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Sonic Generations: Hands on 3DS and PS3 preview plus exclusive gameplay videos

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.

My, what a big arm you have

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.

Not actually the same game

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

17 comments

  • Enaksan - October 7, 2011 6:45 a.m.

    Hub World?..... hmmmmm.... Having said that though, i did very much enjoy the demo i played at Eurogamer Expo, the only issue for me is what platform to pick it up on. Does the 3DS version have the same levels as the 360/PS3 or is there a noticeble difference? Might have to check out both!
  • Tangerine - October 7, 2011 5:09 a.m.

    Great preview! I'm glad it's come a long way since the demo. I was in two minds on the game based on that but you have cleared many of my fears Justin :)
  • negiWDJr - October 6, 2011 6:46 p.m.

    "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". I created an account to applaud that statement.
  • SanctusScorpius - October 5, 2011 8:23 p.m.

    'No werehog', huh? Oh dear, am I a bad person for waiting to see the reactions to...?
  • IceBlueKirby - October 5, 2011 7:47 p.m.

    I'll always stand by Sonic because I grew up with his games, and I don't even have a problem with the majority of the modern ones either. Whereas most people my age see this as a return to form of sorts, I see it as a wet dream combining both styles of Sonic into one game for a massive attack of that trademark speed that disappeared with blast processing all those years ago and that style and flashy flair of the 3D games.
  • birdro - October 5, 2011 4:47 p.m.

    High hopes as usual, sad there's a need to be wary of sonic these days but nothing is glaringly wrong with this yet. Also about 2:10 in the sky sanctuary vid, they got those awkward run fly platforms back! Supposed to be in marble garden, but i prefer Sky Sanctuary and they got the game right anyway. I remember getting stuck on low ledges with those and then firing off at like triple spindash speed once i cleared them.
  • suicidali - October 5, 2011 10:44 a.m.

    ... No werehog? No hoverboards? No Excalibur? You sure?
  • liadz - October 5, 2011 12:28 p.m.

    And no human princess romance? I'm afraid that's too good to be true. Also, fat Sonic is so much more charismatic than his modern version.
  • db1331 - October 5, 2011 12:51 p.m.

    Reading that while looking at your avatar cracked me up. It fits so perfectly.
  • mickeygfunk - October 5, 2011 9:40 a.m.

    so what about the input lag present in the PS3 demo, has that been fixed?
  • Burdmayn - October 5, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    Where did you experience lag? I've seen a few people mention this but I never noticed lag on either the 360 or ps3 version.
  • mickeygfunk - October 11, 2011 8:31 p.m.

    there is approximately 300ms of lag between button press and on screen reaction, it makes the demo unenjoyable and very hard to time jumps. i also notice it in all the sega genesis collection games (sonic 1-2, gunstar heroes, etc), and to be sure, i dug the old genesis 3 out of the closet to compare... there is a substantial input delay on the ps3 sonics.
  • shawksta - October 5, 2011 9:20 a.m.

    Awesome! Its great to see Sega do it right, they started off on the right foot with colors, now their going full flegded goodness. Interesting how the 3DS version is different in certain aspects, I also usully leave the 3D slider full, I wear glasses and it barely bothers me, I might pick both versions up.
  • EnigmaSpirit - October 5, 2011 2:47 p.m.

    I agree, they definitely started on the right foot with Colors. I am really looking forward to the full version. The 3DS seems cool too, but I grew up on Sonic Adventure, so I would like the balance of both gameplay styles. My 3ds has been kind of lonely lately though...
  • Diego_UK - October 5, 2011 8:52 a.m.

    I am way too excited for this game.
  • db1331 - October 5, 2011 8:51 a.m.

    You Sonic fans sure are an odd bunch. I have to give respect to anyone who was able to endure a decade or more of horrible games and still stand by their hedgehog, though. I'm not sure I could do the same. Hopefully this one turns out to be the game you have all been waiting for. Goodness knows you deserve it.
  • flabslapper - October 5, 2011 9:47 a.m.

    I WAS going to bust balls about Sonic the Hedgehog 4 part 2 never coming out but apparently it's in development so I'll just shut my mouth otherwise I agree with you (like usual lol) that Sonic fans deserve a good game, and hopefully this is it I wish I had that sort of patience though

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