Paul Farrell

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 Review

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Photo by: John Minchillo / AP/Press Association Images.

Photo by: John Minchillo / AP/Press Association Images.

The long awaited third entry into the Sonic series also proved to be one of the Hedgehog’s greatest adventures to date.

After the Sonic CD SEGA decided to go back to the Mega Drive with the third entry in the Sonic series, there was one problem, the game was so big it could not fit on a single cartridge.

So they decided to split the game into two parts. On February 2, 1994 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 finally hit store shelves – but the second part Sonic & Knuckles wouldn’t be released until October 18, 1994 and despite being released eight months apart the two are essentially the same game.

The story picks up after Sonic 2 – after being defeated by Sonic twice, Dr.Robotnik finally discovers his Death Egg fortress which had crashed on an uncharted island, there he discovers that the fortress has no power and immediately deduces that the Chaos Emeralds are his only hope to get the fortress running again. He sets off to try and find them but ends up meeting the Emeralds guardian – Knuckles the Echidna, Robotnik tells Knuckles that a Blue Hedgehog and a Fox with two tails would arrive on the island to steal the Chaos Emeralds.

Sonic was just chilling as per usual when Tails tells him of reports of a new island appearing in the middle of the ocean.

Immediately our two heroes depart to Investigate. Sonic uses the Chaos Emeralds to get in close while Tails lands the Tornado somewhere – however upon arrival Sonic is intercepted by Knuckles who then steals the Emeralds from him.

After the two make their way through the first zone they find one of Robotnik’s machines destroying the island – now the two must deal with Knuckles and Robotnik while trying to recover the Chaos Emeralds.

Gameplay is very similar to Sonic 2 – however SEGA made an entirely new game engine for Sonic 3, giving Sonic more expressive emotions and even better idle animations. Also introduced are some new power ups: the three elemental shields, each function differently and can block different forms of damage.

The Fire Shield blocks all flame based attacks and renders Lava unable to damage Sonic though it disintegrates when it comes into contact with water. The Lightning Shield functions as a magnet and draws in nearby rings and allows Sonic to perform a Double Jump and like the fire shield – is destroyed when it contacts water, and finally the bubble shield blocks light projectiles, allows sonic to breathe underwater and allows him to perform a Bounce Attack.

One huge change is the edition of a third playable character and making his debut in the Sonic series. Knuckles the Echidna, each character controls differently. Sonic is the only one who is able to use the shields’ extra jump abilities and controls like you’d expect him to, Tails can fly and swim in water and access higher places with less of a need for springs and Knuckles can glide, climb walls and punch through rocks to access areas that Sonic and Tails cannot. This time around there are a grand total of 14 zones, six for Sonic 3 and eight for Sonic & Knuckles with each zone being beautifully designed with amazing music to go along with it.

Even the special stages are memorable for the fact that they are entirely 3D, in order to pass the stage this time you need to touch every single blue sphere in the stage, players can touch the perimeter spheres in a 4×4 square of spheres and have the inner spheres turn to rings. Once again collecting all seven Chaos Emeralds and collecting 50 rings allows you to turn into Super Sonic but this time Sonic isn’t the only one with a Super Form. Knuckles has one, and once you get to Mushroom Hill Zone you can gain access to seven more special stages to obtain the Chaos Emeralds more powerful form, the Super Emeralds. Once all seven are collected Sonic can turn into Hyper Sonic, Tails can access his super form and Knuckles also has a Hyper Form.

One positive right off the bat is the stage and boss designs; a lot of the bosses are very memorable such as Mecha Sonic, Big Arm, and even the Death Egg Robot makes a return. The Stages are also really well designed from Hydrocity zone all the way to Death Egg Zone, the three characters also have their own sense of balance to them with a Co-op aspect thrown in with the Sonic and Tails gameplay setting.

Player 1 controls Sonic while Player 2 controls Tails and working together the players can reach high up shortcuts and even some of the giant rings which you use to access special stages.

An interesting fact about Sonic 3 is that the soundtrack for the game was made with the aid of pop legend Michael Jackson. Launch Base zone, Carnival Night zone, Ice Cap zone and the end credits theme all use parts of Jacksons songs and Jackson himself had a hand in the soundtrack development.

I have very few negatives with the game, the only one I have is that the games difficulty can be a little up and down from time to time, for example you could go from one really difficult stage to another difficult stage then to a one you can just breeze through. but despite this negative I can personally give Sonic 3 and Knuckles an S rank, the highest recommendation I can give.

Overall Sonic 3 & Knuckles is an amazing game, go ahead and download it from the Xbox Live Arcade and try it for yourself. And this won’t be the last huge hit thats in store for Sonic.