So, I saw on Twitter that SEGA is doing a weird thing. They're putting out a demo for Sonic Generations on XBLA/PSN for 20 days.
I've downloaded and played said demo. It's Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog.
Now, I grew up playing a lot of Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 2. Sonic is etched into my most nostalgic of nostalgia centers in my brain.
But not that creepy, green-eyed Sonic. I don't know him and I don't want to know him. Not really. The Sonic in my heart has black eyes and a bit of a gut on him. So, you can imagine how broken my brain was for a minute there when SEGA put out the reveal trailer for Sonic Generations and both Sonics were in the same place at the same time. I'm not a moron, though, so I assumed the game would be dumb, awful, and that it would unrepentantly piss on my memories.
I'm not sure anymore. I played the demo and it's...interesting. It's definitely worth checking out. Unlike the hot mess that was Sonic the Hedgehog 4, it actually plays like classic Sonic. The experience was definitely a little strange too, though. The updated version of Green Hill Zone doesn't feel totally familiar. There are a lot of little things that are kind of off-putting about it, including how they don't let you re-enter the screen after you spin the sign at the end of the level. I mean, come on. Jumping around after you beat a level is the best part of Sonic! Okay, maybe not, but there are little inaccuracies like that that made it feel a little crazy. Sonic also doesn't take up the entire width of the snake-like tunnels in the level. What?
There's also the issue of the camera. Maybe my eyes suck, but I had a hard time tracking Sonic on the screen when he would move quickly and most of the screen is green (this is really an issue at the very beginning of the level). This isn't a problem on the Genesis, but when you have a polygonal game, perspective, parallax, colors, and shadows are a bit more nuanced than with strictly two-dimensional games. Sonic just doesn't seem to pop out of the screen as much.
If you played a lot of Sonic and have any affection for him in his black-eyed form, you really should play this demo. I don't think it'll sell you on the game, but it's something you should experience. It definitely has me looking forward to seeing what this game is (even if it might be middling), especially if it has Chemical Plant Zone. Don't even act like that level's music isn't in your top ten video game songs of all time.