"To live a life of power, you must have faith that what you believe is right, even if others tell you you're wrong. The first thing you must do to live a life of power is to find courage. You must be ready to reach beyond the boundaries of Time itself. And to do that, all you need is the will to take that first step..."
—Words taken from Japanese Cover of Sonic CD.
Released in 1993, Sonic CD was one of the better games that could be found on the SegaCD (indeed some consider it among the greatest video games of all time), an ambitious Sega Genesis add-on marred by its price tag and an over-saturation of "FMV games." Considered by many to be one of the best Sonic the Hedgehogplatformers thanks to the time travel elements and complex level designs providing much replay value. This game introduced Amy Rose – Sonic's cute stalker with a crush – and fan favorite MetalSonic. It also had an Anime opening and ending sequences with Sonic displaying his badassery; two of the few FMV's on the console to actually look good.The story begins with Amy meeting Sonic, having used tarot cards to seek him out. When Amy inquires where he's going, Sonic says he's going to Never Lake, explaining that it's that time of the year when the Little Planet appears over the lake. Thanks in part to the seven Time Stones, the Little Planet does not abide by the passage of time familiar to inhabitants of their world, making time travel possible should one reach high enough speeds on the planet's surface. Being the lightning-quick, risk taking daredevil he is, Sonic is looking forward to visiting the Little Planet to see if he's fast enough to break the world's time barriers.After arriving at Never Lake, the two hedgehogs notice something amiss. The Little Planet is there, but it has been chained to a mountain and its surface covered in metal. Arriving on the planet's surface, Sonic and Amy investigate, but soon Amy is captured by a figure that quickly flies away. In his search for Amy, Sonic encounters Dr. Ivo "Eggman" Robotnik, the Mad Scientist he had defeated before.Robotnik and his loyal Badniks are in the process of transforming the entire Little Planet into his own dystopian fortress, and once he collects the Time Stones, taking over the world will be a breeze. That is, after killing Sonic first. When Robotnik discovered that Sonic had arrived on the Little Planet, he sent Metal Sonic – a robot painstakingly modeled after its namesake – to kidnap Amy and lure Sonic. With Sonic taking the bait, Robotnik hopes to destroy his arch-enemy. Determined as usual, Sonic must collect the Time Stones, defeat Metal Sonic, rescue Amy, and liberate the Little Planet from Robotnik's tyranny.Time Travel is the main gimmick of the game. The first two zones in each level have "Past" and "Future" signs, and after hitting one of the signs and gaining enough speed, you'll either travel to the past or to the future. By default, the future is always a bad one, a desolate wasteland with worn down technology that ruined the environment. By destroying the Badnik generator in the past, the zone's future automatically becomes a good one, with all advances in technology actually working to the environment's benefit, and the badniks in all three periods are automatically destroyed. The boss fight in each level is in zone three and takes place in the future, and if you've destroyed the generators in the previous two zones, the future is an automatic good one. However, if you go to the Special Stages and collect all seven Time Stones, all of the levels will automatically have good futures.In addition to the Spin Dash, the blue hedgehog can do the Super Peel-Out, a technique that sends Sonic dashing off with super speed. The difference between the two is that the Super Peel-Out gives Sonic a greater burst of speed but leaves him vulnerable to enemy fire and collisions. The Spin Dash operates very differently than in subsequent games, probably because it was in its preliminary stages before Sonic The Hedgehog 2. It has to be "revved up" for several seconds before use.Because of the above, and the fact that it was the first post-Sonic 1 game to enter development, Sonic CD is often considered to be an in-between game, following the events of the first game but taking place before the second; this is also backed up by the absence of Tails, who shows up in a secret picture with the caption "See you next game!", referring to Sonic The Hedgehog 2*
Word Of God has recently stated that while it's canon, the game has no particular spot on the timeline, but has noted that CD will be closely tied to (and be the precursor for) Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, but that won't affect Sonic CD's spot in the timeline
Added Alliterative Appeal: The level names. Ditto for the final boss music, "Final Fever."note Both soundtracks' final boss themes use this name, but unfortunately only the Japanese one is truly unique from the standard boss music, simply called "Boss!!" in both soundtracks, as time constraints ended up with the American soundtrack having a remix of the standard boss music.
Advancing Wall of Doom: During the Metal Sonic boss race in Stardust Speedway Zone 3, Robotnik will chase after Sonic shooting a laser from the bottom of his pod. If he hits Sonic, or if Sonic loses the race, it's an instant kill. The pod itself is also invincible.
Airplane Arms: Sonic's max running speed has him do this, as well as his legs going into a infinity-symbol shape.
American Sonic Is Hardcore: Elements from the Japanese soundtrack that were Lighter and Softer by comparison were replaced with something much creepier for the North American soundtrack. Nowhere is this more prevalent than the boss and Game Over music, which are both worthy of horror games; in contrast, the Japanese boss music was upbeat and seemed to take Sonic's side in the battle by saying Dr. Eggman doesn't stand a chance and sampling the "Work That Sucker to Death" lyrics from the Xavier song of that name, while the game over music just had a sample of the opening theme, "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" (specifically, the "toot toot sonic warrior" lyrics) that sounded like it was coming from a dying record player, as to indicate Sonic's adventure is temporarily coming to a halt.
the "Past" music for each zone is exactly the same in both the American and Japanese versions – probably due to technical issues, see "Painting the Medium" below
Arc Welding: Because of this game's Wibbly-Wobbliness and never having had a place in the timeline, as of the remake it is now officially considered a predecessor to Sonic the Hedgehog 4. As mentioned above, it's generally considered by fans to have taken place in between Sonic 1 and Sonic 2.
Artifact Title: The 2011 remake is not distributed on a physical medium, let alone a CD.
Bottomless Pits: Almost entirely absent in this game, unlike just about every other Sonic game ever. Some exceptions...
One of the obstacles in Metallic Madness Act 3 is a large bottomless pit with some tricky platforming above it.
There's also one in the Present stage of Stardust Speedway Zone 1 right before the end of the level, but it's almost impossible to get down there and even if you do there is still a way back up. You have to deliberately kill yourself to fall into that pit.
There's also one in the Past of Stardust Speedway 2. Like the example mentioned above, there is a short wall and spring blocking the drop, meaning you have to try to fall down there.
Changing time periods in an unexpected place in Palmtree Panic will sometimes cause you to de-warp in the middle of scenery. Usually, a little movement and jumping will cause you to glitch through the walls back into the stage proper (the programmers clearly expected this to happen), but on rare occasions it will drop you below the stage, killing you.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: As usual, Sonic gets impatient if he's idle. Wait three minutes without pausing, and then he'll say, "I'm outta here!" and proceed to jump off the screen, netting you a Game Over regardless of how many lives you have left. He shoots you an angry glare the entire time.
In the 2011 remake, Tails yawns at you as usual. However, he won't force the game to end after three minutes of idling.
Break Them By Talking: The Bad Future theme of Metallic Madness in the Japanese soundtrack attempts to do this to the player by featuring a robotic voice saying some demotivational words: "You can't do anything, so don't even try. Get some help. Don't do what Sonic does. ...Sonic, dead or alive, is m-m-m-mine!" This is an inversion of a line from the theme song "You Can Do Anything": "...'cause if you try, you can do anything!"
The Cameo: Tails shows up in the D.A. Garden menu and in a secret artwork advertising Sonic Drift. For the 2011 remake, he is Promoted To Playable.
Cosmetic Award: Destroying the Metal Sonic Hologram Projectors in the Past has no effect on the Futures or the ending, but it does make some animals appear.
Cut Song: The planned final boss music of the American soundtrack never made it into any version of the game because of a lack of time to get it in. Instead, a very slightly modified version of the regular boss music plays.
Cyberpunk Is Techno: The Japanese soundtrack gives the present time period of the technologically advanced Wacky Workbench a fast-paced and chaotic techno tune.
Downer Ending: In The Stinger of the Bad Ending, there's a time rift, and Little Planet reappears, covered in its metal casing and chained once more, implying Robotnik used the Time Stones to hit the Reset Button on his failure.
The Secret Sound Test in the original release contains a number of these. Entering the right combination of three (two in the Gems version) numbers will take you to several pieces of artwork, start a secret Special Stage, or unlock debug mode.
Eternal Engine: Metallic Madness and, to a degree, Wacky Workbench, as well as most of the Bad Future levels being combined with the current level trope.
Ethereal Choir: The Japanese final boss music has a woman singing in the background; there are no lyrics, so it's essentially a One-Woman Wail with instruments.
According to Naoto Ohshima, most levels, with the exceptions of Quartz Quadrant and Wacky Workbench, were made as more surreal versions of Sonic 1 levels. Even the level theme order is the same. Sometimes the similarities are subtle, sometimes not:
In Palmtree Panic, the badnik Kamemusi looks like a Motobug and behaves like a Crabmeat.
Collision Chaos has a Spring Yard at the end of both Zones 1 and 2. The second zone also has two goals, just like Spring Yard Act 2.
Tidal Tempest's graphics resemble Labyrinth's. The water current gimmick, which sends Sonic spinning underwater is used in the second zone.
Stardust Speedway shares its level theme and position with Star Light. It plays rather differently, though, besides being fast-paced.
Metallic Madness' spinning, disappearing and moving platforms and doors are all from Scrap Brain. There's also a Giant Mook version of the Bomb badnik called Bigbom and each Zone has a unique background, just like Scrap Brain.
Flower Motifs: The badniks contain seeds which sprout into flowers, as opposed to the "animal battery" motif the series normally uses.
Move Sonic to behind the starting point (i.e. left of "0000") while using Debug Mode, and the game will crash. There is also a bug which stops the music from looping and the next level from loading should the player take too long.
Also, there's a point in the Past of Metallic Madness where you have to navigate some springs. The problem is that in the original Sega CD and emulator versions of the game, you cannot reach the top platform. The only way around it is to try to get back to the present. If you can't, you are stuck. Extra platforms were added in the 2011 release to remedy this issue.
Gotta Kill Them All: You can get the good ending without beating any special stages by going to the Past in every zone and destroying a unique machine, which also destroys all robots in the past. Doing so also lets you go to the Good Future in the same level.
Green Aesop: Yup, it's there. Pretty standard for early Sonic games.
In the Bad Futures, it's notable that, because of Robotnik taking over, the environment is more or less in a state of disrepair (including the robots themselves, amusingly); but in Good Futures, it's shown that nature and technology can indeed be in the same place without disastrous results. For example, the Good Future of Palmtree Panic is inhabited by small monkeys and has a system of pipes that regulate the clear water in the area – instead of spreading polluted water as in the Bad Future – with the water being pumped directly to the palm trees, which now have star-shaped decorations in the middle of the leaves. This is in stark contrast to most Green Aesops, which usually believe and preach that harmony between nature and machine cannot exist.
Further examples: the Good Future of Tidal Tempest looks like some sort of giant hydroponic greenhouse with nutrient-rich green water; in the Bad Future, the plants are dead or roboticized, and the water is magenta.
For players trying to destroy all the Roboticizing machines in the past, Wacky Workbench Zone 1's device is infamously difficult to reach on the first try. In order to reach the machine, you have to jump on top of a crushing piston near the level's end, which sends you down the pipe where the machine is located instead of killing you as with most crushing pistons in the series, such as Metropolis Zone's in Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and, incidentally, Metallic Madness in this game, which has them work as in most of the rest of the series. (Fortunately, it's possible, albeit difficult without the skill and/or Save Scumming, to have all the Time Stones by this point for those who don't want to bother with the machine)
Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: Everywhere in Quartz Quadrant. In the past they move fairly slowly, in the present they are average speed, and in either of the future stages, they move pretty damn fast, so getting past them can be a bit annoying. You can change the direction they go in, but it doesn't always help.
Impact Silhouette: Can happen in Palmtree Panic 1 Present and Past if Sonic enters a tunnel in the middle of the level.
Improbable Aiming Skills: During the bad ending, just look at the trajectory that Sonic's rock makes as he throws it at Robotnik.
The Japanese Metallic Madness Present theme has a verse which is pretty much unintelligible. The only parts that are understandable are "Get yourself ready for a fight" and what sounds like "Yo, we're outta here!"
Also from the Japanese soundtrack, the boss music can be hard to understand aside from the "Work That Sucker to Death! Come on now! Work That Sucker to Death!" chorus and the spoken part that describes the foregone conclusion of the boss himself not standing a chance.
Loophole Abuse: Despite having a ten-minute limit per act, it's possible to spend far more time than that in any one level. A successful time warp will revert the stage timer back down to five minutes. If you've been playing for less than five minutes, the timer will be unaffected. Also, if you're in debug mode, the timer doesn't seem to work at all. Just don't go too far to the left.
Macro Zone: Some of the end of Metallic Madness Zone 2 where Sonic goes tiny. He still retains normal jump height though.
Missing Secret: For those who aim for 100% completion, Metallic Madness can be puzzling at first when it comes to finding Metal Sonic projectors. In fact, it doesn't have any.
Mondegreen: The music with lyrics (which is several tracks except for past music) may end up getting misinterpreted since it was made for older hardware. For example, look up the Japanese boss music on YouTube and see how many people hear the lyric "Work that sucker to death" incorrectly, with mishearings such as "Work that toaster to death" and "Work that son of a bitch."
Mook Promotion: The Hotaru badnik from Stardust Speedway later shows up as the mid-boss before the final boss.
No Name Given: With the exception of Metal Sonic and Palmtree Panic's boss, EGG-HVC-001, the bosses lack names.
Our Founder: The statues of Robotnik at Wacky Workbench and Stardust Speedway (Present and Bad Future), and the image on the mountain that appears in the opening (unfortunately, the close-up of the mountain tends to be cut in the rereleases).
Painting The Medium: The Present and Future music tracks are in Red Book audio (i.e. standard Compact Disc Digital Audio, or CDDA), while the Past songs are in the lower quality PCM format used by the Sega CD's PCM chip.
Press X to Die: In the Sega CD version, pressing one of the jump buttons while the game is paused will restart the level at the cost of one life – provided you have at least two lives available. Otherwise, this reverts the player back to the title screen.
Promoted To Playable: Tails is unlocked in the 2011 remake just by beating the game once as Sonic, with no other criteria. He actually makes the game easier due to his ability to fly and swim taken from Sonic3, which raises the question of why they didn't have him there from the start for inexperienced players. As a tradeback, you can't earn Achievements using Tails.
Puzzle Boss: Many more compared to the rest of the series; while most of the bosses are of the "hit until he's dead" variety, all of them except the first (and, eventually, the last, which gets progressively easier to hit as the battle progresses) also require that you figure the "trick" to hurting them, from manipulative platforming to whittling down shields bit by bit.
Refrain From Assuming: "Sonic ~ You Can Do Anything", the opening theme song from the Japanese version, is often incorrectly cited as "Toot Toot Sonic Warrior" after part of the chorus, despite "you can do anything" actually being lyrics.
Reset Button: The bad ending. Eggman presumably uses the Time Stones to CTRL-Z everything you did in the game.
The lyrics "Work that sucker to death! Come on, now! Work that sucker to death!" come from Xavier's song "Work That Sucker to Death". Worthy of note is that although the original song did say "work that sucker to death" often, this particular sample is only the chorus to the JP Sonic CD boss music.
The Japanese soundtrack samples its opening and ending themes during normal gameplay, with the game over theme sampling the former (albeit slowed down and muffled) and the stage clear theme sampling the latter. Interestingly, both are intact in the 2011 remake despite the lyrics being cut from their sources.
San Dimas Time: With all of the time-travel involved, the game still has the 10-minute-limit in its stages. Going to the past, or future (Good or Bad), doesn't change this in the slightest.
Save the Princess: According to the American manual for the Sega CD version, the pink hedgehog you are saving is actually Princess Sally, presumably to tie into the cartoon she hails from, despite Amy Rose (the hedgehog in question) looking nothing like the already established character.
Save Scumming: The 2011 version of the game makes a save at the beginning of a Special Stage and doesn't save the results if the game is restarted before the results screen finishes. This makes it easier to get all seven Time Stones early, and doing it early enough would mean Quartz Quadrant Zone 2 and on automatically have good futures.
Scenery Porn: The environments are beautiful to look at, possessing a dream like quality to them. This especially holds true for the Good Futures, a mix of technology and nature in bright flashy colors.
Scenery Gorn: The Bad Futures. Eggman's corruption hasn't been fixed, and the world has become a nightmarish dystopia. It's especially bad for the levels where water can been seen; the water ends up looking horribly polluted and nasty.
Science Is Bad: The Bad Futures, with all the broken machinery throughout them. Even Robotnik's Mecha-Mooks and his own base are broken and rusted with neglected ruin.
Inverted in the Good Futures, which also have a lot of machinery in them.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Sonic's goal is to save the Little Planet's future by ridding it of Eggman's influence. He can achieve this by destroying the badnik generators in the past or collecting every Time Stone.
Soundtrack Dissonance: The US boss theme ends up being this in the Good Futures. Wacky Workbench's Good Future also falls into this, having more emphasis on work tools in the background despite the zone being turned into a toy land.
Speed Run: The first game in the series to feature a Time Attack mode. This is also how you unlock some of the extras.
Underwater Ruins: Tidal Tempest, though oddly not in the past (it's just a partially-submerged cave).
Unique Enemy: The Taga-Taga enemy found in Tidal Tempest also appears in Palmtree Panic, where it jumps out of waterfalls like Chopper from Sonic 1. PPZ's Taga-Taga is rare enough that you won't meet it unless you explore the levels.
Unlockable Content: The remake. Special Stages in Time Attack, the D.A. Garden (The Incomplete Sound Test, plus a image of the Little Planet) and the Visual Mode (The Video Gallery).
Warm Up Boss: Palmtree Panic's boss, the EGG-HVC-001. You don't even need to dodge attacks. In fact, due to an invincibility box at the beginning of the level, you can actually defeat the boss without being in any danger at all of being hurt. It's easier than The Drill-mobile.
Finish the game with the good ending, or watch the good ending through Visual Mode. A screen will show up telling you that "YOU ARE SUPER PLAYER", and Sonic, Amy and Metal Sonic will run across the screen from time to time.
The Tails ending in the remake is probably even more this trope because all you get is some explosions and then a credits roll. You do not even get a congratulations. At the very least the credits for Tails are of the staff who worked on the remake but its still kind of disappointing.