sonic x shadow

After Playing Sonic X Shadow Generations I Cannot Believe I Slept On Sonic This Long

I've been watchin', I've been waitin', in the shadows, for my time.

In my 34 years on this pale blue dot, I’ve only ever played Sonic the Hedgehog a smattering of times. I wasn’t ever really a SEGA kid, and my exposure to the ‘Blue Speedster’ has been limited to time spent at my cousin’s house, a couple of Xbox Live Arcade ports, and his recent, and most exhilarating, foray into film. I feel like so much of his history is a blind spot, and if going hands-on with Sonic X Shadow Generations has taught me anything at all, it’s that I have been missing out for a long time. 

Granted, it was only four levels—two from 2011’s Sonic Generations and two newer stages from the brand new campaign Shadow Generations—but it was enough to prove that the Sonic I know isn’t necessarily the Sonic that would go and upend his formula in Sonic Unleashed and regale in a new audience’s love. 

sonic x shadow

As Shadow Generations is a new experience getting tacked onto Sonic Generations, similar to how Nintendo handled Bowser’s Fury, I thought I’d begin with Sonic and get a sense of where it all began, so to speak. To the initiated, the blend of acrobatic 2D and 3D platforming might not blow your hair back, but to me, a relative newcomer to a decade-old game, I found the direction fascinating. It’s wild, kinetic, and yet I never felt out of control even as the camera whipped back and forth between perspectives, or as Sonic would explode around corners during largely on-rails chains of homing attacks to move him cinematically from scene to scene. 

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It’s hard to say without having played the original Sonic Generations whether this remaster is going to be the definitive way to experience the game, there were points where I found the screen unreadable due to blur but I’m inclined to chalk that up to the conditions of the demo set up. For my old set of peepers, I was sitting very low, and very close and I expect the game was struggling through fidelity mode which I’m hearing doesn’t hold a candle to the performance mode. But it goes without saying, this small taste has whetted my appetite enough to go back and give Generations the chance I didn’t give it back then. 

sonic x shadow

While it’s all new to me, Sonic fans are undoubtedly most eager to hear about Shadow Generations. It’s impossible to get a sense of scope for how much new content there’ll actually be, but based on the two levels I explored, it’s going to be a wild ride even if it tops out at five hours. 

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Although Shadow has access to a focus power that draws off Chaos energy, which grants him a moment’s reprieve by slowing down proceedings, Shadow Generations feels in keeping with its predecessor on a mechanical level. It doubles down on the speed, attitude, and insanity present in Sonic and cranks the cool factor up to eleven because Shadow, as the “Ultimate Life Form” bioengineered by Dr Robotnik, is inherently cool as hell. 

sonic x shadow

To contend with his returning archnemesis, Black Doom, Shadow is forced to venture into his past to confront painful memories and, because of this, Shadow’s levels are far and away the most batshit crazy of the bunch. As he skirts the edge of spacetime after Doom’s Eye appears for the first time, setting the stage for an epic showdown that should carry the weight of the campaign’s story, the level begins to fold in on itself like a dream from Inception. It’s a spectacular effect that elevated Shadow’s levels so much higher than the same old Green Hill Zone that Sonic fans are so familiar with. 

sonic x shadow

Shadow’s other level was a pretty traditional boss encounter where you’re tasked with taking down a biomechanical lizard, complete with big, slapping tentacles growing from its back. It’s a regular affair of learning and dodging its attacks while closing the gap through rapid homing hits before going to town on its enormous weak spot on top of it. To reiterate, the only Sonic bosses I can recall flew about in two-dimensional space waiting for you to jump onto their head and shorten them by two inches before releasing a capsule of woodland critters. Although I’m sure they were present in Sonic Generations, soaking in these bigger, badder fights that adapt the new gameplay concepts excites me.  

So after all of that, I think I’m officially a Sonic fan. 

I might not go and buy myself a pair of Sonic-coloured Puma sneakers and get midnight tickets to the third film, but brief exposure to Generations has made me a believer in Sonic and, by extension of this upcoming release, Shadow. It’s fair to say that the blue blur and friends have the damn stuff.

Sonic Generations launches on October 25th for PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, Switch and PC.