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Sonic Generations - Can Sega turn back time?

2D and 3D collide in 20th anniversary title...

"If I could turn back time," sung a scantily-clad Cher on a massive battleship,
"If I could find a way I'd take back those words that hurt you and you'd stay."

Wise words that, if Ms. Cher ever had a career in game development (and HR would allow her revealing leotard), would probably have resulted in a game a bit like Sonic Generations a long, long time ago.

Sonic hurt us. But if he could take back those harsh vehicle sections and rubbish werewolf levels, he would - and now he can turn back time...

"2011 marks Sonic's 20th anniversary," Sonic Team veteran Takashi Iizuka tells us before revealing his reinvention. "For the past few years the Sonic team has been thinking about what they could do to celebrate Sonic's twentieth anniversary. What they can do for the fans."

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And these days there's a clear divide in what you'd call the Sonic fan community, each with their own opinions and expectations of what the Sega mascot should be.

Sonic Team's solution has been to come up with a formula that "all Sonic's fans can enjoy in a single product", a game that will please both the Mega Drive cynics and the sword-swinging, airboard-racing newcomers.

"We haven't just been thinking about how to create a game for 2011," Iizuka explains, "we have been thinking about how best to create a game for this single opportunity - and make the best of this opportunity and Sonic's twentieth anniversary."

BLUE-TINTED MEMORIES
Classic Sonic is back. As you'll know if you saw this month's forum-shaking teaser trailer, the blue hedgehog of old - button nose, fat belly and all - is finally sprinting back into our hearts and onto our tellies - and we're delighted.

Alongside him is the familiar modern hedgehog, with his long legs, green eyes and loud mouth, so often thrilling gamers with his terminal velocity corkscrews and mental set pieces, and just as often breaking our hearts with RPG bits chatting up postmen.

Whether you're looking for thrills or platforming skills, Generations is aiming to please both kinds of fans

"In this game we have a new mysterious nemesis who eradicates time and space. This forces the modern Sonic back in time, and he meets classic Sonic," Iizuka explains. "The storyline is that Modern Sonic and Classic Sonic collaborate together and go through an adventure through twenty years of Sonic's history."

With a plot line excuse in place then, the scene is set for a fanboy rollercoaster to bring the colour back to a time map blanketed with 20 years of Sonic history - and as ever, it all starts with the iconic Green Hill Zone.

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Sonic Generations is set to feature classic levels plucked throughout Sonic's history, kicking off with the Mega Drive age all the way to Dreamcast and more modern titles - and they'll each be re-imagined twice.

Here Green Hill's lush, chequered coastline is represented first as a beautiful side-on platform haven for Classic Sonic, followed later by a grind rail-filled speed explosion for our modern hero.

On paper it sounds possible that, in an attempt to keep everyone happy at the same time, Sega could yet again drop the gameplay ball, but it feels good to report that finally both breeds of hedgehog look on the money.

Classic Sonic's 2D Green Hill looks to crave the momentum so wonderfully exhibited in the Mega Drive original, with none of the stop-and-start negatives or lock-on dash complaints aimed at it's other side-scrolling attempt, Sonic 4.

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