Sonic the Hedgehog CD
  • Genre:
    • Platformer
  • Platform:
    • Sega CD
  • Developer:
    • Sonic Team
  • Publisher:
    • Sega
  • Released:
    • JP 09/23/1993
    • UK October 1993
    • US 11/19/1993
Score: 85%

This review was published on 09/29/2003.

Sonic the Hedgehog CD was the sole Sonic game released for the Sega CD add-on to the Sega Genesis. Sonic CD is an odd adventure for the blue hedgehog, putting him in environments and situations that he's never been to before. The big selling point behind this one is the CD quality music, which is superb. While not the best in the Sonic series, Sonic CD still holds its own as a great Sonic game. Sonic CD is easily the best game on the Sega CD, and one of the only ones worth playing.

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The origins of this Sonic game are a tad sketchy: Sonic 2 was released first, but development started on Sonic CD before Sonic 2 and it certainly shows. You can tell because they used the Sonic 1 sprite with a few added frames of animation. The graphics are certainly varied and unique, but the colors look bland in some areas. While the graphics are greatly overshadowed by Sonic 2, they're still solid. Sonically (I hope you love the pun), it's all very good stuff. I assume the disc format is to blame for the goodness. There are a few vocal tracks and an assortment of wonderful music for the levels. Unfortunately, the U.S. release got the short end of the stick, as their soundtrack was altered almost entirely, and not for the better. The Japanese and European releases both have the "original" soundtrack, which is significantly better than what the U.S. received. The style of music for the U.S. one can be compared to the likes of Sonic Adventure, while the original soundtrack is quite... strange. It's music with a lick of Japanese weirdness, so I can understand why Sega was afraid to bring the same soundtrack to American shores. Still, the American soundtrack isn't half bad, even if it is more generic. I recommend you listen to both and go with whichever ends up being your favorite.

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The presentation is crisp. A wonderful title screen with a vocal track greets you upon starting the game. Unlike most of the older Sonic games, this one has a saving feature, which allows you to continue from where you last left off. Not extremely necessary with how easy this installment of Sonic is when compared to the rest in the series, but it's certainly a welcomed feature. One thing that isn't welcomed, however, is how the Spin Dash has been robbed of all its usefulness. Well, this is more like a beta version of the Spin Dash, or perhaps alpha. It seems that they didn't master the Spin Dash yet, which would explain why it feels like an experiment gone horribly wrong. This won't sit right with most, as Sonic 2's release introduced the superior Spin Dash. It may have been excusable had we got our hands on Sonic CD first, but we didn't. We've all been spoiled by Sonic 2 and up, so when we witness the horror of an inferior Spin Dash, we get a little upset. There's another move that's unique to this game (and other similarly obscure Sonic games) which is by far superior to the Spin Dash in this game, but still can't hold a candle to the latter day spinning which we've all grown to adore.

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While the usual Sonic game play is present here, you'll quickly realize that there's more to it than that; a time travel gimmick allows Sonic to visit a total of three time lines per zone. In each zone, there are signs scattered about; a "future" and a "past" sign. When touching one, a small icon will suddenly appear to denote your time travel destination. After this, you must manage to have the blue hedgehog run until he grows radiant, then several seconds after that, you'll be teleported to your desired time line. There are a total of three time lines; past, present, and future. If you're in the present and activate a "future" sign, you'll be thrown into the future. Touching a "past" sign while you're in the future sends you into the present, and so on. This leads to quite a lot of exploration, as not only does the area change drastically depending on what time line you currently inhabit, but the simple act of finding the sign you want can turn into a daunting task. At times, the signs may be carefully hidden, and that's usually the case when you wish to transport to a specific time line. Of course, to finish the game normally, you don't even have to think about time travel. A simple run through of each level completes it; time traveling is not necessary at all. However, I highly recommend that you slow down and take the time to fully explore the levels, at least to briefly visit all three time lines. There are emeralds to collect, too. This time the emeralds are known as Time Stones. It's the same old shtick as Sonic 1: have 50 or more rings at the end of the level and then jump into the oversized ring. This takes you into the bonus level, which is a flat area that resembles the Mode-7 graphics generated by the SNES. Sonic can freely run in all directions, and his job is to destroy all of the flying saucers within the vicinity. That's right, flying saucers. These stages take some getting used to, but they're not too bad.

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Time traveling does have a purpose, too. Apparently, Eggman has gone into the past in each zone and hidden away some sort of machine. I don't know what that machine does, but it's bad and you have to destroy it. Destroying this machine in the past for acts 1 and 2 of a zone will make act 3 (which always takes place in the future time line, whilst the first two acts start out at the present one) into a "good future." Essentially, it will be a more peaceful future, with different graphics and music. Doing this for all the zones in the game will have you earn the good ending. As such, you can guess that this activity will take far more time than simply finishing the game. Is it worth it, though? If you're doing it solely for the ending, then no, it's not worth it. The good ending simply consists of a single screen that serves little to no purpose. However, that doesn't mean this isn't worth doing; destroying those machines is far more involving than it sounds, and doing so usually has you searching every corner of the level at every time line. If you do it, you'll be doing it to see all the levels have to offer, that much is certain. I personally recommend you give it a try, because it adds a lot to the game. An alternate way to get the good ending is to collect all the Time Stones. I don't recommend bothering with that unless you love those bonus stages.

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Sonic the Hedgehog CD is a worthy Sonic game to try out. Due to the Sega CD's premature death, most people have probably missed it, unless they were big Sonic fans. I fit the bill, as I'm one of the few people who actually bought and still own a Sega CD. I only own about one or two games for it, too. You can easily guess one of the games, but the other is somewhat of a mystery. I don't even remember myself. In any case, if you enjoy Sonic games, then it's in your best interest to play this sucker right away.

Word Count: 1,274

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