Is Sonic CD Overrated?

Sonic CD Title ScreenOne thing I’ve noticed is that the majority of Sonic fans around the net consider Sonic CD to be their favorite out of all the classics. Personally, my favorite is Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Don’t get me wrong, Sonic CD was a great game, but in a list of my favorites of the main Sonic games of the early 90’s, it would be fall in into 3rd place.

Here’s my list.

  1. Sonic 3 & Knuckles
  2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  3. Sonic CD
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog

So, recently I decided to dig out Sonic CD and give it a play-through; just to see what everyone loves about it. And honestly, I found a whole lot to love about the game. But I also found a few things that I didn’t care for, which is the reason I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite of them all.

The Good

Animation & Music

For one, it is quite a bit different from its Genesis counterparts. What I always did love about it was the intro cartoon. The ending cartoon was even better. Another thing was the music. It was the first Sonic game on a CD format, so the music had to be good. I don’t think it’s as catchy as the music from Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but overall, it does have a great sound. I do think it loops to much though. They really could have made the songs longer in my opinion. But then again, considering that the music changes depending on if you’re in the past, present, or future, you won’t be hearing one song for too long before you end up going into another time. So, that right there really isn’t a big deal at all.

Time Travel

Sonic CD Time Travel

The main thing that does make Sonic CD stand out over the others of its time is the whole element of time travel. It added some strategy and even a little more difficulty to the game. If you want to get the most out of Sonic CD, you have to time travel. Going back to the past and tracking down and destroying the badnik generatorss for a good future and the holograms of Metal Sonic all within the 10 minute time limit adds so much more to the gameplay.

Special Stages

One of the things that I really love about Sonic CD are the special stages. Appearance-wise, they kind of remind me of Super Mario Kart. And they are also pretty challenging until you get the hang of them. The Sonic sprite just looks amazing when he’s running. In the 3D stages of the Genesis games, Sonic looked like he was running at a fairly slow pace. But in Sonic CD, he actually looks FAST!

Sonic CD Special Stage

The Bad

Sound Effects

The music really outweighs the rest of the sound in the game. The sound effect of Sonic’s jump sounds almost 8-bit to me. It’s very similar to the jump sound in the Game Gear games. Sometimes the sound effects are no where to be found. There are times when you jump or get hit and it doesn’t make a sound at all. I’m guessing that has something to do with the music taking priority. I never noticed this problem with the Genesis Sonics though.

So, What Makes Sonic CD So Great?

What is it that makes Sonic CD the favorite among so many fans? I’m sure it’s not just because of the cinematics. And I doubt it’s the music either. So it must be the time travel, right? No. I think that the main reason so many people love Sonic CD so much is because most people didn’t own a Sega CD. So that means that they probably didn’t really get to play the game until it was ported on PC or on Sonic Gems Collection.

The PC Version

The PC version was released in 1996. During that time, we were in kind of a rut for new Sonic games. Sonic 3 & Knuckles was released 2 years prior, and all we really had to keep us going was Sonic 3D Blast and Sonic R. And those games aren’t even comparable to the main series. So when gamers who never owned a Sega CD got their hands on Sonic CD for the PC, they finally got a strait up classic-style Sonic game. And since they were starved for so long, it just seemed that much better.

Sonic Gems Collection

And then there’s the gamers who first experienced Sonic CD on Sonic Gems Collection in 2005. The most recent Sonic games before that were the Sonic Advance and Adventure games. They are alright games, but they weren’t nearly as good as the classics. So when the gamers who never played Sonic CD finally got their hands on it, it seemed like something sent from Heaven.

Say What?

So, let’s say your favorite food is chili dogs. Imagine being locked in a room for years; and the only thing you had to eat was a large supply of rotten eggs. Then one day, someone comes in and brings you a hamburger. It’s not a chili dog, but at least you like it. That hamburger is going to taste so much better than any other ever has before.

Final Thoughts

What I’m trying to say is, Sonic CD isn’t a bad game at all. It’s one of the better Sonic games you can find. But is it really worthy of being called the “best?” Everyone has different opinions. And there’s also people out there that would say that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is no where near being the best. And they would be right. Just as the people who say Sonic CD isn’t the best are also right. The best Sonic game is the one that YOU personally love the most. No one else can tell you otherwise. If Sonic CD is your favorite Sonic game. That’s great. But honestly, I think Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles are better. But that’s just me.

14 Responses to “Is Sonic CD Overrated?”

  1. Andrew Says:

    I just got done doing my screenshot gallery of Sonic CD at my site the other day, so this too brought me down memory lane. I think Sonic CD should be in the top 3 Sonic games for many reasons. One thing that makes me put Sonic CD in my top 3 best “Classic” Sonic games is the gameplay. No other Sonic game had the kind of fluid, non-stop gameplay … See MoreSonic CD had. Where your reflexes, and attention to what was up next could practically bring you to a smooth acrobatic speed run through an entire act. Is Sonic CD my favorite, no, that goes to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. But Sonic CD had the best fluid Sonic gameplay.

  2. Icarus Says:

    I’ve never played Sonic CD.
    Well I have but not really. Sonic 3 was the best, no mistake.

  3. Happy 17th, Sonic CD! « The Sonic Stadium Says:

    […] the merits of the Japanese/European and U.S. soundtracks.  It remains to be a divisive game within some circles of the Sonic community to this day, underneath all of the praise it receives from the […]

  4. Anonymous Says:

    You listed as good two of the things that make me like Sonic CD less than Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

    Time travel is anticlimatic, slow, pointless and illogical. I’d rather have spent those efforts making different acts looking slightly different (as in Mushroom Hill) and having different music.

    The special stages were confusing, boring to play and kinda ugly to me. They were better than those in Sonic 2, but Sonic 3 was clearly much better, involved more strategy, and came with a great spin off. They also revealed that even with the Mega CD you can’t do a decent performing equivalent of the SNES hardware graphics mode 7.

    As for sound effects, IIRC it’s not because of the music; it’s because most/all sound effects were PCM but the game didn’t mix them, so only one sound effect could be heard at a given time.

    I did love Sonic sprites, anime introduction and overall atmosphere, being my favourite Sonic rendition ever. I also loved up+button (though the Sonic 2 spin dash was better than down+button in Sonic CD), and how there were no friends to play with (I couldn’t care less aboput Big the cat, Moby the mongoose, Sticko the stick bug or whatever asinine characters they could come with; I’m buying a Sonic game, not a Dolores the crab game).

    The music was so-so for me; I liked that of Sonic 3 & Knuckles better, though it had it good parts (Palmtree Panic in the JP version, everything else including Sonic Boom in the Western versions).

  5. Andy Says:

    Ridiculously overrated. The whole point of the game was an epic fight between metal sonic and sonic which lasted one pathetic boss level. and the final boss and the way the game ends is even more laughable. also the sound effects are terrible the lack of repeating sound track annoying and wacky workbench is the worst zone ever created… i rank it below adventure 1 & 2, 3D and even unleashed.

  6. Andre Says:

    I agree with you that Sonic CD may have been overrated, but I also had it on Sega CD when it came out unlike most other people. Sonic 3 & Knuckles for me, is the best Sonic game ever made. Sonic CD is my second, and then Sonic 2 and Sonic 1. Sadly, no games since have been better than the first four. The GBA games were pretty close. Though I did like Sonic Adventure 1 and 2, hated Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). But that’s my opinion. For this guy, Andy, I’d completely disagree with your thoughts, but it’s only my opinion. Firstly, the whole point of the game was to save the planet from a horrible future, the fight with Metal Sonic was only to rescue Amy, as she was only a bystander who got sucked into the situation. Secondly, you have to think about when the game was made, which was back in 1993. If you’re comparing the sound effects of then to the sound effects of now, of course the stuff now is going to sound better, it’s more advanced. But as far a gameplay, that game still over shadows the games of today because it just has a better feel and play style to it. My guess is to why you dislike Wacky Workbench so much is because you probably died a lot on it. The creativity and imagination that went into that game and it’s mechanics back then just show that game developers now don’t spend enough time making the games good, rather than just having a good idea.

  7. Justin Says:

    I’ve only been a Sonic fan for a short time. I never had a Genesis as a kid, so I started off on the 3D games. I love both the 2D and the 3D games. After playing the 3D games, I wanted to play all of the 2D ones. I had beaten all of them, and I literally just beat Sonic CD a half hour ago. From all I’ve heard about it, I was expecting a game better than the ones in the trilogy. I was disappointed. Personally, I find this to be the worst out of the classic games. It’s still very good, but doesn’t beat 1, 2, or 3&K. The time traveling to me was very unnecessary, and had a very slow transition. When I’m playing a Sonic game, I don’t want anything interrupting my speed. And also, why would you want to go to the future?? The whole point is to go to the past and break the Generators, or to get all the Time Stones. Which brings up the Special Stages. It’s a very good idea, but was kind of awkward. The hit detection on the UFOs was very off to me, and why does water make the time go down more?! And Special Stage 6=ACID TRIP. Also, the music kicked ass, both soundtracks. But the level design was kinda weird. Wacky Workbench drove me INSANE. And whenever I’m just running along, some asshole spring is there to just send me soaring back, making me have to go back to where I was. And Starlight Speedway just looks like they just threw shit together. It was ridiculous. And the final boss was pathetic. But nevertheless, this was still a good game.

  8. Joseppi Says:

    the UFO’s were a pain to hit. I never actually got all the Time Stones in that game for that reason. Now I kind of want to go back and give it a try. lol And Yes, Wacky Workbench was very confusing for me at first too.

  9. Felix Says:

    I’ve always thought Sonic CD is the best Sonic of all the Sonic games. Since I am older (mid 30’s) I’ve always loved the 2D games. I loved Sonic since the 1st game and Sonic 2 was better than the 1st but still not as good as Sonic CD. I like it because it simple. Its just you (Sonic) vs Eggman, I never liked tha addition of all the other characters (Tails especially). I liked the Time Stones and the ability to go thru time (developers should take the Chrono Trigger concept of time possiblities alot further if they ever decide to make a 2nd Sonic CD). I think the American soundtrack is terrific (I know I’m in the minority on that). The anime intro/outro is fantastically done. The special stages are abit outdated but still well done. My only complaint was with Metal Sonic. They should have done a faceoff at a later stage (Metallic Madness). My Sega CDX unit no longer spins CD’s but I can still play it on my PC thru an emulator.

  10. jpage46 Says:

    i never played the game but i heard that SEGA is going to me a HD remake of the game with some soundtracks from japanese and english versions of the game to end the loop effect of the music. it’s going to be a downloadable game for the xbox, ps3, idevices and maybe android. i would get it but not at 1200 gamer points on the xbox or $5 on the playstation or $1.99 on itunes when it comes out. it is supose to be the prequal to sonic the hedgehog 4 ep 2, as they are making that game now. i wish eggman never gets his teaching degree and sticks to plotting to kill sonic and co.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Its extremely overrated. The level design is really awful and convoluted. Besides Stardust Speedway, there’s never really any good open stretches to gain speed. Wacky Workbench is also just frustrating to play. The final boss is VERY anti-climatic. In Sonic 1 and 2 the final boss is epic, as well as the music. Sonic CD is just a mess of a game.

    I don’t like it.

  12. Thrill Kapsule Says:

    Sonic CD is by far the BEST Sonic game ever made! The music, the awesome level designs, the characters…the very BEST Sonic game ever!!
    Long live Sonic the Hedgehog on Sonic CD!

  13. TheUnstoppable64 Says:

    Sonic CD is probably the most enjoyable Sonic game in my opinion.

    It’s an almost perfect game, in fact my ONLY complaint is nothing more than a nitpick really: The levels are WAY. TOO. SHORT.

    Seriously, I could beat a majority of these levels in around 30-50 seconds, maybe one minute if you’re LUCKY. The levels seem to be designed more upward than straight, making them noticeably shorter than most of the zones from the Genesis titles in terms of length. Or at least that’s how it seems. I’m not really sure, could it just be that Sonic goes RIDICULOUSLY fast in that game compared to how he performed in the Genesis titles? To the point where it’s possible to finish levels a lot faster? I don’t think so, he’s about the same as he was in Sonic 2 in terms of running speed. In fact, CD and 2 are the only Sonic games in which I’ve ACTUALLY managed to out-run the screen, so that’s probably not the case. Sonic CD’s levels are WAY too short and I feel they could have done a lot more with them.

    Other than just that, everything else is fine.

    But anyway here’s my list of favorite classic Sonic games. Please keep in mind that this is solely based off MY OPINION.

    1 – Sonic CD
    2 – Sonic the Hedgehog 2
    3 – Sonic the Hedgehog
    4 – Sonic 3 and Knuckles

    Yeah I’m probably going to piss a lot of people off by ranking Sonic 1 above 3 and Knuckles, but honestly that’s just how it goes with me. Sonic 3 and Knuckles’ level design was too damn cruel and cheap it’s almost risky going at full speed sometimes. The simplicity of Sonic 1 fits perfectly with Sonic’s speed and that results in some intense high speed platforming. Very rare do I have to slow down at certain points just because I’m afraid I might run into a spike, get crushed, fall down a bottomless pit, or get KNOCKED BACK into a hazard. The simplicity of it all just flows so perfectly.

  14. Jorchking Says:

    Sonic CD isn’t a very good game is clearly less than classic sonics like 1,2,3 & Knuckles.
    The only good thing is 1 or 2 Soundtracks of the game.

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