3. Genesis Era
The game starts off with a 2D version of Green Hill Zone. In this first Act, as well as all other Act 1 stages in the game, you'll be using "Classic Sonic", defined from this game onwards as the Sonic from the original platforms from the SEGA Genesis. Descriptions for all of the levels in the game will detail any small troubling bits in the stages if necessary, as well as some tips on how to get an S Rank in all of them. Getting an S Rank is generally a very trivial task, as this game is very lenient on giving them to you. If your time alone doesn't give you an A Rank, then the number of rings you have at the end of the level probably will. Dying by any means will void you of your Perfect Bonus, which is necessary to transform that A Rank into an S Rank.
Sonic Generations | Act Missions (S Rank)
Green Hill Zone
One of the easiest levels to S Rank, the first Act of Green Hill Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog shouldn't be any trouble to you. You should be familiar with most of the level if you've ever played any other Sonic game in your life, since they almost always use at least some aspect of Green Hill Zone in their first level. If you don't get one your first time through the game, you can always come back and get it later.
After getting through the first Act, a pitch-black monster will arrive out of a wormhole in Classic Sonic's world. After this, Modern Sonic is treated to a birthday party, where Tails presents him with a chili dog, his favorite food. It isn't too long before everyone at the party is also sucked up by this villain. The Time Eater knocks Sonic back before he can get close, and wakes up in a white void after passing out.
This is the hub world of the game, where you'll be able to access every Act, Challenge Act, and Boss Battle in the game. You can test out two of Modern Sonic's moves now: jump after being in mid-air to do a homing attack, introduced in Sonic Adventure, and hold A to do a boost, from Sonic Unleashed. Once you're ready, head to the white structure in the middle of the small amount of space you can move in to play the next level.
With this different play style, you'll spend a good chunk of the level facing Sonic's back instead of his side. Boost whenever you can to crash through enemies and gain tremendous momentum, but keep an eye on your boost meter. Defeating enemies and collecting rings will slowly refill your meter, so if you feel like you might run out, look around for a quick pickup.
Once you're back in the white void, Tails will be freed from his statue-state. Tails won't find Green Hill Zone familiar (after all, his debut game was the one after Sonic 1. Tails will unknowingly talk to Classic Sonic before you're allowed to continue your journey in the White Space.
Now that you're free to move around, you might want to head left of Green Hill Zone and check out the Skill Shop and the Collection Room. More on both of these areas are on the Skills & Collectibles page. You could even head over to the Red Star Rings page and clean up Green Hill Zone for good if you wanted to, since those collectibles should now be available for you to find.
Chemical Plant Zone
For the first Act, you'll have more options on which way you can go; this is decided at the start of the level, where the two paths first intertwine like DNA. The high path is generally faster, and leads to more Red Star Rings as well, so you might want to go up there this time. Blue chemicals spill out of the pipes from time to time, but you're given a slight warning on when this happens if you watch the pipes they come out from. If you find yourself swimming around in the pink liquid in the lower parts of the level, keep an eye out for streams of bubbles, which restore your air supply when they create an overly large pocket of air for you. For an S Rank, you really should go with the high path by jumping on the moving platforms at the start of the level. It's not too difficult to get the desired rank here, but if you're new to the series, it might take one or two tries.
This Act is a lot more open than Green Hill Zone's second Act, and you'll see that very early into the level. The level is fairly easy to get through, which is to be expected near the start of the game, but you can also kill two birds with one stone as you get your S Rank and follow a specific path throughout the plant so you don't touch any of the pink chemicals for the entire level. Since putting that path into words would be near impossible, here's a video showing you how to do it.
Once you finish Act 2, Tails will remark that the chemical plant gives him an uneasy and familiar feeling, and after Modern Sonic agrees, Amy will be freed from her statue form (assuming you've already finished Act 1). Now it's time to play the third Zone of the game.
Sky Sanctuary Zone
Although there are more opportunities for you to fall off the stage, getting an S Rank (let alone getting through it) still shouldn't prove too troublesome. You should perhaps go through the level a few times so you get a good feel for it, and then go for an S Rank once you've figured out how the stage works. There are also three ways to end the level; all three are just about the same length in terms of how long it takes to finish, but more on these are on the page for the Classic Red Star Rings. Each of these three paths lead to a specific RSR, so you may want to keep track of which path you take on your first time through the level so you can use the other two later.
Walk on Air
Cleared SKY SANCTUARY without falling even once.
Once again, the level is a bit more open, so while it's technically easier for you to fall off and lose a life, it shouldn't really happen too frequently if you pay attention, especially if you have hints turned on to show you where the level drops off. Getting an S Rank, at least for me, was actually easier to accomplish than it was for Act 1, but this might not be the case for you.
Now that you've cleared all of the three Acts, three Boss Gate Keys should have appeared in the White Space above the three Zones. To collect these keys, play at least one Challenge Act from each Zone. This will unlock the first story-required boss battle in the game, but you can also fight another major enemy above Chemical Plant Zone before doing so. There are ten Challenge Acts per Zone, five for each Sonic, so you'll want to switch between the two of them to access them all. You don't have to get an S Rank on any of the 90 total Challenge Acts, but you will have to finish all of them at some point; you may as well just finish all of the 30 available to you now so you don't have to later.
Sonic Generations | Boss Battles (S Rank)
You'll have to fight all six bosses in the three portions of the White Space in order to fight the final boss, so you'll have to hit up Metal Sonic at one point or another. However, if you haven't read the General Hints & Tips page, winning on the harder difficulties for each of the bosses isn't required at all; if you're interested in avatar items, the six related to this game are only given to you by beating all of these fights on both difficulties.
As stated earlier, Metal Sonic will be hiding out in a little room above Chemical Plant Zone, guarding the purple Chaos Emerald. Classic Sonic will take him on in a long strip of collapsing platforms, supposedly a portion of Stardust Speedway. Metal Sonic puts up a much easier fight than he did back on Little Planet in Sonic the Hedgehog CD, but it's also fairly easy to lose a life here. If you want to go for an S Rank (which is unnecessary), you'll have to refrain from dying in an entire session of playing this battle.
Metal Sonic will have four attacks, which you'll have to avoid while the floor behind you constantly starts to collapse. After each attack, he'll become vulnerable, so speed up to him and jump at him to inflict damage. His first attack is an electric charge forwards; just jump over him to avoid it. Next is an electric surge, which consists of him hovering above the floor and releasing beams of electricity after charging them up. This too should be easy to avoid. A third attack, similar to the first in nearly every way, will only ask of you to jump onto the small stream of platforms directly above the ground to avoid the tackle. The final attack that Metal Sonic uses will be a bit different, although he'll still be vulnerable afterwards for some reason. He'll start to fling large chunks debris onto the speedway; avoiding these is made easy by watching the shadows on the ground and stepping out of the way, but don't forget to stay ahead of the collapsing panels behind you.
If you wanted to beat Metal Sonic on Hard mode, it should be roughly the same experience. You might want to wait until you have some more music tracks to select from, though, just to make things more interesting; you unlock a remix of the US version of Stardust Speedway (Bad Future) after finishing 16 Challenge Acts and ringing their bells, so that'd be the most appropriate choice for a song. There are three changes to the Metal Sonic fight when playing on Hard. The first change is that he's faster, which is to be expected, but the other two are an increase in power for his moves. His electric surge will now occur three times before he tires out, and Metal Sonic will now toss six streetlights at you, a noticeable increase from the amount thrown on Normal. Getting an S Rank, if you wanted one, is expected to take a few tries.
Death Egg Robot
Upon entering a long, dark chamber with glass resting on both sides, Sonic will check out his weirdly contorted reflection before Eggman taunts him. Classic Sonic, after hearing him, leaps into the giant door, leaving Modern Sonic behind. Eggman will have prepared for this battle with one of his signature Death Egg Robots.
It should only take four hits to defeat this giant machine aboard the Death Egg, and it's actually pretty easy to fight. The first half of the fight will be between you and Eggman, who will use one of two attacks. First, an arm will launch towards you (you're given a good amount of time to avoid it), and then the Death Egg Robot will jump into the air in an attempt to crush you. Dash underneath the legs when this happens, and hit the Death Egg Robot straight in the butt. Do this twice, and the two of you will change locales. In this smaller room, Eggman will continue to use his mech's fists to punch you and any platforms around you. Quickly find a switch to activate a nearby bomb, and lure Eggman into hitting it. If you've done this right, his arm will become incapacitated, and you'll be able to run up it to attack the cockpit. Do this a mere two times to stop the doctor in his tracks and destroy this Death Egg Robot.
Fighting the Death Egg Robot on hard isn't all that different, at least not noticeably. The mech will now take four hits to the backside before the second phase of the fight starts now, as opposed to the standard two hits, but that's really all there is to it. As soon as the battle starts, stay relatively close to the DER so it attacks the ground right in front of it, and then dash underneath it so you can hit its backside. You'll want to dash under it again, which will happen very quickly after you land a successful hit; run underneath the feet of Eggman's machine as it turns back around to face you, and you'll now be granted a free hit against him. Eggman won't be able to do anything to stop you, and you can continue this process throughout the entire first half of the fight. If you decide not to pursue this method of defeating this boss, you should still be able to get an S Rank by just knowing the fight and beating it quickly.
After defeating Eggman, the Time Eater will appear to suck him away before you can even get a good look at him. It seems he isn't behind this scheme after all. Classic and Modern Sonic & Tails will finally realize the predicament they're in before the Time Eater opens up more of the White Space to explore. Once you're back in control of Sonic, the game will give you the green Chaos Emerald as a trophy for beating the previous boss.
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