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31 Bonus Levels of Christmas
Sonic CD: Open World Chaos
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 24, 2010   |   Episode 30 (Show Archive)  

   

It's that time of year again, a time when Defunct Games celebrates the holidays by posting a daily theme article that should inform and delight gamers all over the world. This year we're taking a look at 31 of the best-known bonus stages in all of video games. Each day we're going to look at a different level and review it, while also trying to figure out what makes it tick. Join us as we post a new episode of the 31 Bonus Levels of Christmas every day leading up to the biggest holiday of the year!
Sonic CD: Open World Chaos
[ Console: SEGA CD | Year: 1993 | Grade: F ]

Part of the problem is that it's hard to judge when Sonic is supposed to jump!
The Context: By 1993 Sonic the Hedgehog was a break-out hit. It managed to do the impossible, beat out Super Mario World for Electronic Gaming Monthly's game of the year and turned SEGA into a real player. Not only was it big on the 16-bit Genesis, but Sonic was selling handhelds and other 8-bit consoles the world over. So it's only natural that SEGA's biggest characters make an appearance on their brand-new CD peripheral. With time travel and 3D open worlds, this 1993 CD hit was the Sonic game of the future. Or was it?

The Rules: Sonic races around an open world arena full of spikes, holes, water and other obstacles. Each round is timed, giving players just enough time to

It's great to look back at a time when Sonic still had eyes for Amy. These days he's only interested in human chicks!
avoid the spikes, grab the items, break the floating containers and collect the Chaos Emerald. On top of earning the coveted emerald, players will also gain extra men, continues, coins and more. Much like other Sonic games, players will need to play increasingly difficult bonus levels in order to earn every last emerald.

The Verdict: Sonic CD painfully demonstrates that even with the CD add-on, the Genesis wasn't up to the Super Nintendo's Mode 7. This is the first Sonic bonus stage that looks bad. While Sonic 2 may not have been able to pull off the same scaling effects of F-Zero or Super Mario Kart, it never came off as cheesy. In Sonic CD you race over a weird looking flat world with terrible controls. Worst of all, it's not clear what you're supposed

Another low point for Sonic the Hedgehog!
to do until it's too late. Sonic CD's bonus stage is so bad that I'm surprised gamers weren't more concerned about the prospects of a 3D Sonic game. Even in 1993 the writing was on the walls.

Completely Missing the Point: Of all the games starring this smart-ass hedgehog, Sonic CD is the one that had the most unique ideas. And yet, despite introducing us to 3D open worlds and time travel, none of these elements have found their way into the modern Sonic adventures. What gives, SEGA? Shadow the Hedgehog would still be a crummy game, but at least time travel would have given us something to talk about. This is a franchise full of great ideas that are immediately abandoned. Sonic has commitment issues.
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