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Yo, so I've become so bored that I'm resorting to reviewing all of the Sonic the Hedgehog games that I've played. These won't be more than just reviews, although I downloaded a ton of Fire Emblem Awakening character portraits to personificate the different aspects of my reviews. These won't be too long and, for the first time, don't use a "rating system" from me. I just judge if i'm "Satisfied", "Neutral", or "Angered" at the end of a review. My reviews go over Story, Presentation, Controls, Gameplay, Mechanics, Boss Battles, Difficulty, Music, Replayability, and End-Game Appeal. The "FINALE" bit of the review represents my overall thoughts and also concludes which target audience would be interested in the game...

REVIEW: Sonic the Hedgehog CD

Soniccd-cover

Oh. Well, hi there! It's been... a while, huh?

Sonic CD is often described as either the absolute pinnacle of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games or as the hidden gemstone in the collection. Released on the ill-fated Sega CD, an add-on for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive that had poor sales, it didn't receive much exposure to Sonic fans as a whole until it was ported to later, much more popular platforms. A lot of people, including myself, were first introduced to the game through its fitting inclusion in the Sonic Gems Collection title, which is filled with rare, not-so-popular Sonic adventures. Not only was the game critically acclaimed, but it received lots of attention due to its extensive usage of time travel, its soundtrack controversies, the debuts of famed character Metal Sonic and Amy Rose, and of course that secret Satanic imagery... MatPat please don't get on that I was joking.

Sonic CD has series antagonist Dr. Eggman (known as Dr. Robotnik in North America at the time) steal Little Planet from over Never Lake, chaining it to a mountain and attempting to obtain possession of the Time Stones so he can conquer and manipulate time to his will before being able to take over the world, but not on Sonic's watch! Sonic must zoom from zone to zone to collect those Time Stones whilst also trying to save Amy Rose from Eggman's clutches and destroy his metallic doppelganger Metal Sonic, whom creates plenty of trouble throughout Sonic's adventure. As Sonic speeds to save the day, he must switch between the Past, Present, and Future in an effort to crush Eggman's inventions, and restore every Zone to a good future! With all of this admittedly interesting stuff out of the way, just how good is Sonic CD? Is it worthy of critical acclaim!?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Neutral

Historically, Sonic plots have been known for being either rather barren of driven storytelling (Sonic Heroes) or being extremely complicated and difficult to follow (Shadow the Hedgehog). Sonic CD actually follows a very concise plot in spite of its usage of Time Travel, and it flows well throughout the whole game. I think it's interesting that Sonic can switch from time to time again without the game necessarily feeling "broken" from repeated abuse of those Time Travel posts. I think it's really cute that if you destroy a robot generator in the Past version of a zone, you can eliminate all of that zone's enemies in the Present and beyond. Plus if you destroy the ones found in both acts of a full zone, you get a Good Future for the boss act. Pretty cool! Collecting all seven Time Stones automatically results in a Good Future for the third Zones. Should all Time Stones be collected or should all third acts of a Zone have Good Futures, the player will get the good ending. If neither is done, the player gets the bad ending.

It appears that the Time Stones in this game are basically replicas of the Chaos Emeralds, but they're unique in the way that their existence is to allow their user to twist and change time for themselves. These stones are found on Little Planet, which orbits Earth like a moon, and they cause several temporal time issues on the planet. Little Planet is ultimately the same's setting: the game's zones (referred to as "Rounds" in this game for whatever reason) are Palmtree Panic, Collision Chaos, Tidal Tempest, Quartz Quadrant, Wacky Workbench, Stardust Speedway, and Metallic Madness, and they're all stationed on this planet. Something worth noting is that of all these zones, only two aren't urban-based at the Present time, meaning that there's a lot of robotic activity on the planet... fittingly due to Dr. Eggman's motive being to take over it. The Past version of each zone is a prehistoric take, the Bad Future version has the place be rusty and torn apart while being clearly under Eggman's rule, and the Good Future versions are highly urbanized as well but in light, cheerful and beneficial ways.

While some of the plot material is very interesting, there's something rather... unrewarding about the "good" ending of the game. In the good ending, Sonic and Amy just escape and the Little Planet is sent back into orbit, while in the bad ending Dr. Eggman just gloats as he gets away with a Time Stone, but not before Sonic shoots him down with a rock. It hardly feels like there's that much of a difference between these endings, and for all the work you have to do with getting all the Time Stones (requiring a lot of precision in finicky bonus zones) or finding all of those animal capsules in the Past time (requiring a lot of time-consuming exploration), it just doesn't feel worth your time. Sonic CD's plot has some fun elements, but I don't really think that what they've done with this game really makes the plot of the game feel worthwhile at all... which is sad because the opening and closing animations of the game are super charming and fun to watch. This Sonic game has a better plot than most titles in the series, and at the very least it's charming and consistent, but there was room for improvement even then.

I'm going to be neutral on the story; while it's actually quite well done and there's nothing specifically game-breaking, the effort you need to get the good ending and the lack of a solid feeling of satisfaction for beating the game prevents it from being anything special. Plus there isn't honestly that much to say about the game's setting; Little Planet and Never Lake have really been explained all that well and personally I prefer settings like "Angel Island" and "Station Square" because they have more personality. Then again, those came after this game.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied

Sonic the Hedgehog CD has very, very good presentation, though it's basically the same as it was in the very first Sonic game and its popular successor, with minor differences in how the Time Limit and Life Counter look. First off, Sonic looks fantastic and all of his little animations are cute and full of personality. The palettes are also incredibly superb in this game, having the best of the original Sonic the Hedgehog series and making extensive and excellent use of palettes, with every place looking vibrant and sticking out very well. It's also impressive how they developed a new background for every single zone's time setting in the game, and it only gets more impressive with Metallic Madness, which contains ten backgrounds altogether: that's one for every act and its possible timezones! Nothing here looks shabby or rushed, just completely perfect pixel art that's responsible for the entrancing beauty of stages like Stardust Speedway and Tidal Tempest! I'm thoroughly impressed at how much they were able to do graphically with this game at the time; the effort especially paid off in the gorgeous, vaporwave-like Special Stages, which look stunningly beautiful for a 1993 stage. If you had to ask me which game handled graphic quality the best in the original Sonic the Hedgehog series, I would honestly pick this game!

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Neutral

While Sonic controls just as he should in this game, I honestly have very mixed feelings about how he's handled in this game. With level design that's much more vertical-oriented and trap-filled than what you can find in other Sonic games, Sonic's speed just isn't appropriate here. He's too fast and it's really easy to run into hazards, and even straight pathways found occasionally in the levels are often lined with bumpers or hazards that keep the game's pace rather slow... which feels very wrong for a Sonic game. I'm also not very enthused about how Sonic's spindash was handled in this game; it's very awkward to use due to the inability to charge it up and I just found no use for it, really. The Super Peel-Out looks great in this game, but with no protection against hazards when Sonic's moving as well as the general lack of safe runways to use it on, it's just pretty useless. It's a shame, because I love the animations they did for that move. I can't say the controls are bad, however, merely because Sonic controls as you would want him to... but the level design doesn't cooperate very well with it, which makes his playstyle ineffective at times. However, Stardust Speedway is a near perfect level that I feel makes perfect use of his speed and abilities. Go nuts there!

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered

Sonic CD is just much too bouncy and frustrating for my own liking! While Palmtree Panic is a perfectly acceptable first level with few flaws, the remaining six zones can become intensely frustrating at times, especially the second zone (Collision Chaos) and the fifth zone (Wacky Workbench). There's way too many things to force and shove you around, taking control from you and just thrusting you from place to place. There are also way too many ways to be set back through a level, and some levels can straight-up force you over the 10-minute time limit if you're not quick enough to recognize small mistakes! I love bouncy zones like Carnival Night Zone for testing your skills in a challenging, menacing manner and Casino Night Zone for just being plain fun, but Collision Chaos has hazards and traps all over the place with bumpers (never a good thing) and it's just never fun to play! I love challenge in a video game, especially in a Sonic title, but Collision Chaos isn't fun or challenging: it's a test of patience, which I feel breaks the pace of a Sonic game by default. Not to mention that awful, awful pinball boss at the end of Collision Chaos, which can force you well over the time limit with how awfully the puzzle of getting up to the boss was designed...

The bane of my existence, however, was how Zone 5 and Zone 7 were designed. Wacky Workbench has several floors functioning like extremely powerful bumpers, forcing you upwards through the level. Here's the thing, though: if your platforming isn't precise, you'll have to climb your way back down as you (often) have no other choice but to do such, only to get bounced right back up if you don't land on a specific little platform! In Metallic Madness' second act, if you take the wrong pathway, you'll be forced a good chunk back through the level and be forced to take over little platforming sections all over again! I know Metallic Madness is the final level in Sonic CD, but it's insane to have such obtuse level design that can hinder the player even when they're trying their hardest to not fall into these rather unfairly designed traps. Plus, with the lack of speed found in all the zones except Stardust Speedway, and with the anger-inducing puzzle-and-crusher layouts found everywhere in some of the later levels, it's just... frustrating. Did I mention that keeping your rings for the Bonus Stages or finding places to Time Travel is nearly impossible? There's so little flat room in these levels that it's hard to even get close to getting a good ending!

In regards to gameplay, the other classic Sonic games are much better! Even though Knuckles' Chaotix had very bare level design, those zones are the very least weren't absolutely insanely frustrating and were much more forgiving with progression than CD! When compared to the level design of Sonic 2 or Sonic 3 or even the very first game, Sonic CD's level design and gameplay is a total joke. Next!

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered

Sonic CD retains all the familiar mechanics found in the original game: rings, springs, spike pits, and more, which all work fine and without any issues. The most familiar of the new mechanics, however, is the Time Post. While neat in execution, you need to find a running place to be able to time travel, and you need to retain high speed for 3 seconds to move to the Past or Future. Sounds easy, but there's little ground for that, and let alone 5 seconds on the original Sega CD incarnation! I do love though that the Past incarnations of each Zone are typically easier and less frustrating due to the lowered amount of mechanical hazards, and that the Bad Future incarnations are tougher with more enemies and hazards (though knowing how many traps there already are in the Present, having more in the Bad Future is HELL).

Should the player have 50 rings and make it to the end of a zone, they'll have a chance to go at the Special Stage... well, this is where things go really bad. Sonic controls super loosely in these 3D phenomenons, and he must destroy all of the purple UFOs found in these levels in order to gain their Time Stones. Should the player touch the water in these levels, however, they'll lose a LOT of time in EXTREMELY RAPID RECORD TIME and perhaps lose the ability to get the Time Stone at all! It is possible to skip Special Stages to get the good ending by instead destroying the animal capsules found in both acts of each zone, but these are incredibly tough to find because you need to travel to the Past to find them and then look around the entire map without going too far and locking the screen (forcing you to finish the level). This is super frustrating as it can take a lot of your spare time to find these capsules, and in stages like Metallic Madness or Wacky Workbench, you can start kissing your lives goodbye.

I don't have to mention how bouncy the game is, I already vented enough about that with the gameplay aspect.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Angered

Effortless and disgusting. I'm going to keep this short: every boss takes less than 8 hits and are extremely easy or difficult to defeat. The first boss goes down in seconds if you "damage boost" by abusing your invincibility frames to get past its legs, the second boss requires you to make up to a vulnerable Eggman hiding up a stupidly hard pinball machine, the third boss goes down in one hit after you break its bubble-made shield that keeps you alive, the fourth boss is just a weak fight to stay alive, the fifth fight doesn't even make any sense, the sixth boss is the only good one because its a race against Metal Sonic, and the last boss is extremely pathetic in every way. No, I'm not going to clarify anything. These bosses are real trash: the worst in the series by a large margin. If you really want to believe my word, go find a YouTube video about them.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered

Keeping this short too: this game very obviously infuriates me on an astronomical level. I already mentioned the game is bouncy and ridiculously tough in several regards, and Sonic's controls once again do not mesh well with the gameplay. The core game is honestly easy if you're good at the gameplay and challenges, but good luck if you want to get the good ending in either fashion, and especially good luck if you want to both make Good Futures in every act and have all the Time Stones in your possession. Even Sonic the Hedgehog 1's Labyrinth Zone would object to how ridiculously gimmicky stages like Metallic Madness were. I seriously don't get this game's acclaim, especially with its absolutely problematic zone format. Is it just nostalgia? Never mind, I suppose I shouldn't really care because I'm going to get a bolt up my ass in the comments. Maybe someone will be nice to me and just stuff it full of Oreos lol

Music

SonicGame Music -- Satisfied

As per tradition with Sonic games, Sonic the Hedgehog CD has some kickass music. Hell, there are two separate soundtracks, both of which are quite high-quality: a Japanese version and a USA version. The former is much more energetic and Sonic-like in style, giving the zones a lot of vibrant personality to them, while the latter is less focused on the zones and more on the dire situation of the story, capturing its mood perfectly. Whichever you prefer is up to you, but as someone who loves story-driven soundtracks, the USA one is mine of choice. Please don't start a war in the comments section about which is better, because this is my opinion, after all. I love these soundtracks so much and I'm glad they influenced the OST of 2017's Sonic Mania, they're incredible and worthy of all the praise they get. Bonus shout-outs to the vocal themes; "Sonic Boom", "You Can Do Anything", and "Cosmic Eternity" are all great! Too bad the game these OSTs are paired with isn't all that good.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Neutral

You can probably guess what I have to say about this game in regards to how "replayable" it is. No, the collectibles aren't worth your time, and the good ending isn't worthy of being achieved. There's no ranking system really either, but there are some little catches and niches that other Sonic games don't possess: Time Trails and little bonuses. If you get good enough times in Time Trails, you can unlock some cute things like the D.A. Garden and some little animation-related things. I wouldn't exactly say they're worth it, but if you really wanna see that extra content, I guess going through these levels is worth it. And as you start to get the hang of these levels, they'll probably stop being such a bother to you.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Angered

Frustrating in almost every regard, with otherwise fine controls not syncing up well with the vertically-oriented trap-filled zones, and poor rewards for beating the game, getting all the Time Stones, etc. just being particularly bothersome. The difficulty spikes are too high while the bosses are immensely pathetic or excessively challenging, there's way too much bouncing around for personal comfort, and a lack of a sense of accomplishment for beating anything in this game has made me reluctant to find even nice things to say about it. Only the music and presentation are actually consistently good in this game, which is a shame because they don't even stand out that much when compared to some other Sonic games. As you might have figured, I don't like this game.

Given the game is critically acclaimed, I have to question why the game is looked upon so positively. To each their own, but I found Sonic CD to be an immensely flawed classic experience that holds almost no replay value to me. I only streamed it twice because of meme OSTs I had that I wanted my friends to laugh over. Other than that, I haven't touched the game in a long while, and have no desire to.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied
Presentation
SonicGame Music -- Satisfied
Music
Middle
SonicGame Story -- Neutral
Story
SonicGame Controls -- Neutral
Controls
SonicGame Replayability -- Neutral
Replayability
Negatives
SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered
Gameplay
SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered
Mechanics
SonicGame Battles -- Angered
Boss Battles
SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered
Difficulty
SonicGame Appeal -- Angered
Appeal
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Angered
Angered

Aside from Knuckles' Chaotix, the worst attempt at a Classic Sonic game in the '90s era, this is my least favorite game in the classic Sonic series. This is no hidden gem or a diamond in the rough; it is a disaster of a Sonic game that ultimately does not top itself over any other game at its time. If you had to pick any other Sonic game to play from this era, please play Sonic 3 or at least Sonic 2, or even Sonic 1 if you haven't played that game yet somehow. As a hardcore fan of Sonic, I really don't feel there's that much interesting offered in this game. I will, however, thank its existence simply for introducing Metal Sonic to the light (I don't care about Amy) and for some of the zones. Stardust Speedway is my favorite zone in the game and among my top five in spite of my thoughts about this game.

SonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
Hardcore Experience

Hardcore players will probably not mind the difficulty found within Sonic CD or all of its little frustrating quirks, but I imagine this game can be a good turn-off for casual players due to its needlessly complex design. Hardcore players may find it interesting to go for the good ending with the high difficulty involved with doing such, but softcore players may be turned off by them. It's recommended for the hardcore Sonic audience; if you aren't a fan of Sonic, this game wont change your mind about the series.

REVIEW ARCHIVE

1st REVIEW: SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG
Shadow the Hedgehog

Ohh boy. So apparently this was the top result of our first poll and I have to review the game for what it is. Thank God that I'm not doing essay-quality reviews of these games or this would take forever. Some background info before we begin: Shadow the Hedgehog is a multi-platform game released in 2005 to generally negative reception from critics, it's been known as the black sheep of the Gamecube era of Sonic titles for the game's unusual atmosphere and other little elements like its plot and overall direction. I mean, would you really expect a Sonic game to carry guns and alien blood into the mix...? I wouldn't if I never saw this game at all, and seeing it for the first time would probably damage my feelings about the franchise entirely.

So here's the gist: Shadow needs to figure out who he really is and is torn between joining Sonic's side to find his answers, the side of game antagonist Black Doom and his Black Arms alien race, or going independently to seek his own answers, and he needs to collect the Chaos Emeralds as he goes along. None of the endings are canon but that of the last story. The game is a 3D platformer like the mainstream games of its time but features Shadow instead of Sonic, although they control quite similarly. Perhaps the biggest difference between Shadow and the rest of the franchise is that Shadow has an abundance of weapons to choose from, be it from Eggman's robots, the Black Arms, or from G.U.N. robots.

Both back then and in retrospect, it is still seen as a bad game that damaged the series' reputation. The real question is, is it as bad as the general consensus happens to believe?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Angered

The plot of Shadow the Hedgehog is sort of a follow-up to the earlier release of Sonic Adventure 2, with Shadow attempting to discover who he truly is while attempting to gather the Chaos Emeralds for his task. That sounds simple enough on paper, but here's the catch: in just about every stage, you need to complete one of two or three tasks, and depending on the one you complete, you are taken to a whole other level. But that's where the story distorts: the story can heavily change and become awfully confusing as you go along, and the plots become non-comprehensible by about four stages in for most paths. Black Doom is consistent with his plans but Shadow and the story's locations bounce all over the place. It's like a jigsaw puzzle without all the needed pieces.

Plotholes are really abundant because of the reliance of the player's decision making and the 10 non-canon endings are each confusing and leave me to dry. What does Shadow do after each of those endings? Shadow implies what he is going to do some of the time but we're just left with credit rolls after them. The last story -- unlocked after finishing all of the other ones -- is the actual canon ending, but by the time you reach that part of the game you probably will be sick to your stomach of playing some of these stages (especially Westopolis) over and over and over again. The ending to the story has the Black Comet (where the Black Arms come from) destroyed with a blast from Space Colony ARK. The ending is decent but it's not rewarding for the stamina you took to get that far into the game.

Perhaps the worst part is that the plot is boring as hell atop being confusing. It's bad. It's maddening. And you shouldn't have to waste your time to get through each of those ten fake endings. The plot here angers me.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Neutral

The presentation of this game is a mixed bag, although in a really polarizing way: there are very good things here and very bad things. We'll start with the graphics... wow. They are unspeakably awful and some of the very worst in the entire series. The models almost look like they come from the N64 at times just with how simple and untextured they can be, which is insulting considering the game was released near the end of 128-bit gaming. Character models are a mess, especially in the cutscenes. While borrowing assets from Sonic Heroes, the game somehow looks way worse and the dim lighting throughout most of the game makes the characters look really dull and uninspired.

But apart from the graphics, the actual interfaces, menus, and HUD of the game are pretty damn good, everything looks nice even in a dark setting. Fonts help set up a nice aesthetic and the artwork done for the game is incredible when compared to the in-game models. The HD cutscenes in the game are really great to look at and try to help make this game better than it actually is (although because of the poor storytelling it really does not matter that much). Something to admit, too: while the graphics are a waste of talent, they would look worse if the settings were vibrant and colorful, so the fairly edgy setting suits the models fine. That doesn't excuse that they should look better, however.

Generally I'm mixed on the presentation, some things they could have done better and some things that could have been worse. Moving on.

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Angered

What they did with the controls in Shadow the Hedgehog is a question I'm still pondering to this day. The controls have not improved from predecessor Sonic Heroes and are just as slippery and unstoppable as ever, and really do not mesh well with the more compact stages in this game. When you fling the control stick, Shadow fires off like a rocket, and his movement is really easy to stop. You're either going fast or you're not going at all, which makes little platforming challenges more tricky than they should be. Sonic Heroes had the excuse of having wide levels with huge stretches of ground that propelled the player forward to make up for some sloppy control, but Shadow the Hedgehog has more precise platforming as many of the missions require that you explore a lot. It's frustrating and exhausting. The guns, while fun to use, are really strong and can take the challenge out of fighting.

I'm annoyed with the controls in this game, and while the gun shooting is fun the mechanic is a little too overpowered for its own good.

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Neutral

While the controls are sloppy and can at times lead to untimely (and unfair) deaths, the actual gameplay isn't that bad. The level design, while repetitive, gets the job done and it's simple enough to move forward and race your way to the end of the stage. If you ignore the missions and just get straight to the Goal Ring or Chaos Emerald, you just have a short 3D adventure and little will actually stand in your way as the neutral stages have some of the best platforming design in the game. Using the guns is quite fun and it's a little difficult to not crack a smile when you're shooting everything in your way like a total badass. But if you're trying to actually complete the different missions to get all the endings, good luck with that.

A lot of enemies are hidden away in the stages, and you may need to stay in a level for up to 10, 15, or even 20 minutes just to find every single target, and it seems like it's intentional game design as I spent 10 minutes in one of these stages and came out with an "A" rank. While that rank felt good to get, your Sonic stages shouldn't be that long or enduring. It's frustrating and exhausting. However, for what the game does get right, they do it right, and that's kind of how it should go. The controls, if they were actually good, would probably make me satisfied with the general gameplay.

So while controlling is a disaster at times and you may need to spend many minutes just to hunt down objectives, the actual gameplay is solid and doesn't really break too much of what Heroes set up for it. I'm mixed on the gameplay.

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Satisfied

Something that Shadow the Hedgehog excels in is the mechanics. The idea that you can choose your own path throughout the story is interesting and perhaps entertaining even if the corresponding story is poorly written or way too complicated to understand, and the missions are usually easy enough to understand and complete, it's the task of finding them that can be a royal pain in the ass. Shadow's homing attack works most of the time and his gun shooting is quite fun and entertaining. While Shadow's general skills like the spindash and his "chop" attacks aren't all that useful, the guns way more than make up for it and the game gives the player quite a number of them to use. Some stages even have their own exclusive weapons. Shadow can damage street signs and swing them around too or torches. Really, there was some love put into the gun aspects of the game.

By killing enemies, you can fill up the Hero and Dark meters to use Chaos Control and Chaos Blast, respectively. Chaos Control can be activated when enough Black Arms minions (or occasionally Eggman robots) are destroyed, and will propel the player forward a huge distance, which can be used to make some stages quite a bit shorter. It's sort of like a cheat code but it's useful for crossing parts of a stage you really dislike. Killing good guys though activates Chaos Blast, a powerful attack that knocks out many enemies on the screen. Both abilities are rewarding to use and are worth killing enemies for. Missions that involve killing a number of good guys or bad guys can often reward you with these powers quickly without much consequence.

Other than the guns and power meters, Shadow the Hedgehog still plays like an average 3D Sonic title. And you know what? The guns and power meters add to the game experience and make it fun at times. I'm satisfied with the mechanics.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Angered

The boss battles in this game are really weak, which is a shame because boss battles are generally some of the most fun parts about Sonic the Hedgehog titles, and usually give them a lot of flavor. But they just don't do it for me in this game. The bosses are either pathetically easy and easy to wipe out with repetitive gun shots or have way too much stamina to take out. Out of all the ten non-canon endings, there are only three different final bosses. The Egg Dealer, Black Doom, and Diablon bosses are each boring and take little effort to defeat, and you face them each three to four times if you really want to make it to the last story. Bosses spread all over the rest of the level map don't really need to be faced at all if you don't plan on going into the levels that hold them, but they're still disappointing and take little skill and too much time to beat.

The final boss suffers from taking way too long to defeat and Shadow's attacks hardly do much to it, and other bosses just look really plain and uninspired, especially Black Bull and the G.U.N. mechs. The only actually fun boss in this game was the Egg Breaker, for it presents a challenge that the other bosses lack in the Cryptic Castle fight and in the Mad Matrix one. The one in Iron Jungle is pathetic, however. The bosses (especially Dr. Eggman) have annoying lines that will not escape your head no matter how fast you try to defeat them. Not even the music for these bosses is great, they're really plain electric rock tracks that are really easy to forget, which is a shame because most Sonic music is rather catchy.

It angers me that for some of the pain I have to move through in casual gameplay that the bosses in this game are no better than the controls to this game, and each is a waste of time. The different battle backgrounds you can fight these bosses in doesn't save how repetitive they are.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered

Getting game overs in Shadow the Hedgehog is one of the saddest feelings you'll experience with video games, because when you get back into the level, you start it from the very beginning. And some of these levels really overstay their welcome, especially some of the Stage 5 and Stage 6 ones. The actual difficulty of the game is not very high, but players that aren't aware enough of how the game's mechanics work should prepare themselves for cheap death after cheap death for the sometimes merciless control scheme. Artificial difficulty is always present and possible with the damn slipperiness of Shadow the Hedgehog. Some of the missions also way overstay their welcome and take any magic away from the experience when you're hunting down certain objectives for 15 or 20 minutes straight.

While it's not a merciless game when it comes to the level design, it will absolutely frustrate you with bad camera angles and deaths you couldn't see coming. Sometimes if you're too fast and keep that momentum going for a while, you may end up clipping right through the floor for a death you didn't deserve. Checkpoints are all over the levels, but don't mean much when you keep getting game overs, forcing you to reset the level until you either give up or complete it. When I say the game can be a difficult monster to overcome, I mean it.

Music

SonicGame Music -- Neutral

Another thing that Shadow seems to do only decently. The music to this game is not god-awful, but it is full of repetitive, same-y tracks that don't quite stick in your head like other Sonic tunes do. It's not particularly bad music but it feels underwhelming and cliché, and doesn't make the game any more enjoyable. The good bits of the OST are far and in-between and it's difficult to choose favorites when you know that they all sound quite similar. Final Haunt and Lava Shelter have good tunes, though, although it took me a while to remember what they sounded like really. The best bits of the OST, however, are in the vocal tracks, to which I offer my praise. I Am... All of Me is really catchy, Never Turn Back is a perfect ending theme to this game (and a lesson to those who play it), All Hail Shadow is Jesus in disguise, and the other ending themes are all great except for Almost Dead.

I wouldn't recommend the OST for the most part, but if you are curious in its selection, look to the vocal tracks of the game. Most of them won't disappoint unless you dislike heavy rock or metal.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Satisfied

If this game didn't hurt to play through in its eternity then you will certainly not dislike the amount of stuff that you can actually do in this game. There's A ranks to get on all the missions, keys for you to find in each level to open up their secrets, a whole bunch of different story routes you can take to have different results, and different missions to help save players from boredom. Getting all A ranks opens up an Expert mode that is not too terrible (although Cosmic Fall could use many tweaks) and gives the player a sense of true accomplishment. If one really likes playing through this game, then they will enjoy playing the rest of the game 9 times over to get the last story. While there are other Sonic games that handle replayability better, there is no other Sonic game begging for you to trek through its many stages over and over.

If you truly like Shadow the Hedgehog, are a completionist, or both, that paragraph must have caused an orgasm for your sense of sight!

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Neutral

At the end of a run of six stages and that route's boss, you may be thinking "what the hell did I just play?" before you actually decide on whether or not you liked the experience. When you beat the final boss, nothing really all that interesting happens and the credits just roll, but you may feel the need to stretch out or give yourself a pat on the back after beating one of these runs. And that's okay because Shadow the Hedgehog can be a daunting experience at times. If you liked the action, the guns, and the missions, you may find yourself going back through the game to try out new stages and get some A ranks or find all of a level's keys. But if you found the journey far too exhausting for its repetition and lack of Sonic charm, then you may not want to pick up this game again and forget about it for eternity.

It's not a groundbreaking game but it is surely an experience to behold. The rewards for actually beating six stages in a row and the subsequent boss aren't much, with new guns added to the mix and that's about it. If you're not crazy about it, you may find the endings to your route decisions disappointing. But if you really like collecting stuff, then maybe you found some enjoyment in it after all. The multiplayer is nothing worth mentioning though -- just you and a local friend just shooting back and forth at each other constantly.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Mechanics -- Satisfied
Mechanics
SonicGame Replayability -- Satisfied
Replayability
Middle
SonicGame Presentation -- Neutral
Presentation
SonicGame Gameplay -- Neutral
Gameplay
SonicGame Music -- Neutral
Music
SonicGame Appeal -- Neutral
Lasting Appeal
Negatives
SonicGame Story -- Angered
Story
SonicGame Controls -- Angered
Controls
SonicGame Battles -- Angered
Boss Battles
SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered
Difficulty
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Angered
ANGERED

Shadow the Hedgehog isn't exactly a bad game, but it's a dry experience that never really rewards you much for your efforts if you're not a completionist, and the amount of garbage that you have to sit through and complete is uncomfortable and too much of a struggle to bear with. While the gameplay core is solid, the slippery controls and overly long tasks will eat away at your stamina and break your mind whenever you unfairly clip into the ground or simply get flung off a ledge for controls that aren't even your problem. You're controlling someone on ice in a Sonic game that's full of guns and a gritty atmosphere with the icing of the cake being gritty and dull graphics with a mostly boring OST sitting atop it. While it has plenty of replayability and the mechanics can be fun, they don't make up for this game's price and the exploration wears quickly on players that don't really get a kick out of that sort of gameplay.

Story of this game is miserable and inconsistent and does nothing to remedy the flaws of the controls or the repetitive level design and the lasting appeal does not really do much to keep you interested in the game for long. Boss battles are among the weakest in the series as is the game's OST. There's little to see here if you're not the kind of guy to go around and collect a bunch of keys or A ranks. I'd only recommend this game for die-hard Sonic the Hedgehog fans or people that have an obsession with this game's titular character, there is very little you're missing on here and there are better games when it comes to shooting and platforming. It's a worthy visit if you're looking over the entire franchise too, but don't ever have high expectations for this game or you will likely be quite disappointed.

SonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
Hardcore Experience

This is a game that puts your patience and skill to the test, so I recommend it for Hardcore gamers. They may find great enjoyment in finding every object that the game is hiding away from the player, including whole levels, bosses, guns, etc., and perfecting the levels may be a fun and interesting challenge for them. Those that are more casual may be too easily turned away by the fact that the game has guns, and lots of 'em, and the steep difficulty spikes that the game occasionally offers.

2nd REVIEW: SONIC AND THE SECRET RINGS
Sonic and the Secret Rings coverart

Jeez, already rolling to the storybook series, huh? I'm kind of surprised that I haven't already done a game that's been a childhood classic for me yet. Sonic and the Secret Rings was released in 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, developed during a time of crisis for Sonic Team when they were having trouble developing what would eventually become the incredibly infamous 2006 video game. It was intended to "revolutionize" the franchise, inspired by the Nintendo Wii's then-title "Revolution". It takes the look of the Arabian Nights fables to put Sonic in a new, fresh setting to steer people's brains away from their more-recent disasterpieces. Interesting. The game introduces a bunch of strange concepts, with many of them having been ditched after this game's released or the psuedo-sequel Sonic and the Black Knight.

The game's plot involves Sonic being woken up by Shahra, "Genie of the Ring", to go and stop the Erazor Djinn from erasing their stories, and off they go! But here's the twist -- when they encounter Erazor in the first "world", the Lost Prologue, Sonic's chest is struck with a flaming arrow and he is told that his life will crumble away if he does not collect the seven World Rings (totally not discount Chaos Emeralds) for the Erazor Djinn. Throughout the game, the player will be holding their Wiimote horizontally and tilting it left and right to move Sonic through levels where he will be continuously be moving forward, being rarely given a chance to stop. As he goes, he must defeat Djinn's goonies and collect the seven World Rings so he can keep on running and so can the Arabian Nights...?

At its time, the game was given positive reviews and considered to be a step up from the just-new Sonic the Hedgehog title, which was given near unanimously negative reception. But how much better is this game, if it is better at all?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Satisfied

Sonic and the Secret Rings has a plot that fares much better than the game we just previously reviewed, Shadow the Hedgehog. The story is about Sonic and Shahra going out of their way to save the pages of the Arabian Nights from being destroyed and (eventually) rewritten by Erazor Djinn, meeting various Sonic characters along the way that have been restyled to take on the names and appearances of famous Arabian Nights characters. When Sonic steps into the book containing these fables, he encounters the Erazor Djinn and takes an arrow through the chest that will burn him away if he cannot collect the seven World Rings for the Erazor Djinn. Damn, wonder what the World Rings are based off of... hmm... anyway, they learn over the course of the story that the person who collects the rings must be offered up in sacrifice in order to make a link from the Arabian world to the real world.

Once Sonic collects the World Rings, he and Shahra crash into Erazor's palace and the genie tries to get Shahra to bring the rings to him. However, Sonic, who has control over Shahra's ring due to it being given to him at the beginning of the game, asks Shahra to do what she truly thinks is right. She is unable to decide and breaks down mentally. When Erazor attempts to kill Sonic himself, things go horribly wrong when Shahra commits suicide to save Sonic's own life, which breaks the aforementioned rule regarding the rings and causes Erazor to transform into a hideous beast. Sonic, feeling anger and despair, transforms with the World Rings to bring Erazor's ways to an end, albeit using only three of them and being powered by their negative energy. The resulting form is Darkspine Sonic. He defeats the genie and stabilizes him, and then seals him in his own lamp, but not before restoring the Arabian Nights and Shahra's life using the advantage of the three wishes system (for he is in control of Erazor's lamp).

Is this plot good...? Well, compared to most Sonic games' plots this one actually works. It's cheesy, but it works. It can be a little dry to read at times and predictable but it's nice to see the Sonic series do something fresh with a story and it's even more nice that it actually works in this game. I'd say that I'm satisfied with it as a whole.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied

The graphical quality of Sonic and the Secret Rings is quite good, it looks miles better than Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) and looks great for a game released on the rather new Wii platform. Animations are fluid and slowdowns do not happen, or at least don't seem to. Menus look great, the storybook aesthetic is incredibly sweet to look at and the quality of the aesthetics really stands out as a whole. The hand-painted, static imagery of the game's in-game cutscenes is lovely to look at and every character looks on point. The game looks creepy when it wants to be and full of action when it wants to be, and sets the mood for a "revolution" Sonic title just right. I have no complaints with most of the presentation apart from some of it occasionally looking repetitive at times. But you know what? I don't care as long as it looks good.

The HUD of the game is impressive looking and reflects the tone and atmosphere of the game quite well, and the models in the game look both cutesy and appropriate for the series. Both the reimagined old characters and new characters look great and are styled well for this game, with Erazor Djinn and Shahra boasting great designs. They may not be Sonicy but they suit the tone of this spin-off and don't feel too far out of place. Textures in the game look great, with all the locations being pretty and wholesome. Considering that graphical quality is sometimes sacrificed over gameplay in Sonic games, it's nice to see that it's not true for this game.

I love the presentation and think that the aesthetic is very eye-pleasing, but unfortunately this is where the main positives end for the most part.

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Angered
The controls in Sonic and the Secret Rings are horrendous, and I really mean it. Sonic controls like a reckless driver that's been put on a time bomb, he is really difficult to properly swing left and right and it's easy for him to bump into hazards and obstacles when he shouldn't. The Wiimote is twitchy when it comes to control and steering is a boss fight of its own. It's not good game design when the player has to continuously fight for the control of the series' famous blue mascot. Going backwards is a pain, doing homing attacks is not even close to smooth, and stopping Sonic's momentum is more difficult than it needs to be. While I'll talk about the level-up system in the Mechanics section, I really dislike that in order to play the game better, I need to stick with a character that controls awfully until I have the points necessary to make him better. That's stupid level design and defies fun -- which is what video games are about!

These are easily some of the worst controls in the entire franchise, they make me angry, and couple poorly with the overall game design. Sonic is hard to stop once he's moving.

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered

Good lord, Sonic Team. You guys really outdid yourselves in Sonic series gameplay this time around. Here's the thing that makes this game very different than the majority of the ones before it: you're almost always moving. Sonic is accelerating forward unless you make him stop or go backwards. If Sonic couldn't do either of the two latter things, then this game would be literally unplayable or at the same level of difficulty as Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels. I am absolutely serious. The game gets really infuriating as you go, with poor level design choices and thin corridors lined with hazards ready to take the life of this overly speedy hedgehog. This is all coupled with poor level design. This is one of the few games that makes me want to actually rage-quit when it comes to mandatory levels. It's that bad.

The level design is built around Sonic's speed but sure as hell doesn't cooperate well with the game's controls. Sonic needs to be able to move left and right in parts of the levels and doing that, like I mentioned, is a challenge. Obstacles are lined in the most horrendous ways possible and the levels have a huge fetish for spikes, be them stationary or slotting in and out. They are way too common and make the levels feel less varied, which is a shame because all of the different environments look great and refreshing. The Sonic series really deserves better when it comes to gameplay, and the Secret Rings does not do it justice. Not to mention that the gameplay is dry and boring whenever you're in actual control of the game or when you're in frustrating 2D sections that also rely on the Wiimote tilting.

The gameplay here is among the series' worst in the 3D dimension and it's enough to make this game worth skipping. I'd end the review here if I were petty enough, but sadly, I'm not.

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Neutral

The Sonic series is pretty infamous for its abundance of different mechanics, and many of them have fared for either the worst or best of things. The Secret Rings does not lack in new mechanics, with the continuously moving hedgehog having a whole bunch to work from actually. Throughout the game, you can equip/unequip skills with every level you gain in a level-up system, and you get EXP from the amount of score you've earned in a level. That's not such a bad idea, I dig the concept but I feel that it was poorly executed simply because of the way that this game is built. If Sonic actually controlled less like a frantic racecar then I wouldn't feel like that I was equipping stuff just to have a better gameplay experience. Really, the skill system should only be used for giving your character some cool add-ons. Not to make the game actually playable.

Through collecting Pearls, you can use Speed Break and Time Break, which are used for speeding forward through levels quickly or slowing time to avoid fast-moving obstacles with caution. The controls don't work with them very well but they're not impossible to use either, and can be quite helpful at times, especially in the fight with Erazor Djinn. It's all meh in the mechanics department. The skills you can get from getting good scores in the levels can enhance the gaming experience and give Sonic a lot of fun abilities to work with, but it shouldn't be a requirement to enjoy the game. But I digress.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Satisfied

...But now we're talking! Bosses in Sonic and the Secret Rings are actually quite fun! While the controls are piss-poor in the levels themselves, they actually work for the bosses as neither the camera or any horribly placed obstacles get in the player's way. Jumping and attacking the bosses feels so satisfying, and you can tell how wild the matches feel with the shaking manner of the rather aggressive, challenging bosses. And while they're aggressive, the controls don't usually get in the way of the battles themselves! The bosses are some of the game's true highlights, but should be experienced with caution as the controls can still slip in the way. The Erazor Djinn can prove to be really difficult to defeat, however, so players should know how the Time Break and Speed Break skills work before challenging this boss.

The bosses here are actually rather original and haven't been seen before in the Sonic series, and have no Eggman influences at all! They're super fresh and fun to fight. They are easily the best thing in this game, although players may need to practice on the fiery Ifrit a bit before they can have a chance of defeating it.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered

Although I commend the bosses, they can be quite tough on newer players. And the levels themselves, with cheap level design and slippery controls, can drive any man or woman insane while playing it. It is certainly one of the lesser Sonic games in the fun class and it's not really rewarding when you beat this game. Frustration with some of the later levels can cause you to throw the Wiimote across the room and be done for the day. While there are many skills to collect and many missions to beat, they feel like they're only meant for those skilled enough to even get to that point in the game. By the time you reach Pirate Storm the levels may have exhausted you for good and you might just put down the controller. Players that are far more determined may make it all the way to Night Palace and ragequit on just how mindbreakingly bad the controls can get on that particular level. Only the most stubborn of players can enjoy this game.

Music

SonicGame Music -- Satisfied

The music has always been something of a mixed bag for fans, but it was great to see Sonic Team break away from the rock-based moods of Sonic games and go for a more experimental, catchy approach to its tunes! The themes here are very inspired by the Arabian fables and feel at home in Sonic and the Secret Rings. Almost every level has lyrics in its theme, with only "Levitated Ruin" not having any at all. The boss themes also have lyrics. While the lyrics can get incredibly cheesy, they are easy to remember and can be fun to sing along to. "Poison Spear", "The Palace That Was Found", "It Has Come to This", and "The White of Sky" are my personal favorites of the OST. One thing that annoys me a little is how frequently the main theme "Seven Rings in Hand" plays. It's a good track but it plays far too often for its own good and is present as the menu theme, the results music, the mission failed music, and also remixed in various places.

The OST isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it is certainly lively and bouncy and works with the game very well.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Angered

Replayability? Maybe a little? This game doesn't have very much going for it, which already puts us at an ugly start when it comes to this field of criticism in the game. There are many missions that you can try to beat and there are also Fire Rings that you can collect to unlock hidden players in the poor Mario Party-knock off party mode. But is it really worth it over the bad controls in Sonic and the Secret Rings? I don't personally believe so. I feel like that the repetition would become really annoying in no time. I would absolutely skip out on trying to replay the game as nothing of what it offers is that great after the game's true final boss is defeated. Perhaps the only thing I'd come back to this game for is the OST and the bosses, but one of those advantages is already taken away by the fact that I have YouTube right at my side.

Not super worth trying again in my opinion.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Angered

Once you beat the true final boss, you're probably tired and want to curl up into a fetal position while the overly dramatic ending cutscenes play, tuning up suicide anthems to full volume. Maybe that was a little tasteless but this game is really not worth your money just from the controls of this game alone. Sonic handles like a reckless drunken driver and it's just not fun to play. The level design is plain, uninspired and is filled with too many cheap elements and hazards, and Sonic just can't bother to work in that formula. In order to make Sonic better, you need to get good scores in these levels and use the EXP you get from them to equip new skills. But you should already have good controls in a game -- you shouldn't have to purchase new abilities to just make a game better. Come on, Sonic Team.

You don't need to have the game to appreciate the graphics or OST, so just watch YouTube videos of the game to get invested in those. But don't actually buy the game. The game suffers way too much in order to be satisfying.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Story -- Satisfied
Story
SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied
Presentation
SonicGame Battles -- Satisfied
Boss Battles
SonicGame Music -- Satisfied
Music
Middle
SonicGame Mechanics -- Neutral
Mechanics
Negatives
SonicGame Controls -- Angered
Controls
SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered
Gameplay
SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered
Difficulty
SonicGame Replayability -- Angered
Replayability
SonicGame Appeal -- Angered
Lasting Appeal
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Angered
ANGERED

Sonic and the Secret Rings has some positives, but the negatives are far more significant and outweigh the positives in every way. The presentation, music and setting may all be handled quite well, but they don't excuse the horrible, HORRIBLE gameplay present here. Sonic controls way too sloppily and moves around like he's on ice, and he's way too hard to stop for his own good. There is little of value here, the collectibles are hard to grab and the missions can get unnecessarily difficult or downright unfair at times. There are leaps of faith and blind spots with the poor camera in this game. There is no exploration either. The level design is all bland and devoid of life or flavor even if the levels have some of the best graphics I've seen in a video game up until that point in history. There isn't much I have to say here but you can probably get how disappointed I am with this game. I wouldn't even recommend it to Sonic fans because of how sloppy all of its controls are. If you buy this game, get it under or around $3 bucks because it is not deserving of any more money than that.

This wasn't a step up for Sonic. It was a step down. And I mean that with all my heart.

SonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
Hardcore Experience

Only hardcore players may find enjoyment from this. The controls are too slippery and broken for a casual player to actually enjoy or a player that's more in the center. But even hardcore players should think twice before buying this slab of crap.

3rd REVIEW: SONIC 3D BLAST
Sonic the Hedgehog 3D Blast

Sonic 3D Blast is one of the more unusual adventures that Sonic's taken back in the days of the Genesis, and was among the first Sonic games that I've ever touched. It was ridiculed and made fun of back in the day due to the strange controls and for gameplay that really stuck out from the norm in what was generally perceived as a negative direction. It was made during a time of crisis, similar to the Secret Rings, while Sonic team was also attempting to develop Sonic X-Treme, which was unfortunately canceled. In this title, the player needs to move around the game's maps to defeat enemies and rescue Flickies, which the player must guide to the level's goal. It can be seen as an ominous foreshadowing of Sonic's future, where many, many games have formulas to differ themselves from Sonic's earliest adventures.

In an alternate dimension, Dr. Robotnik (or Eggman for you American folks) discovers some animals known as Flickies in an alternate dimension, and learns that through using giant rings that they can go almost where they want. Wanting to take advantage of this, Dr. Eggman captures the Flickies and sends out the resulting robots to find the Chaos Emeralds. And who's to stop him? You guessed right: Sonic the Hedgehog. The game isn't really 3D, rather the player moves around top-down maps to search for the Flickies and guide them to safety, all while avoiding Robotnik's traps and gimmicks along the way. The game shares many similarities with Sonic's older titles, imagine Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 but in the style of a top-down game like this one.

The game received generally mixed reception over the years and is often seen as among the Genesis' worst Sonic titles, but is it worth of that reception? What good does this game have in store?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Neutral

I already explained the plot for this game, but in case anyone wants a really quick refreshment thanks to their short-term memory loss, Dr. Eggman finds out about some birds known as Flickies in an alternative dimension and discovers that they use Giant Rings to navigate just about anywhere. Dr. Eggman makes use of a stroke of genius to capture these Flickies and send them out to capture the Chaos Emeralds for him. But by convenient coincidence, Sonic just arrives at the island and quickly figures out that it's in Eggman's hands, so he has to stop him at all costs. While this isn't the most brilliant plot I've heard of, I'd say that it gets the job done.

But I do have a big problem with this plot: it's playing it way too safe. Eggman has been the antagonist many times before in the Genesis and Game Gear titles and this game is borrowing a very similar template for its own story, and as such this game doesn't really interest me with the plot. I mean, the plot is still presentable and it works, but it could have been more investing and/or intriguing. I'll leave it up to you guys as to what you think about the plot, but I'm neutral about it: it works, but it's as cheesy as ever.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied

For a Sega Genesis game, the 3D-like graphics are incredible and are among some of the nicest-looking ones on the Genesis as a whole, and the stages are each vibrant and colorful as hell. Sometimes the floors can look quite plain but they mostly work just fine. The animations in this game look smooth and work well, and the drop-shadows help make the game look more "3D". Sonic himself looks fine, the Flickies look good, the enemies are lively, and the HUD is pleasant and sweet to look at. I don't think all too highly of the 3D cutscenes but I am definitely giving them slack because of the Genesis' limitations and that it was impressive that they were able to put in 3D cutscenes at all. Everything's easy on the eyes, although the top-down perspective may look blinding to some people.

The presentation is easily one of this game's highlights and will be recognized by me favorably for ages to come.

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Neutral
The controls in Sonic 3D Blast have polarized many critics and fans alike, and for many reasons. The top-down perspective of Sonic 3D Blast is played with a D-pad, which can make playing the game slightly frustrating at times especially at areas that require precise handling. Yet, Sonic is fast and usually quite responsive and the game isn't slow or too irritating for casual players. The level design generally fits with the controls, especially in the stages Green Grove and Diamond Dust, and provides a challenge that can't really be considered unfair. Players will definitely have to get used to the controls before they make it very far, but the journey can be rather painless once others get used to it.

I'm mixed on the controls, I think that they're fine apart from the D-pad not really working for the game. However, analog sticks can make the game experience much better, especially on the Saturn version of the game and in the Mega Collection port of this game.

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Neutral

I'm neutral about the gameplay of this game. It has that charismatic Sonic level design at points and can flow really well if the player is used enough to the strange controls, but the level design can sometimes be too based on puzzles and tight platforming sections to be fully enjoyable. Sonic must make it through the game's seven zones, having to collect Flickies from enemies in each act before taking them to the giant rings that let him teleport around the level or allow him to exit to the next level. These Flickies are held within badniks of Eggman's that need to be destroyed before the player can actually drag them along. If Sonic gets hit by anything hazardous or if the Flickies make contact with harmful obstacles, the Flickies will separate from Sonic, which can occasionally be a pain in the ass.

While previous Sonic games had more linear level design, Sonic 3D Blast requires the player to explore the levels in order to find the Flickies and take them back home. The more maze-based level design isn't bad here because the acts are relatively short and don't usually overstay their welcome, although players may occasionally get lost when running through some of the later levels on their first time through. While it's something of a chore to take the Flickies to the goal, the badniks are easy to find and there are rings supplied all over the levels to make the experience as painless as possible. If players have 50 rings, they can talk to Tails or Knuckles (found throughout the levels) to enter the Special Stages, which are knockoff versions of those in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. They are easy enough, the player must collect enough rings throughout and jump over mines before they can get to the emeralds. They only lead to a good ending though -- there is no Super Sonic.

While the levels can get kind of clunky at times due to the manner of the player having to get the Flickies in their possession before they get to the next part of a level or the next actual level, it plays fine.

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Satisfied

Sonic 3D Blast does a generally good job at transporting the series' main elements onto a "3D Plane", and doesn't make use of spikes or springs too often. The levels don't automate you forward and there aren't dash panels scattered everywhere. Every action feels like your doing and not the game's, and you honestly should feel awarded when you make it through tricky segments all by yourself. When the game does have automated sections, they are interesting to look at and don't take control away from the player for long at all. And I strongly appreciate that. Items like the basic shield and the power sneakers make a comeback here and function largely the same, and I have no complaints with how they work. They retained the fire shield as well and introduced a brand-new golden shield, which has mechanics similar to the homing attack.

There really isn't much to say about the mechanics, but Traveller's Tales and Sonic Team did a generally good job of transfering the 2D elements into the "3D" dimension. All works well here.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Angered

The bosses are something of a mixed bag, if being honest. The boss fights are challenging, but simulatenously they're boring to fight and only use some basic attacks. The bosses don't have much creativity to them aside from the Rusty Ruin and Volcano Valley ones and feel like wastes of time. They are a huge step down from the classic series' generally fun boss fights and just feel lazily incorperated. The boss themes are great to listen to and all but they don't make the bosses feel any better. The final bosses are all slogs to battle and have really basic attacks and strategies. There isn't any soul put into the majority of them.

Also I swear that the bosses are hard to fight with the controls at times: being precise and hitting Eggman's machine cockpits is harder than it looks, as perception does not work well in these fights and can cause some pure rage at times. Hitting the Rusty Ruin boss or the Panic Puppet ones square-on is difficult and requires more effort than it's worth. So in general, they piss me off.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Neutral

Sonic 3D Blast has an alright difficulty level overall, the levels and bosses are not too frustrating to get through and there are many bursts of speed and fun action that you can have in the stages. Yet, the controls can limit the fun one has in the game. I'd say that once you got ahold of the game's basics, then the game is generally pretty easy up until Panic Puppet Zone, which is the last major zone in the game anyways. There are no difficulty spikes but sometimes it can feel that way when battling the bosses as perception is really bad when fighting them. The saddest thing, however, is that the difficulty isn't really rewarding even when you put a lot of effort into the gameplay. You're just dragging Flickies to the goal and eliminating every enemy you see to accomplish this.

I feel like the difficulty would be straight-up perfect if the controls handled better and the game difficulty was bumped up a little bit. There are only five enemies in each act of a zone (with the exception of the last) and the threats can feel underwhelming as a result. The bosses should have been more creative and less challenging, too.

Music

SonicGame Music -- Satisfied

Both the Genesis and Saturn OSTS for Sonic 3D Blast are real jammers and have some of the best overall music in the franchise. If retro music is your thing, then you will love the catchy, bouncy themes in the Genesis version and all of the awesome little tidbits in the music that make them remembered well by fans. But if you like orchestrated music or epic scores in general, the Saturn version will be your cup of tea. Both OSTs generally work for the game and are super pleasant on the ears. Even if you never pick up 3D Blast, you should really give the OST a try. I will hunt you forever if you don't like either version of the game's OST. I mean it.

Overall, really pleasant. I'd expect Sonic games to have great OSTs honestly but still.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Angered

While the game is pretty alright overall, the game isn't really worth playing again once you've achieved the good ending. There is very little that will take you back to the game: there are no collectibles aside from the Chaos Emeralds, there are few secrets to be found, and secret areas are rare to come by and aren't worth playing through the games for a second time through. The Saturn version's long loading times can really hinder one's chances of coming right back to the game, too. It's disappointing that the game isn't all that replayable as for what it is, it's a pretty okay game on its own merits.

Not worth trying again in my opinion.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Neutral

Once you've beaten the game, you will probably feel good about it. The game threw some challenge at you with its awkward controls and poorly designed bosses, but you were able to make it all the way through. The only thing that emerges on your face is a smile. Although if you were enraged by the game's flaws, you will probably just be breathing hard and putting the game down, never to touch it again. You will probably go on YouTube to hear the OST over and over if you really enjoyed it or go back to get the Chaos Emeralds if you didn't get them on your playthrough already. The game doesn't really have replayability but the Chaos Emeralds, if not collected, can inspire players to try again.

The experience with 3D Blast is an okay one. Not a particular favorite for many people and I can understand that, it's not precisely my cup of tea with. But it is not a bad game and at least deserves a chance because it was for the most part a decent move from the series' traditional 2D roots to a psuedo-3D dimension.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied
Presentation
SonicGame Mechanics -- Satisfied
Mechanics
SonicGame Music -- Satisfied
Music
Middle
SonicGame Story -- Neutral
Story
SonicGame Controls -- Neutral
Controls
SonicGame Gameplay -- Neutral
Gameplay
SonicGame Difficulty -- Neutral
Difficulty
SonicGame Appeal -- Neutral
Lasting Appeal
Negatives
SonicGame Battles -- Angered
Boss Battles
SonicGame Replayability -- Angered
Replayability
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Neutral
Neutral

Sonic 3D Blast is perhaps not the best Sonic the Hedgehog experience on the Sega Genesis, but it is a faithful adaption of the series' 2D beginnings to the psuedo-3D dimension that the Genesis and Saturn were both capable of. Controls and gameplay are strange but work well in the hands of a decent player, and no one has to be all that skilled to get through the game (although it may take plenty of tries). The music and presentation make this game really feel alive, and the colorful zones really help with the game's general aesthetic. While there are some pretty rough and at times unfair bits in the game, they are far and in-between and don't take away the joy I occasionally got while playing the game.  Is 3D Blast a perfect experience? No, and it won't be, even with the director's cut that's being worked on right now by the original director of the game. However, it is definitely a stretch to say that this game is absolutely awful, and I generally disagree with that consensus. If the game had been released with analog controls in mind, I'm sure that it would have been reviewed more positively.

Do I recommend it? Go ahead and get it. It's not a waste of time and may be an interesting game for you to try, especially if you haven't dug very deep into Sonic's older days. Just know that you may have some bits of frustration here and there, but it's generally all good.

SonicGame Audience -- Casual
Casual Experience

There really isn't much that die-hard Sonic fans would be wanting to go for, and it's generally friendly to newer players. The controls (as I've mentioned many times now) just may be a bit frustration. Do take caution and spend some time getting used to the controls in the first zone, "Green Grove".

4th REVIEW: KNUCKLES' CHAOTIX
Knuckles' Chaotix

Well, Knuckles' Chaotix was highly requested so I guess that I should get to that. This game is often considered the "black sheep" of the classic series, as it did not perform commercially or critically well and falls flat on its face compared to titles like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This was partially due to it being released on the Sega 32X, a needless add-on for the Sega Genesis that allowed graphics to be rendered in a 2.5D format. Unlike many Sonic games, this one was not developed by Sonic Team and instead made by a different development team at Sega, which may explain many of the strange game choices: in particular, the rubberband system that ties two characters together throughout the entire game.

The plot, once again, centers around Dr. Robotnik (or Eggman for y'all Americans) with his fetish to take over the world for himself, and he and Metal Sonic go to try and collect the Chaos Rings (discount Chaos Emeralds). Depending on if you're playing this game in Japan or America, the exact story varies, but both plots involve Knuckles and his "Chaotix" (Espio, Charmy, Vector, and Mighty) seeking out Eggman throughout the five zones to bring his schemes to an end. Knuckles' Chaotix features large, sprawling levels that make use of the rubberband system that keeps any two characters tied together no matter what while also attempting to flow well with the classic Sonic level design and aesthetics. Sounds decent enough, right?

The game's been met with polarized reception over the years, both when it was released and two decades later. Is Knuckles' Chaotix a game worth keeping?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Neutral

Something that Knuckles' Chaotix suffers from already is its lack of a creative plot, instead choosing to use the same old "Eggman takes over the world" scenario but putting Knuckles and his crew up to the test. Personally this isn't really capitalizing on their abilities or job, it's just a plot that Sonic and Tails would be suited enough to do without the Chaotix's help, but for the sake of being different we just got the Chaotix. Why not a different genre game, like a potential detective game for the Chaotix because that's what they are? I digress. The plot works, it's just a huge disappointment and kind of silly on their part to just be reusing the same old stuff. To be fair, the Japanese plot differs a bit from the American version but it has the very same premise, so...

The plot already makes me feel mixed about this game, but that's what I said about 3D Blast and it still turned out pretty okay. How about the rest of this game?

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Neutral

The 32X graphics look really iffy and at times stiff and rough around the edges. They're good graphics but the game looks way too shiny, both in its characters and stages, and the result is really eye-blinding. And stages that aren't eye-blinding are a little too dark for my tastes. The detail is sometimes too much as well, I don't mind rich graphics but Chaotix is simply not easy on the eyes and the color palette is discomforting to look at. However, the interface and HUD for the game look great, and the aesthetic is unique and "COOOOL" as the game says when you get all the Chaos Rings. Speaking of those, the Special Stages are in 3D and look great despite having simple graphics -- but really, what do you expect from a system as old as the Sega Genesis?

The presentation is alright.

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Angered
Controls in this game are really cursed. While the core character movements are similar to the other classic Sonic games, this mechanic known as the combi system ties two characters at once with elastic rings, which each character in the game holds when chosen. These elastic rings keep these characters together and both characters rely on each other to get around. This doesn't even that good on paper. The execution of it is really poorly done, characters will either be flinging each other around in frustrating and unintentional manners or slowing each other down entirely dependent on their position, and the player is absolutely not in total control of these mechanics. If you want to master how these characters move in tandem with each other, GOOD LUCK because the game will not hand it over that easily to you!

Here's how this thing works: if two characters get too far apart, they will be swung right back together, regardless of where they are and which characters they are. Imagine making it to the top of the ledge and your other partner swings you right back down it. Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? You can, however, call your character to you so they won't go too far ahead of you, but you need to give up some rings to do it! You have to pay a price for trying to make your controls normal. You can use "snaps" to go forward or reverse, although these control really awkwardly and you will be flinging over all over the place if you handle this poorly.

These are some of the most clunky controls in the Sonic series, and arguably the worst of the Genesis/Game Gear days with the very exception of Sonic Labyrinth. Everything is so awkward and unfun with these controls.

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered

While following the basic formula of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Knuckles' Chaotix's version of it really falls flat on its face. For starters, the rubberband mechanic would easily allow you to skip past levels if they were as linear as they were in the earlier titles, so now they're much bigger vertically and horizontally. And a lot of these zones have very similar level design set-ups because you simply can't be very creative with such large stages, especially when there are for some reason FIVE acts in each one! I thought we decided that 2 acts per zone was the perfect normal standard, guys! What the hell?? None of these acts are fun to play simply because of the rubberband tossing you all over the place recklessly, and it's really easy to get flung into a hazard because of this. But the game also isn't all that hard because you have infinite lives and collecting rings again is really easy.

Everything in this game feels clunky and also unbalanced as hell. Your characters chosen are (mostly) random and so are the zones, and because there shouldn't be any difficulty spikes between the zones, every zone has roughly the exact same difficulty level. Nothing stands out here and all of the stages just look uninspired apart from aesthetics. You are playing 25 acts that play virtually the same and with no changes. The zones don't even have many stage design elements that separate them apart from each other. Bland and bland and the game does nothing to remedy this. I don't even need to go on -- this is easily among the most boring games I've played.

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered

Oh my god. What were they thinking with the rubberband system?? I've already mentioned that it controls awfully but it really hinders the game in not just its gameplay, but in the level design and the choice of design behind the boss battles. It is an incredibly stupid system that I hope never makes a comeback due to how broken and unpolished it is. It is easily one of the worst mechanics introduced across the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise and suffers so much because of it. Other mechanics include the fact that you can choose your characters from a "crane game" and get your stage selected for you. These characters however feel quite samey with the exception of Heavy and Bomb, but they're dummy characters that hinder you a bunch (thanks Sega!). The idea that all stages are randomized means literally no difficulty differences. It doesn't matter how you go through this game, it will always feel like the same system.

A lot of other things, like jumping around or wall climbing with Knuckles, don't seem to be changed much but you really can't enjoy them with this terrible game design.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Angered

I'm not going to waste much time on this section because I'm already too pissed with EVERYTHING ELSE that this game's introduced to me in terms of gameplay so far. The bosses here are incredibly piss easy or are otherwise really uninspired, and the final boss is really anti-climatic and stale as hell. It angers me that the work to get through five flavorless acts lead up to a fruitless boss battle that just wastes your time. I'd rather die to Eggman in this game than beat the bosses because I just feel so sorry for him by this point. Eggman just end my suffering, damn it. I am so sick of this damn game and I want to destroy it.

0/10 on the bosses. Zero effort put into them by Sega.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered

Knuckles' Chaotix, even though really frustrating with its choice of controls, is incredibly far from being difficult. Indefinite lives along with a save system that activates after each level means that the game can be beaten easily if you're dedicated enough to the experience. I wouldn't mind this if it weren't for the fact that the bare level design and weak-ass bosses make the game soulless and truly empty of anything worth playing. And the characters are really unbalanced, too -- Charmy can fly over the levels easy-peasy and Espio feels really limited in what he can do. Mighty is just discount Sonic the Hedgehog and Vector can dash in any direction he wants making him somewhat overpowered in the gameplay of this game.

Sonic games may be known for some rough difficulty sometimes, but Knuckles' Chaotix is far too simple to complete. If you're dedicated enough, this game will not take long to complete, assuming you don't randomly get Heavy or Bomb characters.

Music

SonicGame Music -- Neutral

My reception towards the music is actually kind of mixed, which is kind of unusual for a Sonic the Hedgehog title. I mean, the music itself isn't unpleasant or anything but a lot of the OST is just about as bland as the levels themselves. They can be catchy and be full of vigor, but it's nothing you haven't seen before in other Sonic titles. However, the track "Door into Summer" is a remarkable tune and one of the best tracks out there on the Genesis period, and the best of the 32X's short library. 

There really isn't much to say about the music, but hear me out: the OST is not disappointing, it's just more... mehh? It feels lackluster when compared to either OST of Sonic CD or Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Angered

This game... I'm not going to hold back on this remark: it is absolute garbage and I am not exaggerating. There is nothing worth looking for in this game. The Special Stages, while interesting, aren't all that fun and the bonus games are nightmares of their own. The controls of this game are so bad that they'll forever hamper any chance of me going back to the game. None of the zones are worth revisiting because they're all similarly structured and lame in design and the bosses are just fuel for your depression. It would be terrible if this game was the last of the classic brand, but luckily 3D Blast sort of ends this series on a "high note".

It's only really worth checking out again if it's been, like, 10 years and you don't remember what this game is at all. But after this review, I hope you never touch it.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Angered

This game is horrible in every sense of the word, it's like Sega attempted to lure this series into an act of suicide with this very game. This game, if it became actually infamous, could have done some damage to the series with just how poorly handled this game was. There is no real reward for beating this game -- the bad ending features Eggman destroying Newtronic High Zone (the main area of the game by the way) and the good ending is literally just the title screen with Sonic and Tails added to it. There are no good lasting impressions of this game for me and there probably won't be any for you, either.

This game is a high-level skip. DO NOT GET THIS GAME (unless you're really, really curious).

FINAL RATING

Positives
I have nothing super nice to say about this game.
Middle
SonicGame Story -- Neutral
Story
SonicGame Presentation -- Neutral
Presentation
SonicGame Music -- Neutral
Music
Negatives
SonicGame Controls -- Angered
Controls
SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered
Gameplay
SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered
Mechanics
SonicGame Battles -- Angered
Boss Battles
SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered
Difficulty
SonicGame Replayability -- Angered
Replayability
SonicGame Appeal -- Angered
Lasting Appeal
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Angered
ANGERED

There is almost nothing nice to say about Knuckles' Chaotix -- in short, everything falls flat on its face with frustrating controls, samey and boring level design, and an anti-climatic ending to a generic and boring story that doesn't make the game worth playing through. Normally my analysis on a Sonic game is longer than this but I have ranted so much already that there is no point for you to read something as repetitive as this damned game is. There is nothing praise-worthy about this game. SKIP THIS. Please.

SonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
Hardcore Experience

I'm only listing this game as hardcore as casual people will be scared away really easily with this game. Don't bother getting it.

5th REVIEW: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 3 & KNUCKLES
Sonic the Hedgehog 3Sonic & Knuckles

Sonic the Hedgehog 3, along with its direct successor Sonic & Knuckles, are the official follow-ups to the recently released and highly popular Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which had propelled Sega to extreme success. Released in 1994, the games together feature 13 zones, three playable characters (including new character Knuckles the Echidna), all-new mechanics to gloss over, and typical standards that future Sonic (including recent success Sonic Mania) would follow. While Sonic 3 was met with critical acclaim like its predecessors, it wasn't quite as popular and did not well anywhere as many copies as the second game (let alone the first one). But that doesn't mean that it's a terrible game -- in fact I'd say that there is a hell of a lot more to this game than any other Sonic title for the Sega Genesis.

In the story, the Death Egg crashes on Angel Island and Eggman tricks the island's protector, Knuckles the Echidna, into believing that Sonic and Tails are after the Master Emerald once he realizes that the hedgehog would be soon after him. The two quickly catch up and encounter Knuckles and Dr. Eggman many times along the way, and this plot continues throughout the two games (or the locked-on combination of them). Knuckles finally realizes that Eggman tricked him through a cutscene in the late game and helps Sonic make it to the repaired Death Egg, where the two must trash Eggman and retrieve the stolen Master Emerald. Like other Sonic games of its time, Sonic 3 has big platforming levels for the player to dash through, but levels are more versatile in design and there are more collectibles and mechanics to differ the game from its predecessors.

Does the game hold up with its contemporaries, though?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Satisfied

After the Death Egg crashes following Eggman's defeat in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Dr. Eggman happens to find himself on Angel Island with his huge space station, and attempts to repair it. While on the island, he makes note of the powerful Master Emerald and Knuckles the Echidna, guardian of Angel Island. Knowing that Sonic and perhaps Tails would soon be on his tracks, Eggman successfully dupes Knuckles into thinking that these two would steal the precious Master Emerald, which keeps Angel Island floating high in the sky. Sonic and Tails arrive by their plane, the Tornado, having noticed a huge island mass suddenly being in the ocean. When Sonic goes Super Sonic prematurely to get on the island really fast, his face gets brushed by a set of knuckled fists! Before Sonic can fully grasp what's going on, Knuckles takes the Chaos Emeralds away from Sonic and high-tails it out of there!

Sonic and Tails confront Eggman and Knuckles various times throughout the first half of this huge adventure, and eventually reach Eggman's launching base (appropriately titled Launch Base Zone) and take on his craft as the Death Egg starts to finally launch. This plan is short-lived, however, as Sonic causes much damage to the Death Egg and makes it crash once again. Traveling alone this time (unless the player is playing the locked-on title), Sonic makes his way to the Hidden Palace Zone to have a one-on-one fight with Knuckles and defeats him. When the player defeats Knuckles, they hear some disturbance outside and Knuckles is shocked to learn that Eggman planned to nab the Master Emerald all along! When Knuckles gets electrocuted, the echidna switches sides and gets Sonic all the way up to the Death Egg Zone, where he must confront and destroy Eggman's robots to retrieve the Master Emerald and let Angel Island float once again.

In Knuckles' story in the locked-on title, Knuckles must chase down this Eggrobo badnik after it had caused some damage to the island again, and goes through the majority of the story that Sonic went through. Taking place after Sonic's story, the Death Egg does not appear in Launch Base and that zone plays very differently in its second act, and Knuckles gets to take advantage of multiple paths that Sonic and Tails could not use. His story culminates with a battle against a mechanic version of Sonic, whom displays the ability to turn super in his climatic battle with Knuckles.

Perhaps the storywriting isn't the most creative, but at the time it was inventive and sort of complex for a classic Sonic plot. It is easy to understand and makes the game experience quite engaging and fun. It's a classic and lovely adventure that I will forever cherish until I am old enough to forget the whole damn thing. Also watching Knuckles switch sides after Eggman harshly betrayed him was so cute... well, to me anyway.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied

The new look for Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and its immediate successor helps divide it apart from the earlier games, with a graphical style that is slowly evolving into the modern-day Sonic style, although everything still looks quite retro-y and pleasant to look at. There is a wide, vibrant color palette in this game and the levels are very fleshed out with them in ways that aren't eye-blinding. Hydrocity Zone and Carnival Night capture the palette capabilities of the Sega Genesis super well and stages like Flying Battery and Lava Reef's second act are aesthetically pleasant to look at. HUD is almost always pleasant and the screen resolution is not bad. Backgrounds look bizarrely amazing, even for a Sonic game, and the quick camera scrolling is very pleasant for this fast-paced game.

Menus are stylized well, characters look great, and the 3D bits in the Special Stages are good. While I do prefer some of Sonic 2's aesthetics, there is no doubt that Sonic 3 is a highly pleasing game aesthetically and visually.

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Satisfied
The controls for each of these characters is great. Each character responds accurately to the flicking of your analog stick or the presses on your d-pad, and there tends to be no lag input. Everything appears to be precise, but not too precise in a way that makes the game uncomfortable to play. You can get the jumps you need and the speed you need quite easily in most areas of these levels. Spindashing helps you get a burst of speed and rolling on the ground allows you to demolish most enemies if you're heading down or upwards at high speeds. Each character also has a sort of weight to them -- Sonic and Tails are a bit more floaty while Knuckles is heavier. I admire small things like that and admire even more how much the gameplay switches up when the player realizes that Knuckles can't jump as high as the others and therefore needs to find a new pathway. Controls hold up really well and are comfortable to use.

10/10 Sonic Team

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Satisfied

The gameplay won't be talked about too much here, but boy does this game do a good job at using an old formula and making it feel fresh and new again. While the game controls the same as in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, the games' levels are twisting and turning with all sorts of pathways and obstacles, and there are tons of places to explore and try out in these massive levels. The non-linear approach to these stages makes them even more enjoyable than any stage in the previous games. Secrets are aglore, with giant rings hiding Special Stages stuffed all over in the game's maps and lots of extra lives to be found. The addition of new shields really helps bring this game's stages to life as do the new and improved graphics and overall mechanics. It's also lovely that Knuckles gets his very own pathways throughout most of the game! And even Tails... sometimes!

This game didn't break anything that was introduced in the previous two games and replaces what was bad with Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with lots of good stuff. The special stages here are infinitely better and far easier, and are way less punishing when it comes to failure. The ring collecting, the Chaos Emeralds... everything's back, and for the better! Did I even mention that you could save your progress in Sonic 3 & Knuckles? This means that if you got a game over in any of these zones, you wouldn't have to reset the entire game over again. Don't you just dig that? Even if you don't, there's a no save option. Props to Sega for that!

That being said: if you're looking for a classic Sonic game that innovates on the formula, then Sonic 3 is not that kind of game. Beyond some new mechanics and expansive level design, this game is not much different from its predecessors. Don't let that stop you, though, because this game is clearly the greatest of the original bunch.

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Satisfied

What Sonic 3 really lacks in terms of innovative gameplay is made up for with all-new mechanics and improved ones! Instead of the very basic shield that protects you from just one hit, you have three. The Bubble Shield is the first of these and lets you survive underwater, the Lightning Shield draws in rings, and the Fire Shield protects against fiery hazards. Each of these shields can also reflect projectiles, making them harder to lose! If you have 50 rings (or 20 in Sonic & Knuckles and the locked on game), you can enter rings of stars from checkpoints to head into Bonus Stages, where you can either collect rings or get power-ups to help you on your way! Hidden around the levels are Giant Rings -- and plenty of them -- which you can use to get into the Special Stages and get Chaos Emeralds!

Tails can finally fly in the air (why he couldn't in Sonic 2 despite displaying the ability, I don't know) for short bursts of time, allowing him to pass over long distances above the ground. Knuckles can glide around, which is like really slow falling that the player can easily control. If Knuckles touches a wall, he is usually able to climb up and down it. These abilities help these characters get around without a problem for the most part! Sonic has no such luck, but he does have the very handy insta-shield, which allows him to rip through basically any non-boss enemy with a single press of a button. With great timing, Sonic is invincible to a half-second's amount of harm. This insta-shield is replaced when Sonic gets new shields, however: the Flame Shield can let Sonic do a forwards dash in the air, the Lightning Shield lets him do a double jump, and the Bubble Shield allows him to do some downwards bounces. Handy abilities.

Oops! Forgot to describe the Special Stages. The Special Stages take your character onto a giant, spherical "planet", where the player is told to collect Blue Spheres. The red spheres should be avoided and the yellow spheres can be used to bounce across the stages. The white-and-red star bumpers serve to bump the player around, usually for the worse. They are easy enough to complete for the most part and result in the player achieving a Chaos Emerald. Getting all seven of these, as usual, grants Sonic the ability to become super. Knuckles can also become super this way. However, assuming the player is playing the full, "locked-on" version of the game, they can collect Super Emeralds starting from the Mushroom Hill Zone if they have Chaos Emeralds. getting each of the Super Emeralds allows Hyper Sonic, Hyper Knuckles and Super Tails to exist! While they don't expand much on the original versions, they are stronger and they can breathe underwater.

Solid mechanics that keep the game feeling fresh throughout.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Satisfied

Bosses in Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles are simple, as always, but man are they fun to fight in this game. As a first for the series, there are mid-bosses, faced in the "Act 1"s of Sonic 3 zones. These bosses have less HP than a standard boss but lack Eggman as a visible pilot and have a reasonable amount of difficulty. These are quite fun to fight and a good temporary distraction from the rest of the gameplay. Some of them are designed really poorly on Eggman's part, but I don't think that matters too much in this game because the standards weren't so high in those days. The Act 2 bosses are back in this game with Eggman piloting them, and they are more complex and fun to fight than any present in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 or especially Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Something I really like about these bosses is that most have small spikes in difficulty when Knuckles faces them, often adding on to attacks they already have or adding new ones altogether.

Another thing I particularly enjoy about the boss battles is that they usually don't overstay their welcome and aren't piss-easy to defeat most of the time. In Sonic 2, you could just spindash or jump in a certain place to attack the boss over and over before they do anything significant, but in Sonic 3 the bosses like to keep just a bit out of your range sometimes and require that you exploit their weaknesses or use something they drop to get up to them. While Lava Reef's Act 2 boss really sucks, the rest of them are winners to me and they're worth fighting. They can be a little tricky sometimes, especially if you're Knuckles.

Good bosses!

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Neutral

Difficulty is not really an issue in this game, but players that want to get into the Sonic the Hedgehog series shouldn't pick up this game first, because some of the more tricky bits in this game require just a bit of Sonic expertise. Some levels may be exceptionally more difficult than another and the difficulty can bounce around in a way that may be perceived quickly as annoying. Hydrocity is quite a bit harder than Angel Island Zone and it's the second zone in the entire game. Launch Base, which can be quite difficult for inexperienced players, suddenly drops players into a real easy zone that is followed up with another tough zone. Sometimes the game can be really difficult and I understand if others have difficulty adjusting to it: I had to work my way towards mastering the game to get a grip on its difficulty.

That being said, the game isn't "unfair": it's simply very challenging. And hey, the game saves after each zone. Not a deal breaker for me.

Music

SonicGame Music -- Satisfied

This game's OST is amazing and groovy, and boasts a lot of style and flavor to it. It is by far one of the best in the franchise, with the Michael Jackson funk and feel a lot of the tunes share. Everything is upbeat and wonderful, and the levels' unique and colorful designs benefit off of this wonderful sound. A lot of the tunes, like the Angel Island tunes, IceCap Act 1, Lava Reef Act 2, and the final boss music are really memorable and wonderful additions to the Sonic library of music. This is one of the first games to provide similar, but different tunes for the different acts of a zone, helping each individual level stick out from one another. I honestly find this OST superior to any other released since, with only the Sonic Mania OST rivaling it. But then again, Mania is sort of a love letter to this game and its predecessors, so...

Not a disappointing soundtrack. Go research this stuff on YouTube or listen to it yourself as you play through the game. It is super atmospheric and lovely while keeping that Sonicy approach to it.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Neutral

Once you beat this game, you will probably play it again and again just for how fun it is! The level designs are top notch, the music is splendid, the visuals are pure eye candy, and the gameplay handles so smoothly and well, setting the grounds for Sonic Mania as a game. But once you get all the Chaos Emeralds and have played through the game as each character at least once, is there much reason to check it out again? Unless you are the type to want to explore the game's many different routes, I don't think you'd really want to. The at-times sharp difficulty can sometimes hamper one's ability to want to go back to it, especially if they struggle with video games in general. However, general Sonic fans can find a lot of great enjoyment in this game and could agree that this is one of the greater games in the library.

Get the damn game if exploration REALLY appeals to you, because that's where Sonic 3 shines.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Satisfied

Powerful level design stacked atop a colorful and bouncy Sonic classic makes this game a must-own for Sonic fans and strongly recommended for anyone who happens to not be one. People that aren't Sonic fans should start with Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but this is another great place to stop. But please play the combined Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The standalone versions are fine but they both leave me hanging in some kind of way and are rather short by themselves. In the combined version, you can use all characters in (almost) all zones and save at any zone. When alone, they're already great pieces developed by some of the most top notch of game designers out there, but when combined, they would make for a serious contender for the best 2D platforming game of all time.

I am admittedly kind of biased for this game, but it gets SO much right with this series that I can't help it! Get the damn game.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Story -- Satisfied
Story
SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied
Presentation
SonicGame Controls -- Satisfied
Controls
SonicGame Gameplay -- Satisfied
Gameplay
SonicGame Mechanics -- Satisfied
Mechanics
SonicGame Battles -- Satisfied
Boss Battles
SonicGame Music -- Satisfied
Music
SonicGame Appeal -- Satisfied
Lasting Appeal
Middle
SonicGame Difficulty -- Neutral
Difficulty
SonicGame Replayability -- Neutral
Replayability
Negatives
Nothing really bad to say here.
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Satisfied
Satisfied!

This game is an incredible adventure that will never let the player feel like they've wasted a few bucks on it, and proof that Sonic has much potential as a powerful empire of video games (but was never able to experience such). All of the hidden goodies will keep Sonic fans coming back for more and can keep them interested for years on end, much like I. Non-Sonic fans will have a pleasant adventure to hop through and should enjoy the exploratory, genius design in these stages. Nothing really falls flat here, although the difficulty may be quite high at times and can prove to be quite discomforting for players that generally struggle with their video game experiences. Players that have played the hell out of the first two main Sonic games may feel that Sonic 3 has little to offer, but it's still a good buy and not a shameful purchase for anyone's collection.

The true Sonic classic experience is definitely achieved through this game or its predecessor Sonic the Hedgehog 2. If you haven't purchased this game, give it a shot if you're already familiar with Sonic 2, and be cautious if you aren't.

SonicGame Audience -- Middle
Neutral Experience

Casual players will find a decently long game to play through and will appreciate the save feature and the expansive levels, while hardcore players can be interested by the many different pathways and the Super Sonic options. There is quite a lot to do in this game and it can appeal to just about anyone in different ways.

6th REVIEW: SONIC COLORS (Wii)
231809-sonic-colors-wii-front-cover

Technically, Sonic Rush won the poll but so few people voted that I insisted on just choosing myself this time. Anyway, Sonic Colors was a 2010 title released for the Nintendo Wii, just a year before the beloved Sonic Generations. It follows Sonic (the sole playable character) as he plays through this boost-formula title to stop the Dr. Eggman from taking over the world -- in secret -- with his stellar amusement park, which is the main setting for the game. And I can dig that aesthetic. But can I dig the rest of the game? Oh boy, just you wait on what I have to say about this game. So Colors tried something that a lot of your average Sonic joes didn't: they didn't introduce any real new characters and rooted itself in a more family-friendly story, and it's the first to fully be based on comedy and entertainment than seriousness.

So apparently Eggman tries to turn a new leaf and tries to convince everyone with his very stellar outer space amusement park, which apparently has planets attached to it. And with this huge monstrocity of a park built and with several aggressive robots going over the landscape, Eggman swears on his heart that the place is harmless and there are no misdeeds connected with the park. So, are there misdeeds connected to the park? Mmm, yes. Eggman's never really been all that clever, you know. Following the daytime stage gameplay from Sonic Unleashed, Sonic bursts through the zones at high speeds in an effort to go out of his way to stop Eggman's ruin-the-day schemes and put an end to his evil plot, just like in most Sonic games.

Apparently the game has received positive reception on released and was hailed as the best Sonic game in years, but I always thought that people exaggerated a little with this game's quality. Is it as good as people say?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Neutral

So I did explain the plot for Sonic Colors, but is it good? I mean, the core concept of Eggman making his own theme park and using it to trap residents and fool them into thinking that he's turned a new leaf is interesting, but the story seems to kind of fall flat on its face. I mean, it works for the game but it's just too generic, and it's a problem that a lot of Sonic titles seem to have: it's basically Eggman just wanting to take over the world again but in a new way and Sonic has to stop him once again. It's just like Sonic Unleashed in that execution, but it's even simpler as there's no real secondary antagonist (look, Orbot and Cubot don't count). But the plot's weakness isn't really in the plot: it's what the plot's actual cutscenes happen to be.

Sonic seems to have moved from being this "cool" character with a dignified resistance to evil to a jokey character that can't take anyone else seriously, and a lot of lines he says in this game are really cringy and define cheesy. Eggman has obviously become a complete joke now, and as a villain he was far from entertaining in Colors, with a lot of what he says being pretty much predictable and often stupid. It's like Sega hired the script writers from Spongebob's later reasons for this game. The only funny characters are Orbot and Cubot, although their personalities quickly wear out the more and more you see them.

The plot isn't really bad, it's just lacking, and really just a huge step down from the epic plots that the Adventure games tried to pull off and in ways even 06. The thing I hate most is how Sonic's become a jokester for the most part and lost the attitude that made him interesting to begin with. There are some cool lines in this game but just about every voice you hear in this game is just grating on the ears and the lines are just plain sinful. I would actually be mad if the plot was horrible, but for Sonic standards, it does have a decent premise and it's something that Eggman would somewhat (and loosely) revisit in the future Sonic Lost World.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Neutral

Graphically speaking, Sonic Colors isn't very impressive and neither is the interface. I wouldn't say that it's all "slapped on", but beyond the beautiful scenery there's nothing much you could say about the model quality in the game or the HUD interface. It also seems a little lesser in quality compared to Sonic Unleashed, which looked like it had much more budget put into it than Sonic Colors at points. Sound quality is good for the most part though and the cutscenes look nicely rendered apart from character mouths (then again, those always look strange in Sonic the Hedgehog games). If you're not looking at the graphics too closely and are playing from a good enough distance, then you can't really notice some of the game's resolution at points. It's fine presentation... it just could have been more interesting to look at.

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Angered
While an improvement over the daytime stages introduced in Sonic Unleashed, Sonic Team still didn't quite have a grip on how the boost formula stages should play. Sonic is way too loose and shaky to play in 3D sections and the 2D sections feel clunky and awkward, even compared to Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I, which is a horrible insult to any video game out there. These aren't the series' worst controls, but when you're trying to get decent ranks in the stages you are going to feel yourself slip off course plenty of times. Sonic isn't really as off the rails as in, say, Sonic and the Secret Rings, but you will feel little freedom or control in these stages using any controller. Perhaps the worst thing is that the shortness of the stages and game don't really reward your efforts for trying in Sonic Colors.

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Neutral

The actual gameplay, once you get used to the awkward controls, is really not that bad, it's just rather... generic, there's not really much you can do in these levels because Sonic is simply focused on speed and going forward in the short, 3D levels and has to try and make his way forward as soon as possible in 2D sections. There are six "zones" in the game, and they each have plenty of acts. I thought that two was enough, Sega. Once you complete the first act of a zone, rarely ever do you play another act with the same length or difficulty in that zone. It is rather unbalanced and sometimes off-putting for me, as when you advertise six acts in a zone, I would think you'd be advertising some similar acts across the stage. But no, that's not how it works in Sonic Colors.

Sonic must make his way to the Goal Ring, there is no time limit and there are plenty of rings to collect. There are no Chaos Emeralds to be found except for in the Sonic Simulator stages, which are 2D-nostalgic packs of levels with no real flesh or soul to them. Sonic must fling his way through easy-ass levels to make his way to the goal while playing way too safely with the mechanics introduced in Sonic Unleashed's daytime levels. It doesn't all play horribly it's just... bland and really uninspired, especially if you beat the game and try to get back into it like I had recently.

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered

The Boost formula returns from Sonic Unleashed, but it is as as clunky as before and shows little improvement. Sonic seems to move better in this game but the Boost seems to make him collide into walls more often. Sometimes the flow of the level just really hates the boost and you will find yourself stopping into walls over and over if you're not expecting them. It's not a painful mechanic to use, but it sure isn't interesting. The Wisps are a new mechanic -- around the levels you may find Wisp capsules to break, and you can use their respective power-ups. They are limited, but usually get the job done. In this game though, they feel really underutilized and disrupt the flow of the gameplay with a different style of movement entirely (for the most part) and come off as dumb and rather... unnecessary?

The Wisps are one of my least favorite Sonic mechanics, and I particularly hate how they stuck around in teh franchise, from Sonic Lost World onwards. They are gameplay disrupting, not really all that easy to master, feel shoehorned into the game for profit's sake, and are just more mindless creations for the series. Maybe the Wisps aren't the worst Sonic mechanics, but they have some god-awful execution and it's probably why I really didn't enjoy this game all that much.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Angered

To be honest, when I'm given a boss fight, I'm expecting it to be more challenging than a regular enemy, but no the bosses in this game are really easy once you understand how they work, and you don't have to for the first or fourth bosses in this game. Every boss feels poor in execution with the very exception of the final boss, which is in turn underwhelming for a Sonic game. All that effort to make it through 5 or 6 acts and you are given something really piss-easy that makes these zones not really feel worthwhile. They're all really inconsistent in pattern too: some of these bosses take just a few seconds to beat and others can take quite a few minutes despite it all being painless crap. I mean, a boss shouldn't be challenging to the point of being unfair, but the bosses here are unchallenging to the point where a five-year-old could probably beat them at first glance. They may look interesting but they are not entertaining to fight.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Satisfied

I did pick on this game for being really easy, but I think that with the strange controls that it's for the better of things. Perhaps hardcore Sonic fans may not be interested in this game because of that alone, it's much easier for casual Sonic games to get into this game than other ones. Especially if they're new to games. That being said, there may be a few difficulty spikes (especially around Aquarium Park) that may be tough to see at first, but the player can overcome them fast if they figure out how and keep bursting ahead. That being said... perhaps the easyness of the game makes it not very rewarding in the end, but if this is your first game beating a Sonic game and if you had fun, then congrats! You should feel good over that.

Music

SonicGame Music -- Satisfied

While the Sonic Colors OST is actually pretty good, I do think that it's a step down from the rock-based staples of the post-Adventure era and could use some more... Sonicy-ness. That being said, this OST can be a real jammer and has some very well-done compositions, especially in stages like Planet Wisp and Starlight Coaster, and the boss music is pretty alright too. "Reach for the Stars" is no Crush 40 song, but it is a fitting theme for the game given everything that the game has to offer.

It's not a super impressive OST but gets the job done, and there's plenty of tracks to enjoy. Go ahead, give it a listen somewhere... on YouTube.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Angered

Once you beat this game, you have very little reason to return to it. There are Red Rings that you can collect in the levels and you can try to get all the S ranks, but it is very difficult to in this game because of the strict time frames you have to meet and also because of the clunky controls. This game is the type where you can play it a few times, beat its final boss, and then put the game down possibly for good. You may come back to it a few times but I don't think it'll win you over for more than a few hours. Players liking challenges and collectables may be interested in giving these stages multiple runs through, but personally it's not worth your effort -- even for Super Sonic.

Once you beat this game, it's over really. No new plot, it's just... a matter of collecting things if you like that.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Neutral

This game's last impact on players really depends on the person experiencing the games. New players may have massively enjoyed the game, especially if they're young, and would want to play it again, while veteran players may not have been satisfied enough with the game and wished Colors was more. While I am the latter, the game's experience really does seem to differ depending on the audience and it's up to your goals when you play games. Do you play them for fun or for the challenge? If it's the former, then getting this game isn't an unwise choice. If it's for the latter, however, you may want to skip this game unless you plan on doing something like a speedrun for it, otherwise it's just a waste of your energy.

I was personally dissatisfied, but maybe it's just because that I'm not a very softcore player.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Difficulty -- Satisfied
Difficulty
SonicGame Music -- Satisfied
Music
Middle
SonicGame Story -- Neutral
Story
SonicGame Presentation -- Neutral
Presentation
SonicGame Gameplay -- Neutral
Gameplay
SonicGame Appeal -- Neutral
Lasting Appeal
Negatives
SonicGame Controls -- Angered
Controls
SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered
Mechanics
SonicGame Battles -- Angered
Boss Battles
SonicGame Replayability -- Angered
Replayability
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Neutral
Neutral

Sonic Colors is a polarized experience that seems to capture the Sonic essance, but doesn't really know what to do with itself at times. Level design is often clunky and weird and fares poorly with the controls, but the actual game plays fine once you get a handle on how everything weorks. It's far from a perfect game and feels like a step back from the charm that games like Sonic Adventure 2 had at points. It's only really built for the causal player, so if you're new to video games or want to try a Sonic game, then maybe you'll find something to love in this game that I just can't find. If you're a hardcore player or generally dislike Sonic, then this isn't really meant for you at all. I think that the game fares best for those who don't care about the negatives and want to soak in all the fun bits.

SonicGame Audience -- Casual
Casual Experience

Casual players will enjoy the easyness of the game for the most part and find it to be a great game probably, but may be underwhelmed by the game's end if they manage to master the game priorhand. They can try collecting the red stars and the S ranks, but they'll need to practice and practice for that. Hardcore players may be interested in the collectables, but it's otherwise a big skip for them.

7th REVIEW: SONIC THE HEDGEHOG CD
Soniccd-cover

Oh. Well, hi there! It's been... a while, huh?

Sonic CD is often described as either the absolute pinnacle of the classic Sonic the Hedgehog games or as the hidden gemstone in the collection. Released on the ill-fated Sega CD, an add-on for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive that had poor sales, it didn't receive much exposure to Sonic fans as a whole until it was ported to later, much more popular platforms. A lot of people, including myself, were first introduced to the game through its fitting inclusion in the Sonic Gems Collection title, which is filled with rare, not-so-popular Sonic adventures. Not only was the game critically acclaimed, but it received lots of attention due to its extensive usage of time travel, its soundtrack controversies, the debuts of famed character Metal Sonic and Amy Rose, and of course that secret Satanic imagery... MatPat please don't get on that I was joking.

Sonic CD has series antagonist Dr. Eggman (known as Dr. Robotnik in North America at the time) steal Little Planet from over Never Lake, chaining it to a mountain and attempting to obtain possession of the Time Stones so he can conquer and manipulate time to his will before being able to take over the world, but not on Sonic's watch! Sonic must zoom from zone to zone to collect those Time Stones whilst also trying to save Amy Rose from Eggman's clutches and destroy his metallic doppelganger Metal Sonic, whom creates plenty of trouble throughout Sonic's adventure. As Sonic speeds to save the day, he must switch between the Past, Present, and Future in an effort to crush Eggman's inventions, and restore every Zone to a good future! With all of this admittedly interesting stuff out of the way, just how good is Sonic CD? Is it worthy of critical acclaim!?

Plot

SonicGame Story -- Neutral

Historically, Sonic plots have been known for being either rather barren of driven storytelling (Sonic Heroes) or being extremely complicated and difficult to follow (Shadow the Hedgehog). Sonic CD actually follows a very concise plot in spite of its usage of Time Travel, and it flows well throughout the whole game. I think it's interesting that Sonic can switch from time to time again without the game necessarily feeling "broken" from repeated abuse of those Time Travel posts. I think it's really cute that if you destroy a robot generator in the Past version of a zone, you can eliminate all of that zone's enemies in the Present and beyond. Plus if you destroy the ones found in both acts of a full zone, you get a Good Future for the boss act. Pretty cool! Collecting all seven Time Stones automatically results in a Good Future for the third Zones. Should all Time Stones be collected or should all third acts of a Zone have Good Futures, the player will get the good ending. If neither is done, the player gets the bad ending.

It appears that the Time Stones in this game are basically replicas of the Chaos Emeralds, but they're unique in the way that their existence is to allow their user to twist and change time for themselves. These stones are found on Little Planet, which orbits Earth like a moon, and they cause several temporal time issues on the planet. Little Planet is ultimately the same's setting: the game's zones (referred to as "Rounds" in this game for whatever reason) are Palmtree Panic, Collision Chaos, Tidal Tempest, Quartz Quadrant, Wacky Workbench, Stardust Speedway, and Metallic Madness, and they're all stationed on this planet. Something worth noting is that of all these zones, only two aren't urban-based at the Present time, meaning that there's a lot of robotic activity on the planet... fittingly due to Dr. Eggman's motive being to take over it. The Past version of each zone is a prehistoric take, the Bad Future version has the place be rusty and torn apart while being clearly under Eggman's rule, and the Good Future versions are highly urbanized as well but in light, cheerful and beneficial ways.

While some of the plot material is very interesting, there's something rather... unrewarding about the "good" ending of the game. In the good ending, Sonic and Amy just escape and the Little Planet is sent back into orbit, while in the bad ending Dr. Eggman just gloats as he gets away with a Time Stone, but not before Sonic shoots him down with a rock. It hardly feels like there's that much of a difference between these endings, and for all the work you have to do with getting all the Time Stones (requiring a lot of precision in finicky bonus zones) or finding all of those animal capsules in the Past time (requiring a lot of time-consuming exploration), it just doesn't feel worth your time. Sonic CD's plot has some fun elements, but I don't really think that what they've done with this game really makes the plot of the game feel worthwhile at all... which is sad because the opening and closing animations of the game are super charming and fun to watch. This Sonic game has a better plot than most titles in the series, and at the very least it's charming and consistent, but there was room for improvement even then.

I'm going to be neutral on the story; while it's actually quite well done and there's nothing specifically game-breaking, the effort you need to get the good ending and the lack of a solid feeling of satisfaction for beating the game prevents it from being anything special. Plus there isn't honestly that much to say about the game's setting; Little Planet and Never Lake have really been explained all that well and personally I prefer settings like "Angel Island" and "Station Square" because they have more personality. Then again, those came after this game.

Presentation

SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied

Sonic the Hedgehog CD has very, very good presentation, though it's basically the same as it was in the very first Sonic game and its popular successor, with minor differences in how the Time Limit and Life Counter look. First off, Sonic looks fantastic and all of his little animations are cute and full of personality. The palettes are also incredibly superb in this game, having the best of the original Sonic the Hedgehog series and making extensive and excellent use of palettes, with every place looking vibrant and sticking out very well. It's also impressive how they developed a new background for every single zone's time setting in the game, and it only gets more impressive with Metallic Madness, which contains ten backgrounds altogether: that's one for every act and its possible timezones! Nothing here looks shabby or rushed, just completely perfect pixel art that's responsible for the entrancing beauty of stages like Stardust Speedway and Tidal Tempest! I'm thoroughly impressed at how much they were able to do graphically with this game at the time; the effort especially paid off in the gorgeous, vaporwave-like Special Stages, which look stunningly beautiful for a 1993 stage. If you had to ask me which game handled graphic quality the best in the original Sonic the Hedgehog series, I would honestly pick this game!

Controls

SonicGame Controls -- Neutral

While Sonic controls just as he should in this game, I honestly have very mixed feelings about how he's handled in this game. With level design that's much more vertical-oriented and trap-filled than what you can find in other Sonic games, Sonic's speed just isn't appropriate here. He's too fast and it's really easy to run into hazards, and even straight pathways found occasionally in the levels are often lined with bumpers or hazards that keep the game's pace rather slow... which feels very wrong for a Sonic game. I'm also not very enthused about how Sonic's spindash was handled in this game; it's very awkward to use due to the inability to charge it up and I just found no use for it, really. The Super Peel-Out looks great in this game, but with no protection against hazards when Sonic's moving as well as the general lack of safe runways to use it on, it's just pretty useless. It's a shame, because I love the animations they did for that move. I can't say the controls are bad, however, merely because Sonic controls as you would want him to... but the level design doesn't cooperate very well with it, which makes his playstyle ineffective at times. However, Stardust Speedway is a near perfect level that I feel makes perfect use of his speed and abilities. Go nuts there!

Gameplay

SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered

Sonic CD is just much too bouncy and frustrating for my own liking! While Palmtree Panic is a perfectly acceptable first level with few flaws, the remaining six zones can become intensely frustrating at times, especially the second zone (Collision Chaos) and the fifth zone (Wacky Workbench). There's way too many things to force and shove you around, taking control from you and just thrusting you from place to place. There are also way too many ways to be set back through a level, and some levels can straight-up force you over the 10-minute time limit if you're not quick enough to recognize small mistakes! I love bouncy zones like Carnival Night Zone for testing your skills in a challenging, menacing manner and Casino Night Zone for just being plain fun, but Collision Chaos has hazards and traps all over the place with bumpers (never a good thing) and it's just never fun to play! I love challenge in a video game, especially in a Sonic title, but Collision Chaos isn't fun or challenging: it's a test of patience, which I feel breaks the pace of a Sonic game by default. Not to mention that awful, awful pinball boss at the end of Collision Chaos, which can force you well over the time limit with how awfully the puzzle of getting up to the boss was designed...

The bane of my existence, however, was how Zone 5 and Zone 7 were designed. Wacky Workbench has several floors functioning like extremely powerful bumpers, forcing you upwards through the level. Here's the thing, though: if your platforming isn't precise, you'll have to climb your way back down as you (often) have no other choice but to do such, only to get bounced right back up if you don't land on a specific little platform! In Metallic Madness' second act, if you take the wrong pathway, you'll be forced a good chunk back through the level and be forced to take over little platforming sections all over again! I know Metallic Madness is the final level in Sonic CD, but it's insane to have such obtuse level design that can hinder the player even when they're trying their hardest to not fall into these rather unfairly designed traps. Plus, with the lack of speed found in all the zones except Stardust Speedway, and with the anger-inducing puzzle-and-crusher layouts found everywhere in some of the later levels, it's just... frustrating. Did I mention that keeping your rings for the Bonus Stages or finding places to Time Travel is nearly impossible? There's so little flat room in these levels that it's hard to even get close to getting a good ending!

In regards to gameplay, the other classic Sonic games are much better! Even though Knuckles' Chaotix had very bare level design, those zones are the very least weren't absolutely insanely frustrating and were much more forgiving with progression than CD! When compared to the level design of Sonic 2 or Sonic 3 or even the very first game, Sonic CD's level design and gameplay is a total joke. Next!

Mechanics

SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered

Sonic CD retains all the familiar mechanics found in the original game: rings, springs, spike pits, and more, which all work fine and without any issues. The most familiar of the new mechanics, however, is the Time Post. While neat in execution, you need to find a running place to be able to time travel, and you need to retain high speed for 3 seconds to move to the Past or Future. Sounds easy, but there's little ground for that, and let alone 5 seconds on the original Sega CD incarnation! I do love though that the Past incarnations of each Zone are typically easier and less frustrating due to the lowered amount of mechanical hazards, and that the Bad Future incarnations are tougher with more enemies and hazards (though knowing how many traps there already are in the Present, having more in the Bad Future is HELL).

Should the player have 50 rings and make it to the end of a zone, they'll have a chance to go at the Special Stage... well, this is where things go really bad. Sonic controls super loosely in these 3D phenomenons, and he must destroy all of the purple UFOs found in these levels in order to gain their Time Stones. Should the player touch the water in these levels, however, they'll lose a LOT of time in EXTREMELY RAPID RECORD TIME and perhaps lose the ability to get the Time Stone at all! It is possible to skip Special Stages to get the good ending by instead destroying the animal capsules found in both acts of each zone, but these are incredibly tough to find because you need to travel to the Past to find them and then look around the entire map without going too far and locking the screen (forcing you to finish the level). This is super frustrating as it can take a lot of your spare time to find these capsules, and in stages like Metallic Madness or Wacky Workbench, you can start kissing your lives goodbye.

I don't have to mention how bouncy the game is, I already vented enough about that with the gameplay aspect.

Boss Battles

SonicGame Battles -- Angered

Effortless and disgusting. I'm going to keep this short: every boss takes less than 8 hits and are extremely easy or difficult to defeat. The first boss goes down in seconds if you "damage boost" by abusing your invincibility frames to get past its legs, the second boss requires you to make up to a vulnerable Eggman hiding up a stupidly hard pinball machine, the third boss goes down in one hit after you break its bubble-made shield that keeps you alive, the fourth boss is just a weak fight to stay alive, the fifth fight doesn't even make any sense, the sixth boss is the only good one because its a race against Metal Sonic, and the last boss is extremely pathetic in every way. No, I'm not going to clarify anything. These bosses are real trash: the worst in the series by a large margin. If you really want to believe my word, go find a YouTube video about them.

Difficulty

SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered

Keeping this short too: this game very obviously infuriates me on an astronomical level. I already mentioned the game is bouncy and ridiculously tough in several regards, and Sonic's controls once again do not mesh well with the gameplay. The core game is honestly easy if you're good at the gameplay and challenges, but good luck if you want to get the good ending in either fashion, and especially good luck if you want to both make Good Futures in every act and have all the Time Stones in your possession. Even Sonic the Hedgehog 1's Labyrinth Zone would object to how ridiculously gimmicky stages like Metallic Madness were. I seriously don't get this game's acclaim, especially with its absolutely problematic zone format. Is it just nostalgia? Never mind, I suppose I shouldn't really care because I'm going to get a bolt up my ass in the comments. Maybe someone will be nice to me and just stuff it full of Oreos lol

Music

SonicGame Music -- Satisfied

As per tradition with Sonic games, Sonic the Hedgehog CD has some kickass music. Hell, there are two separate soundtracks, both of which are quite high-quality: a Japanese version and a USA version. The former is much more energetic and Sonic-like in style, giving the zones a lot of vibrant personality to them, while the latter is less focused on the zones and more on the dire situation of the story, capturing its mood perfectly. Whichever you prefer is up to you, but as someone who loves story-driven soundtracks, the USA one is mine of choice. Please don't start a war in the comments section about which is better, because this is my opinion, after all. I love these soundtracks so much and I'm glad they influenced the OST of 2017's Sonic Mania, they're incredible and worthy of all the praise they get. Bonus shout-outs to the vocal themes; "Sonic Boom", "You Can Do Anything", and "Cosmic Eternity" are all great! Too bad the game these OSTs are paired with isn't all that good.

Replayability

SonicGame Replayability -- Neutral

You can probably guess what I have to say about this game in regards to how "replayable" it is. No, the collectibles aren't worth your time, and the good ending isn't worthy of being achieved. There's no ranking system really either, but there are some little catches and niches that other Sonic games don't possess: Time Trails and little bonuses. If you get good enough times in Time Trails, you can unlock some cute things like the D.A. Garden and some little animation-related things. I wouldn't exactly say they're worth it, but if you really wanna see that extra content, I guess going through these levels is worth it. And as you start to get the hang of these levels, they'll probably stop being such a bother to you.

End-Game Appeal

SonicGame Appeal -- Angered

Frustrating in almost every regard, with otherwise fine controls not syncing up well with the vertically-oriented trap-filled zones, and poor rewards for beating the game, getting all the Time Stones, etc. just being particularly bothersome. The difficulty spikes are too high while the bosses are immensely pathetic or excessively challenging, there's way too much bouncing around for personal comfort, and a lack of a sense of accomplishment for beating anything in this game has made me reluctant to find even nice things to say about it. Only the music and presentation are actually consistently good in this game, which is a shame because they don't even stand out that much when compared to some other Sonic games. As you might have figured, I don't like this game.

Given the game is critically acclaimed, I have to question why the game is looked upon so positively. To each their own, but I found Sonic CD to be an immensely flawed classic experience that holds almost no replay value to me. I only streamed it twice because of meme OSTs I had that I wanted my friends to laugh over. Other than that, I haven't touched the game in a long while, and have no desire to.

FINAL RATING

Positives
SonicGame Presentation -- Satisfied
Presentation
SonicGame Music -- Satisfied
Music
Middle
SonicGame Story -- Neutral
Story
SonicGame Controls -- Neutral
Controls
SonicGame Replayability -- Neutral
Replayability
Negatives
SonicGame Gameplay -- Angered
Gameplay
SonicGame Mechanics -- Angered
Mechanics
SonicGame Battles -- Angered
Boss Battles
SonicGame Difficulty -- Angered
Difficulty
SonicGame Appeal -- Angered
Appeal
Final Verdict
SonicGame FINAL -- Angered
Angered

Aside from Knuckles' Chaotix, the worst attempt at a Classic Sonic game in the '90s era, this is my least favorite game in the classic Sonic series. This is no hidden gem or a diamond in the rough; it is a disaster of a Sonic game that ultimately does not top itself over any other game at its time. If you had to pick any other Sonic game to play from this era, please play Sonic 3 or at least Sonic 2, or even Sonic 1 if you haven't played that game yet somehow. As a hardcore fan of Sonic, I really don't feel there's that much interesting offered in this game. I will, however, thank its existence simply for introducing Metal Sonic to the light (I don't care about Amy) and for some of the zones. Stardust Speedway is my favorite zone in the game and among my top five in spite of my thoughts about this game.

SonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
Hardcore Experience

Hardcore players will probably not mind the difficulty found within Sonic CD or all of its little frustrating quirks, but I imagine this game can be a good turn-off for casual players due to its needlessly complex design. Hardcore players may find it interesting to go for the good ending with the high difficulty involved with doing such, but softcore players may be turned off by them. It's recommended for the hardcore Sonic audience; if you aren't a fan of Sonic, this game wont change your mind about the series.

SEARCH FOR THE BEST / WORST

Hover over the icons for these characters' names and my aspects on the different elements of each Sonic game.

  1. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 3 & KNUCKLES
    SonicGame FINAL -- SatisfiedSonicGame Story -- SatisfiedSonicGame Presentation -- SatisfiedSonicGame Controls -- SatisfiedSonicGame Gameplay -- SatisfiedSonicGame Mechanics -- SatisfiedSonicGame Battles -- SatisfiedSonicGame Difficulty -- NeutralSonicGame Music -- SatisfiedSonicGame Replayability -- NeutralSonicGame Appeal -- SatisfiedSonicGame Audience -- Middle
  2. SONIC 3D BLAST
    SonicGame FINAL -- NeutralSonicGame Story -- NeutralSonicGame Presentation -- SatisfiedSonicGame Controls -- NeutralSonicGame Gameplay -- NeutralSonicGame Mechanics -- SatisfiedSonicGame Battles -- AngeredSonicGame Difficulty -- NeutralSonicGame Music -- SatisfiedSonicGame Replayability -- AngeredSonicGame Appeal -- NeutralSonicGame Audience -- Casual
  3. SONIC COLORS (Wii)
    SonicGame FINAL -- NeutralSonicGame Story -- NeutralSonicGame Presentation -- NeutralSonicGame Controls -- AngeredSonicGame Gameplay -- NeutralSonicGame Mechanics -- AngeredSonicGame Battles -- AngeredSonicGame Difficulty -- SatisfiedSonicGame Music -- SatisfiedSonicGame Replayability -- AngeredSonicGame Appeal -- NeutralSonicGame Audience -- Casual
  4. SHADOW THE HEDGEHOG
    SonicGame FINAL -- AngeredSonicGame Story -- AngeredSonicGame Presentation -- NeutralSonicGame Controls -- AngeredSonicGame Gameplay -- NeutralSonicGame Mechanics -- SatisfiedSonicGame Battles -- AngeredSonicGame Difficulty -- AngeredSonicGame Music -- NeutralSonicGame Replayability -- SatisfiedSonicGame Appeal -- NeutralSonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
  5. SONIC THE HEDGEHOG CD
    SonicGame FINAL -- AngeredSonicGame Story -- NeutralSonicGame Presentation -- SatisfiedSonicGame Controls -- NeutralSonicGame Gameplay -- AngeredSonicGame Mechanics -- AngeredSonicGame Battles -- AngeredSonicGame Difficulty -- AngeredSonicGame Music -- SatisfiedSonicGame Replayability -- NeutralSonicGame Appeal -- AngeredSonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
  6. SONIC AND THE SECRET RINGS
    SonicGame FINAL -- AngeredSonicGame Story -- SatisfiedSonicGame Presentation -- SatisfiedSonicGame Controls -- AngeredSonicGame Gameplay -- AngeredSonicGame Mechanics -- NeutralSonicGame Battles -- SatisfiedSonicGame Difficulty -- AngeredSonicGame Music -- SatisfiedSonicGame Replayability -- AngeredSonicGame Appeal -- AngeredSonicGame Audience -- Hardcore
  7. KNUCKLES' CHAOTIX
    SonicGame FINAL -- AngeredSonicGame Story -- NeutralSonicGame Presentation -- NeutralSonicGame Controls -- AngeredSonicGame Gameplay -- AngeredSonicGame Mechanics -- AngeredSonicGame Battles -- AngeredSonicGame Difficulty -- AngeredSonicGame Music -- NeutralSonicGame Replayability -- AngeredSonicGame Appeal -- AngeredSonicGame Audience -- Hardcore