Platform: iOS devices under review, also on PSN and XBLA
Sonic blasted out of the gate in June of ’91, back in the heyday of Super Mario, and when now third party sega could afford to fund a console all their own. The blue blur had the 90’s attitude, and eventually rose to go toe to toe with then undisputed king, Mario. Advance to 1993, and the CD add on for the Genesis was in dire need of a killer app. Enter Sonic the Hedgehog CD, a title that took the hedgehog on a little trip through time. It wasn’t enough for the floundering Sega CD, and the game became somewhat of a cult classic. Fast forward to 2011, and the game is getting new life on downloadable platforms and not only outpaces expectations, but leaves them in the dust.
The premise of Sonic traveling to Never Lake, to observe the mysterious, time manipulating little planet, only to find it under the control of Dr. Eggman is altogether irrelevant to the game as it was every game in its day. It does however tie into the biggest difference between this game and the rest of the original series is an element of time travel.
As a player, you can ignore it completely and play through the game as its given to you, but those who want to secure the best ending need to either hunt through the stage in the past to locate a robot making machine to make the future a better place, or secure the time stones through the always devious special stages in order to remove Eggman’s hold on time. Neither path is particularly easy, but both are satisfying when you finally locate that machine or grab that last time stone. The platforming is handled by the ever tricky d-pad and button overlaid on top of the game screen, and usually the lack of physical feedback becomes the console gamer’s kryptonite. This is still tricky at first, but easy enough to get into the rhythm after a few stages. Aside from the occasional slip of the thumb, gamers will find themselves rocketing all over with ease soon enough
Not content to simply port the original code to the new mobile platforms, here we have the game running on a completely new engine. The game runs like Grease lightning at all times and the engine change affords the ability to loop the Music tracks properly, use the Sonic 2 spin dash, and even introduce Tails as an unlockable character for the first time. This, along with achievements, and two distinct soundtracks to switch between make this the definitive version to get.
Not to be one to give the impression that all is candy and rainbows in Sonic Land, their are a few issues that niggle at players at the worst times. Aside from control glitches that usually stem from lack of feedback, it doesn’t always play nice with multitasking and you may return to your game after a call to find the sound gone. Some of the later level design borders on torture and the time attack mode forces you to exit to the menu and re-enter the stage instead of giving a simple restart button. Granted most of these complaints will disappear depending on whether you decide to play this on a different platform, but they are issues for the iOS crowd none the less.
Sonic CD provides any mobile gamer with a traditional platformer done more than right, with good control, flawless emulation of a classic and additions that only add to the value, this is one not to be missed.