Sonic CD Review

Posted: December 27, 2011 by Tony Polanco in REVIEWS

Remember the Sega CD?  Sega’s doomed console add on didn’t really have many good games and failed to usher in a new era of gaming where full motion videos reigned.  Amidst the FMV drudgery, a true gem of a game was released; Sonic CD.  Although Sonic CD is arguably the best game in the series, its never been on any of the thousands of Sonic the Hedgehog compilations that have come out over the years (at least in North America it hasn’t).  This crime is now being answered for with the release of Sonic CD on modern consoles.

Sonic CD has everything that makes a Sonic the Hedgehog game great and then some.  A lot of the modern Sonic games seemed to have forgotten that Sonic games are just as much about exploration as they are about speed and in Sonic CD the huge levels beg to be meticulously combed over.  In addition to all the classic platforming mechanics, Sonic can also travel through time.  The little blue guy can go back into the past and destroy Robotnik’s machines to create a better future for each stage.  Chaos emeralds are replaced with Time stones and you can get these by playing through the special stages which look very much like F-Zero or any games with mode 7 graphics.  The gameplay is fun and holds up nicely nearly 20 years later.

Despite it’s tight mechanics and enjoyable gameplay, I think the thing that makes Sonic CD so dear to the people that have played it is the incredible soundtrack.  I’m not talking about the original Japanese soundtrack but the American one.  When this game came out, having a game on a CD was a new thing and developers wanted to take advantage of the medium.  One of the ways to do this was to have a soundtrack that used real instruments and the American version of Sonic CD did just this.  The tunes made Sonic CD feel like no other Sonic game before it and they definitely helped elevate the game to greatness.  The music, like the gameplay has also stood the test of time and sounds just as fresh now as it did in 1993.

A review of the re-released Sonic CD wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Christian Whitehead.  Who is this, you ask?  Several years ago he created an engine that could port old pixel based games to modern consoles and make the games look better than they used to.  This is the engine that is used for Sonic CD and the results are pretty amazing.  Unlike other ports of older games, Sonic CD was built from the ground up using this engine so everything is as it should be but better and adapted to the current consoles.  The graphics are sharp but smooth and there is barely any trace of pixelation.  The game also takes up the entire screen without having to be stretched and therefore warped.  This is now the gold standard of how to port classic games to the current generation of consoles as far as I’m concerned.

Sonic CD was and is, the epitome of what makes a Sonic game great.  This re-release definitely does the game justice and for the low price of $5, no one has an excuse not to get this masterpiece.  We won’t be seeing any decent Sonic the Hedgehog games any time soon, so if you want to play as the blue blur and have a fun time doing so then Sonic CD is the game to play.


  • The game looks better than ever
  • One of the best video game soundtracks you’ll hear
  • Opening and closing anime cut scenes
  • Gameplay and level design are top notch


  • NA

Sonic CD was developed and distributed by Sega corporation.  It was released digitally on the Playstation network and Xbox live arcade and is available now for $4.99 and 400 Microsoft points respectively.  The Playstation network version was played for this review.


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