Sonic the Hedgehog CD Review
The first time Sonic went to a disc was the Sonic CD – and what an interesting game it is. Here is the full review.
After two huge successful games Sonic had become the mascot for SEGA, everyone thought that Sonic’s third adventure would be just as amazing as Sonic 2. But there was a problem, Sonic 3 was such a huge game, it took two whole years to develop. But during that time SEGA released an add on for the Mega Drive called the SEGA CD which used discs instead of cartridges and Sonic was to have a game made for this add-on entitled Sonic the Hedgehog CD.
The plot for the game is a little bigger than the last two games. A small planetoid called Little Planet is set to come to Sonic’s world during the last month of every year.
Sonic travels to the lake where Little Planet is set to appear but once he arrives there he finds that Little Planet is chained to the surface of Mobius to prevent it from leaving. Sonic immediately suspects that Dr.Robotnik is behind this and he sets off to stop him yet again. However, this time he is pursued by a pink hedgehog named Amy.
Though once inside, Amy is kidnapped by one of Robotnik’s robots that bares a resemblance to Sonic; now Sonic has to rescue Amy and free Little Planet.
Gameplay is similar to Sonic 1 with the spindash and a new move called the Figure Eight Dash. Both allow Sonic to reach top speed but the Figure Eight Dash is more risky.
One major gameplay element is time travel. Players can go to one of two futures or the past. All you need to do is pass a sign post with the words Future or Past written on it, then run at a set speed to travel to to the Future or the Past.
The music and the level layout changes depending on the time period, the past has a very prehistoric feel to it, almost as if you are walking among dinosaurs. There are two separate Future levels – a Bad Future and a Good Future.
The Good Futures are a paradise and the Bad Futures are excessively polluted wastelands.
The bad futures are unlocked by default, in order to make a good future, you need to travel to the past and destroy a Robot Generator and a Projector of Sonic’s Doppelgänger. By destroying these you can create a good future – destroy both in acts 1 and 2 of a zone and a good future will be made in act 3.
Speaking of the zones, there are seven like in Sonic 1. Each zone is inspired by other zones from Sonic 1 and 2 with the exception of one.
Palmtree Panic is inspired by Green Hill Zone. Collision Chaos takes some elements of Spring Yard and Casino Night Zones. Tidal Tempest is very similar to Labyrinth zone. Quartz Quadrant is an entirely new zone but parts of it seem to stem from Mystic Cave Zone. Wacky Workbench is inspired by the Scrap Brain Zone. Stardust Speedway is inspired by Star Light and Chemical Plant Zone with a lot of room to get up to top speed. Finally Metallic Madness is inspired by Metropolis and Death Egg Zones. All the stages are very well designed and a lot of them have very well put together soundtracks.
With a total of four songs per stage, Sonic CD possibly has the largest soundtrack for a single stage in the series’ history.
The Special Stages return and mark Sonic’s first venture into 3D as the Special Stages are entirely 3D. This time around Sonic has to destroy UFOs to get a time stone, that’s another change. Also the Chaos Emeralds never appear in the game and in their place are the Time Stones and as per usual there are seven in total. Collecting all seven automatically unlocks the good future in all zones.
Some of the good things about the game include the soundtrack once again, but this time there were two soundtracks composed, one for the US version and one for the European and Japanese versions. A lot of the songs are catchy especially the Past songs as they make you feel like your standing among dinosaurs.
Another positive is that some of the bosses are pretty good though two stand out from the rest. Many are still easy with the exception of the boss of Stardust Speedway where you face off against Sonic’s mechanical doppelgänger – Metal Sonic, one of my favourite video game villains. While the boss is simple, the symbolism is beyond iconic.
The negatives can turn off some from playing this game but they are few and far between. One major complaint I have is the fact that the Special Stages are timed and stepping in water causes the time to go by quicker but this is alleviated because if you go under 20 seconds on the timer, a special UFO will spawn giving you 30 seconds. And once again some of the bosses can be easy especially since there is usually an invincibility power up placed near the boss. That and Tidal Tempests’ boss is a joke as it has a shield made of air bubbles which are used to extend Sonic’s time under the water.
Overall, despite its flaws Sonic CD is a great game. Getting an A Rank from myself. There is a re-release for the Xbox Live Arcade and Playstation network which allows you to switch the soundtrack and even play as Tails. I’d recommend the Xbox live and PS3 versions since a SEGA CD is hard to come by now.
by Paul Farrell