This is a new review. To see my old review, click on this link.
Should I call this a re-review. You see, I reviewed this game when I had it on Sonic Gems Collection and it wasn’t a good port. Thankfully, Christian Whitehead went and fixed it up, as in building the game from scratch and made for mobiles. Sega, instead of shutting him down and giving him a cease and desist letter in the post, they just decided to release it for real for mobiles. And it finally got released for consoles.
Sonic the Hedgehog CD (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグCD Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Shī Dī), or Sonic CD (ソニックCD Sonikku Shī Dī), developed by Sonic Team and was published by Sega and was released in 1993 for the Sega CD, 1996 on PC and in 2005 as part of Sonic Gems Collection. I’m going to take a look at the Remastered version, released in 2011 for the iOS, Android, PS3 and Xbox Live Arcade and on Steam and Windows Phone in 2012. I’m going to talk about the PS3 port, but when it comes to Time Stones, I’ll take a look at the Sega Mega-CD original port too because save states, I have the Steam and PS3 port so this is just for analysis.
This game was developed around the same time Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was being developed. In fact, it was going to be part of Sonic 2, but I guess because of the Sega CD being released, they decided to make a separate game that would make use of the add-on itself. This resulted in making the only game worth getting for the add-on because the Sega CD tanked and tanked hard, but Sonic CD still lived to see another day.
Sonic goes to the Never Lake where the little planet, known as Little Planet, arrives on the last month of every year (on Christmas?). But Sonic finds out that the planet has been tethered to a mountain and has been turned into a mechanized ball of metal. It seems that Dr. Robotnik has taken Little Planet to turn it into a fortress. So Sonic has to let the Little Planet escape by becoming a time traveler, defeat Metal Sonic and rescue Amy Rose, both characters have their first appearances in this game, and then defeat Dr. Robotnik…again.
So the game is a Sonic game…heh. You still run fast and all but here are the new features. For some reason, the spin dash has been butchered, but we now have a much effective Super Peel Out, in fact, it’s much faster than the spin dash.
We also now have a time travel system. There are sign posts with Past and Future, pass through one of them, try and go fast for a while and go to that said time period. Same stage, different time. Though only the boss battles are set in the future. Now this is where the Time Stones come into play, since in order to get the good ending, you can collect the Time Stones by going to the past and find a machine, destroy it and automatically create a good future with that zone, but if you find that difficult to do, then like Sonic 1, you can collect 50 rings or more, keep them without getting hit and go through a giant ring where you’ll access a special stage.
The special stages are incredibly trippy. It’s a 3D world (using the Sega CD’s capabilities) in which you have to simply bop UFOs, bop them all to get the time stones. But there are many obstacles, heck, even the water will quickly drain the amount of time taken to break the UFOs. I actually like these special stages, much better than Sonic 1 & 2…well I mean the special stages are great in the remastered version, because the original version is horrendous gameplay-wise due to the chuggy framerate and you put more pressure on the controller to move to your preferred area, and what’s thy the remastered port does it right. I’d recommend destroying the machines however to avoid possible stress, but if you like exploration in a Sonic game, then this will be great for you.
Yeah, this is the first Sonic game in which exploring is a huge factor, though this can be a problem, because if you’re a Sonic gamer where you want to go fast, like me, the game ends up being very short and you’re not getting your moneys worth, whereas the opposite happens when you go exploring. So I pretended to be good and play the Sega Mega-CD on an emulator to prove my point, I explored the levels to find the past posts and go to the past, then collect 50 rings to get to the special stage. The exploration isn’t too bad, you get to see more of what the stages have to offer and give you a chance to see what you can do with them, but if you’re trying to look for the time machines in the past, then your experience may vary.
Can I talk about this level design…I’ll try and I’ll explain why I had my doubts:
Palmtree Panic: Another version of Green Hill, but take the palm trees, ground and flowers and detail them to the highest. We have massive rocky mountains in the background and they’re also waterfalls as well, though there are waterfalls in the foreground. Now I talked about the present, in the past, it’s pre-historic, the colours are much dimmer and the mountains are now purple. The good future is a bright utopian safe-haven, where there are pipes to control water, nice-looking mechanical trees and flowers are abundant. The bad future is a wasteland with the river being literal cancer, and anything metal in the foreground is corroded.
Collision Chaos: And this is where it becomes difficult to describe because at this point, it gets evermore wacky. This level is a drug trip, along with psychedelic colours, pink everywhere and has bumpers and flippers. In other words, this is your pinball level…on crack. Oh, Amy Rose gets kidnapped by Metal Sonic so you have to rescue the girl you don’t care about and just doing out of goodwill. The past is less of an eyesore, it’s another pre-historic area but still looks unique thanks to it’s detail. It’s similar to the past version of Palmtree Panic in terms of the foreground. I guess the good future takes the best of the past and a little bit of the present and add some bright colours and it looks…well, it’s also a bit too much going on to easily comprehend. But hey, there’s a city in the background and they look nice. The bad future takes the past and present and makes it gloomy, but the bright colours try to battle the gloomy world.
Tidal Tempest: So this level is a remake of Labyrinth Zone, though it’s less stress-inducing. We have the usual underwater elements, but we have stone pillars, some strange plants and a strange foreground consisting of yellow and orange polka dots. The background also has volcanoes which is something you don’t always see in a water level. The past is now set in a cave and the colours are dimmer, there’s much more plant life and the foreground has many stone paths, I really like this one. The good future has this laboratory atmosphere, where plants are being taken care of and anything stone is smooth, the whole world is bright and clean. The bad future is the good future but now a disaster. It’s dark, rusty and the water is cancer, and you can jump in it. How Sonic is still alive after all these years is a complete and utter mystery.
Quartz Quadrant: It’s basically a mine, an underground cavern to be exact, where crystals have been dug up and there’s conveyor belts to move the crystals…or you. There’s also the outside where we have a forest, with it’s swirling mountains and waterfall, it’s quite beautiful. The past is a swampy looking cave with green liquid as it’s river. A lot of the foreground is wooden and outside has a normal river in the background and even has what looks like a city. For the good and bad future…again, there’s a bit too much to describe again.
Wacky Workbench: This is the mechanical level as everything you’d see in a fantasy factory is here and accounted for. The past is less mechanical, but judging from the cranes, it looks like it’s building the factory of the present, that’s a cool attention to detail. The good future is basically a children’s factory, bright, cheery, colourful, and nice sense of wonder and it’s a massive eyesore. The bad future looks as if the factory-style world has been abandoned after the resources have been drained.
Stardust Speedway: It’s Starlight Zone, took cocaine and has the worst level design in the entire game. There is a city in the background, with many bright stars in the sky. The foreground is near golden with brass instruments because I DON’T KNOW! It makes no sense to me. The past is much less of an eyesore as the overall design is simple, with the background having Roman buildings and lovely plant life in the foreground with vines and berries. The good future is CITIES, CARNIVALS, ALL GLORIOUS with a highly detailed purple foreground, but still a bit much. The bad future is near miserable with a red atmosphere with thunder bolts jolting from the sky. But with Act 3, we now battle Metal Sonic by racing him, and it’s not a bad boss, it’s unique and can be challenging when you play it for the first time.
Metallic Madness: This is pretty much Dr. Robotnik’s evil lair and it shows. But I don’t know, it doesn’t exactly make sense when time travel is in center stage. I guess in the past this could have been a place of it’s own, maybe before Robotnik took over it, and then in the Good Future takes what Robotnik left after Sonic defeats him and makes sure that it takes care of the whole planet. But then there’s the bad future where everything Robotnik’s evil lair is a wasteland, then why would Robotnik leave his lair abandoned, it’s not really clear on what he’s going to do…UUUHH, this was hard. Also the final boss is underwhelming.
I know my descriptions of the level design of Sonic CD is muddy and a bit unclear, but it’s only because the level design is incredibly inconsistent. Whilst there are some levels that look nice and all, especially the past version of levels, the rest, especially the good future levels and others are messy and incredibly clustered, especially when it came to the backgrounds, and even when wasn’t, it was still forgettable, there’s nothing about the designs you can’t grasp or remember and with forgettable level design but good graphics and high attention to detail, which is great for a Sonic game, you’re near enough left with a stagnant experience level design wise. I can understand, it’s great to try something new, especially for Sonic level design, but you must be careful in how the designs are made, it’s a bit too much and I wish the developers looked at the designs carefully to see if 60% of the game isn’t a total eyesore. You might like it but to me, it’s a distraction.
For the music, I’m not too much of a fan of it…well here’s the thing. There are two separate soundtracks, one for Japan/Europe and one for the US, though I consider that although I think they’re experimental, Japanese soundtrack is near superior, I love ‘Toot-Toot Sonic Warrior’, though especially for the Remastered port; though I wish the vocals were in the song but I guess due to some copyright issues I guess this couldn’t happen but it’s a lot more fun to listen to than Sonic Boom (no hard feelings Sonic fans), but then again, I did mod the Steam port so that the lyrics are added. Though the boss music in the US version was much better, mostly because it’s a much more scary and threatening piece.
Overall, Sonic CD, whilst is pretty good, it has flaws, though less flaws than Sonic 1. The gameplay is great and even the exploration can vary from fun to ‘eh’, but the level design can be a bit too much, it’s just not to my taste. I appreciate what the game does differently but I’m the type of Sonic gamer who likes the best of speed mechanics and exploration and I don’t think it blends it all that well. I like it but it’s not perfect, but on the bright side, it’s the best Sega CD game by default. With that said though, the remaster is fantastic and I enjoyed it more than the Sonic Gems Collection port, I’d recommend it.
You can get it on the Sega Mega-CD/Sega CD, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Android, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam and Windows Phone.