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My Game of the Year: Sonic Generations

There are many qualities necessary for a game to qualify as one well-worth playing or a heralded ‘must-have’: its graphics, plot, music, not forgetting the all-important gameplay. A good game can do one of these partially well, a great game should arguably do this and more, potentially excelling or doing that which few others have. But is this enough for a game to be worthy of the Game of the Year title?

To review and critique a game is always going to be subjective and contentious at the best of times, as everyone is going to disagree on what is more important, but a personal position of mine is that a game I can hold up as one of the best of the year, or ever, must go above and beyond, do something different. For a long time Deathsmiles for iPhone/iPod Touch was a main contender for my GotY for this reason. Along with its predecessors, DoDonPachi Resurrection and Espgaluda II on the iPhone and iPod Touch, Deathsmiles finally convinced me the viability of the smartphone as a serious gaming platform for those who would be unsatisfied with the simpler offerings of Angry Birds or Cut the Rope.

But in the end, I’ve chosen a game that delivered on all of those previous concepts mentioned in the opening paragraph. A game that can not only be picked up and played in short or long bursts but more importantly can – and will be – played for a long time yet to come. But more than that, gave me a whole new impression that very few games have in my lifetime: a sense of closure as well as hope and anticipation for the future. Non other than Sonic Generations.

 

For those who have all but the most casual relationship with this hobby of ours will know that Sega’s blue mascot has certainly had a rough ride of things over the last few years. Quite when this descent into mediocrity began is one fans and critics alike can argue over ’til the cows come home but there can be no disagreement that the absolute nadir of the series was Sonic the Hedgehog 2006. Pushed out the door so early it could charitably be called an obvious beta never really intended for release or, at worst, a game so sickeningly rushed and full to the brim with bugs, it was an eternal stain not only on those who worked on it but did seemingly irredeemable damage to an already floundering brand.

Half a decade and several games on, Sonic Generations has put all this to rights. A Sonic game of today that has all the high-speed excitement of current releases whilst retaining the platforming and multi-layered levels that made the original 2D games so popular, all while looking utterly fantastically colourful and vibrant. A game that ditched the melodrama and contrived plots in favour of something a lot simpler yet ultimately more interesting, with enough inside gags and nods towards both newcomers and long time fans alike to keep both hooked.

I said earlier that Sonic Generations gave me a feeling of hope for the future of the series and maybe that seems a tad hyperbolic but ultimately true. As an ardent Sonic the Hedgehog fan, playing the recent games has been very much a love-hate affair. Whether it was Sonic Unleashed, Sonic 4, the Secret Rings or the two Rush games, there was much to enjoy about each but also enough glaringly wrong that detracted enough to, if not enough ruin the whole experience, take the shine off our series of choice. Playing and completing Sonic Generations leaves a very clear impression in my mind that Sega have finally worked out the bugs and have a very clear formula for the future of Sonic the Hedgehog.
And for me, that is a very good feeling to get from any form of electronic media.

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