Shortly after trying out Sonic Generations on PS3 and 360 (one level on each!), I sat down with the game’s portable brother. On 3DS, the option to play as Classic or Modern Sonic was relegated to a choice between two of the zone’s "acts." Act 1 was Classic Sonic, with act 2 assigned to Modern. I can’t help but wonder if Sega is going to do this with the console version as well…
Naturally, I started with the first act and found an experience very similar to the classic Sonic level that I played on the PS3. Momentum-based platforming, physics very similar to Sonic 1, and iconic Green Hill Zone enemies and music. The biggest differences I found were that Classic Sonic could no longer enter his rolling spin-dash with a single button and that the level was incredibly short. Admittedly, the invincibility powerup I found was instrumental to my success, but I cleared the stage in 38 seconds! Those 38 seconds were fun, mind you, but very brief and straightforward.
Act 2, however, was a different story. Inspired by the "Modern" segments in the console versions of Generations, this 3DS version was still a side-scroller, but had changed around some things from the side-scrolling Sonic most are familiar with. For one thing, the spin dash has been eliminated entirely, instead focusing Sonic’s skills into his invincible boost (performed with the Y button) and homing attack (the jump button again in midair). Sonic could slide if the player tries to crouch while boosting, but aside from getting through a few momentum-blocking barriers, I didn’t find much use for it.
Sliding ability aside, act 2 was wild, making clever use of the 3DS’s 3D capabilities to add to the frenetic pace of the game. Sonic might start grinding on a rail only to be dropped off on a platform further in the background than the original one, then bounce off of a spring and land closer to the screen than ever before. While I realize that what I wrote didn’t sound like the most compelling thing in the world, when moments like that are simply a couple of seconds interspersed with homing attacking from enemy to enemy, dodging spikes, and dashing through the level at ludicrous speeds, it’s pretty cool. It managed to convey a sense of the console version’s rollercoaster-style gameplay in a side-scrolling format.
After finishing act 2, I faced off against the boss "Big Arm," once again having been given control over Classic Sonic. Living up to his name, the boss attempted to punch Sonic as he ran around the stage. Whenever the boss readied himself for a punch, he lowered the underside of his body to a point low enough for me to strike. After doing this for a while, he wised up and tried to grab Sonic and smack him onto the ground.
I leapt over his spiked head and rushed up to hit his vulnerable underbelly as he went by. On occasion, he would try to approach Sonic and deliver a palm-strike that would send Sonic flying to one of the ends of the circular platform he was fighting on, changing the axis of the fight in a way that had no bearing on the actual gameplay, but added a more dynamic feeling to the battle.
Sonic Generations for the 3DS will be released alongside its PS3 and 360 counterparts in Winter 2011.
Food for thought:
In all versions of the game, Classic Sonic runs by Robotnik signs (which are then changed to Sonic signs) to complete his levels, and Modern Sonic jumps through giant floating rings. Well played, Sega.