Like its console counterparts, Sonic Generations on 3DS lets you play as Classic and Modern Sonic. The game is broken up into seven stages, each one consisting of two acts. Act 1 is always Classic Sonic, while Act 2 is Modern Sonic. After completing both acts, you unlock a forward-running bonus act.
There’s a clear difference between the feel of Classic and Modern Sonic. Classic Sonic can perform the old Spin Dash (hold down and press jump) while Modern Sonic can perform a highspeed boost dash (Y button). Initially, Modern Sonic is also the only one of the two with a homing attack. Once you’re close enough to an enemy, a red reticule will appear over them. You can jump once to get in the air, and then press the jump button a second time to perform a homing attack. Once you complete the Genesis stages (Green Hill, Casino Night and Mushroom Hill), Classic Sonic acquires the homing attack as well, making him a lot more useful than he is at first.
That having been said, I largely preferred the Modern Sonic stages throughout my time with Sonic Generations, and this is because of his boost dash.
The Classic Sonic stages in Generations are what Sonic players are familiar with: go higher to get through the stage faster, or go lower to explore more. Despite this, Classic Sonic can only really be speedy for so long before a spike trap or an ill-placed enemy pops up in your path and stops you dead in your tracks. As long as you’re rolled up into a ball (your Spin Dash form), you’ll roll through enemies just fine and maintain your speed. However, soon enough, a jump or a ramp will force you out of ball form, which means you’ll be vulnerable to getting hurt again, and something will eventually hit and slow you down.
Modern Sonic, on the other hand, is much, much more focused on speed. The difference here is his boost dash. Modern Sonic has a boost gauge at the bottom-left of the screen, which you can fill up by attacking enemies. As long as you have some portion of the gauge filled up, you can hold down Y to perform a continuous boost dash, which:
a) Looks and sounds very cool (the music fades out, too!).
b) Makes you go very fast and right through most enemies, unless you happen to get unlucky and are knocked out of your dash.
Keeping your boost gauge filled up is usually not very difficult at all, and I found myself boost-dashing throughout the majority of the Modern Sonic stages, which felt great. You’re always moving forward, almost never having to turn back or slow down, and if you make a mistake and do slow down, the boost dash will ensure that it’s never for too long. You practically feel like you’re flying when you Boost Dash in mid-air, which is a sense of freedom that Classic Sonic never gives you.
Modern Sonic stages are more stylish, too. Not only are they faster, but there are sections, like in the Mushrom Hill Zone for example, where the perspective changes to a third-person view that’s behind your back for a short while. This constant change makes the Modern Sonic stages feel more dynamic overall, and those are the ones I found myself replaying over and over again to get better scores.
There aren’t any cutscenes in Sonic Generations on 3DS. The story is told using very basically-animated models of the characters that substitute for character portraits. Boss fights are in the game as well, and are different for Classic and Modern Sonic. Classic boss fights are races, while Modern boss fights are actual boss fights.
As you play more of the game, you unlock missions in the Mission mode as well. These involve high-level play, such as clearing a certain act within a specified time without, say, defeating any enemies or losing a life. There’s 100 of these missions to unlock. Some of them are unlocked using 3DS Play Coins or by Street Passing with other 3DS owners.
Food for thought:
Sometimes, I wished Sega had included an option to play as Tails and Knuckles. I remember in the case of the Genesis Sonic games, I would love playing as Tails because certain levels were much easier to complete with his helicopter tail ability, and it made exploring stages for items fun, too. Knuckles was a fantastic character to control as well, in Sonic & Knuckles, thanks to his gliding move.