Review by rockman134uk
"A much better game than Sonic 3.. possibly the greatest Sonic game ever"
Sonic & Knuckles was the fourth major game in the Sonic series, and the first and only MegaDrive game to incorporate ''lock-on'' technology, allowing it to connect to other Sonic games, namely Sonic 3 and Sonic 2. This gave the Sonic 3 a whole new dimension and also made the game twice as big - basically the two games in one, also letting you play through as Knuckles. Attatching S&K to Sonic 2 allowed you to play S2 as Knuckles, allowing you to reach new places in the game.
Of course Sonic & Knuckles was a game in it's own right. Sonic 3 had been a little overhyped and some people expected S&K to be a little poor. This was not the case. In fact, many people consider S&K to be the REAL Sonic 3. Using the same graphics engine, S&K delivered some much more imaginitive levels than it's predecessor.
The story was never too clear to me, but it didn't really need to be. Sonic & Knuckles continues straight on on from Sonic 3. It seems that Dr. Robotnik survived the Death Egg's crash landing, and Knuckles is still working for the fat scientist, who is secretly planning to steal a certain gem. Not that naming it would really be a spoiler. Meanwhile, Knuckles' island is bieng terrorized by a mysterious robot, and Knuckles isn't the sort of guy to let him get away with it. And so you are given the option to choose: Sonic or Knuckles.
Exactly the same engine used as in Sonic 3. Yet somehow the levels seem a little more solid and well-designed. The Mushroom Hill Zone seems less grainy in background texture than Sonic 3's Angel Island. I always consider Sonic 3 to have rather poor graphics in terms of backgrounds. But in S&K, they are always bright and colourful, and move at a good rate. Backgrounds are never outstanding as such, but are still quite detailed, and better, in my opinion, than Sonic 3 ever managed.
The music in this game is great. It is, of course, just simple sound-chip music, but the tunes are very catchy and memorable. I went without playing this game for nearly four years; yet still I remembered the tunes note for note when I played it again last year. The Flying Battery Zone has some of the best sound-chip music I have ever heard. Certainly I prefer it to the licensed rock music we expect today.
Then of course there are the classic Sonic sound-effects; the jumps, ring noises and such- all remain the same as they have always been, and do thier job well.
This is where Sonic games always shine; and S&K doesn't fail to deliver. Break-neck speeds and loops are the very bones of a Sonic game, yet there's so much more than that here. Each level has it's own little gimmicks and new obstacles to help you progress; yet not quite in the same over-the-top way as Sonic 3.
There is far more imagination in the levels too. The Flying Battery and it's magnets, the Death egg Zone and it's gravity shifting; all make for a far more entertaining and enjoyable game. The speed rarely lets up, with the exception maybe of the Sandopolis Zone, surprisingly the first desert zone in the series.
Power-ups are essential items in any platformer, and the usual shields are here, which Sonic can use in different ways. Then there's invincibility, power sneakers... you know the score.
Gameplay doesn't get more perfect than this; this is all the best aspects of the three previous Sonic games rolled into one fantastically playable game. And of course, this bieng Sonic and all, you'll want to play it over and over again.
Without doubt the best Sonic game there is. Anyone who dares to say Sonic 3 is better is... just wrong! Sonic & Knuckles improves the solidity and possibly even resolution of the graphics, has great music, and even smoother gameplay than before. Forget the fat plumber; platforming reached perfection with Sonic & Knuckles: the peak of both the Sonic series and the Megadrive; a timeless classic which everyone should own.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 04/08/02, Updated 04/08/02
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