Sonic Generations: An E3 Eyes On Preview

TIME :2022-07-03

sonic generations

When I knew I pulled the preview for Sonic Generations I was genuinely excited. The last year has been excellent for Sonic. The great Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, and the rather good Sonic Colors are the most recent standard bearers of the series. In the last year a true Sonic renaissance has occurred. I had literally forgotten all of the tripe Sega put us through in the last decade. This set the stage for the celebratory Sonic Generations.

The game is a mash up of ‘best of’ stages from previous Sonic games. The hook is that each of these stages is remastered in both the Classic Sonic style of 2D and the Modern Sonic style 3D momentum based gameplay. It’s an interesting idea to be sure, but the execution was more than lacking.

The demo began with the side scrolling take on the originally 3D City Escape level from Sonic Adventure 2. As soon as the presentation started, harrowing flaws became apparent. The game felt slow, not in the sense of Sonic, but in the sense of frame rate. It was heartbreakingly slow, in fact. If there is one game at E3 that cannot afford to make a misstep, it is Sonic Generations. Everyone knows how important the sense of speed is to a Sonic game, and I’d be inclined to forgive the framerate issue if it was the only technical flaw I saw but unfortunately they abounded. The graphics were ugly. They looked like they were lifted straight out of the Dreamcast engine and given a spit shine, at most. 

The hook of the City Escape level there is an 18 wheeler that chases Sonic. The truck crashes through parts of the level geometry providing an interesting, dynamically changing level. However it all falls apart at the seams because the level geometry was destroyed a full second or more before the truck crashes through it. The sense of tension was shattered, and the developer demonstrating the game lost a life on a cheap death that was not caused by player error. If it’s starting to sound like ye olde Sonic issues of 2006, I’m sorry. 

The 3D section of the same level didn’t fare much better. However the graphics were improved, which was good, but jarring. The gameplay suffered from the same hit detection issues, and they proved hilarious in ways that they shouldn’t have. This version of City Escape featured Sonic riding a hoverboard. Sonic would occasionally ride straight through an enemy, or have his momentum completely stopped by an object that looked penetrable. As amusing as it was at the time it didn’t encourage much confidence in the final product.

Now, technical issues can be fixed but the reason I’m figuring them so prominently in this preview is because Sonic Generations is due in Q4, so its release is a bit close for comfort. Believe me, I want to like Sonic Generations. I want to celebrate Sonic’s 20th anniversary with a great game, not a great concept and sour execution. The developers have a huge amount of work ahead of them to get this game up to the standards Sonic set for himself last year. Whether or not the team can pull the project together in time remains to be seen.