Review: Sonic CD
Developer: Sega - Publisher: Sega - Platforms: PSN/XBLA - Release Date: 12/14/2011
I consider myself a relatively massive Genesis-era Sonic fan. Sonic 2 is my favorite video game ever and I’ve played the others more times than I can count. But one hole from Sonic's golden age that’s always been present was Sonic CD, which was only available on the Genesis’ ill-fated Sega CD attachment- an add-on that I never owned. I couldn't have been more excited to hear about the downloadable re-release. But was the game worth my near twenty year wait?
This time around, Sonic is once again out to stop Dr. "Don't call me Eggman" Robotnik, who has captured a mysterious planet possessing the power to manipulate time. So that’s where Square got the idea for Final Fantasy XIII from. The animated intro is pretty cool and would have blown my mind as a kid.
Releasing in between Sonic 2 and 3, Sonic CD plays exactly like the former thanks to the addition of Sonic 2’s spin dash physics for the re-release. There's also a nifty move called the Super Peel Out, which works similar to the spin dash except that you press up to charge instead of down. It's faster than the spin dash, but since Sonic runs foward instead of curling into a ball, it leaves him vulnerable to harm. It's a cool move, but I can see why it hasn't been seen since this game since it seems a bit redundant when you have the spin dash and I always ended up relying on the latter anyway.
The big feature of this game is the time traveling mechanic. Passing signs labeled “Past” and “Future” and keeping a fast pace transforms the stage to that period’s respective version of itself. Depending on what your actions during a given time period, a zone can be finished in a “bad” or “good” future. While it’s an interesting layer to add to the formula, but can be rather confusing and something I could ultimately do without. The labyrinth-like stages also feel too cluttered with obstacles and death traps that it’s hard to keep any momentum going. There’s too many times where I have to stop and figure out which way to go which I’m not fond of doing in a Sonic game.
The boss fights are among the more creative of the series and the race against Metal Sonic ranks among my favorite moments of the series.The three-dimensional special zones task Sonic with running around a hazardous track and destroying two-dimensional spaceships.. The controls feel like Sonic is running on ice where even a quick u-turn is hard to pull off.
Beating the game unlocks tag-along extraordinaire Tails as a playable character who comes complete with Sonic’s spin attacks and the ability to fly. It’s a hollow advantage though as achievements can’t be earned while playing as Tails, but it's a fun replay incentive.
Sonic CD is an interesting entry in Sonics’ history. It marks the first real experimentation with the blue blur’s tried and true formula as well as foreshadowing the series downfall with pointless characters (looking at you, Amy) and questionable gameplay additions. Even still, it’s a great look back for newer Sonic fans and a must-play for older fans that missed it the first time around.
Final Score: 8/10