Review by ectopants

"A mediocre game on its own, but a fantastic game when connected with Sonic 3."

The Sonic series was one of the most popular games back in the Genesis era, and I was a proud owner of most (if not all) of the Sonic games to come out back then. First came Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991, which proved that not all sidescrollers had to include Mario. Then came Sonic 2 a year later, which was an instant hit. Sonic 3 was the first one in the series to have Save-files, and would later connect to quite possibly the greatest Sonic game of all time, Sonic & Knuckles.

Sonic & Knuckles used advanced technology known as the "Lock-on cartridge." It was a playable game on its own, but it was much shorter than the other Sonic games, and it had no save file. There was also no co-op mode found in Sonic 2 and 3. You couldn't play as Tails. There wasn't even a 2-player mode. Sonic & Knuckles was definitely lacking on its own. That's because it wasn't meant to be played on its own. It had 7 levels, although 2 of them were quite short. When connected with Sonic 3 via the "Lock-on Cartridge", it had everything Sonic & Knuckles was missing. It had co-op, 2-player, save files, and more playable characters than ever before in a Sonic game. You could play as Sonic, Tails, Sonic & Tails, or Knuckles. But the best part is, the newly created game let you play in 14 levels. The original 6 from Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the new 7 from Sonic & Knuckles, and a bonus stage for if you beat all the bonus stages. Sonic 3 & Knuckles was the most complete Sonic game with the merging of two games.

Graphically, the game was (and still is) excellent. All the sprites were colorful, bright, and easy to recognise. The levels were excellently designed and had wonderful backgrounds.

The sound was amazing too. There were TONS of songs of different styles that would get stuck in your head for days. They were both catchy and fit the levels perfectly. Some of my favorite video game songs come from this game. I loved the music heard in the Lava Reef Zone, Hidden Palace, and Sky Sanctuary. There were familiar Sonic sounds like the RING sound you hear as you collect rings, the BOING you hear as your character jumps, and DOINGS that the springs make as you fly off of them.

The gameplay promised in by the Sonic legacy does not disappoint here. You can speed through the giant worlds and thwart Dr. Robotnik using the different character's skills. Sonic is the fastest and also is the only one who can use the 3 different powers of the shields, Tails can fly and swim, and Knuckles can glide and climb walls. The ring system is back again, as fans will recognise from older Sonic games. Collect rings scattered throughout the levels, and if you get hit, you lose your rings. If you get hit without ANY rings at all, you lose a life. Item boxes are found as well, and they give you different power ups such as rings, extra lives, speed boosters, invinsibility, or shields. The shields come in three different types: Fire, Water, and Electric. Electric shields allow Sonic to "double jump". Fire shields boost Sonic forwards after he has jumped once, and protect him from flame attacks. Lastly, Water shields let Sonic "dribble" himself like a basketball, and let him stay underwater without the fear of drowning. There are so many factors in gameplay, but Sega combined them in a way that will blow your mind.

There is also a bit of a story. After the events of Sonic 3 where Robotnik tricked Knuckles into attacking Sonic, Robotnik is back for another shot at the Chaos Emeralds. He decides to go for the Master Emerald, the only thing capable of suspending the massive Floating Island in the air. Once Knuckles notices that his native island is in trouble, he takes it as his duty as the Guardian of the Master Emerald to protect the Chaos Emeralds and stop Robotnik. Not really an in-depth story, but its better than most Sonic games.

The only thing that disappoints me with this game is that its full potential can only be unlocked when paired up with Sonic 3, and both games are hard to find for the Sega Genesis. If you see them though, buy them! Don't deny yourself one of the best sidescrolling platformer game created!

Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/30/06

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