SEGA’s iconic superstar mascot ‘Sonic the Hedgehog’, returns once again on the Xbox LIVE Arcade in true classic fashion as Sonic CD speeds onto the marketplace for a mere 400 MS Points. Unless you haven’t looked or indeed bought it already, I know what you’re thinking right now, but no – it’s not actually a mistake; it really is 400 MS Points! At that fantastic value, do you even need to read a review? Come on guy’s this is Sonic the Hedgehog, and if you don’t know how a 16bit Sonic game plays out by now you quite frankly just should be shot! (Non-lethally for the purposes of entertainment only) Great, fun, entertaining 2D side-scrolling platforming action where you get to collect a lot of gold rings… and if you’re very lucky you get to jump through a giant one!
For any gamer who never owned the original, this game in short can only be described as like playing a classic Sonic MegaDrive title that you never owned, but one you really actually should have. It was released originally on the MegaCD in 1993, but they were only in effect MegaDrive games with bigger content thanks to the storage capacity of the Compact Disc, and Sonic CD turns out to be something quite special that during that time period was sadly my loss. Without digging up SEGA’s past history on the rights and wrongs of console Add-On’s – namely too many in a short space of time; I had never owned the MegaCD, but was still best described as a SEGA fanboy having owned the MasterSytem, and MegaDrive – two’s company, three’s a crowd as they say…(I just couldn’t afford it to be honest) Sonic CD is the best Sonic game since Sonic 2, which was my all-time favourite until now – only it’s taken me about 19 years to realise this.
Sonic CD feels multi-layered and on a much larger scale in comparison to all the other 16bit Sonic game’s because it has many different longer levels where each time you play them they look different due to a time-travel mechanism. You are playing the same game with the same route, but everything changes behind and around you depending on when you spin the ‘Past’ and ‘Future’ posts scattered throughout the levels in many different places. This neat little feature is only activated by maintaining a high running speed and is objective based which determines if you’re going to be playing in a Good Future or Bad Future. So, If you travel to the past and manage to destroy one of Robotnik’s Generators then you will have a Good Future, therefore if you don’t travel to the past at all or you do and you still don’t destroy the Generator, then the outcome is a Bad Future. The Past adds a skin to the levels which make them feel ancient and peaceful, Good Future portrays a bright world of harmony with hardly many enemies to take out, where alternatively the more hectic Bad Future is enemy ridden with very technological based backdrops. All Boss levels however are always in the Bad Future zones since the most evil seem to lurk there…
As with the very first original Sonic the Hedgehog, if you manage to collect fifty rings through-out your run through in any level you activate a giant golden ring to jump through for a Special Stage at the end. Oddly you aren’t collecting Chaos Emeralds, but instead Time Stones in Sonic CD by managing to knock out UFO’s within a given time in the Special Stages. These are somewhat awful to look at though, more than likely now we are in the year 2012 almost and anything that tried to be 3D back in the old gaming day’s can looks messy. The point and purpose if your eyes can bare it is to avoid water, hit the UFO’s and collect the Time Stones where the eventual outcome if you collect all seven is to maintain a Good Future in every single Act of the game. That is pretty nifty and ensures you have minimal enemy attacks with the most beautiful of 16bit glorious only-sonic-could-pass-it-off-scenery!
There have been tweaks for the Xbox LIVE Arcade version to ensure you get a decent game going on – for one, there is natural widescreen support without having everything stretched out or cut off, Achievements , graphic tweaking options to smooth out the visuals if you require them to look a little less ‘classic’, and finally – Tails !! Yes, for the first time ever you can play the game as Tails in your second run through as he has been ported straight in as an unlockable character.
Sonic CD is in every way a great 2D Sonic game and having played this in 2011 for the first time, it feels very much like a revamped, bigger, better, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 having funky music unlike any other retro Sonic game and plays like an in-between story set before Sonic 2. Why the time-travel aspect never made a return in any other MegaDrive game following this is unknown, but I really wish now it had been included in others – it’s fantastic to play through and see the levels in different surroundings.
If you love Sonic, you’ll love this, but if you don’t love Sonic you’ll still love this at only 400 MS Points.
Great game – Great price – Great fun.