Title: Sonic CD
Developed By: Sonic Team (Original 1993 Release), Blit Software / Christian Whitehead
Published By: Sega
Based on: The long running Sonic the Hedgehog franchise celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year!
Console: XBox360 (XBLA), Playstation 3 (PSN), iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7
Release Date: December 2011
Region: This review was conducted on the Australian version from the XBox Live Arcade for XBox360. While there should be no differences between regions, it is possible that different consoles will have different content.
Classification: The ESRB has classified this game G
Special Thanks: Sega Australia for providing me with a download code of this game.
Given the number of Sega collections that have been released over the years, it is actually quite surprising I had not actually gotten to check this title out before now… but from my perspective it is most certainly a good thing as this is without a doubt a very polished version of the game which supports todays technology over most older games from the same era which would struggle on the larger televisions. As you may have noticed above, this version was developed by Blit Software and Christian Whitehead essentially from scratch using their “Retro Engine”, allowing for added improvements to enhance game experience while still delivering that classic Sonic gameplay we know and love. Heck, a mate of mine seems to only have stopped raving about Sonic CD over the last week when complementing Sonic Generations… sure he is a big Sonic the Hedgehog fan… but it is a good sign right?
At the end of a long adventure, Sonic travels to the distant shores of Never Lake for the once-a-year appearance of Little Planet – a mysterious world where it is said that past, present, and future collide through the power of the Time Stones that lie hidden within it. Sonic arrives with a star struck Amy Rose in tow only to find the once beautiful world chained and imprisoned beneath a twisted metallic shell. Sonic’s nemesis, Dr. Eggman (a.k.a Dr. Robotnik), has come for the Time Stones and with them, will soon have the power to control time itself!
The fate of the world is determined by the choices you make throughout your adventure! Fight through the past, recover the Time Stones, and defeat the evil Metal Sonic in order to save the future from Dr. Eggman’s nefarious schemes!
While the plot does sound promising, you have to understand that as there is no dialogue in the game, similar to every other classic Sonic game – you are only granted brief in-game sequences in which you must use your imagination to follow the plot. It is fairly loose so you can comfortably play the game without taking heed to the plot, but they do show the kidnapping of Amy Rose, the rescue of her and the introduction of Metal Sonic. As you might already know, these characters proved successful enough to receive appearances in later modern Sonic games such as Sonic Adventure (et al.) for Amy Rose, and with Metal Sonic as the final boss for Sonic Heroes. While the new release makes no strides with the plot – it is there if you want it otherwise you can assume the girl Sonic rescues is just a Pink Sonic and that Eggman is just ignorantly trying to kill Sonic again.
I would like to put the quality of this game in terms of how I got to enjoy the design. Due to my recent Kinect reviews, my XBox360 is currently on my 50″ television in comparison to most of my reviews which are generally done on my slightly smaller television (I do alternate occasionally however). Despite the screen resolution, the quality was both clear and kept the retro feel that you would expect from any classic Sonic title. While the level designs seem to remain respective of the original environment designs, they have chosen to make use of the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 sprite sets for Sonic and Tails, which works fine and are implemented well to make use of the gameplay improvements. Back on the environment, the levels sometimes get confusing with the occasional overly bright colour set and sense of being “overly busy”, taking the example of the level pictured above with a bright fluro pink perhaps being a bit too irritating to the eyes at times.
Given the ability to jump through is included in the game, it essentially gives every level three different design sets adding to the unique play experiences provided and with each of these having slightly different level design – adds to the experience both aesthetically and gameplay wise. However, they seemed to have a critical flaw I ran into while doing so – in that if you jump through time and they have added a path to where you warped, you will find Sonic stuck in the wall forcing you to reset the game. Given these few issues, it is evident that a lot of work has gone into making this game aesthetically pleasing for both new and old players of this game alike and for its time period…. has very strong design across the board.
The moment you start up your game you are presented with an animated opening sequence – something that if you had not already played the game before would not really be expecting, but it is a nice touch even if its sole purpose is to get you hyped up about playing the game. One of the complaints about the original releases of this title was that you would either get the Japanese soundtrack (Japan/Europe) or the US soundtrack which differed quite a bit in terms of tracks. Fortunately, from the main menu you can choose either soundtrack to choose to play with. Personally, I chose to go with the Japanese soundtrack, however I alternated between the two and personally the only way to keep me 100% happy would be to include a track selector for each level – as both sets of music had some good tracks.
The gameplay is at heart, similar to most other classic sonic releases, in which it is a 2D side scrolling platformer which allows you to take Sonic through a number of stages, each with numerous different paths to take – all in the pursuit of defeating Dr. Eggman or another comparable boss or to collect rings, items (With many of the classic Sonic items making a return) or previous gems (In this case Time Stones). The core gameplay is easy to pick up provided that you have had some experience with other classic Sonic games or even Sonic Generations which was released a short while ago, but for those who like myself grew up on a healthy dose of Modern Sonic, may find the controls a bit more frustrating to pick up with a more Mario-esque jumping on enemies to kill them over using a homing attack for example.
There are a few features which do differ this game from the others. In accordance with the games plot, not only do you have the usual checkpoint signs but also have time warp signs which allow you to, upon travelling a certain speed for a period of time – travel either into the future or past. This offers two benefits to replayability and successful completion of the game: Firstly, traversing through time allows you to access redesigned levels which while maintaining the same basic level structure, also has new enemies appearing, ring location shuffling, new paths opening while others close et cetera. Secondly, to get the Good End you need to find a Robot generating machine which upon destroying all of them will result in a good end and a “Happy Future”. Alternatively, you can collect 50 rings in a level, complete the level and go to a bonus 3D stage where killing 6 UFO’s will unlock a Time Stone. Irrespective of a “Happy Future” in all acts or not, seven Time Stone guarantees a good end. Essentially, if you want to just go through the game like normal – you can but expect a Bad End… if you want a Good End you will have to put some effort into it.
This is perhaps what I find with many Classic Sonic games… but I didn’t feel the whole “Fast-paced” element to the game, which was more heavily focused on taking your time, exploring and trying to dodge traps and enemies that seemed to punish you if you tried to go fast. At times it was near impossible to get to the Past or Future as there was no where to reach the “88 Miles per Hour” needed to time jump. However as I mentioned above, the exploration and multi-pathed levels are not a bad thing, and provided you choose to try something different you could end up with many different gaming experiences every playthrough. As well, until the final act, the stages were surprisingly easy and could be completed in a matter of minutes – then they suddenly upped the difficulty at the end making the stages much more open and much more confusing to navigate… this is not a bad thing but I would have loved a more incremental rise in difficulty. Overall, the gameplay was what I would expect from a classic Sonic game, however also provided me with that added concept which helped set it apart from the others. It is obvious as to why this title seems to be the most revered of all classic Sonic titles.
With this version of Sonic CD, the improvements are not limited to just aesthetics or soundtracks, but a few small gameplay improvements were made. Most noticeably is the addition of Tails who can be unlocked upon completion of the game once and provides a unique gameplay experience with his hovering ability. The ability to choose between the Sonic CD spin dash or the Sonic 2/3 spin dash is also available. As with most downloadable games, you can also unlock 200G or a number of trophies (non-platinum) in the console releases of the game.
I really did enjoy getting to play through Sonic CD and kudos goes to Sega for deciding to finally publish this game onto current-generation consoles. It provided a gameplay experience that was both fun and included an added layer of complexity I don’t believe was in any other Sonic title. With the number of consoles it has/is being released on – you should be easily able to find a console to suit your gaming preference and sit down with this strong performing platformer title….
Storyline/Character Development: C
Music/Voice Acting: A
Personal Opinion: A-
Overall Score: B+