Makodo-Son’s [Super Special] Retro Review: Sonic CD

Whoever pasted that D on there must have worked on that X-Men Evolution intro…

Now I know this is Nado’s territory and he does a very good job of it but since it’s my birthday I want to do something out of the ordinary. Now back in the day, getting a Sonic game for a present would be like getting a solid gold box of Banana Nut Cheerios. Unfortunately those boxes have sacks full of poop and broken promises (imagine how that smells) in these unforgiving modern times. Moving along, there are plenty of GOOD Sonic games from the Genesis-up-to-the-Dreamcast era I could review, but one in particular stands out more then others to me. It brought innovation, one of the best theme songs EVER and more importantly perhaps, introduced the world to Amy Rose; it was….Sonic CD.

Released on the heels of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in 1993 it is hard to place it cannon storyline seeing as how 3 was a direct follow-up (storywise) to the second one. Then again, it’s pretty commonly known that the timeline in Sonic universe tends to be a little fuzzy when thoroughly looked at. The basic premise sees Sonic defending a tiny world called “Little Planet” and its inhabitant’s from Robotnik. After learning that Little Planet holds seven mystical gems called Time Stones, which grant the wielder control over the space-time continuum, our true blue hero realizes he must stop the eggboy at all cost. Furthermore, Robotnik has taken the liberty of kidnapping a nuisance to Sonic possibly more annoying then himself, his beloved Amy.

She traded in her car for a squeaky hammer. Enough said

Like previous Sonic games you goal is to reach end of the level traversing on an flat multi-tiered 2d plane using the 8 directions of the d-pad. Though unlike other games to this date, Sonic wasn’t just limited to his trademark Spin Dash ability. Gaining a second although arbitrary “Peel Out” maneuver, the furry little critter would run in place then burst off in a short burst of speed. Although, you’d be left fairly vulnerable, the outcome was faster then the average Spin Dash. Likewise, getting hit by Badniks while in running or standing motion would cause you to drop all rings on hand, getting hit with no rings equals sweet death. Though you can also die by drowning or getting sandwich in between a tight space taking the phrase “stuck between a rock and a hard place” to unwanted levels.

There is, like previous Sonic titles, an incentive for keeping as many rings as possible by stage’s end. If you’ve managed to hold on to at least 50 rings by the end of act (called Zones in this game) 1 and/0r 2 in any of the 8 stages, a giant ring portal will appear hovering above the finishing checkpoint of said stage (re-named Rounds). Leaping in will take you to this game’s version of a “Special Zone” where you’ll have an opportunity to collect one of the seven Time Stones. In order to do so, you have to destroy all six purple UFO’s while racing against time, each broken UFO rewarding you either rings or a speed boost. A special time extending UFO will also show up to aid you if you need a few more seconds to get any leftovers. Of course to make things livelier there are a few handicaps laid all over the floor. Although the fan which lifts you into the air and/or the speed accelerators can be used for good, the chopper (which trips you up AND makes you lose rings!) and dash panels are there solely to mess you up. In addition touching water slows you down as well as eats away at your precious time.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GiEMqQ8ulmc&hl=en&fs=1&]

I wish the Time Stones possessed the power to transform you into Super Sonic but sadly they are not with a grain of salt compared to the infamous Chaos Emeralds and as such do not endow with any sort of cool power. Oddly enough though, Sonic apparently did not need them to master the science of time travel. All he has to do his touch sign posts appropriately labeled “Past” or “Future”, moving REALLY fast and there ya go. He will go through some funky seizure inducing screen change and wined up in whatever timezone you sped past. You can tell when its about to happen once you see white sparks trailing behind Sonic. Not only will the stage change aesthetically but the music will get remixed to match it. It’s funny in a way as it single-handily more genius then anything Sonic Team has come up with in recent years.

Somebody please re-write the history on this one.

What’s makes the mechanic even cooler is the fact that what you do in the past can effect the future. There is a machine in every past portion of every level. Obliterating such machines in the past will result in creating a “Good Future” version of whatever area your in when you go off to combat Robotnik in the 3rd zone. Failing to do such will do the opposite, making things look a more “metallic” when the 3rd zone comes around. Thankfully making the future a better place to live in isn’t mandatory but come on…who doesn’t want have a bright future? It depends on the person truthfully, besides making the world a better place does has a upside. The amount of Badniks you encounter and how difficult they are to deal with varies on the actions you make in the past. Honestly since you can actually save in this game, its something that I wouldn’t worry too much about. To be 100% truthful, the time mechanic can be annoying at times as it can break up the pace and happens involuntarily quite often.

Still, I don’t mind it too much because the game looks great past, present or future(s). The locals vary enough and since there’s at least five different design’s per level, there’s a lot to see. The overall score is pretty damn good to; I’d say while its NOT the best in Sonic history, it is AMONG the best. For instance the game’s opening and ending cutscenes use a catchy number called “Sonic Boom” which comes together as a visual masterpiece and musical splendor. Another noteworthy mention, Stardust Speedway, not only takes the top spot on the soundtrack but serves as the stage for one of Sonic’s most defining boss battles. For those who don’t know, thee original Metal Sonic makes his first grand appearance in this game.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgkxWzEgbLU&hl=en&fs=1&]

So in closing, I recommend you find a way to place this classic, especially if your a Sonic fan. There’s a lot to like here from the time mechanics to the sheer level of difficulty this game throws at you. Besides this is the only game that comes to mind aside from Smash Bros. where Sonic will actually shrink down in size at some point. If you want to pull a gimmick out of your butt Sega, look at the past and you might actually find one.

Pros

-Deep time traveling mechanics
-Fairly challenging badguys and bosses
-Cool stages
-Cool soundtrack

Cons

-Time travel can slow things done a bit