Review by Truck_1_0_1_
Basically, 3's Equal, With a Few Slight Downgrades...
2003 rolled around, and a very good buddy of mine had just bought a Sega Genesis. He decided after 3 months that he would sell it, for a newer console, and as a result, he was getting rid of his entire collection (which spanned 5 games). One of the games was Sonic & Knuckles, a game he had let me borrow for a month or so prior. After fully inheriting the game, I could continue filling up my save slots with a locked on Sonic 3. Sonic & Knuckles on its own though, is just as good a game, with only a few slight discrepancies. Sonic 2 can also be locked on with Knuckles, and you play the Sonic 2 levels as Knuckles. Certain areas are made accessible, while others are closed off to Knuckles altogether. Game play will start us off.
Game play: 10/10
Unchanged from Sonic 3 (as they are essentially, one big game), all of the power-ups and bonuses return. A new addition though, is the addition of Knuckles himself. While Knuckles cannot fly like Tails could in Sonic 3, he can glide until he hits an object, or the ground. Knuckles also cannot jump as high Sonic, and as a result, cannot reach all of the same spots that Sonic can. Also, as a result, he has his own paths, accessible only by him (and most of these areas are accessible only after Knuckles punches down a heavy wall, which Sonic cannot do anything to). Furthermore, since Knuckles has hard, spiked knuckles, he can punch down walls (read: walk into the walls) and other objects which Sonic can only destroy by spin dashing. Another slight addition is the addition of new special stages. They are still blue sphere stages, however they have been completely changed around, and are much more difficult in Sonic & Knuckles. One final addition are the new bonus stages. Gone is the gumball stage, now there are two stages, both accessed when you have a certain amount of rings; one being a slot machine placed in the middle of a stage very similar to the special stage in Sonic 1, and the other, a magnetic sphere stage, where you travel higher, and higher, and higher, getting more items, rings, and lives as you go up. the story is just as good.
Sonic has destroyed, at least part of the Death Egg, and it has crashed back down on Angel Island. Seeing that the Death Egg is still relatively intact, he travels to the crash site, to try and defeat Robotnik, Robotnik survives the crash, however for fear that he cannot get his hands on the emeralds, and a Super Emerald that causes the island to float, he sends out a robotic clone of himself to dispose of Knuckles. Knuckles learns of the crash, and he too travels to the centre of the crash to investigate. This is a great continuation of the events of Sonic 3, and makes for a great game. Graphics will be up next.
Unchanged from Sonic 3, the graphics are nothing short of brilliant. The new robotic Robotnik looks identical to Robotnik, just as a robot. The backgrounds are just as detailed and colorful, with the highlights being Death Egg Zone, Sky Sanctuary Zone, and the ever tedious, Sandopolis Zone. Knuckles has quite a good look to him, with his different colored sneakers, and vibrant maroon/burgundy coat. The slot machine stage looks fantastic, as well as the electric sphere stage; makes you think you are in space. The sounds are just as good.
Is it possible for the music in Sonic & Knuckles to be even better than in Sonic 3? Well actually, they are about even to be honest. The music is just as stellar, with Flying Battery and Death Egg Zones being the highlights. The sound effects are also the same, nothing has changed. The music in the slot machine stage is fairly boring and forgetful, whereas the music in the electrical sphere stage, is memorable, and catchy. Is this a replay-able game though?
Replay ability: 7/10
Sadly, the replay ability in Sonic & Knuckles is D.O.A. While the game does have lasting ability, the no save feature does not help matters. Also, there is no multi-player, and the special stages are much trickier to complete. All in all, this is one area that could have been improved (and it was for Sonic 3 & Knuckles). Locking this on with Sonic 2 does add a bit of replay ability, though not as much. Also, locking on any cartridge made before 1994 will access certain, unique blue sphere stages, and locking on Sonic 1 will access all of said stages. Still, it could have been better...
Buy or rent?
As with every Sonic title, buy. Just buy it, and do not think twice about it!
While two great games on their own, Sonic 3 & Knuckles are incredible when locked on. It is such a fantastic experience, there are too many positives to take from it. Sonic 2 & Knuckles is not as great a game, though it does add a bit of flavor to the Sonic experience. All in all though, Sonic & Knuckles is a great game, that, like Sonic 3, stands the test of time.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Sonic & Knuckles (US, 10/17/94)
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