Sonic CD Review

Posted: January 30, 2014 in Game reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Greetings mortals, I am DracoJames102 and welcome back to the Sonic the Hedgehog marathon.

Sonic marathon title card

If you recall from my last review, I stated that ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 2’ was being developed in America while there was another Sonic title being made for one of the add-ons to the Sega Mega-Drive called the Sega CD. Many of you may already know what the Sega CD is but if you don’t, watch the Angry Video Game Nerd’s review of it. The game I will be talking about today is a game that was actually playable on the Sega CD called ‘Sonic CD’, which was released in 1993. However I won’t be reviewing the original Sonic CD because I don’t own a Sega CD (for obvious reasons). Instead I will be looking at both the Gamecube version that was released for the Sonic Gems Collection and then I will briefly talk about the version that was released for Xbox Live and Playstation Network in 2011.

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Story

As Sonic is running along the plains in an awesome opening animation, he sees a small planet called Little Planet hovering over a lake that is chained to a mountain. Sensing that this might be Doctor Robotnik’s work, Sonic runs along the chain to investigate the planet and put a stop to Doctor Robotnik’s scheme. Two new characters are introduced in this game that will become staples in the Sonic franchise. One of them is a pink female hedgehog named Amy Rose who is Sonic’s self-proclaimed girlfriend. The other is Metal Sonic who is Doctor Robotnik’s latest creation and will move on to become one of the most popular villains in the franchise.

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That’s the only story element I am giving away. Besides that opening animation, the game’s story is about as simple as the stories in the last games so…you pretty much get it. What is it with me reviewing games that have very little plot lately?

Gameplay

Sonic can do everything that he could in the last games. He can still jump, run and perform the Spin-Dash, though it has been slightly degraded. In Sonic 2, you can perform the Spin-Dash anytime you liked, but in this game, you have to wait until the Spin-Dash charge finishes before you can whizz off otherwise Sonic will not move from his current spot. However Sonic has a new move called the Super Peel Out. You can perform the Super Peel Out by holding up on the D-Pad and rapidly tapping the Jump button to charge it up and dash off instantly effectively replacing the Spin-Dash. It feels a bit redundant, but it is cool to see Sonic move his legs in a figure eight postion while he is charging up this move and I can’t exactly tell, but it might be a bit faster than the Spin-Dash. The HUD has received no change from the last game so everything is still here.

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The goal of the game is the same as the last two games, you run through each stage ploughing through enemies with your speed to reach the goal sign at the end. However this time you will notice a gimmick with stage. When you travel through the stage, you will notice signs that say ‘Past’ or ‘Future’. Your true goal for the game this time is to travel back to the Past and destroy a machine that produces the Badniks in each stage. You don’t have to do this but it is required in order to get the good ending of the game. There are also machines that project holograms of Metal Sonic that you can destroy, but that doesn’t really affect the ending in anyway. If you go to the future you will see that the level is dark, gritty and metal which is not pleasant to look at. Going to the past and the future does add some slight alterations to the level design but it’s nothing to be concerned about.

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Like Sonic 2, each stage has two acts before you fight Doctor Robotnik again. Palmtree Panic is pretty much another Green Hill zone with a different level layout. I don’t think I need to say much more.

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Collision Chaos zone feels very similar to Spring Yard zone from Sonic 1 only more fast paced. It is filled with springs and spikes. If you travel high enough, you’ll notice that the background has land on both the top and the bottom of the screen. This is also the zone where Amy gets kidnapped by Metal Sonic.

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Tidal Tempest Zone has the same theme as Labyrinth Zone only the level layout is nowhere near as unforgiving. You will be traveling through big sections of water, but the level is rather wide and open-ended compared to Labyrinth Zone. So it’s not too bad.

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Quartz Quadrant Zone is a mine-themed level that’s filled with conveyer belts. Aside from that it is still fast-paced and you can change the flow of the conveyer belts. Overall it’s ok.

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Wacky Workbench is my least favourite zone in the game. You have to traverse across platforms to avoid landing on the glowing floor which bounces you to a ridiculous height. The zone itself can make you bounce all over the place which can be really frustrating in terms of progression and there can be some pretty cheap enemy placements along the way.

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Stardust Speedway is probably the most face-paced level in the whole game, but the level layout can be pretty confusing at times. I’m referring to the slopes that connect to other platforms. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine what you are running on because there are times where you are running down the slope but the physics engine will cause you to run right into the floor rather than allowing you to run all of the way down the curved slope. But other than that, it’s pretty easy. This is also the zone where you have a race with Metal Sonic and rescue Amy Rose.

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Metallic Madness is the final zone of the game. This zone is filled with multiple pathways to complete the stage but for Zone 2 you will need to travel in the present in order to progress. It’s ok for a final zone except for Zone 3 because in order to get to the final boss, you have to traverse across small platforms over the biggest bottomless pit in the game.

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The special stages are back and in order to access them, you have to collect fifty rings and jump into the giant ring at the end of the stage, just like Sonic 1. The special stages are a 3D landscape where you have to run around and destroy the six UFOs that are flying around the special stage before the timer runs out. If you destroy all six of them, you get a Time Stone. There are seven Time Stones in total and if you manage to collect all seven, you automatically get the good ending regardless of how many robot generators you have destroyed. There will be hazards along the way such as certain gadgets on the floor or the water which will automatically make you timer go down if you spend too long in it. If your timer gets too low, an extra blue UFO will appear and if you hit it, you get more time to continue destroying the UFOs. These special stages are more entertaining than the special stages of the last two games but the control can be a bit too fast at times and some of the backgrounds can be incredibly triply to look at.

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The boss battles are more unique this time around. Doctor Robotnik will use mechs that require you to get past their gimmicks before you can actually hit Robotnik. This can range from getting past a bubble shield to finally hit Robotnik to running on a treadmill in order to damage Robotnik’s machine. I actually like this approach to boss battles despite some of them being pretty easy. My favourite boss is where you race Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway which fits pretty well in a Sonic game where it’s all about speed-based platforming. My least favourite boss is the pinball fight at the end of Collision Chaos where you have to hit Doctor Robotnik at the top of the pinball table. The collision detection can be pretty wonky during this sequence and as a result it could take a while before finally hitting Robotnik to end the boss fight.

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Playstation Network and Xbox Live Release

Before I summarize up the review, I am going to briefly talk about the version of Sonic CD that was released for the Playstation Network, Xbox Live and Android phone services. The game was rebuilt from the ground up using a new physics engine that was developed by a man called Christian WhiteHead. The original release had a few problems in terms of collision detection which can make it hard to time travel back to the past and destroy the robot generators. With the new physics engine, those collision detection issues have disappeared completely.

The special stages have been made easier to complete because the frame rate is super smooth which allows for much smoother control. Once you have beaten the game with Sonic, you unlock Tails as a playable character who controls exactly like he does in Sonic 3 which I’ll get into next time. The Spin-Dash also works exactly like it did in Sonic 2 so you no longer have to wait for the charge to be completed.

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The game has been given minor graphical updates such as the water being given a different colour than in the Gems Collection version which is clear. In the main menu, you can also choose to have either the US soundtrack or the Japanese soundtrack play as you progress through the game.

Graphics

Because the game was for the Sega CD, the graphics are a lot more colourful than the Mega-Drive games and it manages to be appealing to the eye…except in some cases where you’re going too fast in Stardust Speedway.

Music

The US soundtrack is really good. Each track does a good enough job giving each level an atmosphere with my favourite themes being the Speed Shoes theme and the boss theme.

My favourite Sonic soundtrack of all time however is the Sonic CD Japanese soundtrack. This soundtrack is AWESOME!!! The US soundtrack was good, but I think that the Japanese soundtrack completely blows it out of the water. While there are some track I like in the US soundtrack, the Japanese soundtrack does a better job in every way possible. I love listening to every track with my favourites being the Tidal Tempest theme, the Stardust Speedway theme and the Quartz Quadrant theme. Check it out when you get the chance. It is that awesome.

Control

The control is exactly the same as the previous two games. If it’s not broke, don’t fix it, right?

Final thoughts

Sonic CD is a really fun Sonic game. Even though it didn’t sell many copies at first (obviously because of the Sega CD’s terrible quality), it still manages to stick out from the rest of the Sonic titles with its time-traveling gimmick, more colourful graphics and it’s awesome music. But the one thing that holds me back from calling it perfect is the level layout in some levels. It can be pretty confusing and chaotic at times and therefore it can make progression a bit difficult. But it’s not terrible and it doesn’t make the levels themselves long and drawn out by any means, I just can’t help but feel that they went overboard in some areas. If you haven’t played Sonic CD at this point, I heavily recommend the recent re-release for the Playstation Network and such. It has a lot of extra content and the physics engine makes the overall experience better than the original Sonic CD and the Gems Collection Version. This gives it all the more reason to declare it one of my favourite Sonic games.

Final rating:

Gems Collection Version: 7/10

PSN Version: 9/10

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