“Sonic the Hedgehog” Video Game Fans Will Love the Newest Edition
Published: Thursday, November 17, 2011
Updated: Friday, November 18, 2011 17:11
In 1991, a video game programmer named Yuji Naka and an artist named Naoto Oshima were asked by the Sega Corporation to develop a gaming mascot who could rival the famed Italian plumber Mario, a flagship character of the Nintendo Company. Several animal designs were experimented with, such as dogs, rabbits, and even armadillos, before one was decided upon: a hedgehog.
It was a hedgehog with blue quills to match the cobalt Sega logo and red-and-white speed sneakers to mirror the shoes of pop icon Michael Jackson. This hedgehog could roll up into a ball to smash enemies and blur through loops at a rapid pace. His name: Sonic the Hedgehog.
"Sonic Generations," the latest "Sonic" installment for the PlayStation 3 and X-Box 360, features not just one blue-quilled speedster but two. Sonic is celebrating his birthday with friends in a sort of meta-tribute to the anniversary of his creation. The plot of the game is that they're all kidnapped from their current place in time by a mysterious dark force, which is plotting to wipe out Sonic's entire timeline, and they're flung to various places and periods from past "Sonic" titles.
This is where modern meets classic as our Sonic, the longlegged, green-eyed free spirit we've seen in the most recent generation of games, runs into the shorter, slightly pudgy, and spritely classic Sonic that older gamers grew up with in the 1990s on the Sega Genesis. Together, they race through stylized and 3D revamped editions in some of the greatest "Sonic" levels plucked from the Genesis, Dreamcast, and Next Generation gaming eras.
As either the present or classic Sonic, you'll be dashing through lush jungles from the original game, streaking down brightly lit highways in "Sonic Adventure," or ricocheting off of burning buildings in "Crisis City," from the much-maligned "Sonic the Hedgehog: 2006." You'll battle the toughest bosses from each of those eras, rescuing the Sonics' friends, and ultimately restore the timeline so they can breathe easy for the future.
It has been 20 years since a little blue hedgehog sped into the video game world, dashing through colorful levels and smashing his way through bizarre robots. In that time, we've seen Sonic rise to glory and fame through the bestselling "Sonic the Hedgehog" series for the Sega Genesis/Mega-Drive console, rivaling Mario on a constant basis for the most beloved video game character of the 1990s. There has also been his introduction into the 3D gaming world, when he headlined the short-lived Sega Dreamcast console with "Sonic Adventure," an astounding installment that stayed true to his blazing blue roots with its colorful designs, catchy music, and great replay-ability.
It has been in the past decade, however, that Sonic has made a speedy stumble into the most recent generation of gaming consoles, such as PlayStation, X-Box, the Nintendo GameCube and Wii. Although his introduction into the 3D gaming world went off without much of a hitch, some recent installments in the last few years, such as "Sonic Riders," or "Sonic Unleashed," have had complaints from fans and critics alike, citing shoddy gameplay controls and plodding level interaction compared to the overall simple, fastpaced feel of previous "Sonic" titles.
"Sonic the Hedgehog: 2006" seemed primed to rejuvenate fans and reinstate their hopes, but it turned into a porting disaster when the Sonic production crew rushed it before the holiday season, which left the game subjected to several critical errors in gameplay, graphics and controls. This doesn't include the storyline romance between Sonic and a human princess.
It's safe to say that the hedgehog has hit a skid in recent years, and what it has really come down to is Sonic himself. For example, take "Sonic Unleashed," where in some parts he played a brutish, combat-oriented "werehog" during nighttime levels, which was maligned by critics as being plodding and lethargic, and only served as an unnecessary sharp left turn to Sonic in terms of his evolution as a character. However, during daytime sections he would speed through 2D and 3D architecture reminding fans and critics alike why they fell in love with Sonic in the first place.
That's exactly what you see and don't see in "Sonic Generations." There's no odd twist to Sonic's overall character, no supernatural, godlike beings trying to destroy the universe, no slow gameplay, or oodles of characters. They faithfully remain in the background, only coming out to face either modern or classic Sonic in a side quest here or there.
What you do have is what brought Sonic to the upper echelon of gaming to begin with: Simple, fast-paced gameplay, with him speeding over hills and paths, all to upbeat techno and operaesque beats. The 2D gameplay with classic Sonic flashes back to the days of the Sega Genesis, when it would be just the gamer, Sonic, and miles of virtual terrain to run through.
The 3D gameplay provides a brand new perspective of old school Sonic games, reimagining classic levels in ways never seen before, such as the iconic "Green Hill Zone" from the first "Sonic the Hedgehog," with a new, expansive jungle layout, waterfalls, and underground caves never before explored until now.