Check out this week’s Retro Game of the Week: Sonic CD!
If any franchise icon could rival Mario in terms of memorability and brand identification, it would be Sega’s speedy blue hedgehog Sonic. The war between Nintendo and Sega during the 1990’s produced some absolutely hilarious ads and slogans, as well as some interesting hardware choices on Sega’s part. While the Super Nintendo Entertainment System continued to slide ahead of the Sega Genesis in sales, Sega reached for hardware add-ons to extend the life of the Genesis and give it an edge over it’s opponent.
Enter the Sega-CD. Bleh.
The Sega-CD was an add-on for the Genesis that played CD based games. This technology still being a bit in it’s infancy, most of the games were low-quality FMV bore-fests with only a few gems standing out. Sonic CD stands as not only the best Sega-CD game however, it’s often debated to be the best Sonic game in existence. Released in 1993, Sega needed a hit for it’s new hardware like Sonic needed rings, and Sonic Team took no chances.
Sonic CD utilized the advanced memory capacity of the CD format over the 16-bit cartridge, and the sound effects and music benefit the most. The level design and platforming are extremely well made, and the boss fights are some my favorites from any platformer ever. The plot follows Sonic as he battles his nemesis, Dr Robotnik, who has went back in time to take over the world. The stages all look varied, but the graphics and art style are what really catches the eye. Sonic was always Sega’s ace in the hole, the one thing they could rub in Nintendo fan’s faces and make them weep with jealousy. Sonic CD got everything that was great about Sonic games and upped the ante with the new hardware.
Unfortunately, the Sega-CD was a dismal failure sales-wise and soon began to fade into obscurity. Luckily, Sonic CD has been re-released often on other platforms including the Sonic Gems Collection and on Xbox Live. Considering the price and difficulty of finding working Sega-CD consoles these days, playing one of the newer versions of Sonic CD is probably the easier way to go. If your a sonic fan you definitely owe it to yourself to check Sonic CD out. Though it seems these days Sega doesn’t know what to do with Sonic, this title harkens back to the days when Sonic represented the very best that Sega had to offer, and puts up a real challenge to Mario for the coveted title of best platformer series.