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Why Sonic CD is The Best Sonic Game of All Time

Sonic CD fighting against metal sonic
Sonic CD is a timeless classic that every 16 bit fan should enjoy

The simply revolutionary game play mechanics in Sonic CD are simply brilliant and have distinguished it as a standout among Sonic games.

Players can explore non-linear levels and travel through time, allowing for a greater sense of depth and exploration that entices repeated play throughs to discover hidden secrets and paths.

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Considering the success of Sonic CD's, it cannot be solely attributed to its gameplay mechanics.

Sonic CD Gameplay Stage collision chaos 3

Sonic CD's impressive visuals and retro aesthetic are a sight to behold, with a vibrant and colorful palette that immerses players in a unique and unforgettable world.

The game's auditory experience is just as impressive, featuring an exceptional soundtrack crafted by the talented duo of Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata. You can listen to the soundtrack in it's full brilliance for your ears to feast on now:

sonic CD soundtrack

The end result is something that is widely regarded as one of the greatest in video game history, the soundtrack gives you something special. The retro sounding tunes are beloved by Sonic fans from young to old, adding to the game's appeal and lasting popularity.

The combination of these elements creates a deeply immersive and engaging experience for players, making Sonic CD an enduring classic.

Time Travel

sonic cd tidal tempest 1

Sonic CD's gameplay introduced a fascinating time travel mechanic that allowed players to journey back and forth between the past, present, and future iterations of each level. The game's narrative centered around Sonic's quest to protect the future by traveling through time to thwart the evil schemes of Dr. Eggman.

In each level, players encountered various time periods that they could navigate via time warp posts. While traveling to the past, players had the chance to eradicate robotic generators, which could ultimately prevent Dr. Eggman from seizing control of the future. On the other hand, traveling to the future allowed players to investigate a dystopian version of the level, revealing hidden routes that were otherwise unreachable in the present.

sonic cd special stage 6

By introducing this new mechanic, Sonic CD provided a higher level of depth and exploration to the game. Depending on their goals and strategies, players could approach each level in multiple ways. Those who wished to complete the game promptly could opt to skip time travel and concentrate on speeding through levels. Alternatively, those who wanted to fully explore the game could take their time and explore every time period to find all the game's hidden secrets.

Moreover, Sonic CD's time travel mechanics contributed to the game's replay value. Players could revisit levels several times, adopt different strategies, uncover new pathways, and discover all the game's secrets. These attributes established Sonic CD as an innovative addition to the Sonic franchise, earning it a special place in the hearts of gamers as a cherished classic.

Level Design

sonic cd quartz quadrant

Sonic CD's game design marked a notable shift from previous Sonic games by introducing non-linear levels. While most platforming games only allow your character to move from left to right to complete each stage, each level in Sonic CD gives you multiple routes that gave players a greater sense of exploration and discovery. This allowed players to approach the levels based on their skills, preferences, and objectives.

Every level in Sonic CD was divided into three distinct time periods: past, present, and future. Each period not only altered the level's visual style, but also its layout and difficulty. In the past, the level was under developed and the end result gave you fewer obstacles, making it easier for you to roam around while discovering hidden secrets. In the present, the level was more challenging, with more enemies and obstacles to overcome. In the future, the level was dystopian and difficult, with more hazards and obstacles to avoid.

sonic cd intro

We still wish that the infamous Sonic CD R2 level was included in the original game. It's rather unfortunate that Jim Tretheway didn't think that the level would  have met the high standards that the rest of the levels gave us. Hopefully someday we will finally see this stage in it's full form.

The non-linear level design of Sonic CD provided players with the freedom to explore and discover hidden secrets and alternative pathways, contributing to the game's replay value. Players could revisit levels multiple times, try different routes, and tailor their gameplay to their objectives and strategies. Furthermore, the multiple routes gave players a sense of excitement each time a new path is found, allowing them to approach the game differently each time the Sega CD is powered on.

sonic cd palmtree panic

Sonic CD's non-linear level design was groundbreaking and innovative at the time, distinguishing it from previous Sonic games. Its contribution helped establish Sonic CD as a classic game that continues to be adored and appreciated by gamers to this day.

Sonic Tee

Visuals and Sound

palmtree panic sonic cd gameplay

Sonic CD's lasting appeal and popularity can be attributed to its high replayability, made possible by various features that encouraged players to revisit levels multiple times and try different strategies.

One of the most notable features of Sonic CD was its time travel mechanics and non-linear level design. Players could travel between past, present, and future versions of each level to discover new paths and hidden secrets. This allowed players to approach each level in different ways, depending on their goals and strategies. Destroying robotic generators in the past, for example, would prevent Dr. Eggman from taking over the future. On the other hand, exploring the dystopian future versions of each level would reveal hidden routes that were inaccessible in the present.

sonic cd boss 1

Furthermore, Sonic CD had multiple endings based on the player's actions throughout the game. Depending on whether the player defeated Dr. Eggman and destroyed all the robotic generators, they would get different endings. This encouraged players to replay the game to try different strategies and see all the possible endings.

The game's non-linear level design also contributed to its replay value. Each level had multiple routes, which allowed players to explore and discover hidden secrets and alternative pathways. This meant that players could replay levels and try different routes, depending on their goals and strategies.

In addition, Sonic CD had time attack modes for each level, allowing players to compete against themselves or others to achieve the best time. This added a new level of competition and challenge to the game, encouraging players to replay levels and improve their times.


sonic cd collision chaos 1

Sonic CD's lasting popularity can be attributed in part to its impressive replayability. The game's non-linear level design and time travel mechanics encourage players to explore every nook and cranny of each level, uncovering hidden paths and secrets that are only accessible by traveling through different time periods. Depending on the player's goals and strategies, they could choose to go back in time and eliminate Dr. Eggman's robotic generators, or venture forward to the future to find hidden routes and uncover a dystopian version of the level.

Multiple endings, based on the player's actions throughout the game, further added to its replay value. Depending on the player's performance in destroying the generators and defeating Dr. Eggman, they would receive different endings. This encouraged players to try different approaches and replay the game to see all the possible endings.

Sonic CD Special Stage 3

In addition to its time travel mechanics and multiple endings, Sonic CD's non-linear level design contributed to its replay value. Each level had multiple routes that players could take, providing opportunities to explore and discover new secrets. This meant that players could replay levels and take different routes each time, depending on their goals and strategies.

Moreover, Sonic CD's time trials were another factor that contributed to its replay value. The game included time attack modes for each level, allowing players to challenge themselves and others to achieve the best time. This added a new level of competition and challenge to the game, inspiring players to replay levels and improve their times.


Sonic CD Tidal Tempest Boss Battle Against Eggman

One of the things that makes Sonic CD's boss battles unique is their variety. Unlike the standard formula of defeating Eggman's machines at the end of each level, Sonic CD's bosses come in different forms, from Eggman piloting a giant mech to racing Metal Sonic in a high-speed chase.

Another notable feature of Sonic CD's boss battles is their difficulty. You'll have to consider this as some of the bosses will use up a lot of those precious lives you'll collect along the way given their extreme amount of difficulty. You'll have to use up some of your lightning fast reflexes and some twitch like timing in order to progress to the next section of the game. For example, in the boss battle against Metal Sonic, players must dodge obstacles while racing at high speeds, and in the battle against the Wacky Workbench boss, players must navigate a maze-like arena while avoiding dangerous obstacles and projectiles.

sonic cd boss battle against eggman quartz quadrant 3

In addition to their variety and difficulty, Sonic CD's boss battles also showcase the game's time travel mechanics. In some boss battles, players must use time travel to access different versions of the boss fight, with different obstacles and patterns to navigate. In particular the battle against the Stardust Speedway boss, you're stuck time travelling to make it to different versions of the boss fight, including one where they fight Metal Sonic and another where they fight Eggman in a giant robot.

Overall, Sonic CD's boss battles are a fantastic reason for the overall appeal of this Sega CD classic. Their variety, difficulty, and use of time travel mechanics make them a fun and engaging challenge for players to overcome.


sonic cd wacky workbench

Sonic CD has many positive aspects, but it also has several drawbacks. The game has been criticized for its erratic and frequently annoying physics, which occasionally make it challenging for players to control Sonic. This is especially apparent in the challenging special stages, where players must acquire time stones while negotiating complex mazes. Some players have criticized the special stages as being the weakest part of the game because of its frequently baffling layout and harsh difficulty.

The enemy placement in some of the stages, leading to the countless amount of danger around is another downfall. The number of bottomless pits that we found leading to cheap deaths left us incredibly frustrated during gameplay.

Sonic CD Stardust Speedway

While Sonic CD's time travel mechanics are appealing, they can be difficult to comprehend and utilise. In addition, the game's boss battles have been criticised for their lack of challenge and monotony, with some players missing the excitement of earlier Sonic games.

Some players have found the process of travelling through time to be unclear, and have struggled to understand how to use the different timelines to their advantage.

The non-linear level design may be a drawback for some players who find it difficult to navigate and keep track of their progress. We didn't personally find this challenging but could very well see the point.


Sonic CD 2 conclusion

While we wouldn't count on getting a Sonic CD 2 anytime soon, we have this absolute classic game to look forward to. Sonic CD is an absolute blast to play through for fans of not only the Sonic franchise but platforming games.

In case you were wondering what does CD in Sonic CD stand for, it's actually just the label of the media it was pressed on. Luckily you won't need one of these devices from the 90s to play Sonic CD today. Simply just buy it, download it and let the retro graphics fill up every inch of that massive television in your living room.

Sonic CD belongs in any retro gamer's collection. Luckily it's available on a variety of different consoles and won't break the bank to find a digital copy.



Passionate gamer and nostalgia enthusiast. Journeying through the pixelated realms of retro video games, unearthing forgotten gems and sharing the joy. Join me on a nostalgic adventure! 🎮✨