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When a musical act has been around for a while there is usually a greatest hits album to celebrate their career highlights.

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That sort of thing doesn’t happen often with video games but after 20 years in the entertainment industry Sonic the Hedgehog gets the ‘best of’ treatment.

Really, it’s the least Sega can do since speedy Sonic seems to have practically carried the company on his back for a long time now.

Like how a band’s greatest hits collection can often draw new fans to their genius, so Sonic Generation may win the spiny blue protagonist some first-time admirers.

However, it’s more likely to appeal to Sonic veterans who have stayed with him through all or some of the ups and down and highs and lows since 1991.

Anyone who has played a Sonic game before will feel right at home here, as it reprises recognisable environments and stages from the lengthy back catalogue.

There are two twists in Generations - the first being that everything is presented in glossy HD. Stages have never looked so good before.

The second is that you can play in both vintage side-scrolling 2D from Sonic’s early 16-bit years and a modern fast-moving 3D style in which the camera switches to a third-person view behind the hedgehog.

At first I thought it might be possible to manually switch between 2D and 3D within a level, but it’s not. Instead some stages, or acts, are two-dimensional while others are in 3D, although sometimes you get a bit of both in the same one.

Sonic Generations factbox

Developer/publisher: Sega

Formats: PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, 3DS (PS3 reviewed)

Verdict: 7.5 out of 10 – Some old-school inspirations and new ideas combine for an overall nice Sonic package for fans of the blue hedgehog.

The original Sonic the Hedgehog game on Mega Drive holds a special place in my heart as a gamer and so I’ve still got a soft spot for the side-scrolling style - the way Sonic should be played in my opinion. However, the new-fangled rollercoaster style does have its moments of fun and exhilaration. It runs at breakneck breathtaking speed on occasions.

Whether you’re running across the screen in 2D or into it in 3D, all the classic Sonic gameplay ingredients are there.

In time-honoured platforming tradition, the objective is to get from one of a level to the other, whether going sideways or forwards, overcoming perilous obstacles and enemies along the way.

There are rings to collect, bonuses to find, set-pieces to trigger, special moves to activate and boss battles to fight as you jump, spin and run your way through the various stages.

Level design is great, with multiple paths adding to the replay value.

As well as the main levels there is a series of challenges, some of which must be completed to progress. These mini-games or side-missions feature races, duels and score-based objectives.

The art style throughout the game is lovely, as would be expected from a Sonic outing. It is awash with vibrant colours which give it a bright, almost psychedelic look.

There are some annoyances, such as the silly story, too frequent appearances from Sonic’s friends and tedious cartoon-style cutscenes, but overall the game offers a lot of fast-paced fun.

To Sega’s credit, it’s done a good job overall with Sonic Generations. It could have been a cheap cash-in to celebrate 20 years of its top character but it’s turned out to be a rather nifty reboot and revitalisation of the franchise.

It gives current-generation gamers a glimpse into what made Sonic so magical in the first place, while giving old-time gamers like me a trip down memory lane but with a modern flavour.

It’s unclear where the blurry blue one will go after this, but Generations bodes well for his future.

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