Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sonic CD Re-release, Where's The Love?

Okay so this isn't exactly the theme of this blog, but I love Sonic CD, so I gotta share my thoughts on this. It was nice that at the ass end of 2011, just as we were about to forget that it's Sonic's 20th anniversary, Sega decided to squeeze out Sonic CD onto the PS3 and Xbox 360. The game wasn't a straight port, but built from the ground up by a fan. While it's more then satisfactory, it's not with out its problems. The game sprites spasm and slow down often in certain areas, especially at bosses.

Fuzzy graphical issues plague this release from time to time.

Why is it so hard to recreate a game experience from 18 years ago on a super powerful new console, when emulators do it right? I mean if you are gonna be making this thing from the ground up and you want to prove yourself as a competent game designer, isn't a flawless, smooth, recreation of the game play your number one priority? Doesn't someone at Sega step in and lend there expertise to try to fix these things? It's a minor gripe I know, but the truth is, it shouldn't even be there to begin with.

Here's another issue I have with this: If it was made by one guy, why didn't Sega, who must have saved a ton on programming costs, put some extra effort and go the Mario All Stars route? Why wasn't there an alternate HD remixed graphics mode on this thing? Why are so few games given this treatment? It feels like it's another thing started in the 90s, that was a huge success, but game companies ignore for the most part. It cannot be that hard to add a splash of fresh paint to these 20 year old titles. Fans have been attempting it for years.

Fan made HD graphics.

There is some good news. For the first time outside of emulation and the European Sonic Gems collection (I think), you can enjoy both the English and the Japanese soundtracks. That is, minus the vocals of the Japanese Sonic Warrior songs. (But don't worry every fanboy on the net will tell you they never liked that song anyway...rolls eyes.) There was some copyright issue and someone was being friggen greedy. Don't you love greedy artists that ruin it for everyone? Still, that aside, I love the fact that both soundtracks are here, because both are really awesome. Well, except for the boss fight music from the Japanese release. I think I heard Falcon Studios use that more then once in the background of some of their muscle daddy scenes. I mean seriously, have you heard this? Have a listen:

I don't know what comes to your mind, but when I hear it, all I see is big chubby biker guys in S & M outfits, pounding each other, encouraging the tops to fuck harder. With Eggman having that huge mustache, he fits disturbingly well into that scene playing out in my mind. This strange choice in music, coupled with his pink Star Wars Walker rip off from the good future of Palm tree Panic, makes me wonder what exactly they were thinking over there in Japan:

Sonic nailing him in the crotch ain't helping either.

I mean, I thought the 80s were innocent....

Sorry that was random. XD

Anyway the Japanese boss fight music also has some incoherent lines that I constantly strain to make out, that only leads further to my distraction. Epic boss fight music it is not. Now the North American is truly nightmare inducing. I have seen kids be instantly filled with terror when this shit starts playing:

Sends chills down your spine doesn't it? This is the theme of someone you don't want to fuck with. He's insane and loves being so. If he gets you, it's not gonna be pretty. This music is even creepier if you go to face him in the bad future. I find that fascinating. Everything wasn't focused on doing things one way, or being told you couldn't go further if you didn't meat certain requirements. You know, like Rayman Origins, where you need to grab every fucking yellow sperm on the screen just to get to the next stage? This instead was adding more to the consequences you make as a player, without taking anything from your gaming experience. This game fucked with your mind instead. Your actions shaped the effect the villain had on the world. That's brilliant engaging game design. Take a lesson Ubisoft and Retro.

Still the Japanes gets extra points by having a creepy operatic theme for it's last boss. (Is it a nice little jab at the old saying "it ain't over till the fat lady sings", or am I just looking too deeply into this?') Seriously though, it is awesome that both tracks are here, but it would have been even more so, if there was a random option. You know, so that you never know which track would play, the US, or Japanese at the start of any given stage, or time jump. I mean, if Nightwarriors: Darkstalkers revenge could do it on clunky Sega Saturn in 1996, why can't the all powerful Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 do it? Hmmm kinda shows the love game creators had for their franchises in the 90s, as compared to today doesn't it? Shouldn't we be getting even more features at this point, instead of less?

So what did they add? They added in Tails as a playable character. I guess that's cool, cause ever since someone discovered he was on a picture hidden in the disc, people have cried for him to be in the game. I really don't need Tails in the game myself. I always saw this game as happening before Sonic 2 anyway. But if you are gonna put in one of series most beloved characters, then why not go the extra mile? I mean, the second I hit start I noticed he had no intro cartoon, or anything to replace it. You didn't even get to see the animated intro for Sonic anymore. So you know what I did? I hit reset, deleted the file and played with Sonic again. Why would I want to go through everything with no reward? You can be sure as shit there's no ending for him. (Maybe there is, but why waste the time finding out?)

If the game creators can't go put some effort into it, why should I take the time to play the game? Considering there are like a million videos on youtube featuring animated Sonic and Tails sprites made by FANS, I find it sad that the company that makes full CG movies for their tennis and racing games wouldn't put something in for the most beloved game in the franchise. But then, that just brings me back to the point about the soundtrack. Why are we going backward with extras in games? I know the thing is only $5, but if they had to increase the price to do so, then do it and give me something worth unlocking.

What makes me even sadder is if they were going this cheap route with additional characters why not add Amy to the list of playable characters? Again if Fans can splice Amy into Sonic the Hedgehog, why the hell can't Sega? Are they too busy smoking cigars, laughing and pulling on their suspenders as they count their mega bucks? oh..right...XD

Fans not only put Amy in the game, they made a title screen animation using old Sega Genesis hardware. You're telling me Sega couldn't do something like this for Tails? Who's the game makers here?

Amy has to use her Piko Hammer to open up stuff and attack enemies. She's even given a super high spin jump to help her out. This greatly changes and diversifies the way the game is played. It breathes fresh new life into a 20 year old title and makes it exciting to play again. What did tails get in the CD release? The ability to run along with Sonic ala Sonic 2, a tail attack, or Hyper Tails ability? Nope, but he can

Amy uses a Sonic sprite that has largely gone unused since Sonic CD. She looks awesome doing this pose. Way to go girl!

Awe! even the enemies are tainted pink in this release. ^o^ Sure, it's probably due to a pallet limitation, but it does add something to the feel of the game.

No, sorry this isn't a screen shot of the game. It's just some fan fucking with us.

You can check out the fan made game here, or just youtube search it if you don't emulate stuff:

Another change I would have loved to have seen was for someone to come in and alter Amy's kidnapping scene. Sonic games have always felt a little rough around the edges, but this is probably the worst offender of things not planned out right. They could have gone back and done an animated scene to show this, or at the vary least, place Amy and Metal Sonic on a ledge you can't get to. Instead your forced to have her kidnapped right under your nose. Sonic doesn't freeze while this is going on. You can helplessly try to attack Metal Sonic, but you don't even come in contact with him. Maybe he's in the background, I don't know. I do know that this should have been retooled. What would it have taken them, 10 mins? Again I point to the example above. If fans can do all that, why the heck can't Sega? The scene lacks any kind of tension, or emotional drama, because it feels so fake and cheap. Who was asleep at the wheel when this was being produced? Thank goodness Sega did a better job during Sonic 3.

So what do I get? They went in and added shit like leaderboards and trophies...(snore.) Really? Am I supposed to care how others are playing Sonic the fucking Hedgehog? That's pretty baffling to me, as this is an action game with a focus on exploration and freedom. Why do I want to play it with restrictions set by people at Sega that no longer know how to make a good game, but decided to change this into a giant dick measuring contest? Now before I start, anyone who knows me personally, knows I don't go in for the whole trophy bull. I play the game to play the game and enjoy it. I got all the trophies in Sonic Generations, which was just one big waste of time and left me feeling empty. (And slightly dizzy from motion sickness.) Since I am analyzing this game though, I gotta question a couple things. For example, who cares if I collect all the time stones, or not? Why is that the most valued trophy? Do the people who made this release not realize how this game is set up? You see Sonic CD is my favorite Sonic game. It was one of the games that just plucked at my heart strings like no other before and I dare say, like no Sonic game has been able to do since. The explosive soundtrack, the awesome opening and endings cartoons and the time travel that allowed you to mold and change the world you played had me falling into a deep video game euphoria.

That's last point is a major factor to Sonic CD's appeal. Back in the day Sonic was a freedom fighter. An environmentalist if you will. Evil Dr. Eggman was ruining the planet. He was enslaving it's fauna and now even it's flora. Every enemy you defeated made a difference in someones life. All this is something that Sega no longer finds a viable plot point and has swept to the side. Sonic isn't so much a freedom fighter anymore, he's just a show off with an ongoing fued. But in 1993 he sure as hell was and he's never been able to do so much as he could here. For the first time ever, you as Sonic could really make a difference. You could travel back in time and destroy Robotniks machines and change the future from a dim polluted grey and brown mess, to a beautiful paradise. Even the music would change. (Heh, kinda ironic isn't it, that Sega CD never took off and Sonic couldn't save video games from a future mired in grey and brown!? Oh zing.)

My point about the special stages unimportance is that even the people at Sonic Team started to question it's role in the series. Someone raised their hand and said,

"But honorable director, what if playa miss time stone in special stage? Then they want reset and to do level over, to get better ending. Frustrating game playa."

And someone at Sega thought this was a just point. Sega had some brains back then. Special stages can be a pain in the ass. Someone thought some random bonus stage should not be the focus of determination in a side scrolling action game. So besides the debug mode to cheat your way to a better ending, something else was added. They allowed you the ability to destroy Eggmans robot making machines and change the future in each zone. It took exploration, learning some tricks, honing your skills, mastering the levels and even a little luck, but if you did it, you got the same ending you did if you got the time stones. As well, you really felt this great sense of satisfaction. You were helping the planet recover from Eggmans abuse. The world squealed with joy in act 3 of each zone if you did this. If not you were shown a nightmarish mess. Mind you, getting all the stones would do the same, but you wouldn't be able to see the early zones recover if you did. What's really great was that if you didn't get all the stones, or change all the past states, the game didn't stiff you with some shit ending. In fact, I always found the 'bad' ending so much more satisfying then the special one. Why punish the player for following Sonics own philosophy of never stopping, that is written all over the Japanese game manuals? Again, you get choices and can play the game as you see fit and enjoy it. People don't make games like this anymore!

Sega of today feels even this isn't enough to reward you with a trophy. Now you must find these machines and the holograms of Metal Sonic tormenting animals as well. This isn't that hard to do, but I question the reasoning behind it. This extra objective never had any kind of repercussion in the game, outside of a few more animal sprites appearing. It was so down played it wasn't even mentioned in the instructions, nor did it have any effect on changing the status of the future. It was such an odd and unexplainable thing, that many people questioned why it was even in the game. It just felt like some neat little bonus that's true purpose never came to be due to time constraints. But now, they want you to find them. I question this, as it was never needed before and even now, does nothing. Why not add something to the game then if I destroy them? A trophy is no reason for me to go after something. I need an in game reward. At the least, an explanation as to what that hologram is exactly would be nice. If I am in the past, why is it a hologram?

Here's another small issue I have with this version of the game. Where's my little animated Sonic waving his finger and sparkling star dust all over the Sega Logo at the start of the game? Why am I forced to look at various titles cards for the programmer? Who is he, Steven Spielberg? I'm a consumer and I want to be entertained, not advertised too by some go no where studio. Don't take out beloved nostalgic content to toot your own fucking horn! >:(

I could go on for days about Sonic CD. Truth is though, I love the game and yeah it's worth a pick up for just $5. It's timeless fun. It's never overly frustrating and you can blaze through it time and again and constantly see new things. It set a standard not only for the series, but games in general. I also want to note how the Japanese soundtrack seems to have echos of Nights Into Dreams in it. I find that 'way past cool' as Sonic would say. I just have to lament at what could have been. It's been almost 20 years. In that time you would think someone at Sega would have thought of some decent features to add to the game, or even rough out the unpolished pieces. Instead we have even rougher edges and a slightly incomplete soundtrack. Hurray for this generation of game consoles...Give me back the spirit of the 90s... U_U

Here is some fan art made for a recent contest held by Sega:

Look at the passion fans have for this game.
Where's your passion Sega?
Where is the love?


  1. Sega CD... wait did we play two totally different games? I only downloaded the demo (because I am experienced enough now to know if I wait a few months it might be free for me, as a Plus subscriber)but I don't even recall it looking at all different except for an HD clean-up. Doesn't even look like that screen-shot you put up there. I guess I'll have to take a second look because it looked fine to me and not at all any glitchier than any other release. I already own it on the Sega CD and the Gamecube, so I don't mind waiting to play it on my PS3. XD
    You kinda figured it took place before Sonic 2, though according to Sega it isn't. That's why they released it now, because I guess it's a prequel to Sonic 4. D: Episode 2 might actually finally come out this year.

  2. The game spasms when you fight bosses and at certain points in some levels. You'll notice sonic goes all fuzzy as the sprite vibrates. There's even a bit of slow down. The image I posted is to make a point. It's a fan made image in HD, where a fan started a project to make the game with smoother crisper graphics for todays TVs.
    Bah, I could care what Sega of today says about the game, they didn't make it. All those people are gone now! XD

  3. Sadly SEGA got this REALLY OLD AND CURSED habit for not making more detailed and if ever detailed BUT LACK product support for a console :( I guess they are really lazy bums..look what they did to poor Dreamcast :( - FallenAngel

  4. Oh this happends...with most HD releases..people was complainign a lot aout the RE games AND those are much more fresh that this one

    I guess the developers really dont fel like spending more of theyr moneya and time on a game thats going to be ignored by the new generation (since is not a military FPS )

    Lmao the sexy boss soundtrack xDDDDD and the second creppy track makes me think about an evil Santa Claws o_o

  5. Sonic is soo cute though i was never a SEGA fanatic back int eh day... is it worth getting the Sega Megadrive Collection on PSN for PSP Go? I guess it's never too late, right?


  6. -Devilman that is true. At least when RE4 got released on PS2 and on Wii it got new things each time. Poor Sonic CD only ever got a real FMV video. (Which was easy to do, probably easier then keeping in the original video.)

    LOL a lot of people say that about Santa and that music! XD
    It's hard to say how this release will fare. Classic games like Mario and the like usually sell very well. (Super Mario DS sold better then his last 3 3D games combined.) Sonic would probably be just as likely to sell millions if it wasn't for his recent history. Even his ports on GBA and DS were terrible. Still his other collections were well received.
    This game is pretty rare. Fans have to beg Sega constantly like kids wanting a toy from a reluctant parent to get them to release this game. I think a lot of us 'kids' have grown up and moved on though. I think the time of releasing this game and getting a lot of fan fare for it it gone. It's not the 90s anymore. Castlevania X Rondo of Blood was ported to the Wii, but when did you ever hear anyone talk about it? That's a game with the same sort of fame as Sonic CD. It was a little past its prime of making the big splash it could have made had it been released even say 10 years ago. It at least got a special edition on PSP that sold well enough to become a greatest hit. Coupling it with Symphony of the Night, probably didn't hurt either. XD

  7. -Urbanmusiq, well Sonic CD isn't on it. I think only the first 2 Sonic games plus maybe a puzzle game is found on that compilation. It's worth it if you have an interest in Genesis/Mega Drive. It's pretty cheap and there are some fun games on there. There should be Golden Axe, Altered Beasts and Ristar (that was made by Sonic Team) on it. All of which would be reason alone to get it.

  8. Wath i find pretty neat in this generation is that, even if the new gen can sell alot, we still have ports or HD versions of old games (we have.....A LOT) and many new games are taking the retro style (most fight games are 2D now D:)

    Its a shame Sega dosnt care enough that era of games. I wish they also give attention to some of theyr other franchise (like Night into the Dreams and Shenmue)

    Oh yhea...i didnt knew Rondo of Blood was released on the Wii o_o ..... but thy didnt release it with the new version of Rondo and Simphony...

    1. It's not really a surprising trend. I am no video game analysis, but I can spot a trend, or two. You look at the sales of games that from older franchises and those that mimic even the simplest styles like Wii Sports that went on to become the biggest selling video game of all time and you start to realize a few things.

      From what I have read, people figure fighting games went back to 2D after various failures in getting physics right in 3D and failing to capture and keep the audience they had years ago. Is that true? I don't know. I always liked the KOF 3D games on Playstation 2. I liked Rival Schools and Power Stone. But the truth remains that a lot of people prefer 2D sprites and animation in their fighters. It's kinda like chess, people like their pieces kept the same way. Change isn't always in demand, or wanted. So I hear. Nintendo learned that after New Super Mario was released on DS and the system sales skyrocketed. It was a huge kick in the ass to Nintendo. They listened to their programmers that kept telling them people wanted 3D, but they didn't. People wanted a real Super Mario Game and even a generic looking budget title with no story, or orchestrated soundtrack, was able to outsell Mario Sunshine, Mario Galaxy and Mario Galaxy 2 combined. Why they don't continue to make more 2D Mario games and Wii Sports titles makes no sense from a business standpoint. It's like having a best selling comic and only doing one, or two issues. People like the familiar and fun. That's why there are so many ports. That's why there are so many movies sequels as well. XD

      Ports are good. They educate the younger generations about why came before and how the world of games was shaped over the years. They can look at what seems to be player demand, vs programer wants as well. They can play games from their childhood, titles they never heard of and enjoy stuff with older family members and friends that played them when they came out originally. This adds a feeling of connection.

      It's true though that there are a bit too many. Do we really need HD ports of Sly Cooper and Prince of Persia? Aren't these games still fairly easy to obtain? What do they add for people that already have the titles? Even the God Of War Collection, which I own, felt a little silly. I could get both games for PS2 cheaper and they were everywhere when I got the game. But oh well, the HD looks nice and I am not complaining, just making a point.
      There's a lot of questionable sequels too like Galaga Generations.

      Yep the whole no love for Nights and other titles is pretty shocking. Did you see the Wii Sequel to Nights? Good lord, it looked like it belong on PS2. It probably was. Sega released Nights to the PS2 in Japan, but not America. There's a huge 'what the fuck' moment right there. Sega has some amazingly popular franchises, but continues to fuck them up.

      I think they listen to artists, story tellers and marketing people instead of just going back to the original titles and telling the programers to recreate what they had in the past way too often. I mean...Golden Axe Beast Rider, really? Was there any kind of demand for THAT? Cripes. Who was backing this project, someone from Nintendo? Oh wait, they're friends now... XD

      I don't know what goes on at Sega and Nintendo anymore. I do know that their continuous mucking up of things has only helped Sony and Microsoft thrive in certain markets over the years.

    2. Yep, Rondo of Blood was put on the Wii, but it was just a port you had to download. No remix, or Symphony. It was the original Japanese version. How in the hell do you justify only porting the Japanese version to a home console in 2010, when there was already an English translated version available? Am I supposed to believe it's that hard to put subtitles on a title from 1993 in 2010? They used to do that shit back in the 90s with programs that must be looked at as horrifically stone age and nightmarish in style by todays standards. So why am I supposed to be happy as a consumer with this in todays day and age? If you posted that up on a web board, the fan boys would tell you to shut the fuck up and be happy with what you get. Well an emulator can give me more for free, so fuck that shit! XD



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