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The first time I played Sonic Generations on 3DS, I was impressed at the 3D recreation of the Green Hill zone, but the game was nowhere near as slick as its big brother. Guess what? It's been overhauled and now looks spectacular. Sonic himself has been given a makeover, looking more solid and less like he just stepped out of a PSP game. Backgrounds are better too. OK, it's all better than it was - just look at it!
Above: Wow. Now imagine that in stereoscopic 3D, playing out smoothly in your very hands
Levels are split into two acts - one for Classic Sonic and one for Modern Sonic. Do well enough in these and you unlock a special stage. These are most like the pipe runs from Sonic Rush, as you power forwards, collecting balloons to top up your boost bar, trying to catch up with the emerald. Green Hill's special stage is easy, but Mushroom Hill's is trickier, replacing some balloons with clusters of bombs.
Did I say Mushroom Hill? Yep, I sure did. And, as with Green Hill Zone, Classic Sonic's level is a straight lift of the Mega Drive original's layout from Sonic & Knuckles, only where you'd expect to find a special stage ring, you get a circular collection of regular rings. The bonus stages are almost acts in their own right now, which I'm not sure I like.
The boss level I played was the 'Big Arm' boss from Sonic 3, only now the camera is free to move around the circular platform at fixed moments in the battle. The animation of Robotnik's machine is excellent, although the battle is perhaps a little too easy. That said, the difficulty level in general throughout the game does have its ups and downs - easy when it wants to show off, but punishingly difficult when it wants you to work for your successes.
Above: This thing's actually got two big arms. Right... Hello, is that trading standards?
Radical Highway from Sonic Adventure 2 makes a welcome return and it's interesting to see how Classic Sonic handles it. The NiGHTS tower is in, which made me feel warm and fuzzy, even when I was falling to a bottom-of-the-screen death in front of it. It's worth noting, for all the hate that surrounds modern Sonic's homing attack, you don't half miss it when it's not there.
The 3DS version of Sonic Generations is very different compared to the 'big' game, but at the same time very similar in that the more platform-centric Classic Sonic levels are countered by faster, more dazzling Modern Sonic levels. But they all look great in 3D. I played for a long while with the 3D slider up full and it didn't feel strained on my eyes, which was good. It can look a little simplistic in the over-the-shoulder Modern sections, but that's to keep the speed and fluidity up, which is obviously vitally important. That said, it still does things like this...
Above: That totem pole is collapsing and you need to boost as fast as you can to survive
...chucking out huge set-pieces that don't even seem to make the 3DS break sweat. The focus is on fluidity and in that respect, it's one of the best Sonic games for years. And those 3D recreations of classic 2D levels really do give gamers like me something they've wanted for even longer than that.
So you could argue that this is an even bigger fan-pleaser than the big versions, but I'm just pleased that both versions of the game have got massive potential. Review's not far off now, and still no glimpses of a werehog.
05 Oct, 2011