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30 Years of Sonic CD!

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

  1. JaxTH


    Pudding Deity Oldbie
    Los Angeles
    Jack shit.
    You can't keep getting away with this while dying on the hilt of the blue swirl. :colbert:
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  2. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    Wacky Workbench is a fantastic zone. I'll write a proper post for the game soon, but this will have to do for now.
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  3. saxman


    Oldbie Tech Member
    Honestly, Wacky Workbench is one of my favorite Sonic levels ever created. I understand why some people don't like it, the biggest reason seeming to be that it inhibits speed. But there's something about the floor bouncing you waaaaay up in the air like that repeatedly that makes it exciting and fun. It's sort of a fantastical gameplay experience that's unlike anything else I've ever played in a Sonic game. Coupled with the Wacky Workbench music (especially the present theme) from the US soundtrack (which I grew up with), which is very bouncy (pardon the pun) and energetic, it only further excites the experience.

    In short, I'm okay with a Sonic game having a few levels that are less about speed if they're still fun to play. And I very much enjoy Wacky Workbench.
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  4. Chimpo


    I Gotta Be Me Member
    Los Angeles, 2029
    Don't Forget! Try Your Best!
    I can only speak for myself. I don't like either of them.
  5. AnimatedAF


    I was lucky enough to get a Mega CD II and the game when I was a kid, second-hand from the back of my local newspaper. This was around the time I started to draw my own little Sonic comics, so all the first ones I did when I was about 6 or 7 were very Sonic CD-focused. Here is my babby recreation of the intro.


    I was obsessed with this game, far more than Sonic 1 or 2 before it because it was so massive and mysterious. I was never able to find all the past stuff or beat all the special stages so I was never SOOOO COOOOL as a kid lol

    Some years later I had a Sega Power magazine with a bunch of cheats in it, including the hidden art from the sound test. I started making my own weird off-shoot takes on Sonic inspired by these with a bunch of gibberish Japanese-like text on them. I made a character out of the Majin Sonic named after my primary school's lollipop man.


    Sonic CD's soundtrack, taken from the game disc (minus the past tracks of course) was the first music I ripped onto a tape and took about with me on my walkman. It's the one piece of any set of music that I have listened to for the majority of my life. Sonic CD holds a very special place in my heart and while I wouldn't call it the "best" sonic game it is definitely my favorite Sonic game.
  6. Bobblen


    Good to read so many people getting their first experience of it via the Win 95 PC port. Still my favourite version to this day for that very reason! :)
  7. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    Happy 30 Years of Sonic CD! The most brilliant game Sonic has ever produced, bar none. I think it is indeed the game that best showcases a rather SEGA-y approach to game design that is lost today, and maybe no longer makes sense. People who would like to "fix" Sonic CD, especially its time travel, are driven by a sense that the game counter intuitively hides from you even though it has so much to offer. But, by only showing you a fraction of what its logic entails, it achieves a certain feeling of ephemerality and wild abandon all throughout that games really could use today, in an age of efficiency, utilitarianism and completeness. In other words, please don't be so caught up in what Sonic CD could have done that you forget what it actually does.

    I'll explain.

    Maybe you won't even notice the first time you reach a Good Future in Sonic CD (which, in any case, might not even happen the first time you beat it), but every future in Sonic CD is very, very strange. Just take a look.

    I first played the PC version of Sonic CD in 2001, I believe, and what first caught my eye was how foreign everything looked, sounded and felt. The Special Stages felt like Sonic was invading the land where UFOs floated about, and it was so janky that it felt like the UFOs were running away from Sonic. The future versions of the stages looked like they couldn't possibly belong to, or actually host either Sonic or Robotnik. They're simply visitors, invaders in a place that are simply not about them. And it makes sense for a game for which the opening sequence shows Sonic reaching a little planet that is, in fact, ephemeral, and needs to be chained to a lake for a game to take place. All in all, Spencer Nilsen understood in a month what I could only grasp a little while ago after years of playing and replaying the game. Because whenever you reach the third act of a stage, do make an effort to look around. I say make an effort because, while the first and second acts in each stage force you to search for either 50 rings to access the special stage, or search for Past and Future signs, the third acts are all about going straight to the boss and defeat it.

    The technique is basically the same for all stages. You have the present as the standard and, compared to it, the Bad Future is worn out, the visuals are opaque (which gives the suffocating feeling that there is much more going on the screen), and there looms a terrible feeling that the machines are acting on their own for no particular reason, as if Eggman was done with them and everything had been abandoned, left to malfunction. The Good Future is full of transparent or crystalline objects like glass, crystals, water, etc., which give the impression that everything is harmonious, and the landspaces are expansive – and you're left with the perception that things (especially water) are working for the pleasure of functioning, simply because it is natural for them to flow, to turn, to exist in that way.

    That's what's weird.

    You might think that the futures are completely different, but fundamentally the futures are the same – you often see scaffolding, things left to do, unfinished structures in all times. You see things being built, but you don't see anyone building them; all the stages are very vivid, but there is no one living in them. In Palmtree Panic, sure, you might imagine that in the Bad Future, Robotnik went crazy and is exploiting natural resources to make evil robots, not caring about nature because he's, well, evil. But when you get to Metallic Madness and see that everything is just as ruined, it loses its meaning. The badniks are broken too, Robotnik's own base is unsustainable, and the future is more of a post-apocalypse where nothing works rather than a dystopia as we are used to seeing in fiction, where things work for some while others are in misery, or they work in a very twisted, perversed way. And this translates into the game mechanics as well: the stages are generally easier in the Bad Future than they are in the Good Future because the threats are all falling apart, and those annoying fish from Tidal Tempest who shoot projectiles from their backs can't even do that anymore, and the spiders from Quartz Quadrant can't shoot webs at you, and so on. Worse still, they'll still try.

    When you realize this and go to the Good Futures, the feeling of isolation only gets worse: everything works and is very beautiful, but it doesn't seem to be for anyone. You can imagine that there are people enjoying the clean water and the giant wheel in Stardust Speedway, but these people are ghosts. For all practical purposes, the future has grown into a beautiful landscape and nothing more. It's especially unsettling because even if the future is good, even if everything is perfect, the stages are still designed to kill you.

    I mean, the bosses in Sonic CD have this special characteristic: they use everything the stage has introduced up to that point, and you must use those mechanics to your advantage. Don't like bouncing around in Collision Chaos? Too bad, because the boss is literally a pinball game, and you have to reach the top to win. Can't control Sonic's flight when he jumps off the ground in Wacky Workbench? Tough luck, because the boss is all about using that mechanic. I mean, it all makes sense in a future dominated by Robotnik, even if everything has gone to hell. But in a future where you managed to stop him, it all feels very strange. A feeling that, in reality, the future doesn't matter – it's between you and Robotnik, even if the world is falling apart or everyone is living happily within systems that serve no purpose other than being perfect in themselves.

    The futures in Sonic CD are a mirage.

    There's no substance to them. Both the good and the bad future are systems that serve themselves and are not grounded in a moral utopia or dystopia – they are purely aesthetic versions of landscapes we know, extended to a positive, transparent and stable infinite, or a negative, opaque and self-destructive yet self-perpetuating infinite. So, in other words: the futures don't "belong" to Sonic or Robotnik: they don't represent anything. If you want, you can interpret them as futures in which technology was used for or against nature, but you can't grasp the principle behind this difference because, one way or another, you still have to go after the villain, defeat Metal Sonic in a race and so on. The fate of the world doesn't really concern you, even though your actions trigger one thing or another – and, similarly, you and Robotnik are outside this scheme.

    But this strangeness is the most important aesthetic, gameplay and story device in Sonic CD. By presenting a world that exists alone and exists only to perpetuate itself – as a mirage – you become incapable of judging what's inside it, and that's when your adventure becomes truly your own. You don't owe the world anything, and it doesn't owe you anything either. In Sonic CD, you have the image, but not the principles. This approach allows the stages to be fleeting and have that fleetingness be part of the impact it leaves in you. It makes you long for more. It makes a game worth revisiting for reasons that are not utilitarian. Classic Sonic has this liberating feeling that there's more to see in a stage simply because it's beautiful or fun enough, and not because the game wants you to. To do more is a transgression: you're flexing your skills by visiting different times, because you don't have to. Sightseeing is an end in itself, and it should definitely stay that way.

    Have a counter-example: Cloudbank is a utopia in Transistor. It's a city that visibly works for the good of the people, with elevated moral principles and quite solid social, political, and even existential foundations. That is, it was a utopia, because Transistor takes place exactly with Cloudbank being subverted in its matrix, ceasing to exist at all levels. You may disagree with the Camerata, think the guys are reactionaries, that Sybil is a (very lovely) airhead and all that, but the fact is that the principles of utopia existed and worked, but ultimately failed. It's not a contingent utopia, and it won't turn into a dystopia – the principles were simply betrayed at some point, even though they worked and ninety-nine point ninety-nine percent of the people were supposedly happy. And furthermore – you don't see this. You only see things deteriorating, but not functioning.

    And this principle is stronger than the image, although it makes us imagine how everything was before CERTAIN PEOPLE ruined everything. But it's very intellectual, just like all utopias have been. Sonic CD's utopias, as well as dystopias, are more visceral precisely because they are mirages. They are really places to be in, not the materialization of ideas. Sonic CD's futures are strange because they don't belong to us: they admit that our principles will change, and our whole notion of everything will intellectually crumble – but there, in that game, Sonic CD's utopias or dystopias will always be either very beautiful or very ugly and self-sufficient.

    We need more futures like the ones in Sonic CD.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2023
  8. Despite its flaws, Sonic CD was very a ahead of its time.
  9. That One Guy Josh

    That One Guy Josh

    Speaks English AND Balanese. Member
    I'll be short here:
    I found out about this game through the 2011 remake years ago. My first playthrough was a bit sloppy on some places, but I did end up finishing the game with all the Time Stones. The JP soundtrack is a bop (favorite track in particular being WWZ Present), but the US one does have its fair share of good tunes too. The bosses, while somewhat unique, baffled me with how easy they were, except... well, Metal Sonic.
    Speaking of, they did a damn good job making Metal one of the best villains in the entire series.

    While the game isn't perfect per se, it stands out to me as a masterpiece amongst the other games in the Classic quadrilogy. I... am sad they didn't bother to make a sequel, though.
  10. Palas


    Don't lose your temper so quickly. Member
    On Wacky Workbench:

    Sonic CD is the most methodically-designed classic Sonic game, except maybe for Sonic 1. The core loop asks you to a) find a Past signpost, then b) find an area or some sort of closed structure in which you can gather enough speed for long enough, then c) find the teleporter in the past and destroy it. Thi makes it so that every stage needs to be backtrackable, with very distinct upper and lower zones that enhance the skill building loop Sonic 1 established: upper "routes" are emptier and you can travel through time more easily, but it's also harder to figure paths out; lower "routes" have more stuff, but are also more dangerous. So "getting fast in order to just survive" has anther meaning in Sonic CD: you either have to be really good at accessing and using looping points, or you have to be really good at keeping your speed with and against the stage.

    Yet, despite being so methodical, learning how to use the stage geometry to go fast is more essential to Sonic CD than it is even to Sonic 2, the fastest classic Sonic game. However, you have to learn how to do that in each zone. And each zone plays with movement differently. By turning the usual structure on its head, Wacky Workbench may just be the stage you have to just trust the most in order to travel through time. You have to throw yourself at it, peel out or spindash to the abyss, and either hope or learn how to bounce off objects to keep the momentum. The bouncy floor becomes your tool when it once was your worst enemy. That's, I think, the purest essence of Sonic the Hedgehog right there. The act of throwing yourself to the stage being a virtue is something no platformer other than Sonic has, and no Sonic game has it more than Sonic CD. You just have to learn how to use the stage and trust it as your playground. It makes you feel smart, bold and inventive, like you actually beat the stage instead of figured it out the way you were always supposed to.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2023
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  11. Snub-n0zeMunkey


    yo what up Member
    Sonic CD is my favourite Sonic game and honestly one of my favourite 2D platformers in general. It's hard to recommend this game to newcomers, especially when even long time fans struggle with it but that kind of makes it more special to me in a weird way.

    The levels feel like playgrounds for you to explore and just have fun dicking around in, which makes mastering their design feel so rewarding. More than any other Sonic game I feel like CD rewards you the most for playing in an inventive way and thinking outside the box. The special stages are super underappreciated too imo, once you get good at them they become so fun. I prefer them over blue sphere honestly.

    The aesthetics of this game are unmatched and the animated sequences really proved that Sonic could be effortlessly cool without even saying a single word.

    As weird as it may sound, I hope that they never explain the origin of the Time Stones or Little Planet. The mystery around them was always really appealing to me. Some questions are more interesting when left unanswered.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2023
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  12. Billy


    RIP Oderus Urungus Member
    Colorado, USA
    Indie games
    I love Sonic CD. Like a lot of people here my first experience with CD was the PC port. I was really bad at actually completing games when I first played it though, so I didn't actually beat it until I played it via Gems Collection years later. And it took a good while longer until I beat it with the good ending. I've since beaten it multiple times via both methods. I love that it's a more exploration focused Sonic game, but I get that it's not to everyone's taste.

    Echoing what people have said about CD practically being made for Knuckles. It's a shame it took them so long to add him to it.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2023
  13. kyasarintsu


    I think the game has a bad mix of Sonic 1's platforming and Sonic 2's speed, with nowhere near as much exploratory depth or fun as people give it credit for. Even when I deliberately go slow I feel like the levels are all underwhelming, aimlessly designed, and over before they start. Time traveling was a chore, I didn't like any of the bosses (1's had a simple elegance and 2's were at least not obnoxious), and I thought the special stages were both really annoying and too scarce.

    Ultimately, it's a game I respect way, way more than I actually enjoy. I think the presentation is cool, even if not what I would call quintessential. I think the atmosphere is interesting and that the premise gives a game a little mystique. I think the music is cool (Stardust Speedway US present is underrated and way superior) but it's not at all something that feels quintessentially "Sonic" to me. I agree a lot with what people praise about the game but I'll always have a "but" in the back of my head.
  14. John Chrysler

    John Chrysler

    My first time playing this game would have been the PC port if the disc itself wasn't lost for about 2 decades but until I have recently found the disc my first time playing was the mobile port and that was too cool.
  15. I played Sonic CD for the first time on the GameCube (Sonic Gems Collection), but didn't complete it because I found the time traveling gameplay confusing at first and I thought the gameplay was slower than other 2D Sonic games. I played the Christian Whitehead version in 2011 on my Sony Xperia Play and on my PS3 and this time the game really clicked with me. I finished both the Android version as well as the PS3 version with all the trophies.
    From then on I really became a fan of Sonic CD. I played the Android and PS3 version with the US soundtrack and the Sonic Origins version with the EU/JAP soundtrack. Both soundtracks are really good and memorable.
    Sonic CD is not my favorite 2D Sonic game, that would be Sonic Mania, but it's high on my list.
  16. aria


    day dawns Member
    My intro to the game was the Gamecube version as a kid. Really felt rather mixed on it back then, and never really loved the game that much. Played the PS3 version later on, and still wasn't necessarily super huge on it, but at some point playing it on my phone, it just suddenly clicked for me, and since then I've loved it.
  17. RyogaMasaki


    0xffffffff Oldbie
    Sonic CD was the first compact disc I ever touched in my life.

    I grew up kind of poor, so we didn't have CD players or any of that fancy stuff when I was young. We had cassette tapes, baby! But right in that classic age of Sonic games from around 1992 to 1995 I had a close friend whose family was pretty well off. And that friend was firmly on the side of Sega in that era's console war. He and I were both huge Sonic fans to boot. He had the full tower of power: the Genesis, CD and 32X. So I was regularly at his house, and it was thanks to him that I had the contemporary experience of playing the 16 bit Sonic games as a kid.

    When he got the Sega CD (for Christmas, iirc) along with a copy of Sonic CD, he called me over. I still remember holding the disc, fascinated by the space-age technology and surprised by the fact that it was merely plastic and somewhat flexible. And then loading up to see that glorious Sega CD 2 US BIOS followed by A FULLY ANIMATED SONIC THE HEDGEHOG CARTOON RUNNING ON THE CONSOLE??

    I was in love with the game from the start. We had all been playing Sonic 2 for a while already, of course, so the spindash was a bit weird, but man, the figure 8 dash was just so cool. And huge zones to explore spanning time periods, the 3D special stage, and that Metal Sonic race... What an experience for a 12 year old in 1994.

    Anyway, Sonic CD remains the greatest Sonic game of all time and you will never convince me otherwise.
  18. I think I actually got my copy at a CompUSA as well… For some reason I went there quite a bit with my dad around ages 3-6. I imagine that’s also where I got my copy of Sonic R. Fun times.

    Anyway, the game is either tied with Sonic 2 or slightly higher than it for me (behind 3K obvs). I think the moment-to-moment gameplay of 2 is tighter, but the overall presentation of CD and the vision they had is unmatched. The developers really made something unique and cool.
  19. TheOcelot


    Scooty Puff Jr sucks! Member
    First time I played CD was in the Gems Collections on PS2 (with the NA soundtrack). I remember seeing screenshots of Palmtree Panic & Quartz Quadrant in a magazine in the nineties. I wanted to play CD do badly, the idea of time-travel sounded so cool, but I never owned a Mega CD console (I knew my parents would never buy me one because it was too expensive).

    I also vaguely remember reading an article in a magazine in the nineties about CD where Tails told Sonic that he didn't want to appear in CD because he was bitter at not receiving a (green) super form in Sonic 2. Sonic thought Tails was being an ungrateful little brat.... I'm not kidding, I read this in a magazine. I know this was rubbish made up by someone, but still I'd have been so down for a green Super Tails :V

    Anyway...I was hoping CD would be included in the Plus version of Sonic Mega Collection, but at least I didn't have to wait long to finally play it on the Gems Collection (the only reason I bought Gems was to play CD, lol), and I wasn't disappointed.

    CD immediately became one of my favourite Sonic games. Finally got to experience the Japanese soundtrack when Taxman's version was released which I've played to death. Then of course I've played it on Origins (so happy they added the vocals back to You Can Do Anything & Cosmic Eternity). I've also been able to play the original version of CD via emulation and via the Mega Drive Mini II...

    CD isn't perfect, it has its faults. However, whereas a lot of people seem to just want to bash the level design which in my opinion is actually very good (well apart from a few exceptions such as Wacky Workbench Zone 1 and Collision Chaos Zone 3), I actually have more of an issue with the controls in the original version of CD. I mean the controls aren't Sonic 4 bad, but they never felt as nice as Sonic 2 or 3.

    I love the opening and ending animations. I do prefer the Jp soundtrack although both OST's have some absolute bangers. Listening to the Japanese artists sing You Can Do Anything in English always makes me smile. I enjoy exploring the different zones with the different routes and different colours, learning the layouts and improvising-coming up with creative ways to time-travel in different areas. The Super-Peel Out is so sick. I find time travelling and creating a good future rewarding/satisfying. I like the sharper visuals when compared to the mega-drive games. I also really like that there are different ways to beat the game; That the good ending can be obtained by getting the time-stones or by destroying the robot generators. Or just blast through the game quickly and to hell with a good ending! I like how the bosses are more of a "you gotta work out how to damage them" design rather than the standard 8 hits. The Metal Sonic race always makes me a bit nervous, I hate losing to him :V

    When I first played CD I did find it strange that Collision Chaos follows straight after Palmtree Panic and there wasn't a marble-type zone between them. I think an R2 marble inspired stage would have made more sense than having a stage like Wacky Workbench...

    As for the zones, Tidal Tempest is probably my favorite stage in CD. So much more interesting and better designed than Labyrinth zone. Whilst I don't hate Wacky Workbench (I actually think act 2 & 3's design is good), act1 is tedious to navigate. That said, I've played through WW act1 so many times that I can get through it quite easily without issue and it does have the neat Angel statue...

    I've always considered CD on par with the excellence of Sonic 1, 2 & 3K. It's actually my second favourite classic game (just behind 3K).

    Happy anniversary Sonic CD. Here's to the next 30 years!
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2023
  20. grubbyplaya


    Sonic CD on iOS was my first ever Sonic game, and it left a massive impression on me.

    I grew up with a hand-me-down Wii and Sonic X, but I was somehow ignorant enough to miss anything surrounding Sonic until I got an iPhone and saw CD on the App Store. I was absolutely awful at it, and to this day I have no idea how I beat the game back then. I still loved it, though, and it's still one of my favorite Sonic games to this day, especially now that I know how the time travel works.

    I've seen tons of people hate on CD, and that's mainly because this game's the weakest out of all the 16-bit Sonics. But by Mega CD shovelware standards this game's the second coming of Jesus Christ. Most of the Mega CD's library is either interactive movies or ports of existing Genesis games, so Sega making a completely original Sonic game instead of porting Sonic 1 or 2 is awesome, especially with how good the art, level design, and absolutely the music are!

    Beating CD really made me want to get as many more Sonic games as I could, so I went and got the pre-Retro Engine versions of 1 & 2 alongside Colors for my Wii. I have no idea if I'd like Sonic as much as I do now without having started out with CD, and it holds a special place in my heart just because of that. Can't wait to pour my heart out for the 40th!