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30 Years of Sonic CD!

Discussion in 'General Sonic Discussion' started by HEDGESMFG, Sep 23, 2023.

  1. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

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    September 23rd, 1993. Sonic CD first dropped in Japan.

    Even 30 years later, it remains one of the most fascinating video games I've ever played. I didn't care much for it when I first played it, as the complexities of the game's time travel system, the confusing nature of the 2 OSTs (I first heard the JPN OST in the Sonic Screensaver and tried to actually guess what type of level or boss each track would be used in! I was very confused when the US PC copy didn't have most of these songs...), and the unusually easy bosses left me feeling a bit disappointed, but that changed over time. I went in blind after playing Sonic 1, 2, 3 and Knuckles, so it was quite a change from the traditional experience.

    I first got the game on PC in 1997, a few months after I beat the S&K collection on PC. I had played Sonic 1 and 2 before on native hardware, but never CD on anything before this. In fact, I think it's the only mainline US released 90s title I've 'never' played on native hardware before! I even owned a 32X and Chaotix at one point, but never a Sega CD! I was a big fan of Back to the Future at the time, so seeing a game actually use its time travel mechanics in gameplay was mind blowing once I realized what the game actually offered.

    Eventually, I became more comfortable with the systems. I began to understand how time travel worked. I found songs I liked (and some I even preferred) even in the US version. I discovered the time capsules and metal sonic holograms and my mind slowly became blown by how things changed when you played with this system properly. I finally grasped the concept of changing the future, and marveled over the changes in visuals and soundtrack from those efforts. I loved the subtle touches like badniks aging in different time periods. I got better at the special stages, which were a unique and fun system for a one off. Over the course of 30 years, I became more and more enamored by the game's ambitions, despite its flaws. The game perfectly captures Naoto Oshima's 90s style and has an aesthetic I love above all other parts of the brand, even Mania/3K. As a game, it quickly became a favorite title behind S3K, even as most of the fandom was moving on to the Dreamcast era and beyond. The 2011 revamp also was a crucial turning point in making the game far more accessible, even if it didn't quite get everything right. The mod scene that has evolved from it is both chaotic and creative in its own right too, and despite some flaws, Origins presents players with an even closer to definitive version by finally adding Knuckles, a character that specializes in exploration, to a game that was designed around it even before he was created. I firmly stand by the idea that playing the game with him makes it an entirely new experience, and is one every classic fan should try at least once. Playable Amy is of course also a great addition and a landmark feature for the character, even if some don't care for Origins gameplay style.

    And not only is Amy Rose a classic fan favorite, now at last elevated to a full team member, but Metal Sonic is possibly my all time favorite character in the franchise. He's the perfect sleek, cool, mechanical rival, and both this game and the later 1996 OVA remain the peak of his cool, deadly, silent killer style. Both are essential additions to the lore and roster of fan favorites, that have only grown more respected with time.

    Obviously, we've had a million threads here to discuss it over the decades. But I think it's silly to let a major anniversary pass without at least having one more.

    So talk about your first impressions about the game. How did you discover it. How have your feelings changed on it over time? Have you tried the many mods or alternative versions developed among the decomp community in the past 3 years, or played it again more extensively with Origins new features? Have other games been inspired by it in any way, and if they haven't should they ever be (Sonic or otherwise)?

    Happy 30th anniversary, Sonic CD!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2023
  2. Clownacy

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    I recall my first time playing Sonic CD being the 2011 remaster. I imagine that I played it on my Xperia Play way back when. I remember being so confused when progressing from one act to another, because I thought the past and futures were considered their own acts, and the 'III' graphic on the title card did not help with that at all.

    Sonic CD 2011 is my favourite of the remasters, because of its loyalty to the source material: the others, I find, have an awful habit of changing things that didn't need to be changed (Marble Zone's music, whyyyyyyyyyyyyyy). Though, my lack of familiarity with the original Sonic CD may have unfairly influenced this. Nowadays, being a big ol' purist, I prefer to play the Mega CD original... with my hack that restores the original jump sound.

    Oh boy, the jump sound - everyone's favourite polarising Sonic CD topic. I've explained the technical reasons that the sound is different before, but the alternate jump sound was retained for Sonic Crackers (Mega Drive) and Knuckles Chaotix (32X), so it seems that the sound's usage wasn't entirely down to the Mega CD's technical limitations, but also taste. I still prefer the original jump sound though, because it doesn't sound like it was ran through an aggressive low-pass filter [and so it was that the thread was consumed by a debate about which jump sound is better...].

    It's bizarre that, after all this time, Sonic CD still lacks a disassembly. There is a reason for that though: the game's engine being duplicated amongst 30 or so separate binaries, one for each level. Flamewing's tried disassembling the game, Devon's tried disassembling it, but none have ever seen it through to the end. The 2011 remaster was decompiled, and even the Sonic Gems port is being decompiled, but the original Mega CD version continues to elude ROM-hackers to this day. I guess it adds to Sonic CD's mystique.

    For all of these reasons and more, Sonic CD definitely stands out as the most unique classic Sonic game. As someone whose favourites of the classics are Sonic 1 and 2, Sonic CD strikes me as a nice 'what if' of if the Sonic games hadn't gone in the direction that Sonic 2 took it, and instead kept many aspects of what made Sonic 1 what it is: slow and methodical. I play it every now and again if I want a challenge: recalling every robot generator's and Metal Sonic projector's location from memory alone is a blast. Sonic CD ties with Sonic 3 & Knuckles as my third favourite classic Sonic game, because I prefer what Sonic 2 brought to the series (...and Sonic 3 & Knuckles then squandered :U), but it's still a refreshing change of pace.
     
  3. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

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    we have the Sonic anniversaries thread so this should probably be merged there

    Anyway, my first experience with Sonic CD was on a website that had Flash Sega emulators when I was 12. The Retro Engine version ended up being the first game I bought via digital distribution, right after our family got an Xbox One. I've always loved it. Its focus on methodical platforming is pretty different from the creative direction the series ended up going in so it really stands out, to this day.
     
  4. Tiberious

    Tiberious

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    I've already stated this in the Unpopular opinions thread, but I kinda had the opposite opinion after it 'clicked'. I just never understood the hype surrounding it. It's a decent Sonic 16-bit platformer, but if you're playing it 'correctly', you never even see the Good/Bad Futures for 14 of the 21 stages. You find a warp to the Past as quickly as possible, take out the generator and hologram, and get to the end. If you're good enough to get the Time Stones first try, you don't even go to the Past after the first few zones.
     
  5. Devon

    Devon

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    The only real reason I've not really been working on it is mainly because I basically have a job now and I'm focusing on moving out in the next year or so. I may or may not return to it, but in the end, it's mainly been a one-man job (Flamewing actually sent me their disassembly of R11A back in 2015, which helped out a lot, and I did have some help from TheStoneBanana from the first few years of working on it, but since he now works for Headcannon...). That, and the code can be absolutely maddening at times, and I can never seem to be satisfied with how I organize and label things (tbh, it would be a lot better if the other disassemblies had consistent styling).

    For what it's worth, I did at least make an IDA script set that will automatically disassemble stage MMD files (well, as much as I can automate it, and it's for the European version only, because I used the wiki to pull addresses for graphics from) with labels for graphics and objects and common functions, and auto-setups for mappings, animation data, and PLCs, so the process can be sped up dramatically.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2023
  6. Mookey

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    I first played it on Kega Fusion like back in '09/'10 or so? I really hated the special stages at first, and they're still a special kind of jank, but once I adjusted to all of that I have to say they're probably my favorite in the series. Can't beat it on the music/visuals front either as far as I'm concerned. I think conceptually the game is great and it's only ultimately held back by it's implementation, as well as missing the better flow in level design that the Genesis games had.
     
  7. saxman

    saxman

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    I was one of those kids lucky enough to have gotten a Sega CD for Christmas way back in 1993. Sonic CD was brand new at the time. The console came with Sewer Shark. Me and my brother each bought our first games for the system. We went to the store, and he bought Spider-Man, while I bought Sonic CD.

    I had no concept of backup RAM. I had never heard of such a thing, so the fact that the game couldn't be run unless the memory was formatted was a problem for me. I took it back, thinking my copy was defective. The second copy did the same thing. Eventually I figured it out by trial-and-error. As a lesson: maybe requiring formatted memory wasn't such a good idea, but I didn't make the game.

    Anyway, I liked the music. The excitement surrounding the Sega CD's audio capabilities made every game we played on it exciting. The time travel was fun and interesting. And there were little minor differences about the game that gave it that "movie adaptation" feel, if that makes sense. Oh, and the Special Stages were incredible, because anything 3D in those days was out of this world!

    Fast forward, I still think it's an amazing game. The change of opinion always stuns me, because it used to be considered one of the best Sonic games ever made. Nowadays, people commonly complain about level design and things like that. I don't understand the revisionist views. My view hasn't changed at all.

    I always wanted a Sonic CD 2, and I was always disappointed that they never made one. But I'm grateful that at least they made this gem.
     
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  8. Its not revisionist history, just that a lot more people are able to play the game now so there's a much wider amount of opinions on it than before when it was stuck on less accessible hardware.

    Anyways, I like a lot about CD and dislike a lot about it. I basically grew up seeing Sonic fans raving about it like it was a masterpiece, so when I finally got to play it on Android my expectations were very high. Unfortunately while the music and visuals lived up to the praise, the gameplay did not. Sonic to me was getting from point A to B as fast as possible, so a game where doing that resulted in experiencing relatively barren, dull levels. Ended up not liking CD after that.

    Gave the game a second chance but this time trying to actually play the game how it was intended, and well...that didnt go over well either, I've never been too good at 2D Sonic in general so trying to translate those poor skills into a different context wasnt fun. I gave the game more chances after that but its pretty much been the same result. Probably never gonna try again at this point.

    Game's music and visual aesthetic was so strong that it ended up defining classic Sonic for many despite Sonic 2 and especially 3&K following a more realistic visual style and Jpop music direction. Gameplay on the other hand, never clicked for me and I think thats likely true for a lot of other people too.
     
  9. Battons

    Battons

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    So I had the Expert Software PC release from about the time I could first form memories, it was I think my second video game ever? Would’ve been around 2003. Anyways, I liked the game a lot more as it made robotnik kind of scary to kid me, or at the very least more menacing. In addition it was slower and easier which helped me learn how to play sonic games. I’m so glad that sega not only gave the game more love with taxman but has made it a staple of the series along with the main 3 games. I never thought it was the best classic game but I’ll sing it praises till the day I die, for the simple fact of it shaping my gaming tastes, and it played a big part in who I am today. Heres to another 30!
     
  10. Ravenfreak

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    I didn't even know Sonic CD existed until my spouse told me about it when we first started dating which was a few months before I joined Retro. :V I remember people talking about it somewhat on TitansGo.net a Teen Titans forum since I made the topic "Who's faster The Flash or Sonic?" and people brought up time travel. I was blown away because at that point I thought I had played all the 16-bit Sonic games since I had a Genesis and every Sonic game released for the Genesis at least. I decided to give it a go not too long after I discovered the game and I loved it. I played the US version first but once I found out the Japanese/Pal version of the game had a completely different soundtrack I downloaded the Japanese version and loved the soundtrack! I haven't played the original version in a long time, and honestly I probably won't go back to playing it now that the 2011 version exists and it's way better. I still can't get all the damn time stones in the game so I resort to getting good futures in every stage. xD
     
  11. Chimpo

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    Sonic CD is objectively a shitty game. Remove Wacky Workbench entirely and it turns into the greatest game.

    My first exposure was the 97 PC port.

    [​IMG]
    Hell Yeah

    After years of people gassing it up to be the greatest game ever made, I was severely disappointed. The game was just not fun to me honestly. I dug the art, the new characters and the music. It was a nice bonus finding out that you could listen to the soundtrack on a CD player, that was sweet. But the game itself felt clunkier than Sonic 2 and even Sonic 1. The Spin-Dash was mid and the Peel-Out, while it looked cool, didn't really add much. I also thought (and still do) the time travel was severly under utilized. The game just doesn't do anything interesting with the mechanic. It was all style, no substance, but man WHAT style. The cinematics pretty much established what Sonic should be forever. A cool dude, no words, his determination and actions says it all. It's why I don't like Prime Sonic, that guy is an idiot.

    I ended up finding out about the Japanese version a couple of years later. I love the Japanese tracks, but I don't subscribe to the same bullshit everyone else does where they're dogging on the US track. Spencer Nilsen delivered a great soundtrack and there are a lot of tracks that I would rather play the stages with the US version over the Japanese version. It's a shame that the 2011 remaster didn't have a function similiar to Castlevania Dracula Chronicles X where you could mix and match tracks to individual stages. That would have been cool.

    Over the years though, I found myself replaying Sonic 1 over and over as opposed to playing Sonic 2 and 3K. Those games were cool, but they lost something along the way. I think once Mania came out, something clicked in me. I didn't like Mania's level design. It was the same spectacle that 2 and 3K offered, but jacked up even further where you spent most of the time just mindlessly holding forward while you went through whatever gigantic set piece it would throw at you. I ended up revisiting CD and found it a far more enjoyable experience. I liked exploring the stages. I liked finding new routes to travel through time or to get faster times in time attack. I liked visiting the different time zones. I just kept replaying Sonic CD.

    [​IMG]

    I ended up actually liking Sonic CD. I still don't it's worthy of being called the best Sonig game ever made. There's too many rough spots that the later sequels were able to polish up, but I do enjoy the fact that they were willing to try something a little different with this entry while keeping the pace of the original Sonic 1 which I love above all the other games. I'm glad NOW to have been apart of its revival in the 2011 port by working on the Tails sprites to make him playable. Back then, I looked at it with a shrug. "Man, I'm finally gonna be working on a Sonic game, and it's gonna be CD? Fuck me". I was an idiot then, I'm a Sonic CD lover now.

    But I still don't like Wacky Workbench.
     
  12. Jason

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    I had CD through the PC version growing up. I've since played every version, just now wrapping up a playthrough on Sega CD. It's a game I adore for its art direction, not its level design. Amy is a character I loathe, but I love Metal Sonic. Is a game that really needed the whole of Sonic Team to be great. Sonic 2 had more of the team, and is therefore better. Still a defining game to what to expect stylistically from the franchise.
     
  13. Sparks

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    Sometimes I wonder if when people say they dislike Wacky Workbench, they mean Act 1 specifically; I find Act 2 to be designed fairly differently, ans as a result a more manageable experience. I think it's a zone that had a very fun concept, but a very poor execution. Sonic Mania's Chemical Plant Zone Act 2 ended up doing the floor gimmick much more justice.

    Anyway, I grew up in a Nintendo household, so my exposure to the Sonic franchise wasn't until the Gamecube era. Sonic Mega Collection was my most-played title, unsurprisingly. With the Sonic CD intro and ending being included as bonus features, my child self was piqued with interest as to what "Sonic CD" was, and a bit of internet sleuthing led me to discover that there was another "big" Genesis era Sonic game that wasn't available on Mega Collection. I wasn't the brightest kid in the early 2000s, and didn't know where to download ROMs/Emulators for a long time (the punchline here is I grew up playing NESticle via my Dad), so Sonic CD eluded me until Sonic Gems Collection came out (again, didn't know there was a PC version until later). Up to that point, the most I knew of Sonic CD was screenshots and web pages that talked about it, so Gems was my proper introduction to Sonic CD.

    There was no doubt that from day one I was hooked. It was different from Sonic 1, different from Sonic 2, and different from Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Yet, it didn't feel wrong. The world of Little Planet was far more colorful and surreal than South Island, Westside Island, and even Angel Island. Bright patterns for foregrounds and abstract objects were sprinkled all around Little Planet, and they captured my imagination. Sonic CD, compared to its predecessors and successors, gave an actual reason to explore the vast environments Sonic was dropped into. Robot transporters, Metal Sonic holograms, and Time Warp signs were all around every stage, but they were never necessary. If I wanted to tackle the Special Stages in the more traditional manner, the option was there, and I appreciated that such flexibility was given to me.

    Still, I found it fun to explore every nook and cranny of the zones, something that in some regards felt less rewarding in other Sonic games. Star posts in Sonic 2 were guaranteed to be along most given paths, and Big Rings in Sonic 3 & Knuckles were never far or hard to find, though some might argue that was for the better. Sonic CD on the other hand makes you work a bit to clear a Good Future in a zone; you have to travel to the Past in ever zone, find the Transporter, and destroy it. If I had to give Sonic CD a flaw, is that it is not always convenient to head to the Good Future in Zone 1 or 2 after you've destroyed the Transporter to reap the benefits of your labor and glimpse at how much more beautiful the stage has become.

    The best way I would describe Sonic CD is "unusual." It's clunky, it's quirky, it's experimental, and above all else it very much did its own thing, then above all of that was able to package it all together in a clean presentation with solid gameplay, and I will always respect it for that. It's story is more involved than Sonic 1 or 2s, but less than Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and I think that it hits such simplicity perfectly. Sonic CD's gameplay is very much an acquired taste for many Sonic fans who want fairly straightforward platforming, and I can see why some might be deterred by it. For me though, it'll always be a source, if not one of the primary sources even, for my desire to make video games.

    On a different note, I was born one day after Sonic CD came out. :V
     
  14. The Joebro64

    The Joebro64

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    most of the people who hate Wacky Workbench simply lack skill and need to get good at the game
     
  15. GoldeMan

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    Sonic CD is one of my go to "Chill Out" games. Just starting a new save and just exploring the stages looking for the robot generators. Maybe it might not be what Sonic was intended to be but it really scratches that itch. The soundtracks are both phenomenal, while I prefer the JPN the US Soundtrack hits a different vibe and I interchange them depending on my mood. I grew up playing the Sega CD Version (Emulators and such) but I finally got a Copy of my own thanks to my Dad's friend who just found it in his attic. Only recently got a Sega CD but it is still cool to own. I also played the PC Port which was cool but I only had one computer it would run on and it was my laptop so I didn't play it much. Such a unique game in the franchise. I get why people don't like it compared to the other three but I adore this game.

    Also is it just me or does Naoto Ohshima really like time based elements? His later game Blinx, which he also directed, also utilizes time mechanics a lot. Regardless, I still love his unrefined but experimental touch he always brings to his games. Sonic CD is among his best. Also Tidal Tempest Present is one of my favorite tracks from the franchise, it is sublime.

    Also! Favorite special stage in the series (until Mania). It is a bit awkward to control but I get such a thrill bopping the UFO one by one without wasting time. The time UFO also adds an element of strategy.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2023
  16. LockOnRommy11

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    I first played CD on PC around 1995/1996. I never played much as the PC was situated in my older brothers room; so I’d sit and watch him play through a little. He never got far too my knowledge, and it wasn’t until Sonic Gems Collection released (I got it on GCN the day before launch) that I really played it seriously.

    Sonic CD is an excellent game that unfortunately contains a few annoying level design choices that can lead to frustration, but overall a really enjoyable game and I’ve probably beaten it on multiple platforms now about 50+ times.

    P.s. Sonic Boom is superior.
     
  17. McAleeCh

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    Sonic CD has always looked and sounded great to me, but as someone who never owned a Mega CD or the full '96 PC version I never got to play properly it for a long, long time.

    My earliest experience of the game was endlessly replaying Palmtree Panic with no music via the '96 PC demo (and later figuring out you could also play one Zone each of Tidal Tempest and Metallic Madness if you swapped folders around, thanks to them leaving in the Attract Mode demos for those stages!).

    The 2011 remake was my first proper experience of the game, and on playing it in full I found that, while the game was enjoyable enough, I never quite fully gelled with the style of level design.

    However, playing the game as Knuckles in Sonic Origins Plus, it all finally clicked for me - Knuckles' abilities provide just enough additional movement options to make hunting for transporters and holograms feel really fun to me, without completely trivialising it like playing as Tails sometimes does. As Knuckles I'd rate the experience much higher than before, and feel like he'd be my first choice to play as if revisiting the game again in future.

    Regardless of my own thoughts, Sonic CD has clearly left a lasting legacy, and introduced some cool concepts such as Metal Sonic and the whole time travel experience. Especially in the last decade, SEGA have really embraced the game, and it's great that what could easily have been sidelined as an odd spin-off on a niche platform has instead been fully embraced as a core part of the classic Sonic experience.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2023
  18. DigitalDuck

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    I'll adapt an older post for this:

    I love Sonic CD, it's my second favourite classic Sonic game after S3K, and third favourite Sonic game (Colours just slides in the middle there). I always like exploring in the classic games, and whereas Sonic 3K is designed to let you go through the level with exploration options, Sonic CD is designed to let you explore with an option not to; this is the ideal setup for the time travel mechanic in the game too, as the presence of a third exploratory dimension (time) increases the potential for exploration. I also like how it takes the simplicity of the bad ending/good ending mechanic and gives you exploration options there too; you can get the good ending the typical classic Sonic way (just beat the special stages), or you can find and destroy the machine in the past of each act. It's an elegant way of rewarding exploration without punishing the normal way of playing Sonic games.

    Unfortunately a lot of this potential is wasted; for example, there's no area in the game that requires you to time travel into it - as long as you're in the correct time zone, you can get there. Time travelling itself is frustrating, though. It almost always devolves into finding a post, getting to a pair of springs without going fast (actively avoiding speed should never be a thing in a Sonic game) and bouncing between them for a few seconds. And if you want to see all the time zones of one act, you have to do this FIVE TIMES (Present -> Bad Future -> Present -> Past -> Present -> Good Future). This makes exploring much more tedious, and if I could only change one thing about the game it'd be this. Cut out Present entirely, start in Bad Future, and have portals that can be freely traveled through instead of requiring top speed for X seconds; then use these portals for more complex navigation and puzzle solving.

    One thing a lot of people complain about is the spindash. I don't mind the Sonic CD spindash, but the Peelout makes it useless because it's better in every way (faster charge time, and you can just press down after you launch to be in a rolling state). Classic spindash at least has enough differences to make the two viable together (classic spindash can be launched near-instantly at a lower speed, but forces a rolling state). I personally think the classic spindash is far too overpowered with both next to zero necessary charge time plus being in rolling state so enemies just kill themselves when they touch you - Peelout is much better balanced.

    I love the art style of the game, and I always say that it feels like there's a subseries that consists of Sonic CD, Chaotix, Sonic Heroes, and Sonic Colours where we have this completely different Sonic universe, visually. These for me are the only four games that have really nailed an aesthetic that feels distinctly and uniquely Sonic in every way, showing the various states of nature and technology both coexisting and destroying each other. Metal Sonic being in all four games (if you count Sonic Colours Ultimate) helps cement this for me too.

    Also the JP soundtrack is one of the greatest soundtracks of any game ever and should definitely have been the model for Sonic music going forwards. Incidentally the same subseries somewhat seems to work music-wise too - Chaotix, Heroes, and Colours, while all doing their own thing with the music, have glimpses of the mood and energy you get from Sonic CD that most other Sonic games just... don't.

    TL;DR: CD might've been my favourite game ever if it actually wanted you to time travel
     
  19. HEDGESMFG

    HEDGESMFG

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    Just to add to this, this is why I enjoy the mods so much. "Time Travel Revamped", brings it more in line with the original design concept Naoto Ohshima had planned, making Time travel much less tedious.

    Adding on to it, though it is a fan concept, the Miracle Sonic "super" form freely giving you the ability to time travel backward or forwards at any point (in Acts 1-2 only of course) becomes even more fun because of this. It's why to me the Origins version won't quite be the full experience until script mods add this very cool idea to it. It's the one piece of "fanon" I'm very fond of

    Miracle Sonic Fan Art:
    [​IMG]

    That's not to say I didn't get used to the time travel concept in official versions. There's something novel about searching for accurate ways to time travel or gain speed that 'also' mirror the BTTF experience in a novel way, but people should at least be aware that alternate ways to play the game exist and are fun in their own right. Give it time and these features will eventually be compatible with the Origins PC version too, without the legal complications of forcing people to use a... not quite so legal de-compilation to play with them.

    Modded Miracle Sonic (and revamped time travel) playthrough:


    Fortunately, as stated, Knuckles also makes the game very enjoyable in his own right, and that's available officially right now:
     
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2023
  20. Overlord

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    My first copy of this game I got in a 4-in-1 box in CompUSA around the time it was shutting down in NYC in 2002, so my first exposure was really to the US soundtrack, played on a CD player - however I never actually installed it on a PC so my first playing of it was with the original (and correct =P) soundtrack via emulation. Some years later I got hold of the MCD version and we go from there.

    It's a good game, Wacky Workbench and the fucking awful special stages aside, but I still view it as the worst of the 16-bit classics.