For a video-game character so obsessed with travelling blindly forwards, Sonic the Hedgehog sure spends a lot of time looking over his shoulder. Between the upcoming re-release of Sonic CD, the ongoing Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and the sidescrolling elements of modern titles like Sonic Colours, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Sonic Generations is slightly redundant. Nevertheless, it’s here and pulling no punches about being a celebration of twenty years of Sonic history: even the minimalistic story begins with Sonic arriving for his own birthday party, before an unknown creature rips through time and plonks lanky modern Sonic in the past with his pudgy younger self.
With Deus Ex Human Revolution out of the door and the team behind it presumably enjoying a little rest in between lighter DLC work, all eyes should rightly be on Eidos Montreal’s second team and their big project: Thief 4. Doing the rounds in the last couple of days have been 12 storyboard illustrations apparently from the game, posted on the portfolio of Vancouver-based artist Marlon Deane.
For all of their convoluted relationships, quests and all the arbitrary specifics of their canonical stories, the only thing that puzzles me about Namco’s fighting game mythologies is how some people actually manage to care about them. But they do, and Soul Calibur‘s habit of dropping in guest characters has long been a source of acute pain for those who can wrap their heads around the game’s tale of two swords better than I can.
The ridiculous thing about this retrospective is that I bothered to play Sonic the Hedgehog 2 at all.
I love the damned thing of course, but I’ve reached the point where playing it is entirely redundant. It’s not like I expected to find anything new. In fact, I’m all but certain that there isn’t anything new to see. I’ve stumbled across every single route, bust open every box and collected every ring. I may as well sit beneath a bodhi tree and play the game etched into my mind – the aspect ratio is a lot better and there’s always the outside chance I may reach enlightenment. Which would be just swell.
SEGA have sent through the official launch trailer for Sonic Generations, bucking the recent trend in ‘launch’ trailers by being released somewhat close to the actual release date (Uncharted 3 we’re looking at you. Well, actually, we’ve been looking at you for two weeks and waiting for you to get to it, but whatever).
One wonders how many Sonic fans and detractors were made twenty years ago when the original Green Hill Zone blast-processed its way onto their screens. Sonic the Hedgehog was certainly a game that flashed its knickers in its opening moments: showcasing the speed of its engine, its gameplay and the potential beauty of its levels. In fact, whilst the subsequent levels offered a far more thoughtful platforming experience, they had nothing like the same visual flair. The Green Hill Zone is Sonic in many minds, for better or worse.
Sonic Generations is a game it seems that everyone wants to love, but nobody seems entirely sure whether they can really trust it. By its very nature it’s a two faced attempt to have and eat a whole lot of cake: are you in it for pudgy Sonic, or his radicalised elongated son? Is it really going to work having levels from the three main eras (which can surely only be described as ‘Classic’, ‘Meh…’ and ‘Oh dear’)? Are we looking at a spectacular double-act or some kind of hideous monster of a game that tears itself asunder by the sheer force of its mismatched parts?