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Sonic the Hedgehog CD: Your thoughts, 20 years later?


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Well, I first played Sonic CD on Gems collection, and my initial response to it was...pretty great. I thought it was a superb little title, and I was confused that I hadn't heard about it before. I continued to return to it occasionally, up to the release of the Taxman port, which is a fantastic version, easily the best. It was the first time I played the game with the Japanese soundtrack, and oh boy, did it not half increase the love I had for that OST.


It was one of the best 2D Sonic titles, and still is to this day. 

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I first found out about Sonic CD when seeing the Mega Collection trailer on SEGA's website, I believe. I saw that clip of it's gorgeous intro and wanted to know more about it. After reading many descriptions and watching gameplay, I really wanted to try it out, but never got the chance to. That is until the multiplatform remake came out in 2011.

Sonic CD, while a bit messy and rage inducing, is a great game in my opinion. It's not the best of the classics, definitely not, but it's replayable and enjoyable. I love the exploration, the crazy levels (sans Wacky Workbench, whoever thought it was a good idea to make it a giant trampoline needs to be punished for that choice), the time travel concept, the art direction, and, its strongest feature in my opinion, the music, namely the Japanese soundtrack.

Edited by Auto
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loved it on the mega cd back in 1993 and I still do - I even have the EU title screen theme as my ringtone!! The gems collection version of it was in my opinion a complete travesty and I'm glad the taxman version of it is widely availabe.


The game brought some permanent featues as you said (metal, Amy) bu the timestone element needs re-examining in my opinion - imagine unleashed if instead you went werhog you went future or past?!



Sonic 4 Ep 2 trying to link to this was a pretty good move - although i have a few questions about that, specifically:

1) Why is Metal Sonic "trapped" in Bad future Stardust speedway and not good if Sonic got all the timestones to stop Eggman's scheme?

2) Why is Little planet left "death egged" at the end?


I think we need Sonic Cd 2 to be quite honest!!!

p.s.i remember reading somewhere that Wacky Workbench was seriosuly considered as a level in Generations - now that would have been something!!

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I recently played the XBLA version and... it's a mixed bag, in my opinion. While the artstyle and both soundtracks have created great mental images in my head that I'd use if I become a game designer someday, the level design doesn't feel right for Sonic. I find that it's easy to time travel when you don't want to and vice versa. I didn't have much problem with Wacky Workbench, but I didn't really care for having to backtrack/spend 5 minutes looking for those machines (and God forbid you go for the Metal Sonic holograms too) when I have a 10 minute time limit.


The Special Stages aren't really that fun to me either. I find the precision on hitting the U.F.O.s to be iffy at best - many times it feels like I SHOULD have hit it, but they tell me I didn't. And 10 seconds off for a microsecond while in the water plus the game autosaving THE ABSOLUTE MOMENT you fail it saps the fun out for me.


So yeah, it's good, but far from the best in my opinion.






Oh yeah and I guess Metal would be better if Sonic Team did more interesting things with him nowadays.

Edited by Spin Attaxx
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Tails wielding a pair of sunglasses with a car in the background. "SEE YOU NEXT GAME" is shown above. Often believed to be a reference to Sonic 2 in case this game was released first, or a reference to the infamous Sonic Drift.


The car itself is taken from that Manga that Amy and Charmy came from, so I doubt it was specifically referencing Sonic Drift. Might have been Sonic 2 as you said, though. 



Anyway, Sonic CD...I just find it forgettable. I've completed it once before pretty easily, but it didn't have enough of an impression on me to want to complete it fully. I avoid the time travel gimmick as much as possible, and there's not really any tune in any of the soundtracks that stand out to me. 

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Sonic CD is easily my favorite Classic Sonic game. I love the levels, the art style, the music (both soundtracks, but I prefer the Japanese one), the bosses, and just about everything else about it (except for Wacky Workbench, definately not my favorite level ever).


I first played Sonic CD on Gems Collection, and thought it was a great game, but I'll admit that my favorite version is the 2011 remake, it took an already great game and made it better, by adding the Sonic 2-3 spindash for example, and improving upon many other things. It even added Tails, which was a nice bonus.


My favorite level in the game is probably Quartz Quadrant:



I also really like Tidal Tempest, it's probably my favorite water level of the classics, besides Chemical Plant, if it counts:


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Whilst HD Unleashed is my favorite game in the series, I consider CD to be the best.


It just has so many aspects that are amazingly endearing to me and which hit all the right spots.


The Japanese/European soundtrack is, IMO, one of the finest videogame soundtracks ever produced. It has a powerfully classic Sonicky kind of feel to it whilst being utterly memorable. I've always respected the way each time frame in a zone influenced the distinct melody prevalent throughout all four of a zone's themes. It's creative and gives the zones a kind of identity through this sense of consistency. I think that Quartz Quadrant Present and Good Future are amongst the absolute finest songs the franchise has ever put out. Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata are brilliant Sonic music composers simply put.


Then there's the incredibly cool message it gets across regarding technology and nature. Shove all your shitty biased clueless Captain Planet's and Animals of Farthing Wood's aside as the crap that they are and see Sonic CD as an environmental message done right. I just love how the art direction in this game uses it's message to inspire the cool designs of the stages in all of the timeframes. Bad Future's exhibit the terribleness of Dr Eggman's fixation with technology and his disregard for the environment, also getting across exactly why he'd make for such a terrible world leader. Good Future's get across how technology is not inherently awful, it's the way it's used that ultimately matters as good future's show how many merits tech has when it's used wisely, utilized to aid nature rather than displace and ruin it.


And then there's the intriguing and cool level layouts. Some might say that CD's fixation on exploration and time-travelling detracts from the speed but personally? I like the way CD's gameplay worked. I found it a refreshing little 'shake-up' of Sonic 1's and 2's gameplay. And the bosses were really original regarding design even if quite a few of them were laughably easy. Quite creative.


The animated opening and ending is a classic bit of old school Sonic greatness that never gets old. I see them as encapsulating Classic Sonic's attitude and speed brilliantly.


Overall, I freaking love this game. It's easily my favorite of the 'classic' series with Sonic 3 and Knuckles as an extremely close second. CD stands-out to me more because of it's wonderous combination of elements that I find very endearing but S3 & K is special for pretty different reasons. I just prefer CD marginally more.

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I fucking love this game. I am well known on SSMB for being obsessed (and rather good at) Sonic CD. I mean who else can get 819 rings in Zone 1 of Palmtree Panic tongue.png. It's my second favourite Sonic game and I play it to death. 


Sonic CD is an amazing game which has aged incredibly well over 20 years. From the beautiful artistic design, level gimmicks to the outstanding soundtracks this games offers. There simply is nothing quite like it. 


The original Mega CD version wasn't perfect mind you. A game which relies heavily on sudden bursts of speed had rather shoddy collision detection, and the charge-up spindash was far from perfect. Although the super peel-out move was an amazing innovation. 


The time travel gimmick with the four different time periods and having a different music track for each time period was inspired. I always feel compelled to get the good future ending of the game, as I feel like I have failed if I don't.


I love Christian Whitehead (and SEGA) for finally making this game available for everyone to play and for the enhancements made. Fixing the collision detection problems of the original, adding the Sonic 2 styled spindash, no speed-cap physics option, Tails, 16:9 widescreen narrative and both soundtracks made me fall in love with this game all over again. He also made the frame-rate of the special stages super smooth.


The levels are very entertaining. Yep, love or hate Wacky Workbench, the bouncy gimmick was a very brave move. Tidal Tempest is a very enjoyable water level and Palmtree Panic is Green Hill zone on crack. 


The Metal Sonic race is legendary and I love the treadmill boss of Quartz Quadrant (WORK THAT SUCKA TO DEATH COME ON NOW!).


The music in this game is wonderful. They also made additional soundtracks; the Sonic Boom album which contains extended remixes of some of the US tracks, and the Sonic the Hedgehog remix album which contains remixes of the Jp soundtracks.


I wish we had been able to play this content:







Edited by -Bender-
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I've played the Taxman port and TBH, I wasn't that impressed with CD.


The level design was really confusing to me at times (Wacky Workbench, I'm looking at you), and the Metal Sonic race is incredibly clunky, no thanks to the awkward spike placement.


Sound wise, I like the US soundtrack, as it fits the levels they're meant to, while being memorable.


The JP soundtrack... ugh. I honestly can't imagine how anyone can actually listen to those tracks. The tracks are either dull (Wacky Workbench) or incredibly annoying and grating (ALL of Palmtree Panic and almost all of the Bad Future tracks).

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I didn't have a Sega CD, so I had the PC version which I got during Uni (probs late 2002- early 2003). I'd known about the game before though; mostly thanks to STC's adaptation of it. The PC version I had a lot of difficulty with; I never got past the race with Metal Sonic and only got two timestones. As such, I put it away and didn't really got back to the game.... I have no idea where my physical copy actually is. sad.png


A while ago I picked up the Taxman version on Steam and I absolutely loved it. I'm not sure if it was because I was playing a classic 2D Sonic game again after so long and it tickled my nostalgia bone or if it was because of the tweaks made to it. I guess a mixture of both. Well, I couldn't put the game down for ages! I now have finished the game several times as both Sonic and Tails, but I've yet to get all the time stones. sad.png


I think it might be one of my favourite games now; I love the gameplay, I love the spritework, I absolutely adore the soundtrack (both US and EU/Japan, as the version I was first used to from the PC version was the US soundtrack but the Steam version automatically selected the EU/Japanese soundtrack and I got hooked on it! :D) and the two intro/epilogue scenes have wonderful animation. It really makes me wish there was a Sonic cartoon done in this style (not Sonic X's pseudo-Sonic Adventure style!) and the whole atmosphere of the game really does take me back to the 1990s! biggrin.png Not to mention this is the game that introduced Amy Rose, one of my favourite characters (at least in STC and dare I say it, later Archie... only because she starts to display STCAmy-esque personality quirks!). Metal Sonic is kinda badass as well.


Anyways, I'd totally recommend this game. It can be tricky to pick up (the time travel stuff isn't really explained very well. I seem to remember reading some confusion over whether it's necessary to trash both the animal prisons and the Metal Sonic holograms...) and it certainly doesn't have the same simplicity that I think the other classic era games have, but it's a lovely game once you get into it. :3

Edited by MamboCat
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Aside from the obvious gameplay oddities for those more used to the later Genesis games (the prototype spindash, the Sonic 1 physics), as well as the level design (which can get rather grating at times-looking dead in your eye Wacky Workbench) and the (thankfully optional to complete to get a good ending) Special Stages (ugh), Sonic the Hedgehog CF still a great game that holds up really well. I'd say it's better than Sonic 1 and 2, and is arguably second to Sonic 3&K as the best game in the series (in fact, I'd probably say Sonic CD /might/ be the best of the series if you count Sonic 3 & Knuckles as separate games). The original JP music is catchy as hell and won't leave your noggin anytime soon, but that's not to say the US soundtrack is any slouch either (Sonic Boom, Stardust Speedway Bad Future). Especially love the multiple, varied takes on the zones in terms of artstyle/tropes and the levels in terms of level design/gameplay gimmicks. I'd love to see a spiritual successor to this game, especially if it was a 3D platformer.


I haven't played it (yet), but from what I've read about it, it's arguable that Taxman's remake is arguably even better than the original game with it's enhancements and additions-widescreen support, "tweaked/perfected" offerings of both the physics of the original game and of 3&K, the implementation of both of the OSTs in their original form (for the most part), and the inclusion of Tails as an additional playable character

Edited by Yeow
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Aesthetically and visually? This game really captured the surreal, Japanese vision for Sonic during those times. It's because of that I hold it a good regard because of that charm. The time travel gimmick for the game, at its core, quite the neat concept. I feel the framework for it was great, yeah the execution wasn't that great (especially trying to travel into different time periods required that all-too important speed and momentum...) but I'd say it definitely gave the game replay value. Especially for its 2011 remake.


Music-wise it really is one of the best Sonic soundtracks to ever be produced. Yes I'm counting both versions. While I do have an edge for the JPN OST over what we got in the U.S., both scores went the extra mile to capture what Sonic was at that period of time. We got our first real taste of what Spenser Nilson can bring to the Sonic series music-wise, and I think he did a pretty good job on that front. The 2011 remake sealed the deal; we could change them when we wanted to.


It's definitely not the best of the classics imo (damn level design oh my goodness at times it's just aaaaaaaaaaaaaah), but when it came to providing that essence of charm and endearment on a visual sense for what the franchise was, I definitely place it at the top for me. 


Now I feel like listening to the soundtracks myself; got nothing else to listen to right now anyway hahaha.

Edited by Pancake Patterson
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I've gone into my thoughts on CD multiple times already, so I'll be brief.


Sonic CD is a... decent title. But when you have titles like Sonic 2 and 3 & Knuckles surrounding it, I just don't think it holds up that well in comparison.

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I don't think Sonic CD holds up as well as Sonic 2, 3, or Sonic and Knuckles, but that's not to say that it's a pretty good game in its own right.

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To be honest, Sonic CD is probably my least favorite entity in the classic Sonic chronology.  I mean, it is a good game, don't get me wrong.  An excellent game, in fact.  But I think it missed a few points that made the Genesis titles great.


To me, the level design is very grating  While it has some good level themes here and there, the main thing that annoys me is the design.  Everything in the game feels like its sole purpose is to keep you from moving forward.  By contrast, in the Genesis games, almost every obstacle you come across is made with the intent in keeping you on a forward track.  For example, the spike beds which fall from the ceiling may impale if you fail to dodge them, but when playing the game right, they serve as an important catalyst for vertical progression..  Whereas in Sonic CD, particularly in Wacky Workbench and Stardust Speedway, literally everything seems to be built to push you back.  The magnetic floors which send you flying into the ceiling when you just want to go to the right, the boost tubes in Stardust Speedway, and even the enemy placement throughout the game seem to serve no other goal but to catch you by surprise and force you fifty paces in the opposite direction.  It's like trying to run through a wall at times.


In addition, the time travel system was incredibly convoluted.  It was an intuitive idea, but the execution was really... complicated to say the least.  I still haven't gotten a good future, so maybe my hostility for the system stems from that.  But whatever the case, in the classics it was simple.  You get fifty rings, go to the goal post, and enter the Special Stage ring.  In Sonic 2, they kicked it up a notch.  You collect fifty rings and go to any star post, meaning you have the capacity to get all the Chaos Emeralds in one act.  In Sonic 3 & Knuckles (this being my personal preference), the special stage rings were hidden, but there were always little clues to indicate where they could possibly be. (Breakaway walls, etc.)  CD recycles Sonic 1's idea of getting time stones by collecting fifty rings and jumping through the giant ring at the end of the stage, which is fine.  The special stages themselves aren't even too bad, although at times they are frustrating.  But then you have to destroy all the Metal Sonics and travel to the past and future (which takes forever to load by the way) and sometimes you just want to play straight through and forget about the good and bad futures, but it's nigh impossible to keep from accidentally running into a Past or Future post and... AGGGH.


Furthermore, perhaps I'm just spoiled since I played Sonic 2 before CD, but the Spin Dash feels so broken in this game.  (Which is thankfully fixed in the Taxman remake)  It's such a precise action.  You have completely stop, hold A (which sometimes doesn't immediately respond), wait for the sound to stop playing and then release A to launch.  Part of me wants to think that they implemented it this way because they thought the game could use a mechanic which requires precision as opposed to speed just to mix things up a bit, but it's just frustrating when you're trying to... I don't know... outrun a laser and your only means of acceleration takes far too long to pull off.  Also, they implemented what would later become staples of the Game Gear games, where you can press up and dash.  It works exactly the same as the Spin Dash.... only it leaves you vulnerable to attack.  What is the point in that move?  Is there something I'm missing?  Because I never found it useful in any playthrough of the game.


But like I said, the game is still great.  The gameplay is still loads of fun, and I do love the art style, though it is noticeably different than the Genesis games.  Also, the anime-style cutscenes in the beginning and end are incredible.  I always wanted a show that replicated this particular style... of course, it never came into fruition.  The OVA comes the closest, but is still lacking in terms of quality and writing.  Also, I can't help but commend the game for having not one but two amazing soundtracks.  I don't even understand why they felt they had to give the American version a different soundtrack, but 20 years later, I'm glad they did.  That means twice the musical fun!


So yeah, great game, though it's probably my least favorite of all of the Death Egg saga games.

Edited by Akito
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Ah... Honestly can't remember where I first heard of Sonic CD but first played it on an emulator (I think it might have had the American soundtrack) about 10 years ago then found out that it was a bad ISO rip and later out of pure luck found a BIN+CUE rip of the European version [since back in those days and even now to some point, finding BIN+CUE rips of Mega CD games is hard] and played it quite a bit. So yes, it was via piracy at the time since the PC version was not reprinted unlike the other Sonic games and many Sega games. Later legally played it on the PS2 version of Sonic Gems Collection which was okay but it was missing the water colour and had the American soundtrack. Due to that the soundtrack wars was fierce back then, used a mini CD player and played the Japanese soundtrack over the American one over the stages. It does seem immature now if you think about it.


Anyway, there are many things that Sonic CD gets right and a few things that need improving. The style of the graphics was pretty good and personally my favourite of the series since it was like Sonic 1 and 2 but more detailed. Like Palmtree Panic looked like it had more layers than Green Hill Zone [it doesn't though] or the neat touches that every time zone looked different like one area has a statue but only in that time zone. The cutscenes are lovely animated even though they had to be redrawn on the original Mega CD version due the Mega Drive 64 colour palette. Even then it doesn't show the weakness of the console unlike some Mega CD cutscenes (live action FMV games such as Night Trap, Mad Dog Mcree, Ground Zero Texas, Midnight Raiders all look dithery and colour straved; not animation based ones like Road Avenger, Time Gal or Sonic CD where they were reanimated). Each boss is unique on its own way from the more traditional Palmtree Panic and Tidal Tempest to the pinball boss of Collision Chaos to running that sucker to death boss of Quartz Quadrant. Speaking of the stages, even then some are mostly patterned over the Sonic 1 type [Palmtree Panic = Green Hill, Tidal Tempest = Labyrinth, Collision Chaos = Spring Yard] but they feel unique enough to be remembered. Wacky Workbench did seem like a good idea badly executed though. Even the Special Stages are actually some of my favourites in the series with a Mode 7 style even though they definitely could be better on the programming side. If the Sonic CD special stages was like the driving stages in the Mega CD version of Batman Returns, then it would be a different story.


The music also feels different compared to others in the classics, at least the JP/EU soundtrack [even if the main theme is a remix of Green Hills from Sonic 2 8-bit]. It is more of a house style using samples, sort of like Sonic Rush in a way however Sonic Rush is Jet Set Radioy while this one... Sadly lack of knowledge of music to go further but other games at the time had a similar style to this like R-Type Leo. By comparison, the American soundtrack isn't too bad and is perfectly listenable but it suffers the same syndrome as Sonic 3D. Good in their own right but because it is Sonic, it doesn't really fit properly (one of the songs is a peppy remix of Moon Patrol) especially with the Past music keeping the same. Both are really good soundtracks though, just prefer the JP/EU soundtrack that's all.


Weakest points of the game are the level design and the programming that shows that Oshima felt like he needed Naka and Yasahura for this game but they were finishing off Sonic 2/working on Sonic 3 at the time of development. Luckily the Taxman remake fixes the programming side since the original version does seem a bit randomised like the Collision Chaos boss could be done from 5 seconds to a couple of minutes or the original not quite right spin dash however the level design was designed for a type of purpose but can't quite explain it. There is a Time Attack mode so it might be related to that but the flow doesn't feel like Sonic 1 or 2 and feels hapdashed by comparison. Palmtree Panic apart from the unreachable rings, Tidal Tempest and mostly Quartz Quadrant seemed to be the better designed stages in the game.


While it isn't my favourite Sonic game, it is pretty high on the list. Personally put it slightly below Sonic 1 and 2 but much higher than Sonic 3&K in terms of the classics. Speaking of which, has anyone here actually managed to play the original on the Sega CD [excluding emulators]? Well considering that it was one of the few good games for the addon that isn't an enhanced port and not many people had access to one due to various reasons (not interested, too expensive, etc).

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First played the game on Gems Collection when I was younger and loved it, but since I could never beat Metal Sonic (who I thought was the final boss of the game), I ended up getting upset and stopped playing the game. I sold Gems Collection and many of my other Sonic games because I was growing out of Sonic during the time. Thankfully, when I did get my love for Sonic back and got Gems Collection again, I did end up beating Sonic CD and managed to get all the Time Stones and had an extremely satisfied feeling at the end. Right then and there, I just knew that Sonic CD was my favorite Sonic game of all time, and it still hold true to this day. 


The main thing about Sonic CD that I love is the story about Time Travel. Just knowing that Sonic has to rescue this girl, but he also needs to use the past and future signs to time travel, so he can help save a mysterious floating planet always struck me as awesome. Traveling into the past to see how a place once was, traveling to the future, only to see how bad it can look, then destroying the robot generator and seeing how beautiful and alive the world looks always just make me smile. 


As for the gameplay, overall I enjoyed it. CD played pretty much like the classics to me, besides the spin dash not being like Sonic 2, Sonic having the Super Peel Out, and the gimmicks it had. When it comes to level design, I know many people just detest the level design for many levels, such as Wacky Workbench, or even Stardust Speedway. The designs are crazy and random yet I love it all. It's all fun to me actually. I think that because the level designs are this way, it's the main reason why I have more fun playing through the levels in CD compared to Sonic 1, 2, and 3&K. I also like to point out that when you time travel, the design of the level does change a little bit, which for me, makes me want to explore through the levels and see what all changed in the levels. 


With the levels changing a little bit when you time travel, it comes with more great music to fit the current time period. Seriously, time traveling to the good future of Tidal Tempest and hearing that smooth, relaxing, cool JP track play is heaven to my ears. Goodness, I'm literally playing it right now actually. On another note, love CD soundtrack to death, both the U.S. and JP/EU versions. I prefer the JP version more than the U.S., but U.S. certainly isn't bad. I think what gives the JP that edge over the U.S. is probably the funky music it has, and I love me some funk. Stardust Speedway present JP is funktastic! 


I still think CD holds up well today. The 2011 version is definitely the true version of CD that all Sonic fans need to play.  


Edit - CD special stages are my favorite special stages, with 3&K special stages right behind. As for the Metal Sonic race, certainly could of been better. Anytime I go back to race Metal Sonic, I'm still slightly bothered by the random placements of the spikes that multiple times just stop your speed. It's a really small negative in my book for the game.

Edited by Sonic CD
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My first experience with Sonic CD was the PC ver. at the beginning of the 2000s. Picked this as my first (PC) game, excited as I never imagined that a Sonic game could make it to PC any time soon. Forget that I didn't even know that the Sega CD existed, and so this game at that time, other SEGA PC ports included.

Anyway, I find this game great, with a wonderful animated opening and ending, wonderful aesthetics, the nice time travel gimmick, amazing soundtrack, the inclusion of both Amy and Metal Sonic that stayed to this day, and others things that I could miss.

I'll start with the most interesting and questionable aspect of the game, the level design. On one hand, I like the "moldable" style of the stages (couldn't find a better word). Every time you travel in time the layout changes slighty, opening or blocking some paths. Although the variation isn't something spectacular, back then I enjoyed travelling between times to explore most of the acts to the fullest and find their little differences and secrets.

On the other hand, the way the stages were designed, structured in a way that doesn't seem to benefit the speedy gameplay. It doesn't help that some obstacles and enemies are oddly placed, making hard to gain and/or maintain some flow. This also prevents to do time travel properly, unless you know a good spot where you know you won't fail.

The visuals as I said before are wonderful, possibly my favorite compared to Sonic 1 and 2 which shares some similarity, this one being a little more detailed.
The aspect of the time travel makes each zone to have its own interpretation of a time period, which it looks incredible. Good and Bad futures the highlights. The soundtrack enhances this having different mixes of a music according each one. And talking about it, between both soundtracks, even if I grew up with the US ver., I find the JP/EU one to be more fascinating. The funky style won me over the most atmospheric one.

The most underwhelming part of the game for me are the bosses. While being creative with some cool ideas (The carrier with the bubbles as a shield of Tidal Tempest, the Wacky Workbench boss where you follow Eggman through the bouncing panels with the broken ceilings, to give some examples), they are rather easy and short.

To close, it's not a game that I replay a lot, but when I feel like so, I could do various runs for  the entire week. The most memorable moments I could think of are the opening and the race against Metal Sonic.

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Ooooh, Sonic CD... of the Sonic games I've played (and I stress this because there are some Sonic games people in general find terrible, but I haven't actually experienced those), I can honestly say it's my least favorite. I've played it three times, each time trying to squeeze some kind of joy and fun out of the game the way everyone else seems to... but each time I came up empty. Sonic CD was not a fun experience for me, and after a few passes (in which I'd clear about 90% of the game to get the good ending, but always come up short on the final Time Stone), I probably won't ever load it up again unless I have to.


My history with the game goes back pretty far to the Windows 95 days. See, my first experience was on PC, but oddly I never got past maybe the third stage, and for some reason my save data always deleted itself. Since I was so much younger, I probably liked the game to some degree--it was Sonic, after all. But if I'm being honest, the game never made an impression on me the way Sonic & Knuckles did. I knew it was the introduction of Amy Rose and the standard Metal Sonic... but that was all I ever took with me for years.


Fast-forward to my sophomore year of college, and I get get a hold of a used copy of Gems Collection from Gamestop. Surprisingly, it was cheap and in perfect condition (including the inserts). After messing around in Sonic R for a little bit (it should be noted I freakin' love Sonic R, flaws and all), I booted up the "legendary" Sonic CD.


It was time to see what all the fuss was about.


After about an hour or so, in which I cleared the game and got a cute little message telling me how awesome I was on the end screen... I wasn't impressed. I asked some folks on a forum I went to if I was the only one since I played the game and found I didn't like it very much, when everyone else would rave about how great it is. I got some mixed responses, some agreeing with my criticisms and saying it doesn't deserve its pedestal, and others thinking there's something genuinely wrong with me. I found that kind of interesting, since I was under the impression from all the hype that it was, indeed, a universally loved title and that I was "missing" something. Of course, this curiosity led to two other playthroughs, both of which I blocked out the hype and even my own experiences, and even when I went into the game perfectly objective, I didn't like it. It's just not all that great.


My biggest issue with this game has been, and will always be, the awful level design. The level maps were such a haphazard mess and embodied everything that seemed contradictory to everything "classic" Sonic level design should be. Exploration felt forced and the level design seemed to find ways to cheaply knock me back instead of propelling me forward or occasionally into spikes/hazards/obstacles.


Exploration in Sonic games has always been a secondary feature to me; I think there is some value in it, but Sonic games have always had a primary focus on speed and figuring out how to get to the goal as quickly as possible. The way it gets balanced is very important; too much focus on one or the other can make the game more boring in the end. All paths, even if they're just the long, more dangerous path, should lead to the end goal, not randomly throw you back and kill your forward momentum.


What drives me nuts is the central gimmick and the method by which it's done. I like time travel, but not like this. You pass a "past" lamp, and you have to keep up your momentum to get it to work. That's fine and dandy, but the level design doesn't seem to facilitate this whole "momentum" thing. I've lost count of the number of times I was "about" to travel to the past, to suddenly come to dead end, lose my momentum and the ability to travel to the past. And when that didn't happen, I'd hit a "future" lamp along the way and alter my course, being forced to travel back twice now. Of course, I had successes too where everything went the way it should, but for every success, there were two or three failures for me.


The level design seems to get progressively worse as the game goes on too. The last three levels in particular (Wacky Workbench, Stardust Speedway and Metallic Madness) are such a mess, I'm beginning to think the level designer just said "fuck it" in the middle of putting these awful maps together. Stardust Speedway is probably one of the most frustrating, as I'd found myself running around in circles multiple times, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong.


Then there's that "legendary" Metal Sonic race... what a joke that was. The track didn't even facilitate any kind of racing (I'm not talking about simple obstacles you could jump over, I'm taking about those sudden parts that shoot up 90 degrees and would slow you down). Generations got that whole battle right, and it's one of my favorite moments in that game.


I have very little love for this game, and the level design is the biggest thing that hinders my enjoyment. There ARE things I like about Sonic CD though. Even if I find the execution questionable, I find this was one of the most creative Sonic games I've played. Lots of unique level gimmicks, very cool graphic design/art direction, and a cool concept. It just fell flat once I played it though.


I do enjoy the soundtracks on this thing to some degree, but I've never *loved* them. On the JPN side, we have some early Sonic Team musicians cutting their teeth, but the music feels just as haphazard and random as the level design. Like, it doesn't feel like it "fits" or that it was an afterthought. There are some great tracks, don't get me wrong (the opening and ending themes, Palmtree Panic, and Stardust Speedway Act III stick out to me).


The US version? I might have liked it a bit more, since it was scored to fit, but it gave the game an odd feeling that, again, did not fit with the image of Sonic for me. Props to Spencer Nilsen and Pastiche for their efforts, and they also produced some great tracks (both versions of "Sonic Boom," Collision Chaos, and Tidal Tempest are my favorites).


...I don't know! While I like some tracks from both sides, neither side screams "Sonic" to me, which is odd since many of the musicians who worked on this game continue to work on Sonic, but the tracks they're cutting now seem to be more purposeful and crafted to fit the game they are working on.


In short, I've never seen what the big fuss about Sonic CD was, and still don't. I've played it enough times trying to enjoy it, and never do in the end. While it's got some interesting ideas and great art, it's all marred by questionable execution and bad level design that's far too frustrating and antithetical to basic Sonic design to be any fun for me. Of course, the game has its fans and they see gold where I see crap, and I consider them to be very lucky people. While I'm somewhat curious to check out the Taxman update, I don't think some tweaked physics and a working spindash will justify the cost when the level design won't be any better.


That's my two cents, anyway. Sorry for the extra long post.

Edited by Zaysho
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20 years later, Wacky Workbench still makes me rage.


A lot of people find this zone frustrating. I did at first, but the more I played the game the more I began to like it. I only think Wacky Workbench is a bad experience it part. Let me explain...









For me it's zone 1 of Wacky Workbench which causes the majority of the hatred, whereas zone 2 and 3 are a far more enjoyable experience.


Zone 1 WW map:





Now if you look carefully at the design of the level. There is one major problem in this act. It's not the electric floor that constantly propels Sonic in the air, or the electric chambers that can shock him. The problem is the twelve vertical pillars which hang down from the ceiling. They completely slow down your progress through the level. Add the fact that you can land on very high up platforms (after Sonic has been propelled in the air) which prevents it from being easy to get to the bottom of the level, and it leads to an incredibly frustrating experience. 


It's a shame because the music (special mention to the past track, JP Bad Future and NA Good future) is lovely, and the bouncy floor concept was a really cool idea. Basically the 12 pillars screw you over and increases the difficulty. Also, the level design is rather confusing and thus is difficult to memorise. I can never remember the exact location of the Metal Sonic hologram. Even in the past version of the level where there are holes (extra routes) in the middle of the 12 pillars, the stage still feels like too much of a chore. Just maybe if there had been 4 pillars instead of 12 this stage would have been a better/quicker experience? The first time you play this zone it's very hard to work out how to reach the robot generator.


Now Act 2 is a much better design:




You  are immediately launched into a massive open area where there are no pillars. You can bounce to your hearts content! Then you get to a section where there are corridors that lead to the next open area which has more of those electric chambers. You then encounter one or two vertical pillars, but they are not an issue this time, because they don't come down very far. Towards the end of the level just before you get to the last corridor platform section, you encounter some longer vertical pillars which will likely slow your progress briefly, but this is no where near as bad as the first act. It's also much easier to time travel in zone 2.


In zone 3 (the boss act) the vertical pillars (mostly) rise from the ground upwards, but they don't prove to be a problem unless you are trying to get the maximum number of rings (109). In which case it can be a tad annoying.


So yeah, what I am basically saying is that if zone 1 and been designed similarly to the structure of zone 2, I think Wacky Workbench wouldn't get anyway near the amount of hate it gets. I have managed to get over 350 rings in zone 1, but you have to be so slow and careful to achieve this that it's kind or not worth the effort.


I like this level, but zone 1's design is a mess, so I appreciate fans dislike of it.

Edited by -Bender-
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I don't know if this counts as me being "lucky" or I wasted my money as a kid XD But my parents got my a SEGA CD and sadly my Gens was raped by that brick attached to it... but what helped was the game called Sonic CD.


I gotta say... I did enjoy it alot. More then the first, but for me? It doesn't beat Sonic 2 for me. The music was interesting but at the time of the Gens, it didn't "Feel" or sound like Sonic. It was like an experiment type of thing. I enjoyed how different it was, and the inclusion of Metal Sonic and Amy Rose. It was a breath of fresh air. I loved how the animation for Sonic changed when you go super fast. Or in the first level when you go up that huge wall. It had alot of cool "new" things to keep me attracted to the beautiful title. Its a GREAT game, just not my fav in the gens area.

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