Sorry it's been so long but things have been crazy for me lately and I had decided to take a break for a while. I have also been enjoying reading other people's articles on here, seeing their opinions on things that I myself once enjoyed in our nostalgic past. Then I thought, "Hey, speaking of the past I was going to write an article about a certain video game that has become endeared to me, maybe it's not to late. I think I will give it a try". I was originally going to save this article for my tenth anniversary as a retrojunker, but that is still a year away, so I figured, why wait when I can write something now? And besides, I needed an escape from my hectic life and my three best options are either a video game, a good book, or writing an article here at retrojunk. So here it is, my official article dedicated to my favorite entry in the Sonic The Hedgehog franchise, Sonic CD. I hope everyone enjoys it.
Being a #1 fan of the franchise I've written an article about Sonic for his twentieth anniversary back in 2011, see Nightwatcher's Patrol #8, but I really wanted to go more in depth about Sonic CD because it has such an interesting story, especially now that two more games have entered it's legacy (not to mention that it also has a double soundtrack, more on these tidbits later). I got my first hands on with Sonic CD at the friends' house where I first saw Fantasia and got my first taste of SEGA Genesis, (yes, that place again), both subjects covered here in Nightwatcher's Patrols #'s 6 and 13 respectively. I liked the game so much that I asked for a SEGA CD that Christmas and, sure enough, I found it under the tree. Sweet!
The story of Sonic CD began in 1992 as it was developed back to back with Sonic The Hedgehog 2, although they were covered in two different locations: Sonic 2 was assigned to the team at SEGA Technical Institute (or STI) here in the United States while Naoto Oshima (Sonic's true creator) took care of Sonic CD back in Japan.
This is easily my favorite image from this game
The element of time travel was originally planned to be introduced to both games as Sonic CD was originally intended to be the SEGA CD port of Sonic 2. However, as the games grew and evolved over the course of their development the time travel part was dropped from Sonic 2 but remained in Sonic CD, and with each game getting different levels, story lines and Sonic CD getting two new characters who had not appeared in any game in the series yet, they ultimately became two completely different titles. As a result Sonic 2 was released in the Fall of 1992 as the first direct sequel to the original Sonic The Hedgehog, while Sonic CD was temporarily shelved and it's release pushed back to September 23rd, 1993 on both platforms, Mega CD and SEGA CD.
The music for this game, on the other hand, is quite possibly it's most notorious trait as this is the first video game in history to have two separate soundtracks. The Japan/Europe soundtrack, composed by Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata, is usually described as "punchy and technocentric" and much more Sonic like, while the North American soundtrack, composed by Spencer Nilsen, is more atmospheric and downbeat in approach with only the present and future tracks being changed out. In fact, I once heard it described as "elevator music". Though both soundtracks are considered by most of us fans to be some of the best music in the series we are also kind of split down the middle about which one we think is better. You can decide for yourselves by going to amazon and purchasing them. The North American album is called "Sonic Boom" which was included as a pack in with the SEGA CD system at Toys R' Us for those who preordered it. Sonic Boom contains the tracks by Spencer Nilsen with some of them having been extended for longer play time as well as the tracks from Sonic Spinball, while the Japan/European soundtrack can be downloaded as a twentieth anniversary MP3 album and it contains all of the tracks from that version as well as two remixes from ours at the end. I've managed to get both and they're good listening, recommended for all my fellow old school Sonic fans.
As mentioned above, this game is also responsible for introducing two characters who were new to the series at the time. The first was the spunky little pink girl hedgehog Amy Rose, aka Rosie The Rascal.
Who can forget this iconic scene from the meeting in Collision Chaos? Why do the bad guys always have to mess up the love scenes?
Created by Kenji Terada for the Sonic The Hedgehog manga serial (in which she appeared as a red head in pig tails, believe it or not), this little cutie is probably the best thing that has ever happened to Sonic and has been madly in love with him since the events of Sonic CD, to bad the feelings only go one way. Sonic likes Amy and cares about her as one of his best friends, but unfortunately for Amy, he is not ready for romantic commitment yet. Hey, can you blame him? After all they are still kids yet, they have time to have fun and enjoy their youth before having to think about growing up. Anyway, Amy's characteristics are about as colorful as her appearance, she can be stubborn at times but is usually very kind and generous and is always willing to lend a hand. Don't be fooled by her seemingly sweet and innocent nature though. Amy has been known to harbor a nasty temper when provoked. Stay on her good side and she will be your best friend, push the wrong button and you might be unlucky enough to get a taste of her trademark Piko Piko Hammer which she wields to dangerous effect . And don't think for one minute that Amy won't defend herself if she feels threatened. Amy also went by the nick name Princess Sally at the time but the American animated series which we fans like to call "Sonic SAT AM" and the Archie comic book series that has since followed has a character by the same name and they look nothing alike, so Amy went back to her original name.
The other character introduced here has become a fan favorite series villain, Metal Sonic.
Created by Robotnik as the evil robotic doppelganger to Sonic, Metal Sonic was programmed with all of it's heroic nemesis' signature moves and abilities making it the only robot in the world that can actually rival him. This makes it more efficient and reliable than it's past incarnations and the egg shaped one's most endeared creation. Contrary to popular belief as a robot Metal Sonic has no gender although most fans refer to it as "he" or "him" due to it's masculine design. Holograms of Metal Sonic abusing some poor little critters appear in the past and destroying them will make the planet's animals come out of hiding. Metal also helped Robotnik plant his robot generators in the past in order to change the future. Metal Sonic doesn't "talk" per se' but instead communicates through a series of electronic sounds similar to R2-D2 from Star Wars. As Sonic's dark double Metal Sonic can use most of Sonic's abilities, it's most notable being it's immense speed though it also possesses flight and enhanced strength. The early model of Metal Sonic included a laser cannon built into it's abdomen, a jet engine in it's back for excelleration and a force field emitting device. It also had two attacks based on speed: V Maximum Overdrive would give it a boost allowing it to move at least four times as fast as Sonic. Metal would use this attack when Sonic was ahead by overloading it's circuits and surrounding itself in a bright yellow fireball making it resemble a comet although this could also take a toll on Metal's body, also Sonic had a new trick up his glove for this called the "Figure Eight Super Peel Out", but sadly this was the first and only time we have seen him use it so far. Ring Spark Field would be used to sting Sonic when he came up from behind by surrounding Metal in an electrical field but this would require deceleration. Metal Sonic has since become the number one most popular villain in the franchise, even ahead of it's own master, and this was also considered the greatest rivalry in the franchise until 2001 with the introduction of Shadow The Hedgehog in Sonic Adventure 2.
Now, of course the biggest element in this game that sets it apart from other titles in the series is one of my all time favorite story elements: time travel.
These sign posts will determine which way Sonic will go through time
Sonic blasts across the time stream
When Sonic traverses through time the past and present are already set but the future starts out as a polluted, robot infested dystopia, riddled with decay where Robotnik's plants, factories and refineries have covered the surface of Little Planet, rendering it completely lifeless and turning it into a giant, twisted fortress. This can be reset however, by going into the past versions of zones one and two of each level and destroying the robot generators. I didn't know about this method when I first started though, usually having earned a good future this way by pure chance.
Sonic discovers a generator on Stardust Speedway
The other way is more challenging, collecting the seven time stones by beating *gulp* the special stages.
These were among the first stages in the franchise (counting the hub level in Sonic Jam) to utilize 3D graphics which introduced a new way to look at and control Sonic. You play these stages on a fully rotating 360 degree map and control Sonic from a third person perspective and the object was to destroy all of the UFO's on the map before the timer ran out. For the younger folks out there who haven't had the pleasure of trying this game yet, believe me, this is much more difficult than it sounds. Either method would grant a good future where the planet is now a clean, robot free, technogaian utopia, in which Robotnik's technology actually helps nature along instead of killing it.
This game is also notorious for having one of the most difficult and unforgiving levels in the series, *double gulp* Wacky Workbench.
With electric conduits, icy vents and a floor that you can't touch without getting flung into the ceiling this is possibly the most frustrating level in the entire series.
For those interested in secrets and Easter eggs here are some of my favorites. First we have the DA Garden.
To unlock this just beat all the regular stages with a time of twenty five minutes or better then look for it in your extras menu. Here you can listen to music from the soundtrack while interacting with the pictures. You can rotate the planet and watch the characters fly by, and depending on which track you have playing the planet will change to match that time period, although it is limited to present, good future and bad future. The next is a hidden chamber with a little surprise.
Is that an angel? Where did she come from? Who put her there and why? Is she modeled after a goddess? I'm afraid that her story will have to remain a mystery but the nice part about this secret is that touching her will shower Sonic with rings. This chamber is located at the bottom of Wacky Workbench zone one in the past and can also be accessed in the bad future although now it has been replaced with a Robotnik statue.
The Robotnik statue can be destroyed but this will set off a trap causing Sonic to be showered with spikey bombs.
There is also a structural feature that is kind of interesting.
The building in the middle of Stardust Speedway seems to change with the time period. In the past there appears to have been a cathedral (a connection to the angel statue perhaps?) which Robotnik has since demolished to make way for his modern structures, the fiend. In the present a giant monument of Robotnik is under construction to symbolize his equally giant ego. In the good future a mansion seems to have been built on top of the monument replacing the head which serves him right, while in the bad future the monument is complete with gleaming yellow eyes piercing the night. These pics are taken from level maps which can be found on soniczone0.com along with much more info on this and the classic Genesis games, I highly recommend it for my fellow hard core fans. Just giving credit where it is due.
On the creepier side, we can't forget about these little freak jobs which can be accessed by entering specific number combinations on the sound test screen.
What the f-*!
Okay, I'm getting freaked out now!
No one seems to know what the secret message says which only adds to it's creepy factor and makes it one of the most notorious mysteries in the Sonic franchise. Some claim to have translated it but it doesn't seem to have been set in stone as of yet.
For the last part of the article I wanted to talk about some recent games that managed to squeeze Sonic CD into the mix in one way or another. First it made a cameo in Sonic Generations, released on Xbox 360 and PS3 in 2011.
In this epic homage to the classic original, Sonic once again goes neck and neck with Metal Sonic on Stardust Speedway in the bad future. The only differences here were that you had to defeat Metal for a Chaos Emerald this time and you actually got the chance to smack it around the track, a very satisfying version of this battle that, as far as I'm concerned, was eighteen years overdue. I also think that they should completely remake Sonic CD in this new rendering, that would be frickin' awesome!
The second is in Sonic The Hedgehog 4, mostly in episode two where Metal got it's own mini side story adventure, Episode Metal.
Robotnik awakens Metal Sonic on Stardust Speedway in the aftermath of Sonic CD
In this short episode, accessed by purchasing both episodes of the game and activating the "lock on" feature, Metal Sonic cruises along behind the scenes of episode one in it's quest to gain supreme power and exact revenge on Sonic for having smashed it on the track back at Stardust Speedway. This mini game is harder than the regular game and is played through the zones of episode one in reverse order. It was really cool, and in a funny way liberating, to play as the evil robot twin for a change.
There is more tie in material for this game that I would like to talk about but I don't want to make the article to long, although for the sake of argument I'll throw in a mention for the Archie comic book series issue #25 complete with silver inked cover art which adapted the game, and Sonic The Movie which,...well, sort of adapted it.
The movie was actually pretty good and the characters were very charming, but Hyper Metal Sonic? Really?. I hope everyone enjoyed my Sonic CD retrospective and I'm very proud to have finally reached my twentieth article on retrojunk. If you will excuse me, I just made a couple of chili dogs for lunch and I have to go eat them before they get cold. Gotta juice!