Sonic Generations - A Very In Depth Review
Sunday, 20th November 2011, 2:25pm (UTC), 20 Comments
If at any point within the last ten years you'd have told me that to celebrate Sonic's 20th anniversary, Sega would release a new game in which you could play as both Classic Sonic and Modern Sonic in recreations of nine levels from Sonic history, I probably would have laughed in your face and then attempt to edge away from the conversation. Sure, it's the game we've all dreamed about at some point I'm sure - the idea that we'd once again be able see the Death Egg rise from the clouds in Sky Sanctuary, race Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway or irresponsibly board down the streets of City Escape, all in glorious HD. But for years with barely a hint of looking back - afterall, it's never been in Sonic's nature to do so - it seemed excruciatingly unlikely to ever come to fruition, and perhaps Sonic's vintage adventures would be forever confined to endless ports and compilation appearances, without any really precise acknowledgement of their great contents.

However, that was then but now things are a bit different. Sega seem more willing to listen and cooperate with fans these days and this has lead to something of a full circle motion, with more classic-oriented features and design decisions, and in turn, noticeably better games too. There's no better time for us to reflect on Sonic's long journey with a game that briefly stops, pauses and looks back lovingly at nostalgic Sonic lore in a way that also somehow feels totally new and highly exciting. There was a time when you would dread reading the reviews of a big new Sonic game. Hopefully, those times, a bit like Sonic Generations itself, are now in the past..

Note that by reading this, I'm assuming that you have either played the game yourself and are comparing notes, or, for some bizarre reason, are still on the fence about buying it and want to know more. If the latter, I hope you don't mind SPOILERS! Still, it's not going to be much more than what Sega will have already tried to tell you about in their many trailers for the game anyway.

I realise that this review goes on far far longer than it really should - longer even than my own University dissertation by several thousand words in fact, so please don't feel obliged to do any more than dip in and out on certain bits, but I really didn't want to compromise on any of it, not least of all because it's already taken me a week to write it and I really shouldn't spend any more time trying to make it more concise. So, here we go!...

Decisions, decisions

As a Sonic fan who puts the study of Sonic levels at the highest of all concerns, this is truly a game that I can appreciate a great deal, as it's almost entirely about celebrating wonderful, specific zones and their iconic features from 20 years worth of major Sonic titles. Practically my dream game! Selecting just nine levels to recreate from a back catalogue of literally hundreds is a tall order for anyone, and there's a hell of a lot that could have neatly slotted in here and produced just as many goosebumps - perhaps moreso in some cases, though in my view these are in the minority and overall, the nine 'chosen ones' are a pretty good selection, considering that it was always going to balanced fairly across the eras and that there was probably only ever going to be room for one level from any single game.

You've probably known exactly what was coming for months now thanks to a highly irritating leaked list, but if you're anything like me, you might have been trying to avoid its contents (mostly in vain) like the plague in order to try and save up as many surprises as possible. Shortly after the game was announced I put together a list of viable candidates and assessed the way in which they could be organised. Though I only got three of them bang on, I did successfully predict that nine levels, one each from a selection of the main games in the series, would be divided into three clear eras, and that they would be played in chronological order. As such, the game, just so we're all clear, has..

The classic era, including Green Hill from Sonic 1, Chemical Plant from Sonic 2 and Sky Sanctuary from Sonic & Knuckles, plus a rival fight with Metal Sonic, inspired by the Stardust Speedway race from Sonic CD, and an Eggman boss, inspired by Sonic 2's final battle aboard the Death Egg.

The middle, 'Adventure' era holds Sonic Adventure's Speed Highway, Sonic Adventure 2's City Escape and Seaside Hill from Sonic Heroes. An SA2-inspired rival battle with Shadow follows, as does the Perfect Chaos boss from Sonic Adventure (though not as Super Sonic).

Finally, the modern era rounds things up with Crisis City from Sonic '06, Rooftop Run off of Sonic Unleashed, and, to my slight surprise, Planet Wisp, from the very recent Sonic Colours. Silver in Crisis City plays the rival this time, followed by an Egg Dragoon boss battle from Unleashed (not as the Werehog thankfully).

Normally, levels for any new, original game are ordered in a way that makes sense, so that things kick off with a happy level, and end on quite a dramatic one, with various degrees of seriousness in between, sometimes according to what the story dictates. But a bit like arranging songs on a playlist, if you're going to do it right, then there is a certain art to it. You don't want too many similar levels lumped together, and certain types seem to fit best at certain points in the game. When I made my predictions, I based my choices on the correct assumption that they would roughly be ordered chronologically, so when I came to each game, I picked a level from it that made sense when appearing at that particular point in the story.

Sadly, from accidental reading of people's comments and tweets (which is what really sucks about leaks and spoilers, but I plan on discussing the damage from all of that at a later date) I either outright knew of, or could intelligently deduce the identities of all but one of these levels, and as such I must admit I had difficulty believing that they would fit into a chronological order. I didn't know anything about how the story would develop at that time, but I could only imagine scenarios that would best suit having the levels ordered more randomly. Perhaps Eggman takes the opportunity of time being mixed up to go back and collect all of his greatest works and bring them together at once - his greatest prize being the Death Egg. This would allow Sky Sanctuary to be a much later level, and act as the setting for a climactic dash to the reborn space station. Or, even though it wasn't one originally, I could see Crisis City as an equally effective dystopian final level, flinging our heroes into an alternate far future. Thematically speaking, both make a little more sense than Planet Wisp to be honest, which is quite a melancholic level, but not a very dramatic one.

But I can live with that, as it's little more than just a curious decision that's easily shrugged off. What does bother me a little bit more is the sheer abundance of city-based environments throughout the whole game. There are four clear city levels (five if you include Chemical Plant, though this version doesn't really do much to emphasise the sky scrapers seen in the background of the original), plus Stardust Speedway in the Metal Sonic battle, and that's all rather a lot - too many, I would say, to make up a neatly balanced game. Crisis City, Rooftop Run and City Escape do all have their own unique themes to differentiate them quite clearly, in fairness - they are very much different types of city level, which generally is a very broad type anyway. But Speed Highway I really have to question, and if I'm honest is probably the only level whose inclusion I really have a problem with.

I kind of understand why it's here, for many players it was one of the first 3D levels that really offered that sense of amazing speed to a significant degree. But Sonic games have had so many iconic level types that haven't really had a look in on this game - ice levels, flying fortress levels, mountainous levels, egyptian levels and not forgetting of course the crucial pinball/'bouncy' level. Some of them might have slight hints at various points in the game, but Speed Highway is just such a generic city that it's a shame that it's occupying a much sought-after slot in the game while levels based on those other types go AWOL. What I think has happened is that they've focused so much on bringing together lots of iconic, meaningful environments, that they've slightly forgotten to carefully balance that with the need to create a more varied list that also more fairly covers the different types of Sonic level that we've come to love over the years. In short, they've made slightly more of a compilation pack of favourite levels, than a Sonic game filled with a wide variety of environments that feels like it progresses in the way that it normally should.

Plus, because of their decision to order chronologically, Speed Highway and City Escape, two very similar urban city levels, are sat right next to each other. By all means, accuse me of being overly nitpicky because I probably am, but that fact alone does bother me quite a bit. City Escape should be here but if it were up to me, I'd have definitely been insistant on swapping Speed Highway for another Sonic Adventure level. There are some great ones to choose from - Ice Cap or Sky Deck would have been better choices, but I still would have gone with my original pick of Twinkle Park, which will effectively capture the much needed 'bouncy' stage and will have done wonders I think.

Now that the rants are out the way though, I want to emphasise that the above points do little to dent my love of this game, and my belief that otherwise, this is a great selection of levels. It's all too easy to take for granted now that memorable places have been brought back from the dead and beautifully re-imagined, but lets not forget just how much of a treat that really is. To see the likes of Chemical Plant, an environment so perfectly etched into my childhood reborn again in amazing detail with all of its terrifying features and music intact is jaw-dropping. Never in a million years did I think I'd see the Sky Sanctuary again, convinced that Sega barely even knew it ever existed any more, and I can't describe the wonderful feeling of relief and excitement that met me upon first laying eyes on the Death Egg looming over the whole of the classic level. It's so crucial to the epic storyline of Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles, that nothing else will have really been as perfect to include.

Rooftop Run is one of my favourite stages too, so I'm thrilled that it's made the cut. As for Seaside Hill, I admit I was a bit dubious at first, given that it's so similar in principal to Green Hill, but luckily they've really focused on the Ocean Palace elements to the environment, turning it into more of a water ruins level that happens to be by the sea, and for this it earns its place in the game as far as I'm concerned. We're pretty used to seeing Green Hill re-imagined all the time, but when it comes down to it, this is one game that it couldn't have been absent from. Every single level is recreated absolutely beautifully, but perhaps in some ways, this iconic first ever stage is still the most visually amazing.

Overall, aside from the one slip up, I do think they've done really well with this list, and as I will come to describe in more detail later on, almost without exception they are all great fun to play, and highly addictive. They may have leaned more towards capturing particular favourite or iconic levels, rather than also considering the overall balance of level types and how it impacts on the thematic flow of the game, but they've not been afraid to really delve into each of the games covered to pick not just obvious environments (a game that's just full of first or second levels would have been a wasted opportunity) but really meaningful ones that, in many cases, only the real die hard fans will be able to recognise.

Playing as two Sonics

Obviously, a big question/concern for this game will have been how successfully Classic Sonic's controls and maneuvers have been brought back and translated into "2.5D". We've had an insight into this for a while now thanks to the initial 20 day demo released back in June, and while you could get used to the specifics of running about as Classic Sonic, there were a few things that didn't feel quite right. He seemed quite heavy to move around, and had a fairly weak jump. It's hard to say exactly what's been tweaked since then, but it definitely feels like improvements have been made, as Classic Sonic's jump and overall weight definitely feel more comfortable now.

Inevitably comparisons will be made between these physics and those of Sonic 4, which as we're all probably aware, had its fair share of not-quite-rightness about it, putting some off completely. Well, this time it generally feels much closer to the originals. Sonic 4 lacked a sense of momentum about it, as whenever you jumped, the speed gained from your current sprint wasn't really applied to it and could halt you completely. Thankfully, not so anymore - this Classic Sonic has a real chaotic sense of speed behind him, and the spin dash really helps with this. Not only is it extremely powerful, but it can be performed in pretty much three different ways. The original method of "down, tap tap tap" is of course present and correct, but I find that the use of the X button is even easier, which you can either hold to begin charging and then release, or tap repeatedly to rev it up, and then it'll release when you stop tapping. He tends to go into an awkward forward roll if you just press it once and don't hold it down for long enough, which can get annoying in tricky situations. The ease of using a single button for a spin dash though means that it can be performed while running, much like the spin dash in 3D games such as SA1 and 2, and you don't have to wait until Sonic stops completely. Purists may have something to argue about - they normally do - but I really like it.

What some will definitely still moan about is that his roll, normally performed while heading down a slope to increase speed, is still not quick enough, as was the case in Sonic 4. However this time with a powerful spin dash I never found it bothersome, and there are few places in the levels that really call for it anyway. In general the precise physics and jump aren't exactly the same as the classics, but once you get used to them and exactly how far you can expect him to jump, it feels incredibly natural and fun. They've obviously spent a long time refining it to be just right. Perhaps they are at their best in Green Hill however, whose simple level design allows you to just keep running and increasing your momentum in exactly the way that the original level, and others like it, encouraged. There's nothing quite like the hectic dash of Classic Sonic going at full pelt, gracefully bopping enemies and jumping over platforms without losing a step of pace.

Sonic's modern look brings with it a much more predictable, tried and tested approach from the recent games, yet subtle refinements to this formula have been added to work for the better. Whereas the Classic Sonic levels employ a strictly left/right 2D control system, Modern Sonic of course switches between the two regularly, exactly as he has done in Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colours. Sonic Unleashed is the clearer comparison, as they both use the hedgehog engine and, well, the same control pad. Speaking of which though you'll immediately notice some differences there. Before, a double tap of the A button would do nothing, and A then X would perform a homing attack if near an enemy, or a jump dash/mid-air boost depending on whether or not you had any boost energy at the time. Though perhaps simpler, it did mean you'd occasionally go flying off of a platform with a powerful boost if performed at the wrong instant, which was annoying. Now, the moves are more clearly separated, double A for a homing attack/mild jump dash, A then X for a mid-air boost. It's initially confusing to keep switching these moves back and forth all the time from game to game, but this method seems to make sense now. The jump dash is still the one where he sort of darts forward and then drops straight down, rather than the older method that was more of a sling forward, maintaining momentum. Though the older was useful for a quick dash of speed, this newer method has proved handy on several occasions for reaching a platform, or successfully retreating back to one after a mis-jump.

There's another tweak that's slightly less agreeable to me, and that's the preference over using the thumbstick to hop between adjacent grind rails, like Sonic Colours, rather than the left and right shoulder buttons, like Sonic Unleashed. The quick step still uses the shoulder buttons, so I found this a little confusing at first. You soon get used to it, but I don't see what harm having both options would have done. There's also a satisfying trick mechanic now, while flying through the air off of most ramps, similar to the Sonic Rush games. If you twiddle the left stick, you'll perform various mid-air tricks that will increase your boost gauge, and if nothing else, at least gives you something stimulating to do while you're waiting for Sonic to land.

Most of Modern Sonic's other moves, the slide, the stomp, the light dash, the wall jump and of course the speed boost are all present and correct, this time available right from the start! The levels employ each of them gradually in turn, and a tutorial is offered at each point in which they first appear, but there's nothing to stop Sonic experts from going right ahead with them from the get-go, which is a nice touch that really demonstrates that this is a very fan-focused game. There are some new caveats to some of the moves, for example the light dash no longer works on just any line of rings but just a few specific lines, denoted by glowing bits, but unfortunately pressing Y near them is not always that responsive. Likewise, I believe that wall jumping can only be performed on designated red and black wall portions now, but this actually seems to work better than it has done in the past.

What I really liked were the improvements made to Sonic's controls in 3D areas, particularly during slower, more precise bits. Sonic Unleashed had a very inconsistent feel here - in some places Sonic controlled quite comfortably, other times he would be slipping around all over the place. Things feel more consistent this time, and generally much tighter, yet there is still the flexibility for quicker movement when on the run, which I think was always the difficulty for them to get quite right. There are still the occasional moments where you might slip and fall, and the level design still isn't always necessarily shy about death drops, which I'll come to later, but these moments definitely feel rarer than they have done previously, and nowhere near as frustrating. Moving and jumping around when in 2D mode doesn't feel at all dissimilar to the way in which classic Sonic does so, which is just as well otherwise it could get confusing. I very occasionally want to try and jump dash as Classic Sonic, and may even get confused between whether I should be holding or pressing the X button for a spin dash or a boost, but generally the two feel different enough from each other to not have their move sets confused, yet their movements feel very similar, and that's actually quite an impressive feat to pull off I think.

Ring loss is a bit of a tricky subject with Modern Sonic. Unlike in Unleashed, where certain amounts of rings simply fell away with no hope of being reclaimed, rings bounce around traditionally now, able to be re-consumed. In the 2D portions, this works as well as it does for Classic Sonic, but I did find it more difficult to reclaim some of them in 3D mode, even when I could swear that I was standing right in line with them. They may have the old Sonic Heroes problem of bouncing a little too high, but luckily, in any mode as any Sonic, you don't necessarily lose them all at once, as is commonplace these days. I haven't yet determined the maximum amount of rings that are normally lost at any one time, but it seems to be quite high, so you'll need a fair few of them in order to cling onto some after taking a hit. There is also, however, a bigger ring loss bug at large that I have experienced a few times, and appears in the 2D view only, to either type of Sonic. Every once in while, lost rings for some reason seem to find themselves in front of, or behind Sonic, and are therefore impossible to salvage because you're stuck on that plain. A little baffling. However, in all fairness I can't say that I can recall dying at all as of yet from being unable to reclaim lost rings that I should have been able to get, so I wouldn't say that there's a big issue here.

All in all, I can say that they have indeed put a lot of effort into making sure that both modes play at their best, and that annoying little quirks are kept to an absolute minimum. While Classic Sonic has his own set of physics that differ from the original games in precise but noticeable ways, there's not much that's inherently wrong with them at all, and they generally hold up pretty well to the varying challenges that come your way in the levels, once you've got a feel for them. What's more, the sense of momentum is absolutely thrilling, and they've really recaptured what Classic Sonic momentum is all about. As you get more confident with this mode and its levels, the more appealing and addictive they become. As for Modern Sonic, it's more of the same but refined down to what is now a very enjoyable experience indeed. Movement feels more precise and hopefully, when you get used to them, pulling off the wrong move at the wrong time should be a rarer concern. So fundamentally, we're pretty solid here, but it all comes down to what exactly it is that happens within these wonderful levels..

How the levels play out

There's so much that's worth talking about across these nine stages that I think the only fair thing to do is to take each one individually, in order to avoid missing out any of the carefully crafted details. From the top then!..

Green Hill is a level that we've all had just a little bit longer to experience thanks to two different demos, and it was the only one that I had allowed myself to see complete footage of before taking it for a spin myself. Because of this, and the fact that I've played both acts to death in the demos, it still feels somewhat separate from the rest of the levels to me at the moment, which all still have a very new and exciting feeling to them. Still, both acts are a terrific introduction to the game, with a gentle learning curve. It barely needs to be said how beautiful this level is, and perhaps it's even the richest in the whole game. They've certainly used the 20 years of graphical advancements to make a rockier, wilder, less geometrically rigid Green Hill, but this, if anything, adds to its charm. Act 1 (Classic Sonic's) is a great introduction to the way in which he plays, as the layout has that lovely continuous, free-flowing quality that some classic, early levels have, including the original. It's an absolute joy to keep running and jumping, reaching the higher areas while at great speed. My favourite moment is perhaps on the higher route where you can spin dash off of a ramp, bounce off a perfectly placed Buzz Bomber and go straight into a scripted, but nonetheless heart-stopping loop and spiral formation. What makes this act so euphorically addictive though has got to be that wonderful tune, which, in my opinion is just about the finest version of the Green Hill tune ever made. It has everything the original has, but with just the right amount of enhancements to make it sound modern, yet incredibly nostalgic.

Because of its attractive proposition and ultimately very smooth implementation, I would hope this game has lured in some people who haven't picked up a Sonic game in a while. For those Johnny-come-latelys who've managed to draw themselves away from Call of Modern Warfare - or whatever it's called - to play a proper computer game, Green Hill Act 2 is a great introduction to Modern Sonic gameplay. With thin roads helping you along, newbies can learn the boost move and there are few death drops to worry about. It's also immensely good fun for experienced players too and is one of the best acts to just simply dash through and perform stunts like a pro. Its soundtrack could be better, and is the textbook sound of Jun Senoue (which is a sound that's getting more than a little bit tedious in my opinion), but it still does the job quite well. I was surprised to find that actually only one other level, Sky Sanctuary, has the alternate faster version that replaces it whenever Sonic goes over a certain speed, which I assumed would be in all modern acts. It's an idea that started off a bit disjointedly in earlier versions but by release its implementation was refined to the point where I started to find it intriguing.

Lastly, multiple routes are back with this level, and they're here to stay! Act 1, rather like Emerald Hill Zone, has a faster higher route, and a slightly slower, lower route running in parallel through much of it, and Act 2 takes thankfully more leaves from Sonic Colours' book than Sonic Unleashed's in this regard. I'm most impressed with the point where the path completely divides into two, running next to each other for a fair old distance, and though one is clearly quicker than the other, its nice to be able to have a clear, easy choice depending on what mood you're in!

Moving onto Chemical Plant, which I'm so glad made it in. In general the location is slightly different to the original, which was against the backdrop of a modern city, perhaps even separated from it by a polluted river. This version seems a tad more industrial, and the buildings in the background are slightly more futuristic - in fact, with the threatening crimson sky, the whole background environment is extremely reminiscent of Eggmanland from Sonic Unleashed. The foreground elements are all carefully recreated through, from the winding tube paths that carry the mysterious blue gloopy liquid to the yellow and black danger strips - this is unmistakably Chemical Plant, and it looks fantastic! The map of Act 1 could have been taken straight from a lost "Act 3" of the original, as it's packed with exactly the right structural features and filled with multiple routes. Absolutely every feature and obstacle from the original is back, including the moving strings of yellow blocks that now come in several different sizes and some inventive new patterns. I was thrilled to see the pink chemical water rising up as you make your way over these blocks - just like in my childhood nightmares! However, I did find such sections disappointingly easy (although then again, I'm not exactly 8 years old anymore), so I do think this level would have benefited from a non-chronological level ordering as discussed above - perhaps better placed more towards the middle of the game. The original itself was always tough for a second level anyway. The music in Act 1 stays very close to the original, like Green Hill, but it does kind of lack that same magical charm somehow.

Act 2 was very enjoyable if, again, a bit easier than I would have liked. It's a fast-paced act, but it's nice to see that Modern Sonic has almost as much underwater activity as his stumpier counterpart. Like Sonic Colours, these previously ultra-rare occurrences are strictly 2D-view only for this game once again, but its nice that they're still here. The music takes a significant departure from the original, though still of course has the recognisable theme, and I do rather like it. What I really loved about this act though was that, towards the end, the entire place becomes dangerously unstable - liquid starts pouring out of smashed containers and the whole place starts exploding and bursting into flames! The explosion effects first struck me as a little off somehow, however if it keeps a smooth frame rate then I'm all for it!

Sky Sanctuary was a level that I absolutely couldn't bear to see even a tiny bit of before playing it myself - I really wish I didn't even know that it was going to be in the game, as it would have been such a wonderful surprise. It really is a great choice to have made, and when I finally did get to venture into it, I was not disappointed. The moment I first spotted the Death Egg as Classic Sonic was unforgettable. It's an iconic symbol of Mega Drive Sonic that hasn't been seen in a very very long time, and a feature that I'd really hoped would make it in! I did think that it might play a more active role however, perhaps firing its death rays at a monument that sends flaming pieces tumbling onto the path as you attempt to avoid them. Still, you can't have everything! The zone itself looks gorgeous, and they've added a considerable amount of extra design elements (those exotic birds are a great touch!) to the floating ruins, while also incorporating the familiar column structures and most of the characteristic features and obstacles.. although sadly the bouncy clouds don't quite make that same satisfying "wrepp" sound anymore.

Act 1 has some interesting choices of routes here and there, particularly at the end where the collapsing tower is circled by three different paths, each converging from a different route, and one of which I'm still yet to discover actually. Modern Sonic's Act 2 has some speedy sections but also some interesting platform-hopping bits and even delves into a whole new, darker internal area of the ruins, which carries almost a kind of odd alien design to them. As you might expect, death drops are common in both acts but this is one level where you almost feel like they belong there in some respects. As for music, Act 1 is a very good rendition that really brings to life that already brilliant melody, though with Act 2 I was really hoping for more of an orchestral approach to it. Had this level come at a later point in the game and been more integrated into a climactic point in the story, that would have perhaps been more likely, but as it is, Jun Senoue has knocked something together that again sounds very... "Jun Senoue-ie". I don't hate it - after all it's still an all time favourite tune, but it does sound a bit like what you'd go for if you were to turn the music of Sky Sanctuary into a TV gameshow's theme tune. He's still a great composer but compared to the talented people who've put together the soundtracks to Sonic '06, Sonic Unleashed and Sonic Colours, his work is often very samey and far less interesting. Fortunately, he seems to have shared the rest of this soundtrack with other talent.

Though I don't agree with Speed Highway being here, that doesn't stop it from being a fun stage to play in both acts. Like the rest of the remaining stages, it doesn't have as much to gain as the previous three from the new up-to-date makeover, but there are still some nice touches, from the cars that patrol some of the roads to the nice reflective sky scrapers. They've even managed to incorporate what looks like it might be some corridors of the hotel in Station Square, during brief internal trips through the buildings. Classic Sonic again looks like he has access to some nice diverging routes across a variety of structural elements, while our green-eyed friend prefers to stick to a slightly more speed-led joyride around some familiar features from the original level, such as the long dash down the face of a building, crashing through glass and dodging pillars. There's a whole bunch of cop-speeder enemies chasing you at this point too, which may contribute to an unfortunate framerate issue during this whole segment. However, I'm pleased to report that it's pretty much the only noticeable one in the whole game, or at least as far as the main acts are concerned, which is a huge relief. I like that when you return back out into the city afterwards, the dawn is beginning to break in the sky, which is a nod to the original's lovely "At Dawn" segment, albeit without the change in music, sadly.

City Escape was one of those inevitable choices, and it's got a pretty good showing here. The inventive and absolutely manic uses of the GUN truck (it even knocks straight through houses this time!) as it relentlessly pursues its vendetta against Sonic and his innocent former self at literally all costs, are completely brilliant. Act 1 particularly benefits a great deal from it, and allows them to do things never before possible in 2D Sonic. Both acts are reasonably linear, with modern Sonic again taking an extremely similar route to the previous time he escaped from this city, and one that's roughly of equally short length too, which is a shame. The boarding parts are fun and well made, and the detail gone into all the buildings is excellent. The billboards and posters, particularly the ones highlighting lost characters such as Mighty and Fang as either missing or wanted are superb touches. Probably the closest we'll ever get to seeing them again! But music proves to be so crucial in a Sonic level, and its pretty much this factor alone that makes this level less fun for me than most others in the game. The original "Escape from the City" tune has been remixed differently for each act, but neither are as good, and I really flat out don't like the one for Act 1. It's more of a dance mix (I guess? I really don't know music genres that well) that's all well and good as a piece of music to just listen to, but it simply doesn't fit the level in my view. I reckon Classic Sonic would have better suited a lyric-less version, perhaps even one that follows the earliest instrumental version of this tune from the original Dreamcast demo of Sonic Adventure 2.

Seaside Hill was another level that I was initially quite annoyed about when I discovered that it had made the cut. It's great to have something from Sonic Heroes, but that game is so rich in visually interesting and inventive ideas for levels that it seemed a waste to just rely on what is essentially a modern Green Hill clone, and one that's also been brought back in other recent party games too. The only way I thought that they could turn this around would be by borrowing many elements from Seaside Hill's sister stage (or second act, if you like), Ocean Palace, thus making it more of a ruins level that maybe had a few interesting underwater segments. Luckily, that's exactly what they have done - in fact I'd say it's actually more Ocean Palace than Seaside Hill - and it's actually worked out so well that I'm now happy that this level is here, as it is very iconic in its own right. Modern Sonic's act is one of the most impressively non-linear 3D levels yet, and thanks to its much later positioning in this game, they've not been afraid to take a really different spin on it structurally. It's not just a hectic blast through winding roads with an occasional platforming bit, there's some real variety here, with several clearly defined segments. At one point, a randomly selected panel in front of a triple loop will either send you across the platforms on the backs of the giant turtles or for a ride on the little Sonic Heroes toboggan car. There's something odd about how it handles, but still, you have to appreciate the thought. The music features both Seaside Hill and Ocean Palace themes in a nice little mix, and though I once heard these tracks described as "80's" sounding music, I can't help but rock out to them. Classic Sonic's act is just as interesting, as it makes for a pretty solid water level with some familiar moments. There's a whole other route that takes place above the main one, or alongside it in the background, but it's rather tough to stay on it! In general the difficulty curve is rising quite nicely by this point, and each level is definitely that little bit harder than the last.

I must admit to being a bit of a closet fan of the original Crisis City. It was probably the most entertaining of Sonic '06's levels, and even the fiendishly unfair bit at the end, where the tornado of fire hurls debris at you, gets my blood pumping every time. This take on it is obviously visually very similar, but great fun to play too. Deviations from the main route are short lived, but it features a number of tricky platforming bits that will prove challenging for most. I particularly liked the new level-specific feature for Modern Sonic, which had him stomp on rocks that were floating on rising bursts of lava, in order to force it low enough to pass through a tunnel below. Classic Sonic too has a nicely paced act in which the tornado actually pulls away the chunk of ground on which the end-of-act signpost rests and throws it further off down the map, forcing you to brave strong winds from the tornado as you cross precarious floating roads and vehicles. Modern Sonic's act is missing the original's boarding sequence and its tornado segment at the end is rather shorter than I would have liked, but the real star of this level and the thing that stops it from actually being rather depressing (it is a post-apocalyptic flame-engulfed city after all) is the sublime music. It matches, even improves on the excellent original track thanks to some wonderfully dramatic string instruments. Both are great, but Act 2's, which manages to mix most of the components of the full, long version of the original, is one of my favourite pieces in this game.

Rooftop Run is probably one of my all time favourite stages, and though graphically it has almost nothing to gain from appearing in this game, I'm really pleased that it's here. Somehow new features such as the confetti, the hot air balloons and the Eggman blimp (which is supposed to be Flying Battery perhaps? A nice thought - maybe a smaller version of it anyway) passing through somehow really make the place feel even more lively, despite being relatively small tweaks. Classic Sonic's level is absolutely lovely, cheered along by a truly charming and different musical take on the original theme tune. It's got some great objects like the Hill Top-esque diagonal rope platforms and the massive barrels that come rolling towards you from the background of the wine cellar segment, which is great fun. As Classic reaches the top of the clock tower, we're treated to a wonderful scene in which he opens the face of the clock straight into the blimp, clambers aboard it and then leaves it in flames. Modern Sonic's level has a lot of the same components as the original version, but this is no bad thing, as it's simply a joy to play, and its music is unbelievably beautiful. Senoue has clearly stayed well away from this end of the game, and whoever's composed this one has done a brilliant job, with some wonderful mix of piano and violin at Rooftop Run's characteristic, hectic pace. One of the ultimate examples of how crucial music is to the Sonic experience, and speaking for both acts, this might actually be my favourite level of the game.

We end with Planet Wisp, and despite my best efforts to keep secret as much of the contents of this game as I could, this is sadly the only level that I had no idea was even here, so it was quite a nice surprise, and a good choice, albeit a rather odd one for a final level. I had considered that it might have made the cut, among other possibilities, but I was scratching my head as to what game the third modern level could come from, and I really thought Sonic Colours might just have been too recent. Still, Modern Sonic makes a good challenge of it. He begins by crossing the many bottomless pits of an entirely untouched region of the alien forest planet before diving straight into the "under construction" area, which covers most of the act. It was quite cool to have the Rocket Wisp join us for this one, though ascending the construction tower in the latter half of the act proved initially quite confusing. It ends with a very tough bit where Sonic must blast through weak sections of three or four floors that begin to descend downwards, threatening to crush you - you have to find the Rocket Wisp, then get to the weak section and use it to drill up through to the next one. Though I wouldn't say this is an easy game, this was probably the first truly "tough bit" within any of the levels that had me lose a few lives before succeeding, and perhaps we could have done with at least a couple more bits like this beforehand. Still, it felt very valid as a challenging moment, and not particularly cheap.

That was nothing though, as by this point I still had the classic act to do. Of the eighteen acts in this game, Planet Wisp Act 1 is really the only one that I would probably say that I don't really like very much. It's definitely the toughest, as it's infested with missiles shooting out from every wall, among other nasty traps. What really makes it frustrating though is the pink Spikes Wisp, which Sonic has to use extremely regularly in order to climb walls and flip a series of switches to open doors. These switches are accessed only by using nearby wheels that travel along angular circuits above the ground, and Sonic can only stay on them when powered up by the Spikes Wisp. They're bloody hard to stay on as it is, but what really made the whole thing ten times worse for me is the annoying repetitive, drilling tune that comes with every 20 seconds or so of Wisp power that you get, and the fact that it restarts even if you collect another one while still powered up. Both acts are at least twice as long as most of the others in the game, so this is a big step up in difficulty, though appropriate enough for the last level I suppose. I just really wish they would have addressed that damn Spikes Wisp theme.

Lets not forget the bosses too, which to be honest are a bit of a mixed bag. Things start off brilliantly though, because In the classic era, you'll find Metal Sonic and the Death Egg giant Eggman robot, both are superb and only fought as Classic Sonic. The race against Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway is a classic moment that I always wanted to see re-imagined once again, Japanese Bad Future soundtrack and all, and this is pretty much what I had in mind. It's not quite the same, as there's no Eggman chasing you with an instant-death laser and no kidnapped Amy Rose waiting for you at the end - in fact there is no end as such, so it's more like a regular boss than a race - but Metal has all of his attacks plus a lot more, Stardust Speedway itself looks great, and it has the same sensations behind it. Great stuff! Meanwhile, the Death Egg makes it back to space, where we must once again (even though we just did it in Sonic 4 last year) face one of the toughest enemies of the early years. The giant Eggman robot is much more manageable this time however, with plenty of rings and, after an elevator up to the main deck, a completely different pattern of attack. The music really makes this boss though, as the theme is given all the orchestral fanfare you could possibly want!

All the remaining bosses are fought as Modern Sonic, which gives him the slight majority in terms of playable sections in the game. I was quite interested to see how they'd do the Shadow rival fight, modeled on the Final Rush boss from Sonic Adventure 2. Sadly, the answer was "weird, confusing, and not that great". Rather than trying to cleverly catch Shadow off guard on an endless road towards the Eclipse Cannon, you must instead go about picking up some sort of energy orb and then using it to power yourself up, catch up with him and slowly deplete his rings. Shadow meanwhile tries to do the same, and he was significantly better at it than me, so let's just say I haven't gone back to replay that boss fight since. The Perfect Chaos boss was one I had no idea about, so I was surprised that Modern Sonic was allowed to fight it without Super Sonic powers this time, though despite this, the whole boss feels almost exactly the same except for some added platforming elements. All in all, a rather enjoyable one, as was the Silver rival fight, which was satisfyingly challenging and more or less completely original too. I think they had trouble coming up with a meaningful main boss for the modern era though, which is fair, as there's not an abundance of good, memorable ones really is there? They've gone for Egg Dragoon, and unlike the original version in Sonic Unleashed, this time it's fought on the run inside a generic mechanical corridor. It's very typical of modern "on the run" bosses which, because of their difficulty in recollecting lost rings, often end up feeling a bit cheap and annoying, and this one isn't much of an exception. I'd have liked some sort of final level inside the void, perhaps merging several components of the other levels together, but alas instead we're thrown straight into the final boss, the format of which you probably would have been able to guess within seconds of the game's announcement frankly. I was really confused by it for quite a while, as a target marker appears over the enemy, as if you had to homing attack it, but instead you have to just sort of stay really close to it. Bit of a disappointing anti-climax, that one.

All in all though, this is an excellent selection of levels that are a joy to explore. Each one is beautifully recreated, whether it's just some small refinements or an entirely new shiny coat of paint, and you'll regularly marvel at each recognisable enemy, level-specific object, iconic level feature and definitely every musical recreation. Whether or not you liked the native game of any given level, it really doesn't matter here, because only the concept of the level has been recreated, not the original execution, so there's really not much to fear from any of them. They typically last for anything from 1 minute to maybe around 10 minutes at the far extremes, but the majority sit comfortably at around 3 or 4 minutes, after you've played them a couple of times at least. So they are fairly short, but they somehow manage to pack so much in that for the most part, the length actually feels very comfortable. When replaying, these bite-sized chunks of action are incredibly more-ish! Over the last two weeks I've regularly sat down with the intention of only playing two or three levels and then getting on with some work (such as writing this incredibly long review for example), but they have an amazing "just one more" quality to them, and the session usually ends up lasting closer to an hour!

The difficulty curve is nice and smooth, and while I wouldn't say the game generally is too easy, it could perhaps do with a few more really challenging areas. That said, most of its biggest challenges no longer come from avoiding the split-second drop into an abyss that has plagued countless Sonic games, 2D and 3D over the last ten years; they feel somehow fair and respectable this time. That's not to say death drops aren't common in the game, they're still everywhere, but that's not necessarily a terrible thing. I find people sometimes make too much of a big deal about them being present at all, while I've always maintained that their existence isn't the problem, it's how they're used. Here, they're handled really well, and borrow Sonic Colours' idea of giving you a clear warning beforehand. Over most drops, there is a danger sign that you usually see well before you have the chance to tumble down them, and it seems to make quite a difference. You'll still slip every now and then, particularly as Modern Sonic in 3D view, though perhaps only because of the inherent maths of there being more pitfalls around a three dimensional platform, but I was almost never frustrated by any drops I fell victim to, even on the relatively rare occasions where I tumbled down the same one more than once. I must admit I did think the mere act of having to add in all of these signs might highlight the sheer amount of them to the developers, but this doesn't seem to have bothered them, as you'll see more and more as you progress through the game. Nonetheless, they help a lot, at least regarding the occasional uncertainty of what lies below, which we've all felt many times before.

Another thing to be happy about is the return of the level-specific objects and enemies! For too long, the same set of generic enemies and basic, red coloured gadgets and gimmicks have spanned across entire games, with little uniqueness to the levels beyond the basic visuals. In Sonic Generations, each level comes with its original set of badniks/monsters, so you will only see Grabber in Chemical Plant, Eggrobo in Sky Sanctuary and Egg Fighters in Rooftop Run, and let that trend continue into the next few games please, Sonic Team! Although a lot of the general objects are a little more recurring, there are at least a whole load of them, as the game acts as a museum for pretty much every common object that's ever existed - it's got rockets from the Adventure games, bouncy flagpoles from the 2D handhelds, cannons from Sonic Heroes, Sonic 2's spring boards, Sonic Unleashed's directional shooters, hoops, zippers, ramps, balloons, and even Star Light Zone's see-saws!

One of the most interesting things I've noticed however is the differences and comparisons that can be made between the acts of Classic and Modern Sonic, and how they may not be so far apart after all. Sonic Unleashed borrowed heavily from the philosophy of the "don't-stop-running" Sonic Rush games, and it was an immensely entertaining one, but levels often felt samey and with their linear routes, just a little bit lacking in substance somehow. A far cry from the original balancing act of speed (or rather "speed as a reward" as its marketed now), precise platforming and complex maps filled with choice and hidden treasures. Sonic Colours attempted to bring a little bit of the older philosophy into Modern Sonic gameplay though, offering up richer multiple routes and generally more variety, although in the end I did find myself missing a lot of that hectic pace. Sonic Generations seems like the perfect compromise, not just in its general idea of combining old and new as separate modes, but purely even within the modern gameplay itself. There's just simply a great balance of everything - there are really fast bits requiring quick reactions that keep that adrenaline pumping, yet there are countless platforming sections too that are really satisfying to play. It also successfully continues along the path lead by Sonic Colours by engaging in true multiple routes, as I've detailed above. What you begin to notice is that far from every level feeling the same, they all actually have a different balance of each of these characteristics. Green Hill, Speed Highway and Rooftop Run are very fast paced, almost visceral, while levels like Sky Sanctuary, Seaside Hill, Crisis City and Planet Wisp tend to have a leaning towards the slower, more methodical option, and they all have varying degrees of linearity and structural patterns too. If you think about it, this is a lot like the kind of variety you'd get within the levels of Sonic 1 or 2.

In many ways, Modern Sonic has edged that little bit closer to what Classic Sonic has always been about, yet perhaps the opposite is true too. This is really the first time classic 2D gameplay has been represented in 3D graphics that are as capable as this. Therefore, the opportunity to go above and beyond what was ever possible before is open and well and truly taken advantage of. City Escape Act 1 is the perfect example of this, as the GUN truck bursts into the scene from any angle, completely decimating buildings and platforms and at one point even launching from a road in the background straight into your living room. These are the kind of "wow" moments that you would normally only find in a modern 3D level. Even the often-criticised automated sections that send Sonic running off by himself make occasional appearances, such as the loop into a rocky spiral in Green Hill Act 1. I believe just the right amount of automation, a few seconds here and there perhaps, can add a lot to the experience though, and in this case it breathes new life into an old experience. Like Modern Sonic, the varying balance of speed, platforming and non-linearity affects all of the classic acts in different ways, and while Classic Sonic's speedy sections are perhaps more short lived, this may only be because of the more limited opportunity afforded by the 2D view to see what's coming and react to it. On reflection, it would seem that through combining all of Sonic's best moments, we can see that maybe these two supposedly different protagonists and their philosophies are not worlds apart after all, when the specific things that make each one great can actually be quite easily applied to the other, and with outstanding results.

The Plot Thickens.. or maybe it could still do with a bit of thickening.

Normally this would be a good area with which to kick off a review, but the fact is that in Sonic Generations it takes such a back seat compared to the levels and bosses themselves that it's been relegated all the way down here. To be honest, if there's any significantly weak area to the game, it's the overall packaging of the story and everything that links the levels together. It's arguably one of the least important areas and in the long run won't matter too much, but it would have been nice to have a longer, more involved initial story mode to really make your first experience with the game as special as it should be.

The narrative is a pretty straightforward one, and probably as simple as you're going to get from a big 3D Sonic game such as this. Sonic has a surprise birthday party thrown for him by a collection of friends and friendly rivals, only to have it crashed by a massive time monster, who proceeds to hoover everybody up and dispatch them to various locations across the franchise's history. Sonic finds himself in "the white space", a colourless void created by the Time Eater to act as gates from which he can suck the life out of Sonic's past. Our modern hero discovers he is able to reach back into the coloured parts of these worlds and somehow restore the rest of them, simply by running through the various challenges that they hold, it would seem. This also, one by one, restores his friends back to life after a period of suspended animation. Meanwhile, Classic Sonic and Classic Tails, having also been captured by the Time Eater from their home in the early nineties, have been on the same mission in parallel, though the two duos only bump into each other after completing the classic era of stages. Rather than exchanging causality-destroying notes and stories, they elect to just get on with it and restore time, collecting Chaos Emeralds from the grasps of bosses and rivals past and present. As the story heads towards its conclusion, Eggman's involvement in the events begin to come into question, and the penultimate scenes have one more surprise left in store..

Those who are impatient in dealing with plots and just want to get on with the game will be pleased enough here, but those who desire gripping events between every level will be a bit disappointed. For me, it varies from game to game, but this time I suppose I was hoping for something a bit more. There's a certain lack of adventure about it I suppose, as the nature of the levels themselves have little to do with the development of the story. For example the last level, Planet Wisp isn't a race against time to stop Eggman from destroying the world, its just one of nine levels that have to be done at some point. All of them could have been swapped for other levels from their respective games with little or no impact on the narrative at all. I was hoping perhaps the characters would at least bring a little bit of significance to each stage themselves by commenting on it, but they only really do this for Green Hill and Chemical Plant. Environments for which Sonic and Tails themselves - who, similar to their work in Sonic Colours, are playing it ever so slightly dumb - are actually both only vaguely familiar with. Then again, I suppose even though we've played their games hundreds of times and written illustrated guides for them (or maybe that's just me), to Sonic and Tails they're just two of hundreds of places that they may have only visited once. The interactions between the two different Sonics is entertaining enough, and the acting, script and general humour isn't up to the same standard as Sonic Colours but it's generally quite passable.

I suppose I had more excitement for the kind of general sense of adventure seen in Sonic Unleashed, which was all about travelling across the world, meeting new people, and exploring exotic places, and at the same time that only had a slightly more complex main plot than this game, but it was the little touches along the way that made it feel more fulfilling I suppose. I think the biggest reason why this feels absent this time around is down to the minimalist white space area, which acts as a hub to all the levels, bosses and extra challenges. It's an interactive menu system that has your character walk towards the option you want to play within a 2D space, very much like in Sonic Advance 3. All the main acts and bosses are easily accessible across the floor, while the more optional challenges (which I'll talk about in the next section) and rival fights are dotted around various platforms above the level entrances. At any time you can press Y to swap between the Sonics and the acts and challenges behind each gate change accordingly. It's more satisfying than a basic menu system, or a long linear stream of levels with no options to make or room to take a breather, but its the minimalist whiteness itself that makes it all feel very bland and everything disconnected and isolated. There's no sense that these are all different parts of a whole, rich world. I recall a friend of Zone: 0, Mercury, once describing some Sonic games quite nicely as "bags of levels", and in contrast to a grand adventure, that's exactly what this game feels like. There's nothing wrong with that, I love tucking into a bag of levels, but I do feel that things could have been fleshed out much more to make that first week spent with the game an epic journey that you'll never forget. As such, Sonic Generations is more of a "greatest hits" pack, in which all of the hits are completely re-done. Re-done extremely well, granted, but through a combination of the blandness of the white space and a story that doesn't draw any significance to each level, everything in it feels like it's part of a museum more than anything else.

What would I have done differently? Well, people are always complaining about hub worlds, but I liked the idea behind the ones in Sonic Unleashed, and felt that they helped offer a lot of background depth to each environment, giving each one some relevance by allowing you to meet some of the people who lived there. You may disagree, but I think you should have been able to find a small 3D area (yes, even as Classic Sonic, just in these areas) behind each gate within the white space that is initially colourless, but then completely bursts into life upon completing the acts. Its gates to the acts and missions are dotted around, and amongst them are the various residents, be they animal or human to offer some cleverly written banter, if you feel like talking to them. That's one change and it's not a very original one I accept, but in an ideal world I also would have considered re-ordering the levels to break out of their eras and inter-mingle more randomly, to allow different plots to emerge that actually give some purpose as to why they're here. But I'm beginning to change quite a lot about the whole plot in general now, and I could write a whole new fan-fiction for it if I wanted to, but alas this review is long enough already, so I'll cut myself short there. But you get the idea, I think.

Before moving on, there is one other point I want to make here though, and I'm afraid it's another negative one. The game, from start to final boss, I think, is a bit on the short side. I deliberately took my time with it, limiting myself to explore only one era per day over my first weekend with the game, but if you really wanted to, you could probably race through it in probably no more than 5 or 6 hours. Sonic is of course never the type of game you just simply complete and then push aside or exchange for another one. The whole point of it is to learn and master the levels until you can play them to perfection, and then keep playing them because they're so much fun. Still, I always fear that some may miss that point and end up being disappointed by this short length compared to other games. From a developers point of view, there has always been the natural downside to Sonic that because he moves so fast, so much more effort has to go into three minutes worth of gameplay than most other types of games. The sad thing is that unlike my above wafflings about changing the entire structure of the game, this problem could have been solved really really easily, because the truth is that it already has the added the longevity it needs by anyone's standards, it just hasn't used it as part of the main story..

As I will discuss next, there are ninety (yes, ninety!) extra missions to play, and even though they're all based on portions of the main acts, they aren't even annoying or tedious, a lot of them are actually quite clever, even fun! The problem is that they've only made ten per cent of them mandatory in order to complete the game. Nine extra missions lasting 1 or 2 minutes each don't extend those playtime hours very much, but there's a whole goldmine here, and by forcing us to play more of them, and still leaving us with the options of which ones to play and in what order, they could have made that first play-through much longer and with very little added effort at all.

All of the thirty missions in each era become playable after clearing the main acts, and you have to obtain three boss keys by clearing any three of them, in order to unlock the boss and carry on. I would have proposed a different strategy - scrap the boss keys entirely, and put locked doors all over the white space. These will prevent access to the bosses, most levels, and certain regions of the challenge gates on the platforms above. I'd bring back the good old emblems from the Adventure games, which will be obtained by clearing acts, bosses and challenges, and also by collecting all the red rings in each act. Each door only opens with a certain amount of emblems, so between completing each level, you'll have the chance to access some of the challenge gates above, with the rest only opening later in the game. So even when in another era you can go back and open new gates from a previous one, in order to gather more emblems, and the amount of challenges you have to complete will depend on the severity of the emblem requirements in front of each door on the ground floor. Certainly you shouldn't have to complete all ninety of them in order to finish the game, as it would be nice to be left with some of them as optional quests that you can do later, but I think such a system would have made the game's initial journey that much better, and really make those levels worth earning. Still, just an idea.

But Wait, There's More!

Lets finish up the review a bit more positively, and take a look at what there is to do beyond the main game. For each level you get five extra missions as Classic Sonic and five as Modern Sonic. They're comparable to the additional acts of Sonic Colours, in which the whole playable level would have been divided up so that some acts explore new areas, while others retrace footsteps in those same areas but with different sets of objects, making it feel unique. It's a similar story here, except the main act seems to occupy all of the playable level as far as I can make out, and all of the challenges are limited to a particular portion of the act, but with a new object layout to tackle. This has become quite a common method of extending the life of a Sonic game, and sometimes you can clearly see which areas are being re-used, though on other occasions it's not quite so easy. Some of the challenges also show the level under alternate sunset or night time lighting which is never a bad thing, especially not when we're talking about classic levels that have never been shown at alternate times of the day!

Now, sometimes extra missions or challenges can be quite disappointing, frustrating, boring, too short and easy, and generally just something you know you'll never really be bothered to play again, but luckily this is not the case for a good portion of these challenges. They've clearly spent a lot of time coming up with some interesting ways in which to morph the existing environment without being able to change any of the actual level structuring. Lets put aside the "Doppelganger" challenges to start with. For each act, there is one challenge devoted to replaying the entire thing unchanged, but with a ghost player running alongside you, and whom you must beat to the finish in order to complete the challenge. This is more or less your classic time limit mission, but actually being able to see another Sonic to compete with adds a certain sense of panic to it I think. You probably won't want to play them too often after completing them though, so the remaining seventy two are divided into several categories, clearly denoted by an icon. You might expect many of them to place a certain requirement on you such as kill X enemies, grab X rings, don't break any pots, don't collect any rings, etc. I normally find such challenges to be dead ends for replay value frankly, and they're not completely absent here, but thankfully most challenges simply require getting to the goal at the end of the short course, albeit with some sort of interesting recurring gimmick or ability in play.

The character challenges are definitely some of the more striking ones. Once you've saved a character in the main game, they'll start appearing in certain challenges within their home era to either help or hinder you (which is a nice way of showing their gratitude isn't it?) as you make your way to the end, and there are lots of really nice ideas at work here. You might find yourself in a race against them, or they might prefer to drop bombs or set off traps as you progress through the stage. If they're in a helpful mood though, a tap of the Y button will summon them in a puff of smoke and they'll be able to help you perform various moves. A great challenge in Chemical Plant allows you to latch on to Classic Tails and use him to fly to far areas, just like old times. Meanwhile, Vector can throw you over a great distance, Espio can use Ninja rope to swing you safely across a wide gap, Knuckles can dig out hidden treasure, and there's even a weird one where you can hold up Rouge in front of a series of Egg Pawns to render them lovestruck, forcing them to lower their shields (easy now) and allow Sonic to attack. Character challenges in particular are often accompanied by a piece of music pulled straight out of the less renowned corners of Sonic's soundtrack history. Well done if you recognised such tunes as the main theme of the Saturn version of Sonic 3D, the multiplayer Balloon Park course from Sonic 3, and even Emerald Beach from Sonic Battle of all things - all given a nice new musical coat of paint. I particularly loved the Super Sonic Racing remix that accompanied a race against Tails in his plane, in Green Hill!

Typically other types of challenge may include passing a course with a large number of enemies, or one with enemies and objects that move at twice the speed, courses in which you must press buttons to removes walls in the right order, courses where you have to free a certain amount of trapped animals from capsules, and there's even an inspired idea borrowed from Sonic 3 in which you must jump and knock a spinning goal signpost all the way to a designated spot at the end. There's tonnes to do here, and though the courses are often quite short and usually slow paced, so not quite as fun as the main levels, they're still impressively replayable, even after you've spent the time beating each one. Few of them are just precariously placed in the air with ridiculous death drops too, as was practically the currency when it came to extra and DLC acts in Sonic Unleashed.

While happily beating stages, you'll also notice that you're gradually unlocking new stuff to add to a small museum of collectibles, found at the far left of the white space area (and featuring the revamped musical talent of Isolated Island from Knuckles Chaotix and the Sonic Jam version of the Sonic 3 Data Select music - oh Sonic Team, with these musical treats you are spoiling us!). In addition to the movies and character bios that you'll pick up during the story, you can also see a huge collection of really nice concept art for each of the levels in the game and even a big musical selection of Sonic tracks hand picked from his back catalogue of games. A very impressive gift indeed, and some of the older or handheld ones are even given a slight re-mastering! Single pieces of art and music are added to the kitty by completing the challenges (though in order to claim your prize you'll need to ring the bell above the gate afterwards, and chase a fast moving musical note through the white space before it disappears), and also by finding a red ring from the five that are hidden across each act.

That's all well and good but they've done something really nice with the music - in any act, boss or challenge, you can actually change the default music to anything in your collection, and figuring out which tracks fit with which challenges is almost a separate mini-game in itself! The tunes on offer don't necessarily cover all the different types of level perfectly (and naturally there's quite a lot of vocal themes, most of which I don't think really fit with anything to be honest), but you have to be inventive and it's surprising what kind of strange bedfellows you can come up with! Some of the more obvious choices I'd recommend though include Hydrocity for Classic Sonic's underwater challenge in Seaside Hill, and Marble Garden for the Sky Sanctuary race against Amy on the Marble Garden-esque spinning top devices. Toxic Caves works for anything in Chemical Plant, and likewise Route 99 for City Escape, but my favourite match so far has to be Sonic Boom with the 'Action Master' challenge in Modern Sonic's Planet Wisp. Both the purple dusky sky, and the pure adrenaline action in this challenge works amazingly well with the music, and you feel like you're controlling Sonic during his hectic dash through the intro of Sonic CD. Try it, it's awesome! What makes this whole idea even better is that it actually remembers what music you've assigned to what level every time you play, until you turn it to something else. A lovely touch!

Another element to the game that I haven't discussed, probably because it's optional and I haven't really felt the need to experiment too much with it, is the Skill Shop. Omochao will sell you various skills to either character for certain amounts of points, which are acquired by completing anything in the game. New skills are also added when completing certain challenges or collecting all the red rings within an act. You can equip them very similarly to the way in which you would do so in Sonic and the Secret Rings, except there aren't quite as many this time and I don't think any are really necessary to complete any course. They usually consist of slight tweaks to make some things easier, such as extending underwater air time, making lost rings hang around for longer, increasing Modern Sonic's boost gauge, etc. This is also where you get to enable Classic Sonic's elemental shields, as well as the standard one - in fact, I believe this is the first time the bubble, fire and thunder shields have all appeared in the same game since Sonic & Knuckles! Rather than being dotted around the game though, you have to unlock them first by completing a particular challenge that involves using each one to cross various hazards. Particularly be on the lookout for a great one in Planet Wisp, by the way, which has you using all three to pass different obstacles to get to the end. They are pretty faithfully recreated too, with all of their various double jumps, so it's great to see them again after far too many years. There are some interesting skills to equip here but generally I haven't found myself that interested in customising my characters yet. It's a nice idea, but in practice I've always found it quite unnecessary and more of a chore really.

One more thing.. the DLC Casino Night Pinball table that you will have been able to access with certain pre-orders of the game. As with many parts of Sonic Generations, the best thing about this is the music, as I've been waiting ages for someone to make a proper, "realistic" version of the Casino Night tune, and this one is filled with some lovely unique touches. The level itself is.. well, just a pinball table really. Still, I hope we'll see more DLC in the coming months, and if they're just extra challenges or acts then that's fine, but I think it'd be really great to get more entirely new content like this. Little mini levels such as Sky Chase or snowboarding on Ice Cap are desperately needed!

Closing Comments

Normally what happens is that, although I will usually notice any problems that exist in a game, they may not bother me as much as for some people, and then when those people make their opinions clear, the issues begin to get harder for me to dismiss as well. I haven't really read any other reviews yet, but I am honestly really scratching my head to imagine what anyone could really seriously have to complain about here. You can go on and on about what levels should or should not have been included, but the fact is that, with so many options and different people wanting different things, you inevitably have to compromise and accept the decisions made, and regardless I believe they are all executed exceptionally well.

Sonic Generations is an amazing treat of a game. It's been extremely well refined with all niggling problems like slippery controls, bad frame-rates and other glitches almost completely eradicated. It will appeal to anyone who has ever liked Sonic at any point in their lives because somehow it manages to draw together everything that the franchise has ever been and make it all feel very consistent. Sonic 2 is nothing like Sonic Adventure 2, and the 1991 and 2006 games both entitled 'Sonic the Hedgehog' are polar opposites in just about every regard, yet elements from all of them and loads of other games are all brought together and somehow, they just fit. It's got an amazing continuity that so easily might not have worked, and there really is something for everyone here. Although anyone can love this game, long time Sonic fans will probably get the most from it, as there are so many little things that only we will pick up on and appreciate.

In playing this game, you must bear in mind that although it's a big budget 3D blockbuster in Sonic terms, it isn't like those same major blockbusters that have gone before it. It's not about an epic adventure with a gripping storyline that you will take away with you for the rest of your life. Maybe it could have been had it been reworked in a different way, but maybe it was never supposed to have been. What Sonic Generations really is, is a museum of an amazing 20 year career, with its exhibits lovingly restored and reworked to shine in their best possible lights. Maybe it's just because they're still quite new to me, but right now I can't imagine a better way of packing this much fun into any given three or four minutes as almost as all of these acts do so well. Both Sonics are playing at their best, and when the combination of beautiful graphics, easy and responsive controls, nostalgic nods, clever non-linear level design and angelic music come together so perfectly, you have to pinch yourself sometimes that this isn't all just a wonderful dream!

Never before have the two main opposing philosophies behind Sonic gameplay been brought together so well, not just in the two alternate acts to every level, but in terms of what each learns from the other to modify their own experiences for the better, and without diluting away the things that make them special. For this reason and many, many others, Sonic Generations is one of the greatest Sonic games ever made.

Comments   20 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by jingoi on Sunday, 20th November 2011, 9:15pm
It would have been great if there were some Dr.Eggman in the Egg mobile fights, even as 4 hit mini bosses.
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 20th November 2011, 9:54pm
I agree with pretty much everything you said here. Although some of the choices made in this game are questionable, it turned out great in the end and this game deserves its spot as being one of, if not the, best Sonic games to date. Now if only we get some DLC to make up for the lack of balanced level tropes.
#3. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 21st November 2011, 7:20am
Totaly agreed, but the was VERY in depth. Took ages to read, even longer to write, and in depth is 2 words.
#4. Comment posted by Adam Unknown on Monday, 21st November 2011, 5:47pm
Amazing review. I pretty much agree with EVERYTHING you said, except for the thing on missions. If more were obligatory, the game would feel longer but I can picture reviewers (*AHEM* IGN) saying 'We just want to get on with the levels, without any missions in our way'.
What i'd have done, is have 7 mini gates for each level. 2 for each act, then 2 challenges (SEPARATE from the other ones), then a rival, boss and Bonus level. Of course, the HD one didn't get bosses for each level or Chaos Emerald bonus levels, because they wanted the 3DS one to stand out more, which in my opinion was a mistake. There should never have been a handheld one at all. Nevertheless, just like you I adore this game, it's simply spectacular!
#5. Comment posted by Doreen on Tuesday, 22nd November 2011, 6:53am
Omg, you just kept going on and on and on! Lol! But I liked it! It was a very in depth review, and a good read. I just bought this game a few days ago and I absolutely love it to bits! It's my fave Sonic game ever, and that's coming from someone who's been playing since the Sega Genesis days. Something to point out, though, (not sure if you know this or not) is that the original 1991 Sonic the Hedgehog game is also featured in Sonic Generations as an added bonus that can be bought in the skill shop. It's not in HD or anything, but it's still a nice touch. You can also buy unlimited lives for the original game, so that's pretty cool too. Anyway, I just wanted to stop by and leave you a review for this since I'm sure it took you damn near an eternity to type up. Can't wait till Sonic CD is released on XBLA next month, so I can start using your walkthrough on here for it. Hugs, Doreen.
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 22nd November 2011, 6:57pm
Thanks all - yes it's definitely lengthy, but there's so many noteworthy details to this game, I felt I couldn't leave any of them out! Thanks though Doreen, I did mean to include something about the original Sonic 1 being playable in the game, but unlike most things, it slipped my mind!

Glad you agree with my thoughts :)
#7. Comment posted by Dan Bevis on Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 4:14pm
Very lengthy [but good - I also like reading lengthy stuff] overview of the game.

I agree with you on Speed Highway's inclusion [especially as one who wasn't able to avoid that irritating level leak list - that Sega left in the demo, for some reason - that I was then expecting an At Dawn section and music...]. I would've had Lost World from SA1 [but your Twinkle Park suggestion looks visually good in my head too]. And on the meh Shadow fight [though the Final Boss was worse - even though I beat it on my first try].

The one thing this game really concreted for me [something Colours started] is making me like the Day formula from Unleashed [which I detested]. They've balanced it all out now [Modern Rooftop Run was SO fun for me].

Oh. And I still miss the Special Stages in the main games [but then Heroes was the only one that bothered, so I probably should give it up that dream]. Such giddy possibilities for psychedelic, trippy stages and visuals with all these HD systems now. :(

Alas, a great game - I'm also hoping for some meatier DLC [an Ice Cap level would sell bucketloads, Sega ;)] in the months ahead. :)
#8. Comment posted by Meph on Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 4:57pm
I always look forward to your reviews, because they're always spot on, IMO. My only major complaint is the level selection and the lack of an epic story that's so amazing and immersive that you can't get to sleep at night (which was actually how I felt about Unleashed the first time I completed it... and then I played it to death XD). But I think you made a very good point that it wasn't meant to be.

I was also disapointed with the quality and quantity of bosses, but that's about it.
#9. Comment posted by Doreen on Wednesday, 23rd November 2011, 9:41pm
@LiquidShade: Lol, it's okay. I just wanted to put it out there in case you didn't know. :)
#10. Comment posted by MrMusic on Friday, 25th November 2011, 3:53am
You wrote about Rooftop Run:
Senoue has clearly stayed well away from this end of the game, and whoever's composed this one has done a brilliant job, with some wonderful mix of piano and violin at Rooftop Run's characteristic, hectic pace. One of the ultimate examples of how crucial music is to the Sonic experience, and speaking for both acts, this might actually be my favourite level of the game.

Yeah, I totally agree. And the composer's name is Tomoya Ohtani - one to remember. He's been my Sonic music hero ever since he composed Knuckles' Pumpkin Hill rap in SA2. Wait, that's not true. Ever since he stepped out of Senoue's shadow and directed the brilliant soundtracks for Sonic 2006, Unleashed and Colours. He didn't compose every track from those three games, of course. He had help from other talented Sega sound people. But the theme songs are his, and so is Rooftop Run.
#11. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 25th November 2011, 7:19pm
Love your review. I loved this game, and I don't think there's enough people that appreciate it enough, for what it is by itself, and for the strides it's made in the franchise, so thank you for your awesome review! Personally, I think modern Sonic gameplay has been perfected with this game. I enjoyed it so much, and everything just clicked for me.

I won't disagree with you, it's your opinion, but I actually loved Jun Senoue's music in the game, and also was happy with the level choice of Speed Highway. I guess lucky for me!

Again, great review. I love your in depth commentary on all things Sonic, it's top quality. Thank you.

#12. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 25th November 2011, 7:55pm
I actually liked the guitar in Rooftop Run, and I was disappointed when I found out it was missing from the in-game version (it sounded really awesome at TGS when the guitar and violin played in perfect harmony).
#13. Comment posted by SegaGenocide on Friday, 2nd December 2011, 9:03pm
I really was dissapointed in the fact that Modern Sonic got most of the bosses and C. Sonic was stuck with Metal Sonic and Death Egg Mech (Both are good choices) but I would of loved to see how the Rival Shadow battle would of played out with Classic Sonic or Perfect Chaos (I would of died to see that! :D)
#14. Comment posted by Anonymous on Saturday, 3rd December 2011, 5:21am
I was hoping both Sonics would be able to fight every boss, but I guess that would've been a bit much.
#15. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 4th December 2011, 3:38am
Also, Liquid, I don't see how the music to Modern Sky Sanctuary has a "game show" feel. It sounds orchestral enough to me.
#16. Comment posted by Super Volcano on Tuesday, 6th December 2011, 10:10am
I haven't played much of the game yet, despite having downloaded it on Day 1. I have the PC version and I'm afraid my computer is just not good enough for either reasonable graphics or a respectable framerate. One thing that seriously DID bug me about the PC version is that all the tutorials use X-Box 360 controls, do you just have to figure out which keys are assigned to which controller buttons. This is really jarring, stupid, frustrating and generally upsetting. Beyond that, I'll have to wait until Christmas to see how the game really is.
#17. Comment posted by Superfastguy on Friday, 30th December 2011, 9:44am
I agree with everything you said there. Now with some extra dlc levels, chalenges, and an extra act or two. What I liked the most was the speedrunning options. Trying to get the farthest in 30 seconds, or just plain speedrunning is fun when you got 100%.
#18. Comment posted by Mobius1ne on Tuesday, 3rd January 2012, 2:34pm
Personally, i think it was as good as modern Sonic games come. But being as nitpicky as i am, i was disappointed by it at the end. I found it far too short and they changed some of the levels drastically (i.e. Chemical Plant) when then needn't be changed at all. Apart from the small things that i had to pick on, overall, it was cool.

To be fair, all i've ever really wanted Sega to do is make another 16-bit Sonic...and i'm sure a lot of others want this too? Surely it wouldn't be too hard in this day and age.
#19. Comment posted by RockRedGenesis on Tuesday, 24th January 2012, 3:40pm
A great review. I actually really like Generations, for one, as it allowed me to play some of the levels from the Dreamcast era that i never played. That's right i've never really played Adventure 1 or 2 (never owned a dreamcast, and never owned Adventure 2 on the gamecube) Although, i've played Sonic Heroes. Playing Generations has allowed me to really get into playing them, and i've gone out and have begun to play them (Adventure on PC and Adventure 2 on GCN), and are enjoying them.

With Generations, I went out and got the PS3 version, which looks fantastic, but then i saw the PC version for £9.99 on steam, and bought that too, bargin!
#20. Comment posted by CK20XX on Friday, 10th February 2012, 10:04pm
"Sonic Generations is an amazing treat of a game. It's been extremely well refined with all niggling problems like slippery controls, bad frame-rates and other glitches almost completely eradicated."

Uh... which system did you play it on? I bought Sonic Generations off Steam, and it has PLENTY of glitches, just like every other modern Sonic game (with the 8GB download foreshadowing the looming pain). I do think it's the best modern Sonic game so far, but it does absolutely nothing to dethrone the Genesis Trilogy covered on this site (and their quirky cousin Sonic CD) as the gold standard of the entire series.

I could spam the comments section with my reasoning, but it's probably better to just link it here:
Lava Lamp
Friday, 28th October 2011, 11:00am (UTC), 20 Comments
Update: Lava Reef Zone added to the Sonic & Knuckles section
Lava Reef guide now up! Probably one of my favourite levels if I had to choose. As I mentioned last time, I wanted to get it finished before Sonic Generations comes out next week, because once that happens I'll be rather preoccupied!

I had to make quite a tricky decision with my arrows in the Act 2 map, as unlike most stages, the vast majority of it is made up of internal tunnel walls rather than the background, and neither the all-characters blue nor the Sonic-only blue arrows showed up very well on that annoying wall pattern. So I've given the arrows themselves a background block colour of a lighter blue to help them show up better. A little untidy but it was the only thing I could do, save for painstakingly cutting out all the walls myself, which I don't think would have been better.

There's not much left to go now really is there? Hidden Palace won't take long, I can probably squeeze most of it in during November, although I'm also looking forward to the new Zelda game later in the month, that being my second favourite game series, so I best not be making any promises just yet, just to be on the safe side. I've got a lot of time off around Christmas though so I'll easily have it done by then and will be able to continue with Sky Sanctuary, which of course is only one act long so that's reduced my normal map making time by half. And then there's only one full level after that, but in Death Egg, the fact that I only have to worry about Sonic's route through and that there are no Special Stage rings actually helps a lot. The Other Modes page is quite big for this game too and will be put in there somewhere along the way, but after all that and a few more bits and bobs, we can call it all finished! Probably some time during Spring 2012, lets say for now.

I'm getting more and more certain that I really don't want to be heavily involved in writing or publishing any more guides after this, I must admit, but I have been thinking more about what I could do regarding site features, if only for a somewhat selfish reason; My day to day occupation is actually as an Actionscript developer, making Flash applications, sites and games mostly for kids, employed by a small company in London. I actually haven't done much HTML-based work since this site's last major update in 2009, so I have been meaning to get back up to date with such things as JQuery and HTML5 if I can. So to this end, I might tinker around with a few things on the site, possibly including the creation of a mobile-friendly version of Zone: 0, if I can figure out the best way of displaying all that content on the small screen. So just because I can't bring myself to do any more guides at the moment, doesn't necessarily mean that Zone: 0 is dead just yet!

Also, a quick thank you to a man I know only as "adam UNKNOWN" who has recently offered his services to help out with a few things, very kindly, so I gave him a task I've been meaning to get round to since the aforementioned 2009 update - uncropped versions of the screenshots! You may have noticed at some point that if you clicked on most of the shots in Sonic 1 on any page before Scrap Brain, you'd get the uncropped version pop up in a lightbox. Thanks to Adam, this has now been implemented on Scrap Brain, and in Sonic 2 for levels Emerald Hill to Casino Night. I'm hoping he can carry on with some more too. Cheers Adam!

Finally got a nice 20th anniversary collectible in the post yesterday - the Sonic 1 and 2 OST, including Masato Nakamura's original demo versions of the tracks he created! Of course I went straight to those, and while naturally they're not quite as easy to listen to as the final versions we've grown so attached to, they're nonetheless an interesting thing to own. Maybe when the CD becomes harder to obtain, I might add them to the Sonic 1 and 2 downloads sections. In the meantime, see if you can grab a copy yourself! There's only two left on the above link at the moment.

So, if I check my calendar, as of writing it is now only 6 days and approximately 6 and a half hours until the earliest conceivable time that I can get my hands on Sonic Generations! That's if Amazon get my highly exciting (albeit not cheap) collector's box of goodies to me on Thursday rather than Friday as they have speculated, and that I can get home from work round about 6:30. I know, as ever you lucky Americans will have it a couple of days before then but you'll just have to keep quiet for that time. I've been playing the new demo to death, and both modes really do just feel so solid. I'm convinced the classic mode has had some minor tweaks in the jumping and rolling departments since the first demo, and now feels extremely comfortable to play, and modern Sonic feels like a more refined Sonic Unleashed experience. In a 3D area, if you just stop and walk around, the control really feels right now, as SU had a lot of inconsistencies there, often feeling very slippery. Now, Sonic adjusts between slower, tighter controls and faster, responsive speed very very smoothly. At the moment, the only two things I hope that the game offers options for is to turn off Omochao (surely, you must be able to, right?) and to turn down the sound effects a few notches, as they do overpower the music quite a lot. Overall, as you'd imagine, I am extraordinarily excited. I think a full review from me will probably be quite likely next month at some point!

That'll probably be the next time you hear from me, so I hope you enjoy the game as much as I'm sure I will!
Comments   20 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by TheGuyWithTheGames on Friday, 28th October 2011, 3:40pm
Great Stuff! I love your guides, they are chock full of information that you can't get anywhere else.
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 28th October 2011, 3:45pm
By the way, i never noticed the Death Egg in the backround of Lava Reef zone Act 1 (shown in lava reef's miselicious notes section) (Yes I know I spelled miseluious wrong)
#3. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 29th October 2011, 1:06am
Awesome guide, thanks!
#4. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 29th October 2011, 5:30am
SEGA have already announced their next sonic game. Sonic Dimensions, it is similar to sonic colours, but instead of wisps sonic is split into multiple personalities. eg red sonic. They each have different features, similar to wisps. Eggman also gets split, into good and bad. That's all from me. You can read more at tssz.
#5. Comment posted by Adam UNKNOWN on Saturday, 29th October 2011, 8:57pm
Sonic Dimensions is a fan game engine.
#6. Comment posted by nore#! sonic on Sunday, 30th October 2011, 11:12am
it is by SEGA and it's on the wii u


nore#! sonic
#7. Comment posted by MoDaD on Tuesday, 1st November 2011, 12:03am
Great work. As always, your attention to detail is appreciated.
#8. Comment posted by Whoracle on Tuesday, 8th November 2011, 2:34am
Great site you have here. Amazing work.
#9. Comment posted by MoDaD on Sunday, 13th November 2011, 8:12pm
As this project is coming to a close soon, I was wondering if you had plans to redesign the homepage to reflect the complete nature of all the game guides once Sonic & Knuckles is done (as I'm assuming there will be less emphasis on timely content like blog posts or "new" features when that occurs).
#10. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 13th November 2011, 8:53pm
That's exactly what I'm planning, yes! Stay tuned!
#11. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 14th November 2011, 6:50am
Maybe a pic from each zone, like how you did at the top left corner is S&K, but for all the zones that you did a guide of.
#12. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 15th November 2011, 9:50am
Well, isn't this interesting:
#13. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 16th November 2011, 11:50am
Well here's some news about sonic CD
#14. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 16th November 2011, 7:25pm
Thanks, I am still technically in hiding from Sonic news until I finish the 3DS version of Generations, as there's a couple of levels in that which I still don't want spoilers for. It's a shame they seem to have so many problems with rights to soundtracks, you'd think that they should be able to use whatever they wanted.
#15. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 17th November 2011, 1:55am
If sega cannot re-create their OWN music how can an independent team re-create Sonic CD in HD? They hvae started. This would also apply to Sonic 3 HD because of MJ, even though they have already re-mastered Ice-cap.
#16. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 18th November 2011, 7:50am
Why is it that 2nd zones always have the best music. Chemical plant, Hydrocity, Flying Battery. All of them are favourites of mine.
#17. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 18th November 2011, 9:29am
More news, the first is BIG news. (VERY BIG news, especially for LQS) (just some Hyper cool fan artworks, but still worth a look)
#18. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 18th November 2011, 7:55pm
You posted the same link twice. What was the first one supposed to be?
#19. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 19th November 2011, 4:32am

An update happened today, that is the second link.
#20. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 19th November 2011, 8:39am
Thanks, I'll definitely be getting myself a copy of that! Seems like this 20th anniversary year just keeps giving and giving!
Anything else been going on lately?
Saturday, 8th October 2011, 2:46pm (UTC), 63 Comments
An odd post, this one. Firstly, I'm still busying myself with the Lava Reef Zone guide. Not quite ready yet, but it'll be coming your way before Sonic Generations does. That's a must for me, because once that game arrives, I'll be spending little free time on anything else for a while!

Speaking of which, I was wondering if any of you would be so kind as to update me on anything interesting that's been happening in the world of Sonic over the last three weeks - but NOT related to Sonic Generations! About three weeks ago I decided to take the drastic step of going into Sonic news hibernation, in order to avoid any more spoilers about the upcoming game. I really really don't want to know even the tiniest new piece of information about it now, especially if it's related to the levels. I did create a rather comprehensive Twitter keyword filter, but as I discovered, it was somewhat dependent on people spelling the names of levels correctly!!

However I would quite like to know about anything else, as it's been very boring without any Sonic news at all. So have any new games or versions of games been announced? Any new details about Sonic CD XBLA or Sonic 4 ep 2? Any interesting fan games that have surfaced? (I did manage to see SAGE this year though). Any new 20th anniversary merchandise going around? Anything Sonic at all!.. well, anything except the American comics, I'm not that fussed about them.

I'd be very grateful to be kept informed, both over the last three weeks, and if anything pops up over the next month too! Thanks a lot :)
Comments   63 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Mike on Saturday, 8th October 2011, 11:48pm
Not sure if the announcement of Sonic CD came out was before or after the 3 weeks. Coming out on basically everything but the Wii. Even the Android! Nice nifty new HD version.
#2. Comment posted by Mike on Saturday, 8th October 2011, 11:58pm
Oh and! Sonic title Generator from Retro. Fantastic time waster
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 9th October 2011, 10:00am
Yeah, I did catch the Sonic CD announcement before going into my hibernation, but I take it we still haven't got a release date or anything yet? Thanks :)
#4. Comment posted by Jackaroo on Sunday, 9th October 2011, 10:13pm
Have you heard about the Sonic Generations Collectors edition thats available for europe?
It comes with the Game itself in a Lenticular sleeve that changes from classic to modern sonic, An art book, A CD Featuring a selection of songs from the past 20 years of sonic, A DVD with a documentary on Sonic, DLC For Generations (From what ive heard its a Pinball minigame, Super Sonic Avatar Costume for 360 and a Sonic Generations theme), A Numbered gold Ring, A figure of Classic Sonic & Modern Sonic posing on top of a large ring and it all comes in a cool box featuring both sonics. It all looks pretty awesome and is certainly something special for the 20th anniversary. Heres an image of it :
It is europe only though but there are sites that are shipping it internationally if you live outside europe.
#5. Comment posted by Pokemarionic on Monday, 10th October 2011, 8:39pm
Sonic the hedgehog 4 episode 2 will not support 3d and will contain brand new music!
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 7:30am
Thank you, yes, I know about the collector's edition, it'll be with me on the day of release, hopefully! Any nuggets about ep 2 are much appreciated as well!
#7. Comment posted by Adam on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 1:42pm
LiquidShade what's your email address? :)
Anyway, do you know about the fan project 'Sonic Adventure Generations'?
Check it out! It's Sonic generations with Sonic adventure gameplay as the 'classic sonic'! It looks really good!
#8. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 6:12pm

Looks nice, but I'm afraid I'm getting dangerously close to spoilers when looking around anything Generations related on Youtube, so I think I'll check out more later on!
#9. Comment posted by Adam on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 7:13pm
I know, Sonic Stadium once had 30 mins of Generations footage and I was like NOOOO! GO AWAY! SPOILERS!
Hmm, do you know about the soundtracks they're releasing? You seem to be as big a Sonic fan as I am so I'd check it out
#10. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 7:22pm
Sonic Generations has been officially anounced by SEGA to be on PC! Guess we can look forward to that. (I don't have an Xbox 360 or a Playstation 3, so this is amazing news to me.) =)
#11. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 7:30pm
Lets see... there's been some speculation as to weather or not Sonic 4 Ep 2 would have 3D effects or not, and as of now, the answer is "No". Besides that, SEGA has been very quiet...

Sonic CD will have the JP soundtrack for the game, and MAY have the American soundtrack also later on as an update if SEGA can get the rights for it. But that's a BIG maybe.It has also been confirmed that it runs on Christian Whitehead "The Taxman"'s Retro Sonic engine.

Sonic Generations is now going to be released on PC via digital distributers, one being Steam. It has big system requirements, however... Also, there is gonna be a Sonic-themed skating competition called "Sonic Generations of Skate" featuring many skating legends, including Tony Hawk. It'll happen in California in the US on October 22nd, and will air on television on November 25th on Fox Sports, in the US at least... I know you're in the UK, but fogured you'd at least like to know that that's going on. Figured those wouldn't count as spoilers. :P

Those were the announcements that were not spoilers, and were important to me, at least...
Hope I was some help! :D
#12. Comment posted by Pokemarionic on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 8:27pm
i dont think this counts as a spoiler, but sonic generations is coming out on the PC
#13. Comment posted by Adam on Tuesday, 11th October 2011, 9:05pm
The PC version gets Eggmanland with Sonic and Knuckles Death Egg Zone remix. Just kidding! I'm not evil like that...
#14. Comment posted by hmmmm... on Thursday, 13th October 2011, 12:28am
go to the sonic stadium
#15. Comment posted by Anonymous on Sunday, 16th October 2011, 12:24pm
More News! The PC port of the game will cost $25 on steam.

Also, on the 3DS version, there have been rumors that this version will be delayed to 2012. It's only a rumor, but still...

Last, there might be a demo released on October 19th for the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.
#16. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 16th October 2011, 4:07pm
Another demo!? Awesome, I'll be sure to keep a look out for it this Wednesday! Thanks anon, I might have missed that entirely :)
#17. Comment posted by Gemster312 on Monday, 17th October 2011, 4:31am
Well, heres something you might be interested in... Sonic 3 HD.
Its a project open for everyone to participate in who wants! So you could totally join! Its just a HD remake of the original Sonic 3 and Knuckles! Me being the lead Programmer, its commign along pretty well. Maybe you would like to join? :)
Head over to to see whats going on. Its all in the forums section currently, as its only a 6 month old project with about 10 official working members including myself
#18. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 17th October 2011, 8:48am
Don't forget the much more Advanced (not meaning to brag) Sonic 2 HD, demo coming out soon of EHZ & HTZ. :D Check it out on sonic retro.

P.s You'll love generations-sega have released a HEAP of gameplay and trailers, and trust me-you'll love it!
#19. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 17th October 2011, 8:52am
P.P.s I do like S3HD as well as S2HD
#20. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Monday, 17th October 2011, 8:53am
*cough* third post lucky
#21. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 18th October 2011, 4:06pm
I won't say anything specific on the levels, but I will say this: the level list is the only disappointing thing about this game so far, so be prepared for that.
#22. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 19th October 2011, 6:42am
Hey, I love the levels!! They are awesome, don't listen the anonymous!!! I mean they could be better, but they're still awesome!
#23. Comment posted by Anonymous on Thursday, 20th October 2011, 6:55am
Youtube has an ongoing series right now called Sonic for Hire, It's quite funny and worth checking out 2 seasons have been made with a third next month.
#24. Comment posted by Anonymous on Thursday, 20th October 2011, 4:12pm
@Hyper Sonic. No, they're not bad levels, but there were a couple of stupid decisions. The design itself is awesome, but the choices could've been a lot better.
#25. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 21st October 2011, 1:59am
I wouldn't call any of those decisions STUPID. Just not the best decisions. And they improved the "bad" levels by changing the design to incorporate things that weren't in the original levels. The one from Sonic Heroes had extra features that were not even mentioned in the original level, I just hope you know what I'm talking about! There are other examples, but I don't want to mention them. In case of spoilng.
#26. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 21st October 2011, 2:32pm
Doesn't matter. The nature of the levels themselves is what makes them bad decisions. And the Heroes level didn't really have much that was new either. There's nothing they could possibly do to those levels to make them good decisions.
#27. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 22nd October 2011, 12:58am
The levels because good decisions, because they changed the features radically, you OBVIOUSLY haven't seen the classic gameplay of the level from heroes, it looks EPIC, and nothing like the original stage.
#28. Comment posted by Anonymous on Saturday, 22nd October 2011, 4:30pm
What are you talking about? Of course it looks like the original. It's a little less like the original, I'll give you that, but it's still very close.
#29. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 22nd October 2011, 6:00pm
Ok, this isn't the place to have endless arguments thank you very much. If you want to do that, please take it to another forum or exchange email addresses or something. Thanks.

Moving on, a piece of news I happened to notice myself is that Sonic won a Golden Joystick award yesterday in the UK, for outstanding contribution. A very nice little tribute indeed.
#30. Comment posted by jarbyjarb(the sonic info box) on Monday, 24th October 2011, 12:32am
sega has confermed the first bit of the sonic timeline. it go's sonic 1, sonic 2, sonic 3, sonic and knuckels, sonic 4 ep 1, sonic cd, sonic 4 ep 2.
#31. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 25th October 2011, 9:56am
Sonic 4 ep 1 doesn't have a very rich story in my opinion, and I don't even think it should be on the timeline! (I know a very RADICAL view) *cough* radical *cough*
#32. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 1:29am
@LiQuidShade Even after you find out the level list? Because I have a feeling you're going to end up picking a side afterwards (probably my side TBH). There's a lot of controversy behind some of the level selections (not surprising, it's the Sonic fandom after all). On that note, I'll shut up until you see the game for yourself. I've gotten my point across. Just don't get hyped up too much, that will only end in disappointment (not everyone is going to be 100% pleased with the game of course).
#33. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 7:07am
Just 98% happy! In my opinion there is only one bad thing about the game, and it is NOT the levels! P.S GET HYPED GET HYPED I've seen half the game, and trust me GET HYPED. HYPO HYPED. No, HYPER HYPED,get it hahaha.
#34. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 7:58am
I'm sure I'll be writing a full review afterwards, so there will be plenty of space for discussion about level choices and all other elements to the game in the comments of that post. To be honest, I'm pretty sure I know what most of the levels are going to be anyway, partly from them seeping through into peoples comments and tweets over the last few months unfortunately, but there's probably two or three that I'm still not very certain about, so I just want to keep the identity of those as secret as possible for the moment! Of the ones I am aware of, or at least strongly suspicious of, there are certainly a mix of great choices and not so great choices, but I'm just keen to see what's different about them from their original versions, and how they all fit into the story and in what order.

To be honest Hyper_Sonic, the fact that you have been able to see half of the whole game already rather saddens me! Whether it's through officially released material or leaked media, it creates a gulf between those who are happy to see it and those who don't want it ruining their experience. And most people aren't fortunate enough to own a website and ask their readers to give them spoiler-free news from the rest of the franchise! It's a topic I feel very strongly about, and when this is all over, I feel like I want to try and see if I can start taking action about it - whether it's through cooperating with other sites to try and make spoilers more secure, or maybe even talking to SEGA themselves to see if there's anything they can do to try and withhold a bit more. That can only be done with enough like-minded voices though so I'll want to see how many others there are out there that feel the same way. This will all come in another post soon but in the meantime, I'm interested to hear more opinions on the matter.

Anyway, thanks all for respecting my need to keep things unknown so far! Only 9 days to go for me!
#35. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 8:10am
I know, but my point was that I have STILL not lost the hype after watching them. P.S You have made me fell guilty :(
#36. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 8:18am
SEGA have really tried their hardest to stop the spoilers though. But the reason that So much gameplay was leaked AND the 10+ trailers by SEGA were released was because they wanted to keep the Hype ball rolling, and it was rolling a little too fast! But you do have to remember that some people want to know what the game is like before they play it, I am one of them. Besides, it's not my fault, my hands just had a mind of their own! After I found out the level list by accident I just couldn't control myself. You should make a "this is a spoiler free zone" banner on your site. Also I saw a comic with a "this is a ring free zone" for death egg zone s2, just wanted to let you know my inspiration.
#37. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 9:19am
lol, it's alright, you're not to blame - if the game will still feel just as fresh and enjoyable for you when you actually play it, then no harm done. But for me, seeing all of that would ruin it a bit - I just like it to be a surprise. I can appreciate media being used to attract people who wouldn't have bought the game otherwise, that's obviously important, but I do believe they can do that without telling us about almost every single level in the game, which I'm assuming they probably have done by this point. That's putting aside the leaked level list of course, which was accidental. Still, it was pretty stupid leaving it lying around in a demo that was obviously going to get dissected.
#38. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 26th October 2011, 10:08pm
Yeah, there's definitely been too much leaked content to the point where I've started tuning out. I don't mind knowing the levels, but knowing the entire level design is too much. The only ones I want to see are the ones that I'm worried about in terms of level design. S3 level was one, and I was quite impressed with it, but I'm still worried about the SA1 and 06 levels. Everything else I'm waiting until I actually play the game.
#39. Comment posted by Anonymous on Thursday, 27th October 2011, 2:29am
I just saw the 06 level, and it looks pretty good, but it's missing a very crucial part of the level.
#40. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 28th October 2011, 4:21pm
Hey, just a heads up, some of the retail stores here in the U.S. are selling the game early (sadly, that's starting to become a trend here), so be even more careful of spoiler between now and the time you get the game.
#41. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 29th October 2011, 6:07am
Well I actually quite liked the SA1 level, even though it was a bit too overdone in the game.
#42. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 31st October 2011, 8:34pm
That's the only one I haven't seen yet that I want to.
#43. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 2nd November 2011, 4:13am
Tails is an unlocable character in Sonic CD.
#44. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 3rd November 2011, 7:00pm
Don't know if anyone's managed to get their collectors box early today, but Amazon only dispatched mine at 5 this afternoon, so HOPEFULLY, should come tomorrow. It did originally estimate that it might be today though, so disappointingly, I still have another frustrating 24 hours ahead of me! Argh!
#45. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 4th November 2011, 9:00am
I'm sure you'll get through it, and LOVE the game as I do! The missions are almost like acts 2,3,4,5 & 6 plus sonic 2 HD's sound track
#46. Comment posted by Anonymous on Friday, 4th November 2011, 10:57am
I've been playing the game most of the last few days, and it's just plain awesome in spite of the (IMO) bad level choices. Argh! If only I didn't have school!
#47. Comment posted by Anonymous on Monday, 7th November 2011, 1:36pm
Hey Liquid, you got the game yet?
#48. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 7th November 2011, 10:10pm
Yep! Got, completed, loved! More thoughts soon.

Incidentally if anyone finds a good quality, complete rip of the soundtrack (just until the OST's released), please share! I only just missed the one here before it got taken down, hopefully it comes back soon:
#49. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 8th November 2011, 7:48am
I bet that you didn't love the game as much as I did, (actually you probably loved it more :D). Everything about the game was awesome except one (large) and many minor things. All in all an AWESOME game, easily the best in the francise since SA2, for me anyway.
#50. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 8th November 2011, 7:48am
#51. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Tuesday, 8th November 2011, 9:08am
Can you go back on twitter now LQS :)
#52. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 8th November 2011, 2:30pm
I've been playing on and off, but I haven't beaten it yet. I'm very close, though. All I have left is to do 3 Modern challenge missions, then beat Silver, Egg Dragoon, and Time Eater. Hey, what do you think of the level choices?
#53. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Tuesday, 8th November 2011, 10:38pm
You'll have to wait until my review! Which should be this weekend at the latest I would have thought. But generally there were some very good and some not so good choices. Some that proved better than I thought, and one or two others worse so, but again, I'll name names later on! All in all though yes, it is a fantastic game, and one I'd recommend to literally anyone!

Yes, I will go back on Twitter soon. :)
#54. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 9th November 2011, 5:58am
Personally the "bad" level choises turned out to be some of my fav levels in the game (heroes, SA1, and 06) how ironic is that. The 3 bad choices being in my top 5 levels. I actually loved. EVERY zone in the game. Each stage is a treasure. Most of the missions are pretty awesome too. I like the missions that deviated from the act the most.
#55. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 9th November 2011, 4:58pm
I thought those three were okay, but could've been better. The Colors level turned out a million times better than I expected, though. Or at least the Modern level did.
#56. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Wednesday, 9th November 2011, 8:00pm
So did the classic one, nut the modern one was good too. This raises the question- classic sonic or modern sonic? I know that everybody likes both; but if you had to chose one what would it be? For me classic 52% modern 48%. The problem with classic Sonic is that his acts are ALWAYS shorter that the modern acts because he get act 1. I just hope that Sonic 4 ep 2 is like a clone of classic Sonic in generations, graphics and game play wise.
#57. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 9th November 2011, 11:13pm
For me it's Modern 70% Classic 30%. And I didn't like the Classic version of the Colors level, but I'll wait until the review comes out to explain why.
#58. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 10th November 2011, 6:14am
Actually I changes my mind, if the classic and modern acts had equal lengths-then I would be classic 65% modern 35%. It is not my fault that I like classic more, I just do! I miss 3D platforming Dreamcast style. Does anyone else?
#59. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 10th November 2011, 6:36am
to LQS *cough* music rip *cough*
#60. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 10th November 2011, 7:18am
You know, I JUST REALISED how old the above link is...
#61. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 10th November 2011, 7:59am
You most likely know this, but all the music is missing from your sonic CD guide :(
#62. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 10th November 2011, 7:16pm
I know, at the time there were storage restrictions that prevented it, though these no longer exist, so I've just been lazy :P - I might actually wait to see if I can get my hands on the supposedly looped versions from the new Sonic CD next month. I remember that there were some already in existence but quality wasn't as good, as I recall.
#63. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 11th November 2011, 7:40am
I just want to hear bad future of stardust speedway all over again, *cough*
Sand Castle
Wednesday, 10th August 2011, 7:54pm (UTC), 13 Comments
Update: Sandopolis Zone added to the Sonic & Knuckles section
I've fought off the looters of the London riots this evening to bring you one of Sonic's toughest and most daunting original levels - the Sandopolis Zone guide is finally among us! If I remember right back, this is one of the levels that I actually wanted to publish early, when the site was in its prototype phase, in order to test the general format of the guide. There's loads of tricky things about this level, so it's a good test of how successful the page actually is as a strategy guide. Over four years late then, but nevermind. The maps came out pretty massive for this one, in file size. Hope we're all on fast interweb connections!

Sorry I've been quiet lately, there were a few things I wanted to post about, particularly around the big anniversary celebration a couple of months back but I never really found the time. I did plan on writing about my visit to Summer of Sonic, as I did last year, but by the very end of that I rather lost my enthusiasm about it. Through no fault of the event itself or the efforts of the staff, all absolutely brilliant and very entertaining in general. Thing is I was supposed to be one of the lucky site owners to be granted an interview with Yuji Naka and Takashi Iizuka, which I was extremely excited about, and would have loved to have fed back to you. Unfortunately I was very last on the list, by which point, after waiting an hour or so, I was told they were apparently too tired, so my interview was cancelled. My suspicions carry me to the conclusion that this may have been a decision taken by Sega reps there rather than the duo themselves. Either way I wasn't happy, and even had to barter for the opportunity to have them sign my original Sonic 1 instruction manual, which they could just about muster up the strength to do, but without me getting to meet them myself at all. A great thing to own, but not so great a story attached to it really. And for that I also had to wait another 45 minutes or so. Even while waiting backstage, I did generally feel a little bit ignored by everyone too - they all seemed to know each other quite well, and I had to overhear what was actually going on, rather than be told. Before that, it was all a great day, and I even got to play on Green Hill modern in the Sonic Generations demo three times (which is going to be fantastic by the way), but unless there's something equally enticing next year I can't say for sure if I'll want to really be there or not. Maybe I'm better off celebrating Sonic quietly and individually in the way in which I always have done.

I should acknowledge that my map work actually featured in two different UK magazines in June, one with my permission, the other not. Retro Gamer asked if they could use my Green Hill Act 1 map as part of their front cover fold out, with a nice nod to me and my site alongside. I happily provided them with the original, full size, non-annotated version, and it looks brilliant in print! A great accomplishment for this site. Games Master meanwhile swiped my Marble Zone Act 1 map without asking (talk about looting! :P). Still flattering, but they had to make do with having an obscure "1" point icon in the middle of it. There's a lesson there kids - always ask first, you might get something even better than what you were actually after! Thanks to the Retro Gamer guys. Slightly less thanks to Games Master, although their special Sonic issue was pretty cool in general, if inaccurate here and there. I'd like to think that a few fans recognised my handiwork straight away though. Hopefully.

Well, I'd like to say Sonic Generations is looking better and better, but.. I'm not allowing myself to look at it! I feel like I go on about this all the time, but I really think with this game, it's more important than ever before to hold back as many surprises as possible, especially anything related to the classic era, in my opinion. They've never really delved into such specific references as they're doing here, so I'm not allowing myself to see even one screen shot of Chemical Plant, or any other classic stage yet to be revealed - it'll be so much better to experience it completely fresh when I finally get to play on it. That said, I am finding that I might be robbing myself a little bit of the hype and excitement that makes this build-up time always so special - even if the final product occasionally doesn't live up to it (though I'm confident that won't be the case here). A certain balance needs to be struck I think, but I'm still of the opinion that you can't rely on Sega, games media, and especially not hackers to strike that for you, it takes the right amount of will power to put some things off limits to yourself, but without losing the excitement of something new to look at.

I might be tempted to look at the next stage to be shown from either Adventure or modern eras, just because I know Green Hill so well now. I think one more trailer will do me, maybe just a snippet of gameplay from one of those levels, but then it'll be a complete lockdown! I might even try to work out if I can create some sort of Twitter or RSS feed that shows me only Sonic news that doesn't contain certain key words. Such as "Generations" and perhaps even the names of every single possible level to make an appearance. Am I going mad? perhaps. If I succeed though I'll see if I can share it for like-minded misers.

What I definitely will continue to avoid like the plague is that cursed list of the names of all of the levels, hacked out of the classic demo a couple of months ago. The fact that such a thing exists makes traversing the Sonic community at all very difficult. Why the developers would leave that lying around in there in the first place is beyond me, surely now they must be aware that if it's in there, hackers will get it, whether anyone wants them to or not. It's become a bit awkward that people know exactly how accurate my own predicted level list actually is, well before I will. Surprisingly, 100% accurate so far though! That never happens! Please, please do not tell me how much that percentage is actually going to drop down to though. If at all possible, I want to be able to sit down with this game in November, not having a clue what half of these levels are going to be.

That'll do for this post I think. Hope to start on Lava Reef soon, as I'm eager to get this guide finished so I can crack on to more financially lucrative endeavours. Got to pay the bills unfortunately, but finish it, I will.

Stay safe.
Comments   13 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Josh T. on Wednesday, 10th August 2011, 9:36pm
You're like me. I like to stay away from spoilers as much as possible, too!

Also, the Sandopolis guide is great! :D
#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Thursday, 11th August 2011, 2:33pm
Glad to see that this guide is up!

So, I take it that it will be another 2 to 3 months until you upload the Lava Reef guide?
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 11th August 2011, 6:28pm
In all likelihood, yes. Hidden Palace and Sky Sanctuary should be quicker though, as there's a lot less to them.
#4. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 11th August 2011, 9:06pm
I can tell how you don't want to see any of the Sonic Ge*******ns spoilers. they do really spoil... I won't reveal any level, all I wanted to say was the SEGA officially released screenshots of classic (cutie) and modern tails and one zone (which you actually so happened to predict), so if you do not want to see any spoilers then you haven't all ill say is that on the official side you have predicted 4 levels (GH, CE, RR, and **Z) Isn't it weird how all sonic zones have two words...

I cannot wait till you publish my favorite zone of all time, Death Egg :D It is a real shame how no levels in S&K feature water though. I do like a good water stage :( If Death egg had water it would be the perfect zone:D
#5. Comment posted by Cybershell on Tuesday, 16th August 2011, 7:23am
These guides really are fantastic, thanks for making them
#6. Comment posted by MoDaD on Tuesday, 16th August 2011, 6:23pm
Once again, great work. Congratulations on the magazine appearances. If you keep up with all of this high quality work maybe someday you can get into an official contributor position? (If that's what you're interested in, that is.)
#7. Comment posted by Zeupar on Wednesday, 17th August 2011, 9:25am
Awesome job as always, LQS! Do you happen to have scans of those magazines? I am curious to see them. :P
#8. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Thursday, 18th August 2011, 3:11pm
Thanks :)

I have a photo of a portion of the Games Master one. You can tell there's no mistaking it for anyone elses map! Photo here
#9. Comment posted by Anonymous on Thursday, 25th August 2011, 10:02pm
Any chance you'll add a map for the secret special stage in Sonic 3 (as featured in the cheats sectionof that game)? It'd be nice to have it match the other special stage guides.
#10. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 26th August 2011, 6:24pm
Probably not. I must admit, the only reason I could do those maps so easily was because I traced over ones from scans of the Sonic Mega Collection Japanese guide, which doesn't contain that stage. Won't rule it out, but I doubt I'll have the time/patience.
#11. Comment posted by SeekingTruth on Saturday, 27th August 2011, 7:54am
I have been deeply in love with this site since I first discovered it, it's always so exciting to see an update :) Amazing Sandopolis guide! Have you ever considered making a simple Facebook page for Sonic: Zone 0? It could help your work get the attention it deserves. :) I'm sure there's thousands of Sonic nerds on Facebook who would love to plumb this site's depths that would never find this place otherwise.
#12. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 27th August 2011, 11:23am
Thanks a lot! Facebook eh? I suppose I could, never really considered it properly. Probably because I'm one of the few people who spends loads of time online, but very very little of it on Facebook - can't stand it, personally. But, it is the way things seem to be going these days isn't it? So I might look into it a bit more. However, I am starting to wrap up all the work I plan to do on this site, so it won't be as beneficial now as it would have been a year or two ago. Still, thanks for the suggestion, I'll give it a think!
#13. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 30th August 2011, 10:44am
And when there is management Lava Reef?
Truly a day to celebrate
Thursday, 23rd June 2011, 6:27am (UTC), 8 Comments

As if anyone needed reminding, our beloved Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is 20 years old today, and with nary a grey hair in sight. Sadly, I have to keep this commemorative post uncharacteristically short and sweet. I had planned a big article, which I have started and may complete soon, but a mix of writers block and just sheer lack of time have stood in the way unfortunately. But still, I wouldn't have felt right letting this momentous occasion pass by with no reference at all.

20 years is a long time for any gaming series to have remained this active, releasing title after title pretty much every year therein. To this, SEGA can attribute something inherently loveable about Sonic's impeccably designed character, his vast, imaginative and varied worlds, and the beautiful physics and level designs that combine so perfectly to create an inimitable experience across all of interactive entertainment. There is nothing in the world like a great Sonic game, and the quest to gather as many as possible is what keeps loyal fans mesmerised where they would otherwise have lost interest. You don't even need a 20th anniversary celebration to know that Sonic the Hedgehog has cemented his place in the history of the medium as one of the most popular characters and franchises ever, to be remembered long after he's gone, if one can even imagine such an event.

Playing a great Sonic level, whether it's running and jumping madly through Green Hill Zone, desperately trying to keep momentum, or dodging obstacles left and right while blazing through Rooftop Run, carries with it an amazingly fulfilling feeling with it. You become engrossed in a world of flowing colour that becomes more and more vivid the more you play it, and the better you know it. Those memorable tunes from your childhood are woven into the fabric of your brain, becoming part of the rhythm of your life. The thrill and wonder you experience when treading new territory in a hidden route you never knew about before, or even more so when seeing a brand new environment for the first time, encountering its traps and hearing its characteristic melodies. The amazing anticipation when you lay your eyes on that new trailer for an upcoming game, and then can't help but watch it again and again. These are among the many things that make being a Sonic fan worth every hardship.

I love Sonic, and I think it's a pretty safe bet that you do too. Today is a day where we should all count ourselves grateful that we have such a great character, story and history to remember and hold dear, and there is so much to love about it. So make sure you do something special today as your own small tribute. SEGA have excitingly given us the perfect celebration: a demo of Sonic Generations which goes live today! Play it. Play Sonic 1. Play your favourite games of the series. Dig out your Sonic comic collection. Play your favourite Sonic soundtrack. Watch an episode or two of your favourite Sonic cartoon. Put your Sonic underpants on. Run like Sonic down the street. Do whatever you need to do to remind you of what SEGA's blue saviour means to you.

Happy Birthday Sonic. You will always be the best.
Comments   8 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Andrew on Thursday, 23rd June 2011, 8:39am
Hey, hey, hey, Sonic'll always be the best!! I agree :-D
#2. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Thursday, 23rd June 2011, 8:41am
Happy birthday sonic!

P.s LiQuidShade, you were pretty good at predicting the sonic generations levels, city escape, AND roof top run have been confirmed by SEGA as levels of Sonic generations, let's see if you get any more levels correct.
#3. Comment posted by TheGuyWithTheGames on Thursday, 23rd June 2011, 7:59pm
Amazing. That was just amazing. I have been by Sonic's side since June 23 1991 and even though he has had a bumby ride in the 3d games, he will always be my favorite videogame mascot. Let us hope for another amazing 20 years of sonic. Happy Birthday, Sonic !
#4. Comment posted by ThatRandomDude on Friday, 24th June 2011, 1:21pm
aww... I missed it :'(
#5. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 25th June 2011, 1:55am
Is there a downloadable PC version of the sonic generations demo? PLZ answer
#6. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Saturday, 25th June 2011, 1:55am
Is there a downloadable PC version of the sonic generations demo? PLZ answer
#7. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Saturday, 25th June 2011, 9:02pm
Nope. Sorry!
#8. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Sunday, 26th June 2011, 11:28am
Could one be available via an emulator?
Assault and Battery
Tuesday, 17th May 2011, 9:56pm (UTC), 17 Comments
Update: Flying Battery Zone and Gameplay page added to the Sonic & Knuckles section
Back once again, this time with a double helping of Sonic & Knuckles guide goodness - the general gameplay page and the complete guide to Flying Battery Zone! Admittedly, that Gameplay page is largely the same as Sonic 3's, as you'd probably expect. Few changes to the mechanics and there's no point reinventing the wheel, but I was sure to read through thoroughly and check that any differences were accounted for. At least you finally know how to make Knuckles glide and climb walls. Lord knows what you've been doing all these years without me. It's always an awkward page to put together, that one, because ideally it needs to come early on in the guide updates, but it should contain screenshots from the whole variety of levels. Ideally, I could just take a few from those that I've already grabbed from the level guides but because I haven't done most of them yet, I have to go and get a few just for this purpose.

I'm quite pleased with the Flying battery guide, there's certainly a lot of points to cover. I think the maps are among the clearest too, as the routes are all neatly separated so I didn't have to fill it with blue arrows everywhere, something I'm often anxious about having to over-use. There's also a number of ways in which these maps can be particularly useful, such as indicating exactly what is in each of those animal capsules, individually - difficult to do otherwise. I guess I have quite a strong connection with the zone in general - growing up, similar to the infamous water-rising bit of Chemical Plant Act 2, I would also live in fear of the first death-drop ridden outside bit of Flying Battery Act 1, which was a big jump up in difficulty. Those spiral elevators in Act 2 are no reward for surviving it either. Although the appearance of the background in particular is actually quite bland compared to its neighbouring Mushroom Hill Zone, the music alone makes the whole level a real star for me. Act 2 is officially my favourite piece of Sonic music of all time, which is really saying something, as the number of truly great tunes in the last 20 years of Sonic music is easily in the hundreds. I'd be overjoyed for the level to reappear in Sonic Generations, purely for the chance to be able to hear that tune brought up to date.

In other news, I'll be at Summer of Sonic again this year (at least I assume I will, I managed to register successfully though haven't received tickets yet, I assume they're coming). Whether or not I'll be able to meet any of you, I don't know but I hope so! If Zone: 0 is featured on the website wall again, I'll just stand next to it pointing, for the majority of the time. Unless Sonic Generations is playable of course, in which case I'll probably spend much of it queuing!

Hope to post about something exciting (exciting for me anyway, and very much so!) soon, based on an email I received today. And given that it's almost just one month away until the joyous anniversary day itself (which by all rights should be accepted as a religious holiday in my book), I'll try and see if I can at least come up with some kind of article to mark the occasion. As I've tweeted recently I've been playing sizable portions of most of the games, from the most recent, working backwards, and aiming to finish with Sonic 1 on 23rd June. Hopefully bringing them all together like that might inspire an idea or two. I'm in the darkest era right now (you know the one), but after that it'll be mostly plain sailing!

That'll be all. Next stop, Sandopolis Zone!.. Ack!
Comments   17 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 18th May 2011, 1:49am
Thanks for all the hard! I hope you'll enjoy your time at Summer of Sonic ;)

#2. Comment posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, 18th May 2011, 1:50am
hard work* :P (sorry it's 5AM)
#3. Comment posted by Andrew on Wednesday, 18th May 2011, 3:56am
Wow, after over a month. I can see that it took a lot of time with a complex level like FBZ.
#4. Comment posted by Mike on Thursday, 19th May 2011, 1:16am
Sandopolis Zone! Ack. I'm with ya brother. :-D Act 2 is pure evil. Especially as poor Knuckles.
#5. Comment posted by Jamie Dawg on Sunday, 22nd May 2011, 9:11pm
Hey, I don't know if you read my last comment but here it is, since you're going to finish the guide and then basically shut down the site, I wanted to make a deal with you; to prevent the site from dying along with your great and hard work (and of the other editors), I'll be hosting a copy of this site in some host I have yet to determine, and attempt to revive it, since I'm a huge fan of the stuff your putting out here and I'd like to put some guides on more recent Sonic games, like Sonic Adventure or Sonic Colo(u)rs, of coarse anyone would be able to help, including yourself, because I feel that Sonic sites lack what this site has. If you're interested, let me know by e-mail.
#6. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 23rd May 2011, 7:45pm
Hi Jamie,

Thanks for your offer, I had considered something along these lines, but I won't be handing anything over immediately I'm afraid. For one thing, the site is not dying, it will remain online and I will host it indefinitely - which I mentioned in my original post on the subject - but it's unlikely to receive updates.

Although I like your ambition, I'd been trying for almost two years to get others involved in the writing process of this site, and despite many offers, no one has yet to complete even a quarter of a guide - I am the only editor. So you'll understand if I respond with "I've heard that one before!".

However, if you're serious about this I would suggest you do what I did and just get writing. Long before anything goes online, you should complete a full guide or two in plain text, even if it takes months and years (which it probably will if done properly). At that point, by all means get in touch and show me, and if you can convince me the site is safe in your hands and will be added to competently, I'll be much more willing to consider some sort of hand over :)

Good luck!
#7. Comment posted by CloneWarrior on Tuesday, 24th May 2011, 1:46am
Hey, LiQuidShade.

I love your guides and I'm really going to hate seeing this place basically freeze once the S&K guide ends.

I don't suppose that you might consider still doing blog posts as more Sonic games come out, or even just little things?

I know it's not much, but it almost scares me seeing a website that's just frozen in the past like this one could be.
#8. Comment posted by Silversounds on Wednesday, 25th May 2011, 12:59am

Hi LiQuidShade,

You may already be aware of this but I just wanted to give you a heads up in case it isn't something to do with my computer: the map for act two of Flying Battery Zone seems to be corrupt or something- it's coming out a little wonky.

Thanks for the awesome site!
#9. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 25th May 2011, 7:47pm
I might be able to post something every now and then, but I can't imagine I'd have the time to make that particularly frequent. You might have to just live with your fear I'm afraid.

Really? Looks fine to me. Anyone else can confirm or deny?
#10. Comment posted by Silversounds on Friday, 27th May 2011, 1:01pm

Hi again,

Just checked it again and there's no problem now. If you haven't changed anything then I'm guessing it was a bad download that got stuck in my temp net files and kept getting shoved back up when I retested- didn't think of that at the time.

Sorry about that :)
#11. Comment posted by CloneWarrior on Monday, 30th May 2011, 9:29am
Even if you only posted when you played a new Sonic game or something, it'd be infinitely better than never posting again.
#12. Comment posted by CloneWarrior on Saturday, 4th June 2011, 2:06am
Hey, LiQuidShade, what if I was thinking about going about creating a Sonic Adventure (DX) guide?

I'm just about to go into my first homework free summer following high school graduation and will probably have enough free time in my hands to write it up.

If someone else would be able to help with formatting it, would you be willing to put it on the site?
#13. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 5th June 2011, 8:39pm
Maybe, but it has to be good! And also it has to be complete, before I even think of preparing the site to hold it. And you'll need to take your own screen shots, and publish it yourself (though you can use my admin system, so no need for HTML knowledge).. If that's all alright with you then by all means, be my guest. Send me a sample at some point and I'll let you know whether or not it looks promising.

That goes for anyone else too, by the way, if they really really want to contribute, feel free to give it a go, though I won't be reserving games for anyone anymore - first to complete, to a high standard, wins! I'm happy for Zone: 0's legacy to continue, providing I don't have to have any more than a guiding hand in it.
#14. Comment posted by CloneWarrior on Monday, 6th June 2011, 3:22am
Well, I currently have no means of getting screenshots, but I'm on the lookout for someone who could help me with that.

So if there's anyone out there reading this who had the means to take screenshots of Sonic Adventure (DX), I'd love to get some help.

I should get to work by the end of this week, and I'll send you (LiQuidShade) a sample of Sonic's story up through Emerald Coast as soon as I can.
#15. Comment posted by Ricky on Wednesday, 8th June 2011, 4:17pm
Incidentally, sorry about lack of artwork form me, I've been very busy with a job and will be for another few weeks at least :(
But I will be doing Chemical Plant. In it, I'm going to murder Tails. The parasite.

#16. Comment posted by Hyper_Sonic on Friday, 10th June 2011, 10:30am
I found an awesome music website, which has piano solos that replicate mega drive themes, I know this will surely start controversy, but i quite like it's sonic 2 final boss. It doesn't have fbz though :(

And while I'm at it, I found some good cpz artwork, no offense to Ricky.

#17. Comment posted by pokemega32 on Sunday, 12th June 2011, 10:33pm
Alright, I've got preliminary guides done for Chaos 0 and Emerald Coast. Where do I send them?
Featured Posts
Sonic's latest Wii U outing turns away from the popular and well established speed dashes of recent games, in favour of a more traditional platformer approach. But does it work? Get ready for one of the most different Sonic games in every respect!
We've finally done it! The Zone: 0 guides have reached their last big update. Owner LiQuidShade has new projects on the horizon, but this site will always remain in his heart.