If you follow the industry at all, you know of certain games that get constant praise from gamers and critics alike. Sonic CD is one of those games, and for most of us, the experience has never been confirmed. You see, Sonic CD, as its name implies, was born on Sega’s ill-fated CD expansion to the Genesis, which most of us never had (read: couldn’t afford). So, until now, most gamers have never had the chance to give Sonic’s first compact disc outing a shot. Sega is remedying that by giving us a downloadable version at an amazing price with some nice amendments. Strap yourself in for one of the best games in the series.
For those that never played the game, you might be wondering what made this particular outing so special. Well, Sonic fans know the original games still rank up there as some of the best. What set CD apart was its time travel mechanic. Each stage had various warp zones that allowed you to basically time travel and completely change the layout of the stage and enemy placement. These were set up around each level, and changing them could actually alter the outcome of the entire game.
It was really cool to have so many ways to complete a game when this was released, and it gave players plenty of ways to replay it. Also, this was one of the first games to feature an animated Sonic in the intro, which by today’s standards, looks rough, but those that remember the original will be thrilled to see it running in widescreen in all its cheesy glory. These unique levels, and the ways you can push through the game, are the reasons why Sonic CD is heralded among gamers who have actually played it. If you consider yourself a fan and have never experienced it, now is the time.
Of course, a better question is, “What is offered here for those of us who did get a chance to experience the original?” For starters, the game offers up the choice to switch between the US and Japanese soundtracks. This may not sound like much, but for aficionados, it is a treat. Both soundtracks contained some truly unique tracks that are still catchy to this day. Being able to have both in one place is fan service at its finest. The game also sports the traditional HD filters that allow you to spice up the original pixels for a more modern look. The whole game has been resized to fit widescreen TVs without that hideous stretching. You can tell the developer who ported this took the time to make sure the original glory was retained.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that the game is built on what is known as the “Retro Engine”. This engine was created by Christian “Taxman” Whitehead and runs the game at a blistering 60 frames per second. Sega has also thrown in time attack leaderboards and, of course, the quintessential Achievements/Trophies. You can also unlock Tails after completing the game and play through as Sonic’s furry friend. This package is just so well polished and packed with care, all for just $5. If you are even remotely interested in Sonic, you need to pick this up.
Sonic CD is a labor of love, and for fans, it is a chance to finally play this often talked-about game. If you enjoy classic Sonic games, this is a must own. The amount of polish that went into it is impressive, especially for the low price tag. Sega may have soiled Sonic’s name in previous years, but after Generations and now this, I think he is back on the right track to glory.
Review copy of the game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.