The Let's Play Archive

Sonic Generations

by Natural 20, Yorkshire Tea

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Original Thread: Gotta Go Blind - Let's Play Sonic Generations



About the Game

Sonic Generations, released in 2011 was the solution to a problem that Sega had wrestled with since games transitioned into three dimensions in 1997, “How do we make Sonic work in 3D?”

For years Sega struggled to recreate the magic of their 2D outings, their attempts with Sonic Adventure, Sonic Adventure 2 and Sonic Heroes were valiant but ultimately unfocused with problems in both control and level design. Their decision to rethink the franchise caused the disaster that was Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), trading Sonic’s campy charm for a nonsensical plot and wonky controls for unplayable ones.

Forced back to the drawing board Sonic Team refocused. It was possible to make a game that captured Sonic’s speed with levels closer to that of a racing game rather than a traditional platformer, however, these were incredibly labour intensive. A player could rush through a level in a few minutes, crossing a huge distance, but no part of the course could be neglected in case the player chose to stop. Sonic Team’s solution was to create a second gameplay mode to run alongside the new “racing” style levels allowing them to create a game of reasonable length without unreasonable work requirements.

Sonic Unleashed, released with the maligned Werehog in 2008. The game was another disaster. Whilst the “Racing” or “Day” stages elicited a somewhat positive response the “Night” stages focused around the Werehog were savaged. Created to be a brawler, the controls were sluggish, the combat dull and mandatory platforming sections crippled any sense of flow in the game. Again, Sega were forced to rethink.

There was promise, the Day stages, especially the ones designed for the PS2 and Wii versions of the game had gained praise from some outlets. There were problems with control, but they weren’t overwhelming. The biggest issue however, remained. The stages were too resource intensive and until that problem was resolved creating a game would be impossible.

Sonic Colours (2010), found a solution. Stages in the game had their assets reused for “challenges” that would be completed after the initial run through. For the first time in nearly a decade a Sonic game earned near universal praise. But ultimately there were still problems. The challenges focused strongly on platforming elements which didn’t translate well to the gameplay style and led to stages that were broken up uninvitedly. Sonic Team were close however and they knew it.

Sonic Generations ironically solved the problem of Sonic in three dimensions by introducing a new gameplay element, Classic Sonic. Sega divided the game into two halves, “Modern” Sonic, reflecting the style of gameplay that had first been developed in Sonic Unleashed and “Classic” Sonic, reflecting the gameplay style from the original trilogy. The 2D stages allowed for Sonic team to leverage nostalgia for the old gameplay style to give them space to create the expansive 3D stages that were needed for Modern Sonic to work.

The result was a hit. Sonic Generations is, in my opinion, a stellar game. It was received positively from critics and to this day remains an incredible high point for the franchise. The game itself has received further jolts of life from its modding community who have gone as far as to make every stage from Unleashed playable in the game. I am incredibly excited to see it played and hopefully to see a new spin on a modern Classic.

About the LP

I, however, will not be the focus of this LP. My co-commentator and best friend Yorkshire Tea will be in the pilot’s seat. Tea has played every 2D Sonic game, including the recent Sonic Mania, but fell off the 3D iterations of the franchise after Sonic Adventure 2.

A theme of our LPs has been around examining how players react to games based on their background in gaming. Our most recent LP, XCOM 2 contrasted my relative experience with strategy games with Tea’s inexperience to see the difference in our reactions. Here we are going to see if the best offering from a franchise is enough to grab someone who has fallen away and contrast my own high opinion of the game with Tea’s fresh take.

So, this run will be a blind run with yours truly acting as a co-pilot in case Tea needs a nudge in the right direction. We’ll be completing the game from start to finish, we won’t do every challenge, but I will direct Tea into trying a fairly large selection.

As a bonus, after three acts we will jump back to the Modern Stages. Whilst they stand well on a first playthrough, I think they look best with practice and so we’ll contrast Tea’s first attempts with my own run throughs that I’ve painstakingly put together ahead of this LP.

And with that, Tea and I are incredibly proud to bring you, Gotta Go Blind – Let’s Play Sonic Generations.


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