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Game 40 of 52: Sonic the Hedgehog CD (2011) - 02/05/24


Ryannumber1gamer

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Next up on this little impromptu Sonic marathon is frankly - probably my least favourite game of the Classic era, and let's face it - one of the most divisive games of the franchise - Sonic CD. Now, if you'll recall back to the Sonic 2 blog from a week or so ago, you'll recall me mentioning that I do not particularly love the Classic games outside S3&K and Mania. In particular, you'll remember I discussed about how Sonic 2's level design doesn't mesh well with enemy placement, how it feels like it was built for speed, yet wants to punish you for going fast. CD on the other hand doesn't even get that far - because it feels like Sonic 1's exploration and slow platforming taken up to ten. 

Now, ultimately - I grew to find a new respect for Sonic 2 by the end of that experience. I found myself enjoying a large chunk of the game. I came away with it with a totally different viewpoint than initially. So perhaps the same could be said here? After all, this wasn't some clunky old ass basic port I was playing, it was the original Christian Whitehead port that kick started a revival of Sonic remasters in the 2010s. Perhaps this time, this would finally be the one it clicks! After all, I had a good total 3-4 runs to do! Perhaps I would finally join the camp of fans who enjoy this game!

...

*three-four runs later*

 

Yeah, no. I'm sorry. I'm honest to goodness sorry. I really was hoping this would be the time I'd click with CD after Sonic 2 had a more positive experience, but I just can't vibe with it. It's just so against what I enjoy about this franchise in it's very core that I genuinely cannot find much enjoyment. Not to say my opinion didn't change, there's still a good deal to discuss, but I can't say I'm coming out of this without much more of a better opinion of CD than I had. 

But still, before we get into that, let's at least get into some of the good stuff.

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First things first - this intro absolutely slaps. Still the absolutely best depiction of Sonic's speed and stylish tricks in practically any medium. Especially considering this was their first real attempt at even depicting Sonic that wasn't some cheap Dic animation. Even as much as I love the OVA, I don't think anything has come close to comparing the intro and outro of the game. About the only thing I think comes close is Sonic Riders' intro, another similar anime-inspired intro. CD's intro reminds me of Original Dragon Ball in the best way possible, pretty fitting given Toei is the ones behind it. 

That's also a good transition into the next piece of discussion - the game's story, which is actually fairly unique for a Sonic game compared to Sonic 1 and 2. 

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Dr. Eggman is up to his old tricks again - once every year, a peaceful planet known as Little Planet hovers over the planet below, and Eggman has forcefully chained it down, flooding the world with his robotic creations and stealing the time-altering time stones for himself. To combat Sonic's next attempt to foil him, Eggman has created a robotic doppelganger of the hedgehog in order to stop Sonic in his tracks. As if things couldn't get worse, a Sonic fangirl named Amy Rose also follows Sonic into Little Planet, giving Eggman and Metal Sonic the perfect bait to lure Sonic into Eggman's ultimate trap for Sonic. Now it's up to Sonic to free Little Planet, and save both the past, present and future all in one shot.

Of course, nothing needs to be said about how excellent an addition both Amy and Metal Sonic has been to the franchise's cast. It's hard to imagine a world without either character, and CD is all to thank for it.

It's nothing extremely special or anything, it's still a Genesis era game and even S3&K would ultimately outshine it, but it's more ambitious, which is neat - picking up the Sonic 2 scrapped story as well, and the outro really does a great job to just make it feel like Sonic has really truly undergone this whole wide adventure as it recaps all of the varied locations into animation, giving us a true glimpse of how these stages are intended to be seen.

Also, let's just get it over with now - the soundtrack is absolutely brilliant. No matter if it's Japan or US (although my personal preference is JP), there's some insanely great tracks all throughout (even if I am annoyed the 2011 port removes the vocals from the intro and outro). Personal favourites of the entire franchise being...

I suppose the last major thing positive wise I do want to talk about is I think what they were attempting with the game is if nothing else - fairly novel. It's cool how they work the time travel mechanics into the game itself, offering ways for Sonic to get into either the past or future, and the idea of specifically needing to work to change the future is a really cool idea that ties into the damage that Eggman has done in a way none of the previous games really did. It again makes it feel a lot more important when a entire world's timeline is in danger because of Eggman.

Aaaand unfortunately, that's where the positive section has to end. Because really, all of this concerns things that isn't the gameplay, and problematically - the gameplay and level design is this game's biggest problem.

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I wish I could get into a big rant and go in-depth about what annoys me with this game so much, but it's just plain and simple - I hate the platforming. It feels so against itself in a way that even 2 wasn't. The game wants you to go fast - with the time travel signs acting as the main means to do so, yet the game design is just so massive, filled with springs, spikes, and obstacles everywhere, constantly punishing you with damage or even sending you into the future where you can do nothing, which can practically force a replay. I cannot think of a single level beyond maybe Tidal Tempest Act 2 that I can say I particularly liked. So much of the game just feels ungodly cheap. 

Then there's the past mechanic. As mentioned before, one of the major ways to finish the game and get the good ending is go back in time in every single stage and find a Metal Sonic hologram, and a robot generator. 

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Unfortunately, what this idea actually amounts to is going back to these massive stages and being forced to backtrack through them, with specific stages like Wacky Workbench and Metallic Madness having very specific means to find their objects. This is the killing blow to the game, this is so absolutely against the very concept of Sonic, which is high speed platforming getting from Point A to B, and being based on reaction time and not looking back. Instead, you will constantly backtrack the stages to try find this bullshit if you opt for this route, and that's even assuming you get to the past, because you outright need to find very specific areas to get the momentum needed to get to the past, while other places as stated are outright traps to send you into the future, a direct punishment. 

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But there is another way. You can also do the special stages in order to collect the time stones. Before we even get into them, let me just say - screw getting into them. Instead of using Sonic 2's checkpoint method, instead we're right back into Sonic 1's method, meaning getting to the end of these long, massive stages - filled with traps and obstacles everywhere - with 50 rings to get into them. So that's a total pain already.

But then the special stages themselves, I just hate them. The idea was cool - using 3D mode 7 esque levels where you need to destroy UFOs, but the game is just so unbelievably awkward when it comes to actually doing it. It's extremely hard to gauge distance between you and the UFOs, meaning it's extremely easy to miss them, and you can easily overshoot and land into ponds, which just rapidly drain your time. Which combined with the other problem of the special stages being a pain in the ass to enter in the first place - outright mixes for a miserable time.

That's what really cinches it for me. I've given CD a lot of shots. I've done three runs of it alone for this challenge along in order to attain all of the trophies. Once with all time stones, once getting all of the generators and holograms, once in time attack mode, plus multiple level runs to reduce times and do clean ups of trophies. I think I've more than given this game enough chances to really convince me to like it, and I just can't.

Even with Sonic 1 and 2, with some fixes, I can click with those games. I can play Taxman, or Origins, or even the Forever and Absolute versions of the games and have a ball because of the QoL improvements, but with Sonic CD being the very first port, mixed with just how it goes so against what I like about the Sonic series, I just can't. 

There's a lot I do appreciate about the game and what it brings to the table. The visuals and music is downright fantastic and I love a lot of the ideas and ambition, but ultimately, it's still easily one of my least favourite 2D Sonic games. Not as bad as something like Sonic 4, but even still, I just feel annoyed and frustrated with CD ultimately. It's about what I expected, ultimately before starting this run.

But hey, at least the next game is a Classic spinoff I do have more to talk about, both good and bad.

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Lorekitten

Posted

Quote

Not to say my opinion didn't change, there's still a good deal to discuss, but I can't say I'm coming out of this without much more of a better opinion of CD than I had. 

That... is a double negative and I don't think it means what you actually intended it to mean.

That being said, woof. As cool as the time travel concept was, clearly this game totally bungled the execution.

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Ryannumber1gamer

Posted

5 hours ago, Lorekitten said:

That... is a double negative and I don't think it means what you actually intended it to mean.

That being said, woof. As cool as the time travel concept was, clearly this game totally bungled the execution.

Not really sure how it's a double negative. I'm just saying my opinion hasn't changed much. I did still ultimately come out of the experience still a little more positive and more confident in my abilities with the game than I did prior. 

It just wasn't enough to actually make me like it. 

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