Sonic CD
Box Shot
Sonic CD
Platform: Sega CD
Publisher: Sega
Designer: Sega
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1993
Reviewed by: Rade Kuruc

Sonic the Hedgehog and its subsequent sequels proved to be huge moneymakers and bonafied system sellers. So it came to no surprise to anybody when a version was announced for the Sega CD all those years ago. After all, if Sonic was such a huge success on the Genesis then he would be equally big on the CD counterpart. And that was the ultimate purpose for a CD Sonic game; to sell systems (in the US anyway). Unfortunately, the ultimate Sonic game was given poor marketing and the music was messed with in the US version. Nonetheless, Sonic CD stands as an excellent game and one that is better, overall, than its Genesis counterparts (in my opinion anyway).

The story this time around revolves around Dr Robotnik's (aka Eggman) evil plan to chain two planets together in order to rule the world, er, worlds, I guess, or something like that. Why does he chain two worlds together? How is it possible to chain two worlds together? Don't ask me, as the story is not really important in this game (actually, I don't care). Ripping off Mario, Sonic know has to save a distressed little pink hedgehog, named Amy Rose, from the clutches of Robotnik and his rebuilt henchman, Mecha Sonic, who returns from Sonic 2 with a much nicer design. Beat the game, save the world(s), get the girl and do some time travelling in-between. Time travel effectively and you get a better ending. 'Nuff said.

Sonic CD was one of the few Sega CD games to effectively take advantage of its medium. It offered a great, though choppy, intro and end anime and a CD quality soundtrack that was pretty good (although I hear the Japanese soundtrack is much better). One of the main drawing points of the Sega CD is the load of extra memory to use, so the developers decided to use a time travelling gimmick to add more levels to the mix, kinda. You see, when Sonic hits a post with the words, "future" or "past" on it, he will have the opportunity to travel to the specified time. Once a post is passed and he gains enough speed, he will be transported to a future or past version of the level with slight changes and a different colour scheme. It's kind of cool, albeit gimmiky. The whole purpose of the time travel is to go in the past, destroy an evil device and that zone's future will be saved. This must be achieved in each of the zone's 2 acts in order to ensure that that particular area of Mobius is safe from future hardship (i.e. no more flowers). Since the game has seven acts, if you add it all up there are over 50 levels. Thatís a record for a Sonic game and this could not have been achieved on cart due to cost of memory. I guess this feature legitimized Sonics adventure in the world of the Sega CD.

Another thing that Sonic CD did to take advantage of its new hardware was to add bonus levels that actually used Sega CD's scaling and rotation abilities. The bonus levels turned out pretty well as a result, although I did have hard time judging my jumps to destroy the required number of probes/UFO's. Also, there were many other little things that were added to give the game a little more jazz. The title screen displayed forward scrolling clouds (really neat) and a few levels were given an absurd amount of background layers (6-3). There is even a point where Sonic approaches a loop, and as he starts to go up it, the view switches from side scrolling to a semi-Sonic view of the action. You can actually see the earth twist in the background. The effect is smooth and clean, although I wonder if it could have been done without the aid of the Sega CD's hardware.

On a whole the graphics are typical Sonic fare, which is a good thing, as they always remain clean, colourful and sharp. The way Sonic is drawn is very similar to the way he appeared in Sonic 1. A few new frames of animation were added to give him a bit of a facelift though (watch him spin as he hits a springboard). I actually prefer the way he was drawn in Sonic 2, as he looked much cleaner, slicker, and a tad older. I wonder why they did not use the Sonic 2 frames as the game was released a year after that chapter. A forgivable flaw, nonetheless. Over all the graphics are among the best ever displayed from the weakly Genesis colour palate and, as with every other official Sonic game, you would swear that this wasn't a Sega game if it were not for the controller in your hands.

The music is okay, nothing spectacular but well done and some of the tunes are pretty catchy and fit there assigned levels. My favorite tune is from level one because I just love that little guitar solo. An interesting little point is that all of the music in the "past" levels is done using the sound chip in the Genesis/Sega CD and it sounds pretty damn good and is insanely catchy. One piece of music I absolutely hated was the main title and ending theme. They hired some no talent hack to right bad lyrics and gave them to an equally bad singer whose voice only serves to give me a headache. The song just rots, and its unfortunate that is used during the opening anime as well. I am absolutely sure that the music is better in the Japanese version, but I'll never know and maybe my source is wrong. There is some voice thrown into the game as well but its typical grainy Genesis voice.

Basic game play is typically Sonic, what more can I say. He is given a new standing spin dash that looks good but is mostly for show and the original spin dash has been changed for the worse. The cool oval shape of it has been replaced by his 'rolled-up' animation and you can no longer charge it by tapping the button. Even worse you have to wait a second before you can release and zoom off. I would kill to get the true spin dash placed in this game; I would kill Yuji Naka himself (although he had little to do with this game as his name is not to be seen in the credits). Level structure is very similar to Sonic 1, just to let you know, and it works quite well. I have a few gripes though as I can never get enough speed in certain levels to time travel. This annoying aspect should have been fixed as well as other parts of the game that reek of being rushed to the market. Also, the bosses are way too easy, easier than they were in the Genesis games. Overall the game is quite nice to play through though, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I would have to recommend this game to any Sonic fan, as it is quite good. If you have a Sega CD that still functions I recommend you buy this game and play it through at least once. And don't forget about the upcoming Sonic Adventure for the Dreamcast. I was able to play it and found it to be quite enjoyable.