Review by nwowwe723
"Blast to the Future!"
Growing up as a huge Sonic fan, Sonic CD was always something of a lost relic to me. Never owning a Sega CD myself (or knowing anyone else that did) I never got a chance to play it when it originally came out. Later on I would see praise heaped upon Sonic CD as probably one of the best of the 2D Sonic games. Given the outstanding quality of the others, I was very anxious to play CD to see if it help up. Unfortunately Sonic CD saw virtually no real re-releases even though there is a myriad of Sonic compilations abound. Finally Sonic CD saw an updated port released on Xbox360 and PS3 (so yes this review is technically for the remake). So after nearly 20 years I could see if it would live up to the hype.
Story-wise Sonic CD certainly sticks out from the other 2D Sonics as we're given a rather impressive animated introduction. Granted it still pretty much amounts to the same basic premise of Dr. Robotnik trying to conquer the world (or at least some part of it) and building some kind of doomsday device. Even so, that intro sure does a good job at grabbing your attention. You even get similar animated endings that vary on if you get the good or bad ending. See what you can get with CD's instead of cartridges? Aside from battling Robotnik at every turn, the game also features the debut of the popular villain Metal Sonic (the first of several metallic Sonic doppelgangers we would see in the series).
Moving on to the real meat of the game, the gameplay, it should be mostly familiar to any fan of Sonic. Since it was being developed around the same time as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was, CD also features the now iconic spindash, but it also features the peel-out, though it's basically the spindash without the rolling (and it does make you go faster as well. You'll see all the same item boxes that you saw in Sonic 1, such as the 10 ring box, the blue shield, and invincibility. Exclusive to Sonic CD however is time-travel. Scattered throughout each level there are different signs reading either Past or Future. Passing one of these and maintaining sufficient speed long enough will send Sonic into a Past or Future version of the level he is in. There are robot generators hidden in the Past versions which when destroyed unlock good versions of the stages (you're defaulted into the bad versions until they are destroyed). This is keeping with the decidedly more puzzle style gameplay that Sonic CD features. Instead of focusing on deathpits and such, there is a lot more focus on finding the right path through a zone. This can lead to some frustrated backtracking and trial-and-error, but it does bring an interesting new wrinkle to the traditional Sonic gameplay. Even the boss battles get into the act. Instead of the usual 8 hits to destroy the boss, each one requires to figure out how to beat it. Subsequently they go down in fewer hits, but it can still take you longer to beat than bosses from other Sonic games. This works really well to the games credit until you get to what is probably the most pathetically easy Final Boss in the entire Sonic franchise (it's not even the hardest boss in it's own game). Still it's overall a good concept that we didn't really get close to until some of the boss fights in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The only real negative gameplay aspect is the special stages. They are probably the worst of the 2D Sonic games. They are done in a behind-the-back style, almost like an old racing game, where Sonic must destroy flying robots while trying to stat on the small track area. It's rather frustrating and not very fun.
The visuals of the game are sort of interesting. The character sprites for Sonic and Robotnik appear to be carried over from Sonic 1, though most everything else takes advantage of the Sega CD's increased power. The visuals in the levels are dazzling and the backgrounds are vibrant and dynamic. Yep the game sure looks good. One of the more controversial aspects is the music. There are actually two separate soundtracks, the Japan/European and the American. More often than not, people will be a fan of the former, while giving much less respect to the other. That said, they are both pretty good and have their own distinct style. Even better, the new remake allows you to choose which to use, so you can always use your favorite. Technically speaking they are the highest quality soundtracks of the 2D Sonic series (again the benefits of CD over cartridges), though ultimate opinion of best Sonic soundtrack will never reach any kind of consensus. Hey this is Sonic, the music is always good so we can leave it at that.
So in the end it's definitely a top-tier Sonic game and simply fun to play. While I think that Sonic 3 & Knuckles and Sonic 2 still surpass it, it's definitely a game every Sonic fan should own and any Platformer gamer would enjoy. It still amazes me that it took so long to work out getting this game a wide rerelease, but it was worth the wait.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 11/08/12
Game Release: Sonic CD (US, 12/14/11)
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