Saturday, February 28, 2015

GadgetJax Reviews: Sonic Generations (PS3/XBOX360)

In my more recent of years of gaming, I really haven't played a 'new' game that really blew me away. Sure there were a lot of titles that I loved, like 'Super Mario Galaxy', 'Portal 2', and even 'Super Smash Brothers 4'. However, I ended up receiving Sonic Generations for Christmas of 2014, and it was defenitely one of the grandest experiences of my gaming life.

Let me momentarily say this: Sonic Generations is not a perfect game. There is no such thing as a perfect game. That said, however, Sonic Generations does such a good job of combining old school Sonic conventions with the new that it ends up feeling so close to perfect without actually reaching it.

I would touch up on the plot of this game, but it's defenitely the weakest point of the experience. It's every crossover plot ever written: A portal appears out of nowhere, sucks Modern Sonic and his friends up, and then they get Time Travel'd all the way to 1991- or more specific, Green Hill Zone from the first Sonic The Hedgehog game. Modern Sonic teams up with Classic Sonic to defeat Modern Dr. Robotnik, who has allied himself with Classic Dr. Robotnik. Yeah, it's predictable on every corner, but a Video Game honestly doesn't need to have a story to be good.

Sonic Generations is split up into 2 gameplay styles. Act 1 levels are played as Classic Sonic and feature 2D Side-scrolling gameplay. These levels focus on tight platforming and run at a fairly smooth pace, providing a solid experience that is just as good as the original Genesis titles. Act 2 levels are played as Modern Sonic and focus on a combination of 2D AND 3D platforming. The Modern levels also focus primarily on speed rather than tight platforming, making the game feel like one long marathon.
The beauty of Sonic Generations and it's gameplay is in replay value. While the main game is rather small, featuring only 18 Acts and a few Boss battles, the game makes up for this in the level design itself. Every level features multiple routes that encourage playing through certain levels over and over to find the route that is the quickest and/or most enjoyable to play through.

Speaking of beauty, Sonic Generations features a really well done graphical display. Everything is colorful and feels distinct within each level. Even levels with similar appearances have enough color variation to feel like fresh each time. The character animations do end up feeling a bit out of place in certain cutscenes because of how they incorrectly contrast the level they are in, but because of how the story means nothing to the actual gameplay, this is easily ignored.

The sheer amount of fanservice this game features (I don't mean in the filthy kind of way) is absolutely crazy. There are tons of unlockeable music remixes, some of which from the more obscure titles in the franchise. Remixes are featured from games varying from Sonic Advance 3 to as far as Knuckles Chaotix, and there's even a remix from Sonic Mega Collection, which was just a compilation title!

Oh, but Sonic Generations is not perfect, like I mentioned. In fact, because of how much good there is in the game, it makes the bad portions feel even worse!

First off, all the levels in the game are inspired by levels from previous Sonic games. For the most part, that's fine, because the level selection is fairly strong. Chemical Plant, City Escape, Planet Wisp, and more are all good choices, but WHY IS CRISIS CITY IN THIS GAM-
Sorry, lost my train of thought. Now, Crisis City from Sonic '06. This level is beyond broken. It is just way too flip-flopped and there is little consistency. This is especially true to the Act 2 version of the level, because of how the level keeps switching between speed-based platforming and precise platforming. A good analogy for it would be riding your bike at 20 mph down a straight path, but out of nowhere there are a bunch of precise turns you have to make, meaning you need to slow down and lose that incredible experience of speed.

Also, this game introduces a very unenjoyable mechanic called 'Skills'. They act as sort-of power ups that you can equip that give you bonuses. The problem? Most of Sonic's trademark moves from previous games can only be accessed by using these 'Skills' the one that angers me most is the one skill that prevents you from having to take time to get up after taking damage. Sonic is the fasting thing alive, why would HE need to take his sweet time just to recover?!? He doesn't do that in any other Sonic game in existance, not even Sonic '06 or Sonic Shuffle, so why does he have to here?!?

Challenge Mode is also a thing here. Every individual Act has 5 Challenges that are 'optional' to play through, meaning that there are a total of 90 of them in the game. They keep the game lasting long enough so it doesn't feel like an unsatisfactory purchase, but some of them are really bad to play through.
Ones that come to mind are the Doppleganger races.
I normally like rival races in games, but in these races, it's just to see who gets to the end. Since your doppleganger isn't affected by anything you do, and you aren't affected by it, it turns the missions into average Time Trials with a shadow running alongside you to show if you're doing good or bad. That's boring.
Also, I say 'optional' to play through with very loose air quotations because the game requires you, once every few levels, to beat a few of these Challenges in order to reach the next leg of the game. It throws off the pacing so much that I just end up completing all the Challenges for that Act at once, just because I don't like to have to leave missions un-finished. My Completionist side is ruining my Sonic experience :(

And finally, the boss battles. There are a few cool rival battles within the game that act as a sort-of 'Sub Boss', which are really enjoyable, but the rest are just average. Many of them often involve waiting, and more waiting, and MORE waiting. As Arin Hanson once said: "Waiting isn't hard, but it gives off the illusion of difficulty because it causes the battle to become an ordeal."

Still, don't let any of the above issues derail you from getting this game. It's otherwise perfect, and on the same level of quality as Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which is my favorite game ever! I wouldn't say that you NEED to get a PS3 or XBOX360 just to have this game, but anyone who ever gets either of those consoles needs to make sure that they get this title to go with their bundle.

Sonic Generations earns my seal of approval any day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Teen Movie ROAST!

This is a clip from the ROAST of a popular Disney film that we had on Valentine's day.

We had a particularly good time getting to throw our "snowballs" at the screen!