God almighty do you realize how many years I have waited to actually own this game?
Know what sucked? Growing up in the 90s, going to a school, BEING A HUGE SONIC FAN, and -not- getting a chance to play it when you saw this advertisement in your newest GamePro Magazine that you also showed to your fellow Sonic-loving buddies.
But the SEGA CD was required alongside owning a SEGA Genesis, and upon being expensive as hell at the time to own it didn’t really have a lot of good games released for it. On top of that though, the fusion of the SEGA CD and SEGA Genesis means 2 different power cords together that needed to be (both) plugged in. What a beast of a machine to deal with…aye.
More info can be gotten about the SEGA CD by watching this funny but nonetheless informative review by the Angry Video Game Nerd: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2eH3vYbdGo
Because I had already owned a Genesis, like many kids when you talked to your parents about video games you’d get “Don’t you already have a SEGA/Nintendo?” as a response. But no hard feelings, Mom: it’s not like I knew much about what the SEGA CD was exactly, either. I just knew it had the one Sonic game I wanted to play but didn’t own. I wouldn’t actually get the chance to play it myself AT ALL until I visited one of my friend’s house and he showed me the game on his PC. I would never get another chance to play it again until a few sparse chances later in life on the PC and then once later on my cousin’s Gamecube via the re-release on Sonic Gems Collection.
Now it’s back with a vengeance and this download is pretty much the PRIMARY edition, packing numerous extras and additions that make this GREAT, and I’m going to tell you why.
Sonic CD was an entirely different kind of game depending on where you lived. Not only was the boxart entirely different for the US/Japanese releases, but for some reason SEGA felt the need to change the majority of the soundtrack. The original music features a very upbeat, funky vibe that is constantly present but always changing through each level. In the US version we got the ambient re-workings from composer Spencer Nielson. This led to many reviews who (then) played the original to absolutely HATE the new music: even making new tunes for the introduction animation and ending animation/credits.
You should feel lucky that Sonic CD is so readily available to you nowadays considering the rocky history it’s been dealt with: the sales of it weren’t exactly industry-changing (That’s why SEGA put the rest of the Sonic games during the classic era on the SEGA Genesis.) and because the SEGA CD failed, the only fandom that existed of Sonic CD were the select few thousand that had the pleasure to play it on a SEGA CD. It wouldn’t be until the INTERNET and readily available ports or emulators came out until more people experienced this nearly lost gem. If we’re talking merely legal releases then Sonic CD is the unluckiest of them all in terms of how many times it’s been re-released: 3. Once re-released for the PC computers operating Windows 95, second for the Nintendo Gamecube via the “Sonic Gems Collection” which was really just a console port OF the PC port (a port of a port), and thirdly: on Xbox Live and PSN (alongside a few other platforms.)
If you want to try to find a good conditioned copy of those old releases feel free to dish out the (possibly) insane amount of cash for it but would you really pass up this newest release considering it’s ONLY FIVE DOLLARS TO OWN?
The port was developed from scratch using the “Retro Engine” created by independent developer Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, who originally produced a proof of concept video of the game running on the iPhone in 2009. This engine allows improvements to be made to the game, including widescreen graphics and the option to utilise spin-dash physics from Sonic 2.Players will also be able to unlock Tails as a playable character. The port also features both the original Japanese/European soundtrack and the American soundtrack, as well as achievement and trophy support and iOS features.
Basically, this is an officially fan-reworked SEGA release of Sonic CD: the best that there ever will be.
But enough tech talk, it’s time to get down to the video game in question. >:)
Now the thing with this^ gameplay of Sonic CD is that this very concept is overwhelming to the point people often have NO IDEA how to enjoy this game or just blast through it without thinking. But because CD is so complex that is (imho) the beauty of it all: not a single other classic Sonic game will bring you an experience like this. Because of that, obtaining a Good Ending for this game is no longer restricted to just collecting 7 of certain jewels by the final stage and hoping for the best. NOW you have Time Travelling involved and you have to use it to your advantage by the Time Posts and illustrated by this other picture below.
Confused by the picture? Let me give you a textual explanation.
Method A: You go through the stages to find “Past” signs. Once this is activated you have to travel through time the exact same way Marty McFly and Doc Brown did in Back To The Future: through speed. You must then have Sonic go at a constant motion WITHOUT STOPPING for a short while until the time travel mechanic is activated. You’ll know you activated time travel perfect once you see this screen.
(Apologies for the obvious screenshot from an emulator, couldn’t find a shot of this anywhere decent. ~ Haru)
Then once there, you have to find the machine that’s creating robots in the Past somewhere hidden (or not hidden) within the level and destroy them just like you destroy badniks: jumping into them. It’s looks like a floating cage and is often guarded by a few badniks: one single spin attack and it’s destroyed completely…along with every badnik in the Zone you’re in where the machine was but ONLY in that time period. Repeat this PER ZONE (Previously known as “Acts” in Sonic games) and you’ll give a Good Future for every stage of the game and get the good ending.
Method B: If you fancy some new Special Stage challenge, you can simply complete each zone with 50 rings or more, enter the GIANT RING at the end of the zone and try to obtain the Time Stone within the Special Stage. Because these aren’t Chaos Emeralds you get no Super Sonic transformation. In my opinion I find this method much less time consuming and frustrating: dealing with the Special Stage’s increasing difficulty ONCE is better than to deal with travelling and back tracking through every zone just to destroy a machine.
Method A gives you more exploration and love for the levels but Method B is more efficient for time and score.
The object of those Special Stages are to guide Sonic through the first 3D section (yes, even prior to Sonic 2′s half pipe special stages) of a “track” like island where a bunch of UFOs are floating in odd patterns. Destroy these UFOs to obtain the Time Stone. But don’t run/fall into the water within/surrounding the Special Stage! Doing so takes away precious time (10 seconds) from what you have remaining and can end your chances really quickly.
From what you’re reading: Yes, because Sonic CD was developed for the SEGA CD the developers took a lot of chances (most of them good ones) and it’s expressed everywhere. Sonic CD even had an exclusive move for Sonic that we’ve never seen since then: the super peel-out. (Super Smash Bros. Brawl doesn’t count.) While the spin dash is activated by holding down + jump button pressed rapidly, the super peel-out is done by holding up + jump button (one time only). Letting go of the Up button makes Sonic take off automatically at maximum speed. While this is mostly a cosmetic nitpick, I really wish this move was implemented in further games: you just look SO BAD ASS and ready to go when it’s charging up. I guess we only got the move “sort of” brought back via the boost Sonic has in his games nowadays.
For Sonic CD players have to traverse through what I like to call “upgrade” versions of the typical stages seen from Sonic 1, alongside some new zones.
Palmtree Panic is essentially a very much enlarged Green Hill Zone (Sonic 1) and takes a much more thorough drive through the tropical theme set in many Sonic games. It’s big, it’s green, and is a joy to play: a great beginner stage for players.
Collision Chaos takes influences from Spring Yard Zone (Sonic 1) and for that matter is a much more chaotic experience. There are retardedly high numbers of springs, bumpers, and everything that sends you in the opposite direction. It’s ridiculously easy however to time travel here.
Tidal Tempest returns to scare players that experienced Labyrinth Zone (Sonic 1) with another water level that proves to be even BIGGER and DEEPER than said zone. The pro side to this is it’s a lot more forgiving. If nothing else tells you that SEGA said “We’re sorry about that”, it’s the boss of this stage which is just Robotnik trying to get away from you COMPLETELY UNARMED and only to guard himself later with a shield made entirely of bubbles.
Quartz Quadrant is the first real unique level, though you could theoretically say this stage came back somewhat as a versus level in Sonic 3 ala Endless Mine. This is a mining facility-type level and uses conveyor belts, some interesting redesigns of old badniks (See if you can spot Catakiller from Sonic 1 in this stage, reborn) and probably some of the best music. Not as confusing to navigate as the stage that comes after this.
Wacky Workbench is a very factory/experimental science sort of level…while never truly feeling like a Dr.Robotnik laboratory of evil it is just instead a PAIN IN THE ASS TO DEAL WITH. You encounter a floor that, when it lights up, propels you hundreds of feet into the air. You have to navigate to the end of this stage by either the upper paths or bouncing platforms FROM the lit-up floor…which can be hard to do when you’re just bouncing up and down rapidly at high speeds. Good luck finding a spot to time travel here.
Stardust Speedway is the dedicated “speed based” level of the game where Star Light Zone (Sonic 1) acted as a prototype of sorts. While it should be a bit of a relaxing experience compared to the stage prior to it, it too can be frustrating. Instead of relying on propelling you through the air by bouncing you from the floor, Stardust Speedway shoots you like a cannon in often confusing directions (even sometimes in reverse) at SUPER FAST SPEEDS. Remember that Sonic can outrun the camera if he goes fast enough and it CAN AND DOES HAPPEN HERE: but for the worse. Why? Because if you have no idea how to navigate the territory you’ll just get tossed around more than a speed-run of Pong.
This is also the battleground for the antagonist that the game’s box art, the marketing, the anime OVA, and Collision Chaos Zone 1 have all built up to: Metal Sonic. He has a rubber-band sort of programming to him but the object is to beat Metal Sonic to the end and rescue Amy Rose.
…yeah I forgot to mention she was even in the game: this is where she made her debut. Anyways, you must avoid the spikes ON the path itself while avoiding Metal Sonic’s attacks WHILE SIMULTANEOUSLY trying to outrun Dr.Robotnik himself because he’s in a ship, flying behind you with an insta-kill deathray.
Needless to say due to this game’s impression on the fanbase it was so legendary they gave us a revamped experience in Sonic Generations. THAT ALONE should speak volumes about the scale of ‘cool’ fans think about when it comes to Metal Sonic.
Metallic Madness is the fortress Dr.Robotnik operates this time in Sonic CD and it throws everything at you: buzzsaws, tons of badniks, LOTS of spikes, a final stage-specific gimmick (shrink ray), and plenty of other hazards. If Scrap Brain Zone (Sonic 1) was its prototype, this is its full realization.
~Don’t Forget That if You Gotta Do Something, Believe In Yourself!~
With that, you have the general feel for how the stages and the game itself operate. Sonic CD is big, bad, and while problematic a guilty pleasure to many.
Because the game is so giant on the scale of its music, stages and level design I have often heard of people complaining about its difficulty. Whether it’s the design of the levels or the fact you have to time travel there’s always -something- that’s bugging people…which is odd I suppose…but I understand their plight. Sonic CD has a much bigger approach to things and it’s often hard to find the “flow” of each stage. In just about all of the classic Sonic games (sans Sonic 3D Blast) there is a “flow” to each stage that is easy to find and can be executed beautifully by any skilled player…but when Sonic CD is played by the same person they often can find themselves frustrated at sudden pitfalls, walls, stops in motion by the architecture, or anything else.
Given that yes, Sonic CD has the blessing from Sonic Team in this game, it’s hard to find this “flow”. But trust me, IT IS THERE: you just have to work a little harder to find it. By this, I mean of course being able to keep Sonic moving and running without any abrupt stops or awkward platforming.
*sigh* But because the design is such a workaround chore to deal with I can’t give it the fullest compliment I want to; fans of Sonic 1 will enjoy Sonic CD because it’s fast but not TOO FAST to piss you off and it -does- take its time. Fans of Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles will find the level design working more against you than it does for you. In my opinion however, CD has better level design than Sonic 4 Episode 1 so PLEASE take that as a huge compliment.
Even if you find the level designs problematic, nobody should find the bosses that difficult because these are some of the easiest boss fights in Sonic history. Whereas all boss fights with Robotnik usually deal with hitting him in a weak spot a certain number of times, Sonic CD deals with being able to HIT HIM AT ALL. Each stage makes Robotnik bring out a (mostly) laughably ridiculous contraption: one which involves defeating him without ever actually TOUCHING him at all. (Quart Quadrant’s boss). Most of these fights end themselves after Robotnik is hit 3 times but SOME exceptions rise up such as the Tidal Tempest boss (if one can even call it that) where he is destroyed after ONE HIT once he adopts the Bubble Shield. Thankfully the final boss is at least a -tad- bit of a challenge though if you manage to get -that- far then he really shouldn’t be that hard.
I spoke numerous times as well about the music, but I never did give my own opinion about it beyond stating what type of music both soundtracks feature.
I grew up on the US soundtrack: wanting to listen to it on an iPod or anywhere else when I could get my hands on the soundtrack and loved almost every minute. It reminded me of my time with the game and when I did play the game it only made things sweeter. Sonic Generations having a remix of the Bad Future of Stardust Speedway even tickled my musical g-spots and whelp, I just had to clean up.
I told myself and fellow Sonic CD enthusiast “Derek”, a close friend of mine, that since I never got the chance to enjoy Sonic CD with its original music that upon buying this game on my 360 I would play it WITH the original soundtrack. What has occurred now is an odd turnabout of opinion: I now completely favor the original music in almost every way. While Spencer Nielson indeed has given the fans some great tunes for the stages I can’t help but feel they are a bit too generic: when going through time both versions of the future don’t veer much from the “ambient, musical noise” type of music and have almost little relationship with the original music of the stage. For some odd reason in the US version the “Past” music was kept intact….so I guess SEGA couldn’t relicense ALL of the music?
The difference of music in “Good” and “Bad” futures never really feel that distinguished: that sense of change between the two NO MATTER what stage you are on seem to stay very slim. One future will have -sorta- brooding and creepy music while the other future will have more brooding and creepy music. It’s more instead that the tracks of tunes are extensions of each other instead of trying to be different moods LIKE THEY SHOULD BE. I find that to myself, the only exception is Stardust Speedway’s Bad and Good Future tracks. “Sonic Boom”, the US theme of the game, is a good song but not a substitute for the original…nor did it really need to be re-made on a slower tempo for the ending: another tune entirely would have sufficed.
The Japanese soundtrack goes above and beyond to give you, the gamer, an absolute sense of THEME and CONVEYANCE of the stage you are playing in. Palmtree Panic is happy and peaceful, while its Good Future has this sense of “Pure heavenly, paradise” and its Bad Future tune is “This is paradise, ruined forever”. The Past tune even sounds like just a slower, simpler version of the same tune…and that’s what the JP soundtrack has over the US soundtrack: musical consistency and conveyance. No matter which timeframe of the stage you’re in, you’ll generally hear the same tune or a motif of the tune of the stage you are adventuring through and because of this you feel like you can appreciate the music a lot more as such.
To this, the factor you have to realize that while listening to the music on (for example) Youtube is one thing, the one factor missing is PLAYING THE GAME and seeing how well the music fits to each stage. So if you want to be a musical judge/snob about it, please play the game or watch someone play the game to see for yourself how the tunes match or don’t match. I myself was very surprised by my own realization.
Tails is also playable in this exclusive version: something not even conceived for the original release of Sonic CD!
Sonic CD was released so few times with some random, awkward handling of its FMV cutscenes, the ‘water’ glitch in Tidal Tempest, and very few releases. But nowadays anybody can enjoy the improved physics, the Sonic 2 spindash, playing as Tails, the ability to switch between soundtracks, the large number of stages, the save function, the beautiful graphics and enjoyable gameplay ALL FOR THE LOW PRICE OF FIVE DOLLLARS. You’d have to be mega-stingy to not buy this game. If you are curious and not so sure about this installment at least give the demo a go (360 and PS3 users) and see how it feels to you.
To me, this originally was a mixed bag but all of the improvements take away things that made the original frustrating: like the speed cap, or awkward spindash. Being that this game is also in widescreen makes navigating the stages a LOT less frustrating than it was before. You don’t know how easy it is to play a classic Sonic game until you realize just how much space Sonic -doesn’t- take up onscreen.
While I don’t deny that this game is a step up for Sonic fans it’s no “Super Mario Bros 2: The Lost Levels”, so you shouldn’t be scared by the jump in complexity. It lends itself to new and old fans while at least separating itself and showing off what made it so unique and why the demand for this game to be in the hands of gamers nowadays is so high. If you are a fan of Sonic 1 and want to at least experience an extension that was projected as the ORIGINAL sequel to Sonic 1, you owe it to yourself to buy it. Anybody else who is a Sonic fan should find enjoyment in this too, while avid Sonic collectors like myself will love what this release brings.
Posted by MrHaru on Jan 17, 2012