Thursday, June 23, 2011

At Least Sega Is Doing Something with Sonic's 20th Anniversary...

Today is the actual 20th Anniversary of Sonic The Hedgehog and at least Sega decided to do something cool unlike most companies (yeah you Nintendo). A limited demo for Sonic Generations was released today for Xbox Live and Playstation Network (At least the UK Playstation Store now as the US Store will likely get it later today unless they're lazy). What I mean by limited? Well, there is only one level which is the infamous Green Hill Zone and you play as just classic Sonic. The whole theme of Sonic Generations is playing as both classic and modern versions of Sonic as classic is in the glory 2D days as modern reminds you of recent games, so it is a little unfortunate modern Sonic is not playable in this demo. Another reason why it is limited is that you can only play it for 20 days (no pun intended I guess) and then it goes down. Then again, demos for games out in the fall usually don't get released this early, so Sega gave us a treat that at least is something. Besides this demo, there is a sale that you can buy a bundle of Sonic 1, 2, 4: Episode I, and Adventure DX for 20 bucks. That is not that bad of a deal if you haven't bought them yet on Xbox Live or PSN, but certainly there are better things to buy unless you're a Sonic nut.

Anyway, playing as classic Sonic in this short demo seems okay for the most part. It is definitely 2D bringing back the Genesis days (when Sonic games were good!!!) and he doesn't have the tricks modern Sonic would have such as the homing attack (he's classic for a reason). He does have the spin dash though, which makes playthroughs of this one Green Hill level seem fast. Sega so far has managed to get the sense of speed right especially when Sonic is running, but of course it still feels momentum-based as there will be moments of pacing methodically and carefully at platforming sections. Other than that, classic Sonic controls fine, but of course hardcore Sonic fans will get too picky especially with the physics, which Sega has struggled to find the sweet spot they would be satisfied with. Graphically, Sonic Generations could of looked better, but considering it is an early build, they have time to make some improvements, specifically with the framerate. Sega has a good track record of games that run smoothly at 60 frames per second, but if the final game is running at 30 fps like this demo, that is not going to cut it for the game in general. Then there is the motion blur, which is expected, but I can see it being a problem for some people (not me though). The music, however, is great as the remastered Green Hill Zone track turned on my nostalgia light bulb.

Although the demo is short, I do have some high hopes for Sonic Generations as it could finally be the one that Sega gets it right. Then again, I feel like I'm falling into the infamous trap that is the Sonic Cycle. Deep down, I have a feeling Sega will find a way to ruin it as they did with past Sonic games (the Werehog in Unleashed, the abomination that was Sonic 2006, and others). I can already see certain fans disappointed as they dig deep in the demo's files (yeah some people are too hardcore) figuring out any leaked details as they can. If those details and rumors are right, perhaps this is not the nostalgic trip most fans are hoping for with the inclusion of characters from recent games in some form. We shall see as Sonic Generations is out this fall on Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.