Sonic Generations is the Sonic We've Waited For

This Demo Doesn't Disappoint

For Sonic fans who celebrated Sonic's 20th Anniversary on Thursday, the last 20 years have been full of more ups and downs then one of Sonic's trademark speedy levels. The series started out strong, but with the advent of 3D weakened and split the fanbase right down the middle with a rough move to 3D, hordes of added characters that didn't belong, and gimmicks that oft-times felt contrived just to sell copies of the game rather then be game changing affairs. Scores for the series plummeted, Sonic's 15th anniversary title bombed, his creator left the company, and many feared that the legendary Blue Blur's days were numbered.

Then came Sonic Unleashed. Although not the best received Sonic title ever and just as guilty of slapping a gimmick into the series (although Unleashed at least developed the gimmick were it fit the game), Unleashed was a bright spot in a series of perpetually weaker releases, melding 3D and 2.5D gameplay into fairly solid experience. Sonic Colors did even better, pushing several million units and gathering much higher scores then any Sonic title had it years. Now, in honor of Sonic's 20th Anniversary, Sega has released the demo of this years Sonic tribute, Sonic Generations, for a limited 20 day trial on X-box Live Gold.

And it is glorious!

If you haven't seen much on Sonic Generations yet (and honestly who can blame the average Joe or Jane if they haven't), here's the scoop: Sonic Generations is a journey through 20 years of the Sonic series, from the very first game to the very latest. The game sees the "Modern Sonic" (the current Sonic, thin, lean and green-eyed) falling into one of the space-time rifts opening all over his world. Much like Sonic CD, these time rifts blast him into the past, but instead of hundreds of years, they send him back just far enough to meet his younger self from the first Sonic title, chubby belly and all. Sonic still being Sonic after all these years, he teams up with himself to travel through the time rifts and find the source of all their problems. What this means for the fans is a game that holds a "greatest hits" selection of some of the series favorite levels from Green Hill to Death Egg to City Escape. To add the icing on the cake, each level is playable in two very different manners: As the super speedy 3D modern Sonic, or the classic 2.5 Retro Sonic. But after less-then-stellar "retro" Sonic games like Sonic 4, the question on everyone's mind was whether or not the 2.5D Sonic would hold up the way it had.

The answer is yes. Thursday's Sonic Generations Demo is a pure blast of old school Sonic goodness, with nearly perfect physics, branching levels with plenty of platform hopping goodness, and of course classic loops and spins. Readers of this blog might recall how right around the time Sonic 4 was released a fan released his own 2.5D Sonic game which surpassed Sega's attempts in every regard. Well, it looks like Sega sat down and took notes, because Generations delivers a 2.5D experience that is both beautiful to look at and gorgeous to play. The physics are almost spot on (there were a few odd bugs here and there, but nothing worse then that mentioned Sonic fangame and certainly better then Sonic 4), the platforming is a breath of classic nostalgia, and the level is, as I said, beautiful to look at. If you don't stop to look at everything that's going on in the background, you're missing out.

After a few runs with the demo, I'm more certain then ever that Sonic is working his way back up to the top of the heap. Sonic Generations hits this Holiday season, and if it holds up to what the demo offers, Sega could have a hit on their hands.

Images Copyright SEGA

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