E3 2011: Sonic Generations Preview

Last year, Takashi Iizuka separated the Sonic fandom into classic fans and modern fans, claiming you couldn’t please both. A year later, one of Iizuka’s own creations looks like it will prove this statement false.

This is it. If Sonic Colors could qualify as a dessert, Sonic Generations is definitely looking to be the main course. The HD graphics are beautiful, better then Unleashed. The physics in the classic game play are nearly dead-on, with all the momentum of the classics intact. Modern Sonic’s levels are as fast as they were in Unleashed, without any pesky QTE sequences getting in the way. As awesome as Sonic Colors was, I can’t help but believe that any disillusioned Sonic fan who still believes Sonic is still down in the trash of the gaming industry will finally see this game as his redemption.

Graphically, Generations is a veritable tour de force of color and style. The art style of Green Hill shines through vividly here. The flowers and rocks and green checkerboard grass are all how you remember them, except this time rendered in stunning fully 3D HD polygons. It’s great to see the classic style of the old games rendered so well here. On top of these beautiful graphics, Sonic Generations is also the first game to be rendered in eye popping 3D across all platforms! That’s right, the 3DS version isn’t the only one getting the 3D treatment. Both the PS3 and the Xbox versions will be capable of displaying in 3D. The 3D effects aren’t terribly noticeable during classic Sonic’s game play, but during the speedy sections of modern Sonic’s level the 3D really pops. Things aren’t all rosey with the visuals though. Much like the Sonic Colors E3 demo last year, this demo does have a rocky frame rate. The game can become really choppy at times. Hopefully this issue will be resolved by the time the game arrives in stores this holiday.

Despite the funky frame rate, the game is still incredibly fun to play. Classic Sonic’s game play is likely to be the biggest crowd pleaser. I’m happy to say I tried all the tricks Brad told me about for Sonic 4 last year, and the results were good. Unlike Sonic 4, Sonic Generations’ Sonic does not stop dead in his tracks or in mid air when the player stops pushing forward on the controller. Sonic cannot stroll up inclines, nor can he stand on walls or in loops. Gravity will push you down hard if you don’t gather enough momentum.

That being said, classic Sonic still moves way faster than he did in the Genesis games, and the level design itself is a bit different. There are still a lot of bumpers that bounce you around in some places, but there is not one booster pad in site. There were many diverse paths to try as well. It’s not an exact replica of the classic Genesis games, but it still acts as a nice, effective homage.

Modern Sonic game play is as you’d expect: really fast, very boost centric, and incredibly hectic. Modern Sonic’s version of Green Hill is a fun level, and it’s certainly well designed. Those disappointed with Sonic Colors being a mostly 2D game will be happy to know that at the very least the Green Hill stage is more 3D then it is 2D.

All in all, Sonic Generations is shaping up to be even better then Colors, and something that should finally please retro fans and modern fans alike. This game does indeed outdo Sonic 4, Sonic Unleashed, and Sonic Colors in on fell swoop, if this stage is any indication. Hopefully, this game won’t hit any pot holes along the way, such as the sudden revelation that classic Sonic is murdered and replaced by a jealous Bubsy the Bobcat half way through. Fingers crossed, people!

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Nuckles87 has been an editor at Sonic Stadium since 2007, and has been covering events like E3, PAX, and SDCC since 2010. An avid retro gamer, he runs a monthly stream on Twitch where he explores obscure Sonic oddities, and how aspects of the franchise have evolved over the decades.


  1. Nice preview! Thanks a lot for sharing with us! and let me say this…

    I didn’t have a doubt in my mind!!!!

  2. No way in heck that 360 will have Sonic Generations in 3D. 360 isnt made for 3D. PS3 and 3DS are made for 3d. Besides 360 sucks.

  3. desert? you mean “dessert” lol

    anyways, I’m pumped for the game if it is even better than colors

  4. Z
    City Escape? Life is complete. My very first Sonic level ever (well… that I ever WON at <.<)

  5. Wait, if you say this game can do 3-D, is there an option to get out of 3-D, cuz i dont wanna play 3-D all the time….it can damage your eyes

  6. Epic as hell. I was at the IGN booth earlier and I was trying to get help on finding hte Sega Booth.

    1. Oh man, that level. I had no idea how to progress on that level…

      …Because the camera didn’t pan enough to the side. >A>; And then after that things were pretty okay.

  7. whoa whoa whoa… 3D as in 3DS style 3D or 3D as in gotta have a 3D tv and wear the glasses?
    since when could the 360 and PS3 do that? :O Sounds epic if its the 3DS style!
    So unbelievably psyched for this game its unreal!

    1. well have you ever heared of de blob 2 that was comptibal with 3D on the ps3 and i dont think you get the 3DS with out glasses would be a great idea of sega of course but the 3ds gets its 3d thanks to the cross eyed kinda of style and the ps3 cant do that

  8. I can’t wait this will be SWEET! 😀 I think this will be better than Colo(u)rs but equal with Unleashed but we shall see soon.

  9. So the framerate.

    Is the framerate an issue all the time, or only when you activate the 3D mode?

    If its the former, then that’s concerning, but if its the latter, then I’m OK with it. Can somebody please let me know what the actual situation is with the framerate?

  10. So, kids; what have we learned from this article? That dessert comes before the main course, and is actually spelled “desert”. 😉

    1. Well, it’s hard to call Colours an mere starter when one of the levels is a PLANET MADE OF CAKE. AND IT’S THE LEVEL THAT INTRODUCES THE DRILL. SO YOU CAN DIG THROUGH CAKE.

      however the desert/dessert thing i will agree with

  11. sort out that choppy framerate, make it available on PC, and keep the beautiful CGI Scenes coming and you have got your self a deal SEGA. THIS IS LOOKIN’ FANTASTIC!! 😀

    1. not to make you mad but why pc it will only get a really darker version less HD version of generations

  12. ” If Sonic Colors could qualify as a desert, Sonic Generations is definitely looking to be the main course.”

    Don’t you mean, ” If Sonic Colors could qualify as an APPETIZER, Sonic Generations is definitely looking to be the main course”?

    OK, I’ve got to stop watching Food Network with my mom. O_O

  13. Personally… I think a slightly slower frame rate looks good. It makes the game appear faster than it really is to some degree and gives it a more theatrical feel. I remember seeing a movie in theatres with a SUPER smooth frame rate… 27+ FPS looks awful…. I think it was X-MEN (wolverine edition)

    By the way, here are the levels I’d love to see in Generations:

    – TROPICAL RESORT!!!! (Sonic Colors) *
    – TECHNO TOWER (Knuckles Chaotix)
    – GRAND METROPOLIS!! (Sonic Heroes) *
    – HILL TOP (Sonic 2)

    Asterisk ( * ) = Highly desired
    Sonic Colors is currently the most original/creatively beautiful “Modern Sonic” game… and yes Sonic was in Knuckles Chaotix. He was just late… really late.

  14. THAN, not THEN. “Green Hill stage is more 3D then it is 2D. All in all, Sonic Generations is shaping up to be even better then Colors”. Honestly, writing the same mistake TWICE? In neighboring sentences too! For shame.

    Also, Generations is shaping up to be something special, to beat Colours it really has to try hard. Also, what is up with that skateboard?!


  16. now i gotta be honest, i think unleashed is faster, HOWEVER i think that reason is souly because the greenhill environment is HUGE, where as unleashed was cramped.

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