Last one for a while, I promise! Next week, we go back to model kits but I figured that this one deserves a review of its own, given how much hype it got on its announcement and subsequent release of a demo.
As everyone probably knows, this was the game made to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog. Early on, the main gimmick of the game was that it would allow you to play stages as the modern rendition of sonic alongside his more classic design. Basically, it could be thought of a polite way of Sega asking the “fanboys” to STFU!!! The game has 9 stages, each taken from a game from the backlog and reworked somewhat to allow both modern gameplay elements as well as the more classic ones. Act 1 has you playing in classic mode while act 2 has you in modern mode. Once those have been completed, challenges are unlocked which allow you to collect medals, artwork and music for use in the game. These range from time trials to taking advantage of your friends abilities to clear the stage or collecting a certain number of rings. The challenges are quite varied and, for the most part, short enough for a quick burst while fuelling that addiction to get an S rank upon completion.
Earlier, a demo of the Green Hill Zone, the first stage in the game, was released to give gamers a chance to see how it was stacking up. And I wasn’t very impressed. There was a lot of noise made when some fans released an early version of a HD remake of sonic the hedgehog soon after the release of Sonic 4. the whiny fanboys used it as an example to show to sega how they wanted a sonic game to play. The project was soon shut down and we got sonic generations.
The main issue I had with the demo was that it was incredibly difficult to distinguish between the background and the enemies, especially if you were running at speed so there were many points where I ran into enemies simply because you couldn’t see them and/or react fast enough! That was then. Luckily, after playing one of the later stages at the Eurogamer expo, I found that the same issue isn’t as prevalent in later stages but how someone could call the first stage as something they genuinely want is beyond me!
I went and splurged a little bit for my copy and got the European limited edition of the game which came with what you see here.
I posted an unboxing video over at tomopop so if you want a little more detail about the content, take a look but this post will look more at the game. Admittedly, after playing it, it is definitely one of the better sonic games in recent memory.
- Classic Stages – Green hill zone aside (it’s still decent but not as good as some would have you believe), the other early stages were quite a joy to play. Revisiting Chemical Plant zone as well as speed highway from sonic adventure showed that Sonic Team can still hack it when it comes to level design.
- Music – The remixes of the old stage music were all rather good but the modern stages won it all when I unlocked super sonic racing!!
- Perfect Chaos – It’s still a fantastic feeling beating up perfect chaos to the sound of Open your Heart by Crush40!
- That “one more time” feeling – Because of the grade system in place, when you do finish an act or a challenge, if it’s just a little bit off the next rank, you will find yourself playing it over and over again to get that extra rank!
- The minibosses – aside from the main bosses of death egg robot from sonic 2, perfect chaos from sonic adventure and egg dragoon from Sonic colours, you also need to beat metal sonic, shadow and Silver. And I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t feel some satisfaction from doing so!
- Later stages. While the earlier stages were fun, later ones quickly nosedive into bouts of frustration due to dodgy camera angles, unavoidable death pits and various other ailments which only serve to remind you of all the things that went wrong with the series (and this is for both modern and classic versions). Crisis City has absolutely no right to exist!!
- 3 lives – I can accept a 3 lives limit but what I can’t accept is losing 2 of those lives on one stage due to a particularly troublesome section, getting most of the way through the next stage and then dying and having to start from the beginning because I have no lives left…
- Footloose? – This is more of an issue with classic sonic than modern but there will be times where you just miss a jump or when you press the button and nothing happens. Such lapses of control are annoying because while you’re sure that you pressed the button, the rest of the game is so tight, it allows just a little bit of doubt to creep into your mind. Is it your fault or the game? Modern sonic has problems with the lock on function not picking up some enemies and clipping issues to contend with.
- Egg Dragoon – That boss is more reliant on luck than any level of skill!!
It’s impressive that, for a game which is meant to celebrate 20 years of Segas mascot, the game does such an uncanny job of mapping not just the highs but also the lows of the series so completely. The game itself seems to jump the shark after city escape from sonic adventure 2 and the less said about Crisis City from Sonic the Hedgehog 2006 the better. Things did improve a little with the last stage from sonic colours though, which correlates with the general trend for the series.
I don’t think that was their intention though. For the most part, the game is fun but never hits the highs of the series so far. However, the game does continue an upward trend in the quality of the most recent sonic games so perhaps it’s worth being a little more optimistic about the future of the series.
A belated Happy Birthday, Sonic!