Sega are no strangers to porting their old games to iOS, especially when it comes to Sonic.
Sonic The Hedgehog and Sonic 2 were followed by Sonic Spinball, but each of these ran on Sega’s emulator system which many have grumbled about in the past. Only Sonic 4, as a new title, managed to move away from the old control system, but even this wasn’t perfect.
So when Sega announced Sonic CD I assumed it would probably use a similar system to the previous games. Fortunately, I was wrong. This is partly because the game has been created by Christian Whitehead outside of the Sega development team. His homespun project got picked up by Sega and if there’s one thing that shines through it’s that he really knows and appreciates the game.
The fact that Sonic CD is arguably the best Sonic game of the whole series isn’t a fact to be ignored. Fans have been after a new version of the game for years and, since its release in 1993 on the Mega CD, a cult has grown up around the game. Even the soundtrack is hotly debated, with the debate over which of the infamous FMV intros for the Japanese/Euro and US versions is the best still ongoing.
So now there’s not only a new version of Sonic CD, but one you can carry with you in your pocket. But the question is; does it play well enough to be a success? The short answer is Yes, very much so.
It helps that the game contains a lot of innovative ideas on top of the standard ‘dash left to right’ of previous Sonic games. The most important change here is the Past and Future gates . Once past, going fast enough will send Sonic back or forward in time and the level will change. Travelling to the past and reaching the end of the level will present Sonic with a generator to smash and thereby saving the future from being over-run by enemies, making it easier to finish each level. Going in to the future first will take Sonic to a level teeming with obstacles as Eggman has taken over the world.
A new boost tool, the Super Peel Out, gives Sonic a bigger boost of speed than his usual spin dash. This is done by pushing up and holding the jump button and can come in very handy when stuck in certain areas, but can lead to instant death if he ends up hitting an enemy. The standard Spin Dash is still around for knocking through walls and dashing past enemies as in previous games. Having both of these options available does add a little strategy to the game; go for faster speeds and less safety or slightly slower and safer Spin Dash.
Controls have been slimmed down to a digital pad and single jump/action button. It works perfectly and although virtual buttons still aren’t as good as a physical joypad, it still works better than any other Sonic game ported to iOS so far, even Sonic 4. The transparent controls don’t seem to get in the way of the action either and most of this happens in the centre of the screen, away from your fingers.
If you’re coming to Sonic CD expecting a modern remake in the graphics department then you’re going to be disappointed. Old time fans, though, will be happy with the representation of the game here. This is Sonic CD as it was back in the day and while on iPhone it still manages to look pretty, on iPad it does tend to stretch those pixels out a bit and that’s when the game starts to show it’s age. But then this is more welcome than a complete overhaul which might have ruined the classic feel of the game, so I can live with a lack of HD smoothing or any redrawn sprites.
Likewise, those sampled sounds from the original are still in place, as is that all important US Soundtrack tune ‘Sonic Boom’. Unfortunately, the ‘Toot Toot Sonic Warrior’ song from the Euro/JP intro isn’t included, only the original instrumental version.
Ultimately, though, Sonic CD is about as perfect a Sonic port as any fan could have hoped for. If you’re looking for a Sonic experience on your iPhone then this is does the job in style.
- Sound: 10
- Graphics: 8
- Gameplay: 10
- Longevity: 9
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