Whenever a new Sonic collection comes out, the standard Genesis games are usually included. You may get a few Game Gear titles thrown in there to spice things up but there is one game I feel that should be included with all of the other Genesis Sonic games, even though it technically ISN’T a Genesis game. The game is of course Sonic CD, which came out for the SEGA CD in 1993, a year after Sonic 2 and the precursor to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Even though this game was on a different system, it’s still regarded as one of the best Sonic games ever made.
So what’s the deal with Sonic CD? Well quite a bit. The game introduced 2 crucial characters to the Sonic franchise. Amy Rose, Sonic’s would be girlfriend in future games, and Metal Sonic, one of my personal favorite villains. The game’s premise is the same thing we all know and love. Robotnik is causing trouble and it’s Sonic’s job to stop him. However the setting for this game is a place called Little Planet, which is home to 7 gems called the Time Stones (I know it’s not original but lets roll with it) and Robotnik wants to take it over and create a metallic wasteland on the once serene planet. This game sets itself apart from other Sonic titles because of it’s time travel element. Along the zones are these posts that say either “Future” or “Past” on them and when you run through them and gain enough speed you travel either forward or backwards in time like the DeLorean. Best part is that you can travel through time multiple times in a single zone act AND depending on what you do in a act it will affect the end of the level. Meaning if you fail to set things right in the past, the third act of the zone looks bleak and sad. If you make
a “Good Future” in both Act 1 & 2 of each zone (you make a good future by going to the past and destroying a certain machine or getting all 7 Time Stones by the end of the game) then Act 3 will be beautiful and pristine. Also something that this game does well is that the past and future parts of a zone are not just a color swap, they have different jumps and ledges than the other ones. The future path is a bit more dangerous with more badniks roaming the zone while the past is easier to explore. The boss fight with Metal Sonic is one of the most heart racing boss fights in Sonic history a race and it was because of this game that he became a flagship villain not just in the games but also in the current comic books by IDW. Also, on a personal note the song “Sonic Boom” that plays during the opening cinematic just rules even over 25 years later.
So why hasn’t this game been a part of other Sonic collections? Well I do not know but I do have a hunch. The hunch is that since this game was a SEGA CD title and not a true Genesis game, it gets left out as people only know the much higher selling Genesis games. I do know that there was a collection called Sonic Gems Collection for the Nintendo Gamecube that had Sonic CD as it’s main focus point. It also served as the home release for Sonic: The Fighters arcade game and a port of Sonic R. It also had a few Game Gear titles thrown in but the real draw was Sonic CD. Besides that the game wouldn’t come out on other platforms years later when Christian Whitehead (the man behind Sonic Mania) was hired by SEGA to port Sonic CD to iOS and Android devices since the last few mobile ports of classic Sonic games were subpar. Sonic CD became a huge hit and the definitive version of the game. Not only did Whitehead just port the game, he added the choice to pick between the American and Japanese soundtracks right off the bat, and if you beat the game all the way through, good or bad ending, you unlock Tails as a playable character. He can’t join you in your main adventure like in Sonic 2 and 3, but just having Tails as an option is still a very nice touch.
Sonic CD is my favorite Sonic game of all time, mostly because it was the very first video game my parents bought me when we finally got our Windows 95 PC. The game is super fun, and the time travel mechanic is a neat little thing. I currently play the game on my iPhone (you can play it on PS4 via PSNow, Xbox and Steam) and since Whitehead’s port they added achievements and the first time you time travel you get the “88 Miles Per Hour” achievement. Which makes me happy as a huge Back To The Future fan. If I would give the game a single demerit, it goes to the special stages. Now these put Sonic in a pseudo-3D space and your mission is to destroy 6 U.F.O.’s before time runs out. It may sound easy, but like all Sonic special stages they deceive you in the beginning. For one you have to jump just right to hit the U.F.O. and if you step on the water it drains your time. I’ve been playing this game on and off for over 20 years and I can’t tell you how many times I miss a U.F.O. by just the tiniest pixel and then land in water and time out. It’s a bummer and the only way to get into the Special Stage is by completing either Act 1 or 2 with over 50 rings and jumping into the huge ring after the sign. It’s not like Sonic 2 where you can just hit a lamppost with 50 rings and try again later in the zone, but it does put your skills to the test when you do get in that ring.
This game should be celebrated a little more. Sure it was on a add on for the Genesis, but hard core Sonic fans and critics say this is one of the best platformers ever. The music is fun to listen to, the opening animated video gets you pumped, and once upon a time ScrewAttack called Sonic CD the best Sonic game ever. The game is a little on the short side, but this game should be up there with Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 as one of the best Sonic games. Hopefully in the future if SEGA makes and releases more Sonic collections for modern consoles, this game will be one of them and not an afterthought.