So... Sonic the Hedgehog is now 20 years old and to celebrate, Sega are developing a game by the name of Sonic Generations (oh you haven't heard of it yet? - xboxresource.com/category.php?...
Generations will take fans back across the highlights of the past 20 years of Sonic's gaming history with all new rendered levels based upon those from the past games - Sonic 1, 2 & Knuckles, Sonic Adventure 1 & 2, Heroes, 2006, Unleashed and Colors. Each setting will have 5 stages (2 main stages, 3 side missions) similar to Sonic Unleashed. Not only that but you will also have the chance to play as, not only Modern Sonic (with all his trademark moves such as his homing attack etc...) in full 3D gameplay in the style of Sonic Colors/Unleashed, but also Modern Sonic and his signature 2D Platforming style gameplay. I won't hark on too much about what they are expecting to bring but instead I will focus on what they have brought so far in the Demo released earlier today - the Demo showcases Classic Sonics gameplay in the form of one Playable act of the Green Hill Zone.
Gameplay wise it pretty much plays exactly like the old Genesis/Mega Drive Sonic games did - a lot more so than Sonic 4 - now whilst I didn't have beef with Sonic 4's physics engine in most cases, it did have it's flaws and unfortunately so does Generations. I will explain...
First of all, although Sonic's Homing Attack is gone therefore eliminating the use of it to gain lots of speed quickly, the Spindash more than makes up for it. One pound of the spindash button can propell you to top speed instantly whereas back in the day (how old do I feel), you had to keep mashing the button to 'rev' it up if you wanted speed - thus sacrificing a few seconds of your time if you wanted to go fast. Whilst the Spindash can be activated by using the Down and Jump buttons - it can also be done using the X button on it's own - something which makes it even quicker to activate... something which I know sounds niggly but it just makes things too easy. The only redeeming quality to this ease of use is that you have to hold it down for a slight second otherwise Sonic kind of... doesn't go anywhere - I guess this makes up for the seconds saved by using it.
One more thing about the Spindash is that it appears you can activate it using said X button whilst you are still moving - fast in a lot of cases. Gone is the need to come to a complete stop to use it as pressing it mid-movement will grind you to a stop instantly and put you in spindash.
There are a few parts to the map which hold your hand through it, like the downwards spiral and the 'S' tunnels (which also propell you when entered) - although for the most part it's pretty much you controlling him. The spiral runway, the loop-de-loops and the springs can be all interacted with if you press jump or slow down - something that previous Sonic games have been scared to allow us to do.
Whilst Classic Sonic's chapters are mostly about platforming rather than speed, I did find myself being able to speed through the levels once I had learnt the layout... which is good since I like choices when it comes to games. I only came across Ring and Speed Shoe monitors whilst playing but the Speed Shoes didn't really make me feel any faster what with the Spindash doing it all for me.
The enemies didn't really bother me too much, a few of them were arkwardly placed but I assume this is just because it is the first level - therefore it isn't going to be hard.
Sonic Generations is graphically beautiful. Not only have they managed to capture Green Hills essence in a 2.5D environment - they have also added extras to make it look less bare and more fulfilling on the eye. Right down to the caves deep below the level (which weren't really a part of Classic Green Hill persay, they were there but never felt like Caves). But, whilst it is visually stunning it can also be detremental to the game... speed freaks won't get to witness it unless they slow down to enjoy the view... not only that but sometimes the scenery can distract you from gameplay and in some cases... make you think that some parts of it are actually platforms when they aren't. I remember trying to jump to a platform only to realise it was part of the background - shortly after which I fell.
From the moment you start the demo and are greeted by the revamped Sonic 1 title screen music, you just know... then when the remixed Green Hill music kicks in with a dancy beat in the back - yep, you're back there in the iconic Green Hill Zone. Since there is only a couple of music tracks in the game I can't really comment too much about them aside from the fact that they rock.
Sound effects wise it's pretty much what you'd expect from a Sonic game... Whoop when you jump, ping when you get a ring etc... although one thing I did notice is that background scenery/areas also provided sound effects - such as the waterfall and inside the caves.
Overall I think Sega is headed in the right direction with this... we have to remember that it is an early Demo so there is still time to make amendments. They have definitely captured the feel of Classic Sonic and the physics engine appears to be more faithful to the much loved old-style, more so than Sonic 4 did in my opinion. It isn't perfect in every way, but it is still one to watch out for and may even give Sonic Colors a run for it's money. As a long time Sonic fan myself, through good times and bad - I am honestly excited about this and look forward to seeing what I think are going to be a slew of positive feedback from it. Let's hope this is a sign of things to come from Sonic's future.