The Rambleast RE-Review: Sonic CD

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I may, in my debut article here at Blast Process, have been a little harsh on Sonic CD, which I called “a dramatic step in the wrong direction”. I’ve since revisited it after deciding to sabotage my future by substituting attending University classes for collecting trophies in PS3 games. After a quick runthrough of God Of War’s snazzified PSP offerings which have pushed me ever closer to being able to say “yes, St. Peter: God Of War is…was my favourite videogame series of all time”, I decided to finally sit down and finish off what remained of Sonic CD, which I abandoned as quickly as a day after writing the original review in favour of other things that didn’t make me want to tear my hair out.

When I was originally critical of the levels al looking the same, I'd yet to discover Wacky Workbench's gorgeous late-evening desert backdrop in the past

When I was originally critical of the levels all looking the same, I’d yet to discover Wacky Workbench’s gorgeous late-evening desert backdrop in the past

I’ll tell you what it was, though. It was intimidation. Sonic CD intimidated me. In the good ol’ days (not to be confused with my just-this-moment-conceived sitcom pilot The Gould Old Days, in which Ross’ Dad From Friends plays himself in an episodic time travellific quest back to historic battles to smoke stogies amidst the piling dead), Sonic games only asked that you run from left to right, jump over things, and occasionally collect some arbitrarily shiny collectibles that would either turn you yellow or DO NOTHING AT ALL. Along the way, a fat man would employ a variety of increasingly contrived mech suits and vehicles to try and stamp you out and you’d slaughter hundreds of bees, bunnies and other bouncies so they didn’t cost you the precious, precious savings you’d accumulated, not by having worked a nine-to-five  like any decent hedgehog, but that you’d just found hanging around in the air and pocketed perhaps somewhere unpleasant considering you run in around in nothing more than a pair of shoes. I guess I don’t paint that pretty a picture of one of the most beloved franchises of the last 25 years, but it’s not my fault, SEGA, that YOUR hedgehog is a violent, capitalist speedfreak. S’all on you.

Anyway, to get us back on less tangential ground, Sonic CD intimidated me because in addition to left-right-jump-murder-smash-savings-fat-man action, there’s the added appeal of each level having a total of three variations on its music and visuals because, like our friend Elliot Gould, in Sonic CD we can travel in time. While to some, particularly the sandbox-fond, this might seem inviting and even challenging, to me it just screams “YOU HAVE TO PLAY THIS THREE TIMES OR YOU’VE WASTED YOUR MONEY” and I just didn’t feel up to it. In addition, I was never able to bloody do it, which may have had more of a part to play. I just couldn’t figure out how to get the bloody time posts to work. Sonic would run along, plow through some robo-swaddled creature and begin to glow and glow and glow, and then nothing. So there was that. Offputting. Hrm.

My tastefully censored proof that I nabbed that final trophy with an appropriate comment

My tastefully censored proof that I nabbed that final trophy with an appropriate comment

I also felt that the levels were either two short (about half of them) or two infuriatingly mapped (the other half) and that the game’s boss battles were an awful lot harder than the levels that immediately preceded them. That was just impatience. I often elect to just ignore tactics in old games like this when I feel I could just wreck my way through them. This is not, of course, how you’re supposed to play, so it’s my fault, obviously, that I sucked at it.

Still, bygones, bygones, and all that. Having just collected the last of the game’s twelve trophies (in a Time Attack mode that forces you to be a good at it), I’m happy to say now that Sonic CD is in fact a Good Game. It’s not a Great Game, like Sonic 3 or that episode of Sherlock, “The Great Game”, or even the GAME “The Great Game” (which I hear’s not that great). But Good’s good enough for me. The thing that probably played the largest part in my begrudging acceptance of it was its soundtrack. The Japanese score for the game (which also offers its US version as an alternative for CRAZY PEOPLE WHO HATE THEIR EARS) is one of the most enjoyable Sonic soundtracks this side of Howard Drossin. If anything feels like justification for the Mega CD, it’s that, with its rich selection of samples and a clarity far beyond the equally joyous 16-bit offerings of its contemporaries. Here’s a sample of just how excellent it can be:

How this really got to me though was through the subtle differences in the versions that play in the good future and bad future versions of the levels (basically like in any good time-travel fic, Sonic’s events in the past can jeopardise or benefit the future through the destruction of robot generator thingies which also allows for a strange sense of guilt when ignored), so bad levels have grimier club-friendly versions while good versions are all twinkly and nice-nice. The sound of Sonic jumping is still incredibly weird, but I got over it. I shouldn’t have, because he makes that sound in no other game, but I did.

The special stages are pretty fun too, set in a proto-3D world that pre-empted Sonic 3‘s classic Blue Sphere levels, but one thing I can’t forgive is the collection of this game’s Shinies (‘Time Stones’, this time around) not transforming you into anything, leaving Sonic an ever-podgy little blue ball of attitude. No Super Sonic here. Still, you call always compensate by scouring levels for Super Sneakers and Invincibility boxes and trying to get their effects to overlap. Close enough. I guess we’ll make do, SEGA!

So impractical. Get a CAR, dude

So impractical. Get a CAR, dude

In short, I’m declaring this an Official (capital O) retraction on behalf of the team here at B-Pro, and giving Sonic CD my actual real approval that can be used for barter in the woodlands of Ramblania, if you’re ever around. Please call first though, as I’ll have make nice if I know there’s guests on their way.

Paul is an irregular contributor for Blast Process and feels he should draw your attention to these little end-of-piece blurbs that describe their author as though they’re someone else that you always see round about this time on blogs everywhere. Nope. This is totally me, Paul, writing this, and you should know that any time you see one of these pretty much ever. It’s ALWAYS the writer. We’re not Marvel supervillains, so why the third person? Feh. Paul doesn’t know, but Paul is YOUR MASTER! Anyway, you wanna add me on PSN I’m BAGHEADF, and you can check out my own blog Rambleast for more game reviews and other various scribblings. Sayonara sweetcakes.

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