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Sonic The Hedgehog CD back to reviews
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The underrated Sonic CD gets a long awaited opportunity to shine with the Genesis titles
Until recently, Sonic CD is the franchise equivalent of a mainstream band's underground LP: only the most hardcore fans have found it, enjoyed it, and shouted its praises into the high heavens. Similarly, CD's an unrefined experiment that tosses many novel ideas to the Sonic formula with mixed results. Back when Sonic CD was a rare find, the flaws were easy to ignore. As a $5 downloadable in 2011, less so.

Visually, CD's a prettier, faster, Darker And Edgier version of Sonic 1. The basic gameplay retains the familiar Sonic feel, so players wishing to swiftly fly through the levels can. Time Attack mode streamlines the levels for this purpose. For those willing to time travel to destroy robot spawning devices from the past, the mechanic adds to CD's replay value. Just pass a lamppost with the appropriate time warping direction, run like mad, and off you go to the idealistic past...or the grim Bad Future if the robot machine isn't destroyed.

Sonic CD's qualities come through in other areas, for better or worse. The opening/closing FMV videos are breathtaking glimpses into a potential '90s era Sonic anime. The UFO destroying bonus stages and overall level design, though solid, are pretty strange. Some of CD's seven worlds are mirror images of Sonic 1 levels, though some suffer from dubious enemy/trap/spring/platform placement, especially Wacky Workbench. As for the boss fights, they're more gimmicky puzzle bosses than anything, which makes the iconic Metal Sonic race stand out even further. Sonic fans expecting a challenge might be disappointed, since CD is quite easy to finish.

However, one area Sonic CD rises above other Sonic games is its music. Thanks to the updated port, now everyone can enjoy the 60+(!) samples between the American and Japanese/European editions. Too bad there's no option to customize your own soundtrack, because mixed together, CD's soundtrack is peerless. But hey, at least both Ear Worm inducing soundtracks are available.

Depending on who you ask, Sonic CD either complements the Genesis era games, or feels like a poor imitation of one. For me, Sonic CD lands dead in the middle. It's superior to Sonic 1 and (to me at least) more ambitious than the erratic Sonic 2, but Sonic 3 & Knuckles trumps CD in every way, except the music.

With the most complete version of Sonic CD available at $5, what do you have to lose?
Your review is much better than mine, and you nailed all the points better than I did, even pointing out a few more I didn't think to pick on, such as how this game is basically, like you said, a Darker And Edgier Sonic 1.

I disagree with your assessment of the other Sonic games (I prefer Sonic 2 best), but that's not really important. This review completely nails what Sonic CD is.

Oh yeah, just a word of advice: What Could Have Been actually refers to when a company had an idea planned but scrapped it, so the trope is in fact being used incorrectly in the review. Using a word like "possible" in its place would be more appropriate.
comment #12782 BonsaiForest 12th Feb 12
Fixed the trope faux pas. This is what I get for not checking the definitions thoroughly enough. -_-

Anyway, if you're wondering about my general opinion of the Sonic titles, they got better through each game. Sonic 2, the game most fans thought was the best, I thought was a tad overrated. It's good, and definitely gave the series a greater sense of speed, but outside of the Casino Zone, the game didn't really shine until Metropolis and Wing Fortress...and of course, Death Egg and its infamous difficulty spike. Sonic 3 alone I'd say ties with Sonic 2, but with the Knuckles add on, they're not even in the same league. S&K even capitalized on the exploration aspect that Sonic CD introduced.

While I admit that Sonic CD's general gameplay less refined than the Genesis games, its collection of oddball ideas left a greater impression on me than Sonic 2, and to this day, it still does, thanks to the mesmerizing soundtracks. Although I played the PC edition of Sonic CD in 1997, hearing the Japanese tracks for the first time made me admire this game's eccentric design even more. It also made Sonic 1 feel kind of dry and boring (though the subsequent Genesis sequels are just as responsible for that).

Gee, now it sounds like I'm describing Sonic CD as an art piece instead of a video game. Not that it's entirely a bad thing. XD
comment #12829 t3hdow 15th Feb 12
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