Summer Game Fest Hands-On Preview: Sonic X Shadow Generations

We got to try out four stages from the upcoming remaster!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/09/2024 14:26 Comment on this     ShareThis

Sonic Generations was a standout installment in SEGA’s venerable franchise back when it launched on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in 2011. Nintendo fans, sadly, were only able to enjoy the game on 3DS, as Generations never came to Wii. A letdown, to be sure, but one soon to be rectified when Sonic X Shadow Generations launches on Nintendo Switch October 25. During Summer Game Fest, journalists were able to get some hands-on time with the latest build of the game, and I am happy to report that it’s shaping up to be a winner, albeit I do have a couple reservations.

First off, note that the build I had access to was the PlayStation 5 version. The staffers told me that the Switch build is definitely in development, but for this showcase they opted to only bring the PS5 version to try out. If I’m being honest, it’s likely because the Switch build is simply not going to be as… robust as the PS5 build. It’s just a matter of practicality; after all, we’ve seen this play out with virtually every cross-platform release involving Switch, and Sonic Frontiers was notably less visually impressive compared to PS5 and Xbox Series. Regardless, it would have been nice to see how the game is actually shaping up on Switch.

Moving on, what I actually got to play was very impressive. The demo is split into four stages, with two in the remastered Sonic Generations portion of the game, and the other two in the Shadow segment. Green Hill Zone Zones one and two showed off gameplay as both Classic and Modern Sonic, and they were every bit as electric and exciting as they were in the original. For Sonic X Shadow Generations, however, the visuals were bumped up a notch, brighter and more detailed than ever. Beyond that, the layout of the stages seemed unchanged, so returning players will be able to slip right into the groove when they revisit the game come fall.

The Shadow portion is all new, and I was impressed by what it had to offer. The first stage, Space Colony Ark Act 1, was brilliantly done. It mixed things up, pulling in the Space Colony level design from Sonic Adventure 2, but also mixing in new, fresh content to spice things up. In this case, the level abruptly shifts into what seemed like a warped, surreal take on Radical Highway as an enemy called Doom’s Eye appears and starts to cause havoc. Doom’s Eye has popped up before in Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Rivals, but isn’t necessarily a regular baddie, so it was fun seeing someone different to take on.

The capper for the demo is taking on the Biolizard boss from Sonic Adventure 2. The redesign of this conflict is spectacularly done. The creature is enormous, filling the center of the stage, and the lighting and color really draw your eyes to the screen while playing. It was also decently challenging, feeling both familiar and different at the same time. Shadow can utilize his Chaos Control ability to freeze the game world and unleash some quicktime-based attacks, while his Chaos Spear lets the character launch energy blasts at attacks coming from the air. It was all immensely satisfying and helped to make Shadow’s portion of Generations stand distinctly on its own.

If there was a negative to be had, I was thrown off a wee bit by the controls. Now, bear with me, I’m going to try and extrapolate the controls from the PS5 setup to the Switch controller for this explanation. Sonic’s homing attack in Generations is the traditional setup of pressing Jump (B) and then Jump once more. For Sonic Frontiers, this was changed to B and then pressing the Attack button (A). In Sonic X Shadow Generations, the Sonic chunk of the game lets you do the Homing Attack however you want. B – B, or B – A, it doesn’t matter. The Shadow part, contrastingly, only allows the Frontiers setup of B – A.

This can be toggled in the options menu by selecting Legacy controls, but the issue then becomes that Shadow’s boost ability is now tied to the Y button instead of remaining on the ZR trigger. It was a less than optimal solution, but to be fair, it’s possible that you might be able to completely remap the buttons however you want. The menu screen where the controls can be tweaked seemed to suggest this was possible, and it might even have been an option I simply overlooked. That all said, I hope that players can customize more to their liking, as some actions in Sonic have been so engrained across decades of play that it’s not ideal to run into an issue like this.

But hey, that’s a relatively small gripe on my part, folks. I enjoyed this demo of Sonic X Shadow Generations. My hopes are high, but I do wish that I’d been able to see exactly what things are shaping up like for Nintendo Switch owners. At the very least, players are being promised the same experience across all platforms, so outside of some (I’d be surprised if there weren’t) visual downgrades on Switch, I expect the quality to be high no matter what. Are you excited for Sonic X Shadow Generations? Share with us below and on social media!

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