Sonic CD Review (XBLA)

By Steven D.

Classic blue blur action on Xbox LIVE Arcade.

For those who may not have heard, this year marks the twentieth anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog and as part of the celebrations, there have been some notable releases by SEGA. One was the new Sonic Generations and another is Sonic CD.

Sonic CD is not a new game; it was first released in 1993 for the SEGA Mega-CD and was in development at the same time as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was being developed in the US by the games original lead programmer Yuri Naka. It saw the first appearance of nemesis Metal Sonic and Amy Rose and was the first Sonic game to use a backup save. This utilised the internal Sega CD memory or a backup RAM cartridge and the game saved at the end of each third zone.

So what is this game all about? Well, it revolves around Robotnik who steals Little Planet over Never Lake, where special stones known as the Time Stones are found. These Time Stones are powerful gems that are capable of controlling the passage of time. The evil Doctor Eggman has wanted these stones and when he locates the Little Planet, he and his robots chain it to a mountain. Then Dr Eggman and Badniks set about converting the world into a giant fortress, of course Sonic is on his way and attempts to stop Dr Eggman from taking the Time Stones and allowing him to manipulate time. To achieve this, Sonic has to travel through the past, present and future of each Zone and ensure a good future to find Dr Eggman’s latest invention – Metal Sonic. Along the way he also meets Amy, who has a crush on him; well, if you’re a pink hedgehog I suppose you would wouldn’t you?

This game has now of course been ported to the Xbox LIVE Arcade and it’s a little bit of classic nostalgia on the powerful system. For this version SEGA have enhanced the game and included the original music from the US and Japanese versions. The first thing that strikes you when you start Sonic CD is that the graphics do look their 18 years, this is of course to be expected and those who are going to play Sonic CD are either going to be those who loved the game the first time around and want to play it again, or they haven’t played it before and want to see a piece of gaming history.

As I mentioned in the game story earlier, your aim is to travel through the Zones, trying to get achieve a good future in order to find Metal Sonic. The Zones, especially the first few, are not exactly taxing compared to a more modern game, but they do offer a few challenges. There is a nice variation in the themes from one Zone to the next including one that is pinball inspired which makes for an interesting challenge. As you would expect, Dr Eggman is a constant thorn in the side and pops up at the end of each Zone. The boss battles are also nicely varied and there is a good jump in difficulty each time you encounter them. The graphics can be a little busy at times, especially in some of the special stages when the orientation changes from side-scrolling to forward scrolling.

The controls are easy to master and Sonic is very responsive to your commands. The speed of Sonic is a little sluggish on occasions however and you are sometimes left wishing he had a little more power in his spins.

Once you have defeated your enemies and rescued Amy you are given another treat. This is because on completion of the game you unlock Sonics friend Tails. You are then able to play the game as him if you so wish which is a nice touch and gives the game another dimension.

All this leads to what is a very enjoyable game, it’s not as polished or as visually pleasing as a new game, but that shouldn’t be expected. Sonic CD is a game that will immerse you in nostalgia if you played it the first time around and is a lot of fun if you haven’t. My five year old daughter loved the game and it is testament to the people at SEGA that Sonic CD continues to bring pleasure to gamers old and new, even after 18 years.

Rating: ★★★★★★★★★☆

About the Author

I'm based in the UK and I have been writing about games for quite a while now. I like most types of game which helps, but I especially love management games.