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Sonic Generations (Nintendo 3DS) Review

Review for Sonic Generations on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

2011 marked the year that a good number of popular gaming franchises hit milestone anniversaries. Most widely known and celebrated with a number of games across different Nintendo machines was The Legend of Zelda’s 25th landmark year. Metroid hit the same point, though was sadly glanced over in favour of Link’s higher status. Additionally, Nintendo’s oldest rival, SEGA, now one of its greatest allies, recognised the 20-year mark of its speedy blue mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, choosing to honour the occasion with a game that chronicled some of his most memorable games and levels, Sonic Generations. While the Wii and DS have Sonic Colours to call their own, however, sadly both machines miss out on this iteration, with SEGA choosing the High Definition machines to house Sonic’s greatest hits collection. However, Dimps, the creators of the Sonic Rush series for the original DS, has given the 3DS a Generations game to call its own. Does Sonic’s first foray into the realms of 3D imagery leave a lasting impression, or will the friction prove too much for the eyes?

Much like the more appreciated of Sonic’s gaming catalogue, Sonic Generations keeps the plot to a minimum and lets the player just get on with the game. The story goes that after his defeat at the end of Sonic Colours, Dr. Eggman comes across a creature in the depths of space with unique abilities to distort time and matter, and he takes control of this beast to try and undo his past failures. Modern day Sonic is invited to his birthday bash, which is subsequently ruined when the monster turns up and sucks everyone into a white void with colourless hub representations of past zones and levels. To restore the timeline, 'Modern Sonic' must team up with his past iteration to conquer and bring back the colour to each zone. Cue lots of running and jumping.

Sonic Generations primarily consists of a selected zone from each of Sonic’s past headlining games (bar a few recent titles), with Act One of that Zone reserved for the 'Classic Sonic' momentum-based gameplay, and Act Two put aside for the 'Modern Sonic' speed-based play. At the end of each zone is a special stage directly based on the one from Sonic Heroes, whereas you take control of Modern Sonic as he speeds through a shifting tube to catch up with a fleeing Chaos Emerald. There are seven zones in all, one for each Emerald, with Boss Battles between groups of stages.

Only seven zones naturally means that some of Sonic’s main games are not represented in the same way as in the HD version of the game. Omitted titles include Sonic the Hedgehog 06, Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Heroes (minus the special stage representation). Although a zone from Sonic Rush is included in this and not any other version, the lower number does contribute to a lesser main game lifespan for Sonic Generations on Nintendo 3DS.

Screenshot for Sonic Generations on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

One of the levels in each Zone, depending upon the main form of it in its original game, brings with it the original backing track, whilst the second level uses a remixed tune. Some of the remixes can be hit or miss, but all are generally enjoyable to listen to, and unlockable tracks from the deepest corners of Sonic gamedom provide that nostalgia kick even more so, though sadly they cannot be used in a level replay, you can only listen to them from the collection menu.

Classic Sonic is represented in his original form; black eyes, short build, and silent-but-sparky demeanour. His levels take the traditional 2D route of regular running, loops and spin dashes, with each of the classic zones given a visual makeover, but still processing the same layout and feel as the original iterations. For the newer Adventure titles he gets his own 2D version of the zone, which thankfully continues the streamlined feel of the original levels. Classic Sonic’s controls could not be simpler; A or B to jump, Slide Pad or D-Pad to move, and Down + A or B to speed dash. A story plot point around halfway does force him to equip a homing attack move somewhat required for later levels, however, which may annoy traditionalists wanting a pure Sonic experience, though this technique works okay as a move and does not take away anything.

Modern Sonic’s green eyes and lankier exterior has similar 2D levels, but coupled with a three-dimensional shift from time-to-time, and backed with Sonic Rush physics and gameplay. Basically these are the speed sections that make heavy use of the boost bar, which can be refilled by destroying enemies and collecting rings. Modern Sonic loses the speed dash, though the boost function does compensate for that easily, and gains a wall jump, slide, and stomp move-set to boot. The slide can be tricky to use with the Slide Pad, but is rarely required really.

Screenshot for Sonic Generations on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

All action takes place on the 3D widescreen up top, the touch-screen being relegated to a status and help screen instead of a second vertical view of the level like in previous Sonic DS games. This does, however, mean that the 3D effect can work its magic for the first time in a Sonic title, and the effect is excellent for both Classic and Modern Sonic levels, enriching the depth of the former’s backgrounds and deeply emphasising the size of the latter’s free-moving 3D segments. The special stage with the 3D slider on speaks for itself, becoming a useful aid on judging the distance between Sonic and the bombs in his path.

This boost in visual ability unfortunately does not hide the rather lacklustre presentation elsewhere in the game, as cut-scenes consist of character models and lines of text, with barely any voicework, and use of portraits instead of antagonists actually swooping in. Only the characters essential to the plot are shown in the game, so fans of Knuckles, Amy, and the Chaotix Crew may be disappointed by their absence.

Sonic Generations’ main campaign mode is quite short for an experienced player, lasting around four hours at most, but Dimps has included a surprising amount of replay value in the cartridge. Mission Mode makes an appearance in this version of Generations too, this time not being a main prerequisite for completing the main game, instead being just a sideline extra to beat at your convenience. Around ten missions are there for the taking, with dozens more opening up as more of the game is played or data is exchanged with StreetPass buddies. These missions range from simple endeavours, such as beating a certain zone in an allocated limit, beating 'X' number of enemies, or finding and hitting a number of item boxes, for example, but all help to extend the life of Sonic Generations substantially; more so when you consider that subsequent missions can be unlocked with Play Coins from the pedometer feature of the 3DS.

Screenshot for Sonic Generations on Nintendo 3DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

The StreetPass features, in particular, are very strong in this game, the basis of which is the customisable Profile Card you can fill out that holds your data, rank, and completion score, with cards being swapped when connecting with other Sonic Generations owners. Time Attack for each Act, the special stage, and boss level are included, as is an online worldwide ranking table for the best times that also yields unlockable music tracks, art samples and 3D models upon completion.

The last padding out feature is probably the most notable; Versus Mode. Be it a local connection with a friend (that sadly requires a cartridge for both players) or Internet play with registered friends and random opponents, this mode is fun and rewarding, although with only one Sonic on screen at a time to compensate for a lower frame-rate and level events that would otherwise block the second player’s progression. All levels, including the special stages, can be raced through, minus the boss levels. The touch-screen provides a handy indicator of where each player is in the level, so even though you can only see a marker to indicate their progress on the main screen, you can still see how far ahead or behind you are overall.

Screenshot for Sonic Generations on Nintendo 3DS- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review


A solid representation of Classic Sonic gameplay, coupled with the modern take of platforming speed, ensures a little something for everyone. Touch-screen is sadly underutilised, but control is otherwise functional and responsive.


Bright and colourful imagery depict classic stages in all their glory and make the special stages something to behold. The 3D slider boosts visual appeal greatly, though a reduced frame-rate in Versus Mode lets the side down.


Voice work is sparse for cut-scenes, and some of the remixed music sounds slightly off, but the sheer number of classic tracks will delight any nostalgic player, young or old.


The initial game is over far too quickly thanks to the low number of stages, but the sheer amount to do and unlock during, and after, the main mode gives this Sonic game one of the highest replay incentives in the series.

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

The blue speedster, both past and present, delivers a solid first outing on Nintendo 3DS. Sonic Generations' main game itself is rather sparse both in terms of presentation and content, but everything after that ensures that no fan will leave any ring uncollected, and the 3D effect brings a whole new solid perspective to the franchise’s roots.

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Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?
KTE (guest) 30.01.2012 01:44#1

3DS version of Son Gens is really boring. The older levels are good. Adventure segment is terrible and glitchy, in-fact the whole game is glitchy. And short too. BOOOOORING

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

After all the success of Sonic games on Wii, I still don't understand SEGA's reasoning behind ditching the system...

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
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i honestly think the review is too nice, i was really disappointed with the game as a whole, terrible level design, worse boss fights in any sonic game, the game as a whole is boring as hell and either too easy or cheap pit deaths and the graphics are really inexcusable.

Mahboi (guest) 30.01.2012 06:56#4

I'm extremely sick of people saying that the graphics are bad. SG3DS easily has the best handheld Sonic game graphics thus far, including the Rivals series on the PSP.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Mahboi (guest) said:
I'm extremely sick of people saying that the graphics are bad. SG3DS easily has the best handheld Sonic game graphics thus far, including the Rivals series on the PSP.

Rivals had awful graphics and the 3DS could do better.
Still, it does look nice. (Generations I mean)

I also think the review is a little too nice, the game is solid but really lazy and has big stage design issues and etc. Compared to how stuffed full the HD version is, there's not really much reason for the 3DS version to be so.. barren. Especially when plenty of other titles show the 3DS is capable of a lot more. Generations 3DS is the very definition of "lazy handheld version of big console game."

Perhaps my standards were set a little high, but coupled with the copypaste reuse of stage design for Casino Night and Mushroom Hill as well as the fact that much of the 'new music' was literally just reusing tracks from old games instead of remixing them in the slightest.

It is silly that a Wii version wasn't made, it's like saying WE DON'T WANT SALES. Still this was a nice way to push the 3DS and hopefully the WiiU will get an exclusive 3D Sonic much like the Wii did a couple of years ago (Colours was fabtastic).

( Edited 30.01.2012 13:45 by SuperLink )

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Graphically it's hit and miss to be honest - earlier levels do tend to look better, whilst the latter a bit bland and generic. very short too and some weird glitch/unavoidable moments :/

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

And ah come to think of it, Colours was supposedly the end result of a scrapped Generations Wii version. The game has been in development/planning for a very long time, so instead they decided to turn the Wii version into a game that loosely tied into Generations.

Rumours suggest the WiiU Sonic will be a sequel to Colours/Generations so it'd make sense..

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

I actually stopped playing the second classic Sonic learnt the homing attack. Ridiculous.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Mason said:
I actually stopped playing the second classic Sonic learnt the homing attack. Ridiculous.

Not a bad feature- what is ridiculous is the fact you can't turn it off. On the HD version Homing Attack is something that's pretty hard to unlock, and it's toggleable too.

Also ridiculous is the fact that many of Classic Sonic's stages are really hard to get through without it so it's hardly "optional".
I understand it being in Sonic 4 but Generations is meant to imitate the old style.

Twitter | C3 Writer/Moderator | Backloggery

jesusraz said:
After all the success of Sonic games on Wii, I still don't understand SEGA's reasoning behind ditching the system...

Probably moved onto WiiU.

>Bottomless pits.

Enough said.

unknown (guest) 04.06.2012 22:00#12

are there glitches in 3ds generations becuz i never encountered any

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