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.
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?