Late to the Party: Sonic CD

As long as I’m on the backlog trail you’re gonna be seeing a lot of “Late to the Party” posts on this page. I imagine I’m nowhere near the only person who just recently started playing Sonic CD though.

I mean, who bought a Sega CD anyway? The only other time Sonic CD was available was on an obscure Gamecube collection that I’d meant to rent for years. The most obviously weird thing about first playing this game 19 years after its original release is the feeling of playing a new 16-bit Sonic game. It’s like what we’ve always wanted, or what Sonic 4 was supposed to be.

Basically, Sonic CD feels like the real sequel to Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – the game a lot of people see as the franchise’s high point (I’m partial to Sonic 3). If you look into the development details, CD was made alongside Sonic 2 and came out between it and Sonic 3. Overall it feels like Sonic 2 with more crazy ingenious level design.

What caught me off guard the most is how this game treats bosses. The main Genesis games have bosses at the end of act 2 of each stage, whereas CD separates its bosses into their own third acts. Sonic Triple Trouble on the Game Gear did this too, but those were just short staging areas to hide more secrets and build tension before each boss. CD brings it to a whole other level.

The game’s third boss starts you off in a looping maze of rings and powerups where you chase Robotnik, finding things along the way to help you with the actual boss. When you get there, the entire fight is underwater. Constantly under the threat of drowning, the only source of air is a dozen or so bubbles shielding the boss.

When I play a game that’s almost 20 years old and it employs design tricks that still catch me off guard, that’s something right there. That goes without mentioning Sonic CD’s various gimmicks and other devices that honestly felt fresh – to the point where I wondered why the hell they hadn’t appeared in any Sonic games since.

I really don’t know if I should spoil the battle with Metal Sonic in this post. If you don’t want it spoiled you should just skip this paragraph but it pleasantly surprised me. I was expecting a standard fight like the Metal Sonic fight at the end of Sonic 2, or maybe Knuckles’ fight against Super Metal Sonic at the end of Sonic & Knuckles. Instead I got an actual race similar to Sonic’s final confrontation with Shadow in Sonic Adventure 2 eight years later. The end of the fight got a smile out of me too.

I haven’t even started on the whole past/future mechanic where you can move between time periods in each act and make the future (or present?) less dangerous. It seems to be a central feature of the game but I didn’t even fully understand it until I browsed over it at Game FAQs.

I’m definitely going to have to call Sonic CD one of the best Sonic games ever. It’s a shame of the worst kind that most Sonic fans haven’t played it. Imagine if most Zelda fans had never played Link’s Awakening until now?


  • Let’s hope the next Xbox doesn’t require always-online DRM. If so, console gamers will finally see what PC gamers have been whining about.
  • Reading this article on the art direction of Mirror’s Edge makes me want to boot the game up again.
  • People born in the late 90’s – after Sonic CD came out, are in high school now. Think about that.

One thought on “Late to the Party: Sonic CD

  1. volvocrusher says:

    Agree completely. This game is what I’ve been wanting from a Sonic game ever since I’ve played 2. 3 and Knuckles came close, but were not on the same level as me. Hope Episode 2 of 4 can compare to the Genesis games.

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