty good review, I wonder what Dimps will do next though, apart from Sonic 4, I hope they aren’t just condemned to making cheap cash – ins on the Console version of Sonic games, they have a lot of potential and I don’t want to see it going to waste!

  3. YES!! YES!! My thoughts almost exactly. I just posted a review over at STC-O forums and I pretty much lament the experience as average. I found it frustrating that after so many years of great Sonic handheld games (largely) that the latest is an utter dissapointment.

    However I felt that the Megadrive levels were insulting because they were replicas! It reveals the faults in Classic Sonic’s control scheme. Though the Dreamcast era was the worst I never felt that the quality went up at all, let alone Rush standards.

    I’ll be trading mine in very soon.

  4. Eh, not a bad game then. I’m still getting it. (For $50!! WTF!!) But there are a few things I’d like to assert:
    -You mentioned that forcing those special stages on us was a bad thing, but that has been a series staple since Sonic 3 and Knuckles, and appeared on all the Advance and Rush games.
    -You didn’t like how the stomp worked. That’s purely your opinion of course, but that’s also how it worked in Colors DS, and I actually liked using B-down – using A, and having to move your thumb to that button from Y and B, seems a bit extraneous.
    -Based on gameplay I’ve seen, both Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic have this weird little physics issue where when they run off a ledge, they suddenly accelerate in midair. Does this happen in the final release?
    -And finally, Circle pad or D-pad?
    Great review.

    1. D-pad, though the 3DS D-pad is in such a cramped position that you might find yourself going back to the Circle Pad.

      Also I can’t recommend such an average game. You got the console version? Just play that.

        1. yeah to enjoy the game requires a pretty high-end graphics card. I find though at least on my PC that the game is more stress for my CPU…Either way it still runs smoother for me than my 360 copy.

    2. He means the fact that the Special Stages are practically just handed to you sort of ruined the experience for him. They’ve been a staple since the first Sonic game (GASP!) where there was actually a condition into getting there instead of just beat the levels – win!

      Sonic 1 – Get 50 rings, head to the end, jump into the giant ring. Same as Sonic CD and Sonic 4: Episode 1.
      Sonic 2 – Get 50, get to a lamppost, jump in the portal.
      Sonic 3&K – Find the Giant Rings hidden in the levels.
      Sonic 3D Blast – Find Tails/Knuckles, give them 50 rings.
      Sonic Heroes – Find Special Key, get to the end without getting hit.
      Sonic Advance – Find the Special Spring.
      Sonic Advance 2 – Find the 7 Special Rings within the Act.
      Sonic Advance 3 – Find the lost Chao in each Zone, then get Special Keys within the levels – again, without getting hit.
      Sonic Rush – With enough boost energy, find a generator, boost to spin around and activate a portal.
      Sonic Rush Adventure – Find Hidden Islands for Blaze, find and race Johnny for Sonic.
      Sonic Colours – Find Red Rings to unlock more Acts within the Game Land.

      Sonic Generations – Beat the bosses and all the levels in the HD version. 3DS – BEAT THE LEVELS.

      So the challenge in getting the Emeralds is kind of ruined compared to previous titles.

      1. And the special stages kinda suck. There is no challenge from collecting the Emerald because it moves so slow but at the same time crashing into bombs feels unfair as you are often travelling too fast to see or dodge them; yet you will always snag that emerald. You don’t earn the emeralds, you are given them.

        1. I admit, from the footage I’ve seen, it does seem way too easy. Plus, the fact that you can just bounce right back in after losing adds a little to the mediocrity in a sense of challenge in that field.

          1. It’s pretty much on par with Sonic Rush/Colours tradition. The first 5 are crazy easy, 6th will keep you on your toes, 7th you might fail once or twice.

      2. Well, Sonic Colors DS’ special stages were easy to get too. All you had to do is get 50 rings at the end of any act in each zone and Game Land. However, it had one of the best sets of special stages (if not the best) in Sonic history. And that song…

        1. Yeah Colours DS had some inventive special stages but they were challenging in all the right ways and I could clearly see what I was doing in them. Catchy music too.

          1. I found Colours’ sort of disappointing. I loved the concept but few really challenged the “if you collect the wrong colour they won’t be there on the next runthrough” gimmick. I don’t think I ever failed a single one, unlike Rush and Rush Adventure which at least tested me towards the end.

  5. This is how I would have reviewed it, can somebody tell me what the difference to playing as Classic and Modern is in this version? Cuz I don’t see much difference.

    Also, how come Classic is only doing stuff in the classic era, then modern does it all? Especially in this version with special stages! They should’ve given us the option to choose in bosses.

    1. Classic has the spin dash and is more platforming heavy.

      Modern has boosting, wall jumping, sliding, stomping.

      Homing Attack is just another commonality besides spin jumping.

  6. Well, I’ll be getting it for Christmas anyway; it didn’t look THAT bad. Not nearly as good as the console versions, however.

  7. i cant even beat time eater in this version, he keeps kicking my ass with that… SPOILER ALERT!!!… teleporting arm attack, i cant time my button pressing right. X(

    1. OMGosh, wait till you reach the clock sections DX “SEE IF YOU CAN DODGE THESE!” Annoying as heck! The best rank I could get was a B.

      Btw, little hint. There’s a pattern to those attacking arms.

  8. I felt that the models looked really weird, they do look HD…. but something about them makes them remind me of sonic 3D Blast and maybe Sonic Blast for game gear. The day I got it I stopped playing at the end of the classic levels.. I had Skyrim waiting.

    Also, what the heck is up with that You got a Chaos Emerald pose?

    I’m so glad the console version was awesome.

    1. Ofc the console versions will look/be amazing, i’ve been in love with ps3 game since release, but everyone is acting like the 3DS can hit he love of the HD versions, many people dont notice that they’ve tried their bests to try and make the 3DS version have that same feel as the console games, as for the models, they look great especially with the animated side mouth (sonics)

  9. I love this version, console more, but yeah. One thing I will say, is the Time Eater fight in the 3DS version, is SO much better then, the HD version.

  10. Well this review is much better as opposed to slingerland’s neanderthal approach.

    So, a mixed bag hmm? I am so not surprised. I used to love dimps, The Advances were great, and the rushes were fun too. But yeah, they’re pretty freaking lazy now a days.

    1. You don’t have to agree with what I wrote for the console version, but I stated my points in an extremely detailed and eloquent manner. I know what I’m talking about.

      Also, “neanderthal approach?” What does that even mean in this context? Did you just want to use a big word to make up for your poor spelling and grammar? “Highly critical approach,” I’d agree with, but “neanderthal?” That’s an exaggeration and you know it.

      1. Gotta back up Brad on this one. His HD review was the most detailed one I’ve read on the net. Also, I gotta thank him for fixing up my grammar before posting this review.

    2. If a neanderthal-like approach involves the absence of sugarcoating, being blunt, serious, honest and straight to the point, being clear in his words and ideas, and being grammatically correct from start to finish, then we clearly have different ideas as to what a neanderthal-like approach is, bucko. :I

      I always thought it involved mashing the keys and seeing what happens, but eh, that’s just me.

      ‘sides, if you really want to get Slingerland riled up, all you have to do is send a grammatical trainwreck of a letter asking for help over improving a fan character, though the result would usually end up being everyone laughing their asses off along with Brad at how pathetic the whole affair was to begin with.

  11. Giving Classic Sonic a permanent homming attack is disgusting IMO. It just seems….not right….. Weird because modern Sonic with a homming attack does for me.

  12. The freaking final boss is the worst designed peace of crap ever in a sonic game, it requires you be a freaking computer to beat the later parts of the time eater boss for the modern modes and the fact that it can perpetuate itself for ever makes it horrible and impossible.

  13. A sonic game with a mediocre soundtrack? That shouldn’t happen! Even 06 had one of the best soubdtracks. What a shame…at least that Classic Radical Highway and Vs Big Arms was great. Still waiting on more rips.

    You’d think it would have a sound test…

  14. I have not played Sonic Generations 3DS yet, but I feel sorry for Dimps and how they are treated by Sonic fans. Their two original rush titles (and the advance series) were an excellent display of creativity and level design in a Sonic game. After 5 great titles in a row I believe Sonic Team decided that Dimps could deal with putting Sonic in all 2-D games, think about it, the last 3 games that they have made have all been the request of Sonic team. Dimps should just be allowed to create their own original games rather than being forced to create ports and imitate the classic gameplay style. (although personally I had no real problems with colours or 4) And we have to remember that this game was developed in about a year, I have heard the fans all say, crappy level design is still crappy level design no matter how long it took to make, but once again it was Sonic Team who requested that this game be made and gave Dimps very little time to do it. When we see see an original title filled with creativity from Dimps, I think it would be fair to judge that rather than this, remember they made 5 great games in a row! Also just a small complaint with the review, there was one point about having to collect all seven chaos emeralds through the special stages to get to the final boss, and well I believe that is completely invalid. All of Dimps games (- sonic 4) used this structure and I have never heard anybody complain about it before. But I will wait to play the game to make my own judgements as so far I have heard both critical praise and average scores for this version, but then again I am somebody who enjoys every sonic game! (Even Shadow the Hedgehog)

  15. The game isn’t all that bad comparede to when i played it in september, it is worth a shot, the common score for this game is around 4/5 or 7/10 which all in all is not bad its kind of a mixed lot, with most the review giving praise and good scores, some reviews are booty banging from games like DS colours which i thought sucked, stop booty licking off this review and go try it yourself

  16. Personally I prefer being forced to collect the emeralds to finish rather than have a pointless non-ending and credits like they used to go for all the time.

  17. No matter what, I’m going to enjoy this game to the full extent whether I have to force myself to enjoy it or not. And you know how sad that is? Very, the fact that I’m willing to PRETEND that this game is good just for my own sake.
    But I don’t really have much choice do I? Nobody here seems to be pleased with the 3DS version.

    1. Ehhhh, that is kinda sad. Why don’t you just pick up a different 3DS game? Nobody is pleased with the 3DS version because it is pants; doesn’t mean you have to igonore that for Sega’s cash balance. As a consumer you should think more about your enjoyment then loyalty.

    2. Why force yourself? :O You shouldn’t hide away your true feelings 😛 Ill admit you may be disappointed with some parts but I’m sure you shall also enjoy the good parts of this version too.

  18. “Sonic Rush was one of my favorite Sonic games”
    I stopped here.
    And Sonic Rush physic = sonic 4 ep1 physics.

      1. Sonic Rush destroy the essence of sonic, sonic adventure series too.
        I have my opinions about Sonic Rush. I read the review btw. I agree about level design but sonic 4 have horrible level design too.
        Sonic Colors Wii and Generations HD make me happy about sonic essence. Surreal Scenarios, no only guitar music in stages, good level design etc.

        1. “I read the review btw.”

          Fascinating, after you claimed you stopped halfway through the second sentence. What ever made you change your mind?

          “[…] destroy the essence of sonic, […]” *sigh* Opinions. I fail to see what this has to do with the review.

  19. A real shame. I was actually planning on getting this game. I guess I’ll just get in when the price is lower.

  20. Price tag $50.. yikes they really are demanding a lot from 3DS owners. Bummer that it wasn’t up to par with more design. Seems kinda bizarre there’s no option to choose abilities like the console games. Maybe that’s what hurts it a bit more. Not enough choice, its just locked on once you’ve pursued more levels. That’s a shame.. and a rush? I too own Rush, but was surprised how insane the levels were, but the music was just a blast. I have yet to snag that last emerald.

  21. You never mentioned the awful QTE for Time Eater. That boss is seriously he worst boss in Sonic history in both versions. And hey, I beat it in a bit over an hour. Totally not worth my $40. Oh, and the Modern Invincibility also made it’s way in this version. I only found it once by accident in Water Palace.

  22. Good review I’m getting this version next week 😛 DIMPS could of done so much better though I loved The Rush games and Sonic Advance 3 I don’t know what went wrong after that…

  23. I will say it does seem to get better the more you play it. The main game is kind of weak but mission mode and online is where the real meat of the game lies. The 3-D models you can unlock look as detailed as the HD trophies and there’s some cool Dimps production art from their previous games to unlock (like Cream playing with Emrl or pencils of Marine doing different emotions.). Not to mention 36 songs you can play in a row with the 3DS shut. Making it like a Sonic MP3 player.

      1. Yea 50. My bad. (I wonder where I got 36 from?)

        Now that I’ve run out of my 300 unused play coins, I see how dumb a feature it was to have to use coins to unlock the missions. I can understand using them to pay for mission clears, but not the missions themselves.

        1. It’s all good.

          I know! Well, it wouldn’t be SO bad if you could get more then 10 play coins a day. -.- Thankfully, I’m almost done…but still, pointless.

  24. I agree with this review.

    Sonic Generations 3DS version was terrible. That extra time before release did nothing for this game. At most I would say a $15 to $20 value.

    Also, really sick of the terrible graphics. Sonic Colors looked like something a pre-mature fan made with no experience. And the 3DS version of Generations feels the same way to me.

    And I hate the play coin and streetpass requirements for most missions. The Japanese must be saying something to the world making everybody have to walk around so much just to earn the right to play missions. And the Japanese need to realise that they are the only one’s who can enjoy the streetpass player trading crap because most of America and the world are rural areas where its nearly impossible, or is impossible. for anybody to enjoy the stupid streetpass gimick because only a handful of people play games or the same game at that in the same area.

  25. @Chris
    There’s a reason though why almost always, streetpass features can be emulated with play coins instead. If there is nobody to trade with, at least, simulate that experience of walking around. That’s what play coins are for. I don’t see any problem with that.

  26. ~facepalms hard~
    You like Sonic Advance 2….and then you said this…
    “They are much better than the Heroes stages they are based on, but since you need the seven chaos emeralds to go against the Time Eater, all seven special stages must be completed in order to finish the game. This is the equivalent of having to beat all the stages of Sonic 2 just to beat the game normally instead of getting Super Sonic.”

    Did you even play Sonic Advance 2?! That’s what you have to do to get the actual ending to the game!! Not a fake mock ending where you fall from the sky and get ‘Congratulations’. Advance 2’s rules just for getting into the stage, let alone getting the emerald are HORRIBLE! This game does the same thing with needing the emeralds to get the actual ending with apparently much more thought out special stages and entry and your complaining!?

    Seriously are you paying attention to what you play?

    Sorry if it seem like I’m being a jerk, but the contradictory nature of this statement just irked me fiercely.

    1. Sonic Rush 1 and 2 specifically do force you to get all the emeralds in order to get the true ending as well and you liked those games.

      So you just never bothered with the emeralds ever and have no idea what the true endings look like for those games?

  27. Wasn’t the idea of a “true ending” to force you into actually completing certain requirements? I mean, they can’t exactly do a normal/true ending when the storyline isn’t as open to such an option.

    Sonic Rush gave birth to “Modern Sonic” that we know today which is really running thin and dry with the sense of just boost all over the place despite that the Boost meter in Generations is a better revision from Rush in the sense that you don’t just hold it down until you reach the goal post. Personally, Sonic was pretty close to how he should’ve been portrayed in his Adventure titles (I can’t recall if Heroes had spin dash or not?) with the additional gimmicks of power-ups with end-game power-ups which gave some depth to the game which was followed on in Generations and not allowing you to have EVERY power-up in one go as opposed to Mario 64 which had you earn to obtain that specific power-up through twists and turns (I’m not apparent to how Nintendo worked with the power-ups in Galaxy) and critically, Mario gets the “classic gameplay” merged into “modern gameplay” and always sells higher despite the storyline is very bland but the gameplay makes up for that despite noticing that the 3DS title is apparently linear for a Mario title but are they the same people all the time that have been producing the game?

    With Sonic in the 90’s, he was looked after by STI and Sonic Team which obviously worked in those days, they had the right chemistry flowing through the game, which you tend to get 50-75% of that good ol’ fashion Sonic game nowadays. I mean, Sonic Generations 360/PS3 was another right push but it didn’t have that polished title we’ve been waiting for, but was much closer than it has been before. If Dimps were only given a year to produce the 3DS title, then it’s just another Sonic ’06, since you get those great innovative levels as you’ve said, then quality gameplay starts to dip in some areas they weren’t given much time to create the layout they weren’t familiar with.

    Sega have learned that rushing a mainstream title (’06) doesn’t work, appealing to the fans with new gimmicks (Unleashed) doesn’t give fans what they want. Taking out the gimmicks (despite Unleashed had great replay value with the levelling system aka RPG systems) and giving fans daytime only levels (colours) is another step forward with a step backwards with “comical” storyline (which I assume is associated with his 90’s cartoon era format. Then we get Generations, both nostalgic and improved again on Unleashed and Colours but, still not hitting the nail on the head just yet, I just hope that they can pull it off in their next title which is tough because it’s truly hard to please everyone and Sega still don’t have everyone’s trust from when Sonic was refreshing and vibrant (those remixes and BGM’s <33)

    I totally went on a tangent straying away from the main topic, my bad D':

    Overall, Generations might not of been the best, but within the time frame Dimps got, they pulled off what they could and Sonic Team could've done more for the console title but I'm still happy with it and hope there won't be any more setbacks for the franchise if they plan properly like they're doing with Sonic 4 EP2 and not forcing it out on to the market asap.

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