Sonic CD (Sniper)
Format: Sega CD
Genre: 2d platformer
Developer: Sega
Publisher: Sega

Naoto Oshima's team takes advantage of CD storage to house three different tile sets for each zone, along with corresponding stages. Each zone has its own color theme, and both the tile art and enemy sprites in CD are easily on par with Sonic 2's as being the best the original series has to offer, if not even better. Tons of parallax scrolling are present, along with Super NES "Mode 7"-esque bonus stages, which leverage the Sega CD's hardware scaling capabilities. As the icing on the cake, there is even a totally radical opening movie done in 80s cartoon-style.

Sonic CD's spectacular, mostly Spencer N. Nilsen-provided Red Book soundtrack has a little of everything: 80's-esque New Age synth, complete with bongo drums; tons of voice samples like the "la-la-loo!" during the water zone; some "Billy Jean" guitars; and even a "honkey-tonk" song in 3/4 time! For the "past" tunes, Masafumi Ogata and Naofumi Hataya step in with some deliciously snarky, attitude-filled chip music, which makes use of all of the CD's audio hardware. Beyond the music, many of the game's sound effects are done with high quality samples, in opposition to the cartridge titles.

As one of the few people who adores the later-developed "Knuckles Chaotix, Sonic CD's overall design is very similar: like the aforementioned 32X release, CD's levels are slow-paced affairs-- in this case, with the emphasis placed first on finding "Past" signs, and then on locating a spot in the level where sustained-enough high speeds can be obtained, initiating a time warp. In the "past" then is hidden a device which, when destroyed, opens up a "good future" for that zone. Alternatively-- or in addition to-- "50 rings" end-of-stage giant rings, straight out of the original Sonic, can be leapt into; if all bonus stages are cleared, the player is guaranteed the game's "good ending".

As someone who has all of 1, 2, 3, and "Knuckles" totally memorized, and who even adores side-games like "Chaotix" and "3D Blast", this reviewer was extremely late to the CD party, only playing the game in the year 2024. Its slow, exploration-oriented pace, addicting time travel mechanics-- which are a sheer joy to activate even in situations during which they serve no purpose, incredible artwork, nifty bonus stages, and exceedingly memorable soundtrack combine to put this title near the top of the Mega Drive Sonic heap.

Sniper's verdict: