E3 2011 Preview: Sonic Generations

Up until this year’s E3, we’ve only seen one stage from Sega’s upcoming 20th anniversary Sonic game, Sonic Generations. The game is a mix of old and new, taking the greatest stages Sonic has ever ran, remaking them in both 2D and 3D. As Classic Sonic, you’ll play the 2D stages, through gameplay reminiscent of the Sega Genesis games. As Modern Sonic, you’ll play the 3D stages, in a perspective first introduced to the franchise in Dreamcast’s Sonic Adventure. At E3, we were shown the “City Escape” stage, which makes its way into Generations from Dreamcast’s Sonic Adventure 2.

Each stage has two acts — one for Classic Sonic and one for Modern Sonic. In “City Escape”‘s case, they were outlined like so:

Act 1: “Beware of the GUN Truck’s attack in side-scrolling City Escape. Outrun the truck at supersonic speed.”

Act 2: “The GUN Truck is back and more dangerous than ever! Ride a skateboard in 3D view and grab some serious air to escape its attacks.”

“City Escape” in 2D

More “City Escape” screenshots

With 2D and 3D viewpoints being its main focus, the developer’s goal was to create a game that can be enjoyed by Sonic fans old and new. That said, stage selection offers players a plenty a choice. If you choose so, you can play 80 percent of the game as Classic Sonic, and only 20 percent as Modern Sonic. These stages are selected within three different era zones — Genesis, Dremcast, and Modern.

Our demo kicked off with the less nostalgic edition of “City Escape.” As the stage has never been created in the side-scrolling perspective, it’s all new, utilizing elements and areas from its 3D counterpart. Speeding through the city, we saw the same enemies, rising platforms, and other signature fundamentals recreated for the 2D perspective. As labelled in the stage’s description, the GUN Truck plays a major role. Throughout the stage, the truck threatened Classic Sonic, and was even able to break the geometry of the level, knocking down platforms as it sped through.

While bound to a 2D plane, Classic Sonic navigated both the foreground and background of the stage, jumping off a spring at one point and landing on an apartment building in the background. Another cool tidbit in Classic Sonic’s “City Escape” is the inclusion of the skateboard as an item. Towards the end of the stage, Sonic found the skateboard in a monitor item box, enabling him to ride it through the level. Of course, for those who want to stick to the bare bones of classic Sonic gameplay, it’s completely optional.

The “City Escape” E3 trailer

Moving on to Modern Sonic’s version of the stage, fond memories of Sonic Adventure 2 appeared on screen, rebuilt for the high-definition era. But even though nostalgia struck, it was a brand new experience. The opening boarding sequence, where Sonic rides the streets after jumping out of a helicopter, is longer, the ramps are more frequent, and new areas and concept have been added the overall stage. The GUN Truck still runs its course of chasing Sonic downhill, but this time, it’s boasting chainsaws, blades, and sharp objects that reach out at Sonic as he runs, damaging the city in the process. At one point, Sonic branched off from the street and ran up the side of a building. The stage ended as Sonic reached the gold, spinning ring that 3D Sonic titles have taught us to know and love.

While it wasn’t at the presentation, the team shared some details regarding the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations. It’ll feature completely different stages in comparison to its console counterpart, with the only similar stage being Green Hill Zone, and will also utilize streetpass and two-player versus mode.

Closing off the presentation, the team was asked whether or not any of the Sonic Colors powers would be included in Generations. ‘If we include a Sonic Colors level in Generations, you could expect there be Colors powers,’ they responded.

Sonic Generations is out in November for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo 3DS. It will support stereoscopic 3D on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

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