Sonic the Hedgehog CD

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Sonic the Hedgehog CD
Sonic CD 256px.jpg
European Instruction Manual
Developer(s) Sonic Team
Blit Software and Christian Whitehead (2011 ver.)
Publisher(s) Sega
SoftKey (PC)
Director(s) Naoto Ohshima
Producer(s) Minoru Kanari
Makoto Oshitani
Artist(s) Kazuyuki Hoshino
Composer(s) Japanese/European version:
Naofumi Hataya
Masafumi Ogata
North American version:
Spencer Nilsen
David J. Young
Mark "Sterling" Crew
Series Sonic the Hedgehog
Engine Sonic Boom (Windows 9x ver.)
Retro Engine (2011 ver.)
Release date(s)
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single player
Distribution CD-ROM, download

Sonic the Hedgehog CD (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグCD Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Shī Dī?), or Sonic CD (ソニックCD Sonikku Shī Dī?), is a platform video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega originally for the Sega/Mega-CD in 1993. It is the first game in the Sonic series to make use of the CD-ROM format, featuring high quality audio and full motion video. Development began in Japan around the same time as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the United States. Originally the games had many similarities, but over time became vastly different projects.[3]

The story of Sonic CD follows Sonic the Hedgehog as he utilizes time travel to save Amy Rose and Little Planet from Doctor Eggman and Metal Sonic. The game is the debut appearance for both Amy and Metal Sonic, both who have gone on to become reocurring characters in the Sonic series. Time travel is a key aspect to both the story and gameplay, with nearly every stage containing four different variations (one for each time period) featuring alternate stage layouts, music, and graphics.

Since release, Sonic CD has received universal critical acclaim, being considered both one of the best platform and Sega/Mega-CD games of all-time.[4][5][6] It has since been ported to Microsoft Windows 9x in 1996 as part of the Sega PC brand and to both the PlayStation 2 and GameCube in 2005 as part of the Sonic Gems Collection. An enhanced port of the game has been released for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android, Windows, Windows Phone, and Ouya.


An example of gameplay in Sonic CD

Sonic the Hedgehog CD is a platform game in which the player character is the titular Sonic the Hedgehog. The goal of the game is to collect seven Time Stones and defeat Sonic's nemesis Doctor Robotnik. Along the way, Sonic can collect rings, which can protect him if is he hit by an enemy or obstacle, as well as items such as shields, invincibility and speed shoes. Sonic's gameplay remains similar to that of Sonic the Hedgehog but with the addition of the Spin Dash and the Super Peel Out, which lets him zoom into a quick speed from a standing point, either in a rolling or running position. The Super Peel Out is faster than the Spin Dash, but leaves Sonic more vulnerable. Each of the game's seven themed zones is divided into three "stages": two main levels and a boss level.

The main gameplay mechanic that sets Sonic CD apart from other Sonic games is a time travel system that enables players to move between different time periods within each level. By hitting posts labeled "past" or "future" and then keeping a consistently high speed for several seconds, 'Sonic can move between past, present and future level variants. (The time travel posts are only present in the first two zones of each stage; boss zones always take place in the future.)

The game contains four different variants of each zone ("past", "present", "good future" and "bad future"), each of which features different graphics, music, and layouts of platforms, enemies and obstacles. By default, traveling to the future will take Sonic to a "bad future" version of the current level, an industrialized dystopia with scenery themed around neglect and decay, in which enemy robots exhibit signs of degradation. Therefore, players are encouraged to convert each zone's timeline to a "good future": a utopic technogaian scenario in which technology and nature are symbiotically fused into a sustainable, colourful environment, and in which there are no enemy robots. In each non-boss zone, a good future can be attained by traveling to the past and destroying a hidden "robot generator". If a good future is achieved in both of a stage's non-boss zones, that level's boss fight will also take place in the good future.

Sonic CD's special stage utilizes the Mega-CD's enhanced graphical capabilities

Similar to Sonic the Hedgehog, if a player has more than 50 rings by the end of the act, a giant ring appears that can take Sonic to a Special Stage if he jumps into it. On a three-dimensional plane, the player has a short amount of time to destroy several purple UFOs floating around the level. Time is quickly reduced if the player runs through water, though a blue UFO which appears when time is running out can grant extra time if destroyed. If the player is able to destroy all the purple UFOs before the time runs out, a Time Stone is earned. A good ending can be achieved by collecting all seven Time Stones, or by achieving a "good future" in every act. The player will also automatically achieve a "good future" in any level if all the Time Stones have been collected.

Sonic CD contains a "backup save", using the internal Mega-CD memory or a backup RAM cartridge. The game saves after the end of each third zone (after which, a new level begins) and records the best times of the player in the time attack mode. In the 2011 enhanced port, the game is saved at the end of each zone. The game also features an instant game over scenario: if the game is not paused and is left alone for three minutes, Sonic will leap off the screen.

In the 2011 version, players are also able to control Miles "Tails" Prower after clearing the game once.[7] He basically has his moveset from Sonic the Hedgehog 3. As with Sonic, Tails can use the spin attack, spin dash, along with his ability to fly by spinning his tails like helicopter rotors and also swim, but is unable to use the Super Peel Out and cannot be used to earn achievements. Players also have the option to utilize the Spin Dash physics from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.


Sonic arrives at Never Lake where the fabled Little Planet (also known as Miracle Planet) is said to appear on the last month of every year. Sonic arrives to find the planet tethered to a mountain by a chain and completely mechanized.[8] Sonic realizes this is the work of his nemesis, Doctor Robotnik, who had set foot in this island to transform it into a giant fortress. Upon discovering Sonic's presence on the island, he dispatches Metal Sonic to kidnap a young female hedgehog called Amy Rose, who followed Sonic to the mystical planet. Sonic must collect the Time Stones: seven jewels capable of altering the passage of time itself.

Sonic traverses through the past, present, and future of Little Planet; gathers all seven Time Stones; and defeats Metal Sonic and Robotnik. Following the Doctor's defeat, Sonic and Amy escape as Little Planet is returned to normal and leaves Never Lake.[9]


Following the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, Lead Programmer Yuji Naka had grown dissatisfied with the rigid corporate policies at Sega and moved to the United States to work with the Sega Technical Institute, along with several members of Sonic Team, to develop Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Meanwhile in Japan, a separate development team headed by Sonic creator Naoto Ohshima handled development on Sonic CD. This game and Sonic 2 were initially intended to be one and the same, but during development, Sonic CD evolved into a vastly different type of game.[3] The game is the first in the series to feature animated cutscenes, which were produced by Toei Animation, with co-operation from Studio Junio.[10]


There are two different soundtracks for the game, one which was used for the Japanese and PAL (European) releases of the game, and another completely different soundtrack used for the North American version of the game, as well as later European ports of the game. The Japanese soundtrack was composed by Naofumi Hataya & Masafumi Ogata, and featured songs by Keiko Utoku. The songs were entitled "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" (known also as "Toot Toot Sonic Warrior", composed by Masafumi Ogata[11]) and "Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself" (composed by Naofumi Hataya). The boss music for the Japanese version was also noted for sampling the song "Work That Sucker To Death" by '70s American artists Xavier, Bootsy Collins, and George Clinton. The North American version was delayed a few months to have a new soundtrack composed by Spencer Nilsen, David J. Young, and Mark "Sterling" Crew. All the music (save for the "Past" tunes, which were in synth PCM audio rather than Red Book CD-DA) was replaced, and the theme tunes were replaced with "Sonic Boom", performed by Pastiche (Sandy Cressman, Jenny Meltzer, and Becky West). The song "You Can Do Anything" had earlier appeared in the 8-bit Sonic the Hedgehog 2 game, released in 1992. The 2011 re-release of Sonic CD features the Japanese/European soundtrack. Although the inclusion of the North American soundtrack was initially uncertain due to licensing issues[12][13] it was later revealed that the US soundtrack is included, with the option to switch between the two soundtracks. However, both "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" and "Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself" have been replaced by instrumental versions of their respective songs as the rights to the lyrics belonged to Casey Rankin, who died in 2009.[14][15] A 20th Anniversary soundtrack CD was released in Japan on November 23, 2011, featuring remastered versions of the Japanese/European soundtrack, with the inclusion of "Sonic Boom", and special remixes by Cash Cash, Jun Senoue and Crush 40.[16]

Alternate versions and ports[edit]


Sonic CD was ported to PC CD-ROM in 1996, marking Sonic's debut on the PC under the Sega PC brand. This version was released in Japan on August 9, 1996, in North America on August 26, 1996, and in Europe on October 3, 1996. This version contains the complete FMV animated intro and ending sequence, and all versions of the game, including the Japanese version, uses the North American soundtrack. An error in this version meant that special stages ran at roughly double the speed they were intended for. This port is currently only compatible with older versions of Windows, although some unofficial patches allow the game to be played on later versions.

Sonic CD was released as part of the Sonic Gems Collection compilation released for Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2 in 2005. This version is ported from the PC version with some enhancements regarding the game's frame rate and action speed (with no frame rate slow-down), though features some minor emulation errors. As a result of the game being ported from the PC version, it contained a considerable amount of graphical flaws such as gaping holes in the background of Palmtree Panic's Bad Future, Zone 1; a lack of colour in the water from Tidal Tempest; Quartz Quadrant's Present's crystals being in the wrong layer; Wacky Workbench's ceiling distorting/corrupting; Stardust Speedway's Bad Future containing static lightning inverted and, finally, layers missing in some of the special stages. The PS2 version also made rotating the planet in "Play Music" inoperable due to incorrect button mappings. While the Japanese version still uses the same soundtrack as the JP/EU Mega-CD version, the European version of the game utilises the North American soundtrack. This version also included higher quality versions of the animated intro and ending sequences than those featured on the Mega-CD version, although the ending movie appeared to lag and hiccup at points.

Digital releases[edit]

On August 23, 2011, a blog post by Microsoft's Larry Hyrb listed Sonic CD as an Xbox Live Arcade title to be made playable at PAX Prime 2011.[17] On August 25, 2011, Sega announced it would also be bringing the game to PlayStation Network, Microsoft Windows, iOS, Windows Phone and Android devices. The port was developed from scratch using the "Retro Engine" created by independent developer Christian "Taxman" Whitehead, who originally produced a proof of concept video of the game running on the iPhone in 2009. This engine allowed improvements to be made to the game, including widescreen graphics and the option to utilise spin-dash physics from Sonic 2.[18][19] Players are also able to unlock Tails as a playable character.[20] The port also features both the original Japanese/European soundtrack and the American soundtrack, as well as achievement and trophy support and iOS features.[21] The game was released on Xbox Live Arcade and the European PlayStation Network on December 14, 2011, followed by the iOS App Store and Android Market on December 15, 2011 and the North American PlayStation Network on December 20, 2011. The PC version was released on January 19, 2012. A Windows Phone version was released in November 2012.[22][23] Prior to the game's release, Android gaming tablets purchased from GameStop from November 2011 contained the full game.[20] The game was also released on the Ouya console on August 1, 2013.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (X360) 83.74%[24]
(PS3) 78.3%[24]
Review scores
Publication Score
Electronic Gaming Monthly 8.5 of 10[25] (Sega CD)
GamePro 5/5 stars (Sega CD)
GameSpot 8.5 of 10[27] (PS3)
IGN 8.5 of 10[26] (X360)
Official Xbox Magazine 9.0 of 10[28] (X360)
Destructoid 9.0 of 10[29] (X360)
Sega-16 9 of 10 (Mega-CD)[30]
Sega Force Mega 85% (Mega-CD)[31]
ViceoJuegos 97 of 100 (Sega CD)
Publication Award
Electronic Gaming Monthly Best Sega CD Game of 1993[5]

The original Mega-CD version of Sonic CD received universal acclaim, with a consensus that it was one of the best games for the platform. The game was praised for its innovative time-travel based gameplay, presentation and music. Despite this critical acclaim, and even though it was the platform's bestseller,[32] the game failed to emulate the commercial success of the Mega Drive/Genesis Sonic games, due to the commercial failure of the Mega-CD.[citation needed]

Mega placed Sonic CD at #3 in their list of the Top 10 Mega-CD Games of All Time.[4] The game was awarded Best Sega CD Game of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[5] In May 2009, Gamepro listed Sonic CD as one of the Top 20 Best Platformers: 1989 to 2009, ranking the game in 12th place.[6] GamesRadar listed Sonic CD as the 68th best game of all time.[33]

The 2011 re-release of Sonic CD also received positive reviews, with to the iOS version in particular garnering high acclaim from reviewers. The iOS version garnered a score of 93 out of 100 on Metacritic, becoming the highest rated Sonic game on the website as well as being the website's second-highest rated iOS game of 2011 (losing only to World of Goo);[34] while the XBLA and PSN versions of the game received a score of 82 out of 100 and an 80 out of 100, respectively.[35] IGN praised the 2011 rerelease, scoring 8.5 for the XBLA version and 9.0 for the iOS version.[26][36] GamesRadar gave the game 9/10, mentioning that the iPhone version conversion in particular is "incredible".[37] Sonic CD hit the number one spot on PSN Top Sellers for December 2011.[38] In March 2013 the game was nominated for and won the Windows Phone Game of the Year category of the Pocket Gamer Awards.[39]


The story of Sonic CD was adapted in issues 26 to 28 of Egmont Fleetway's Sonic the Comic magazine in the UK, where Metal Sonic was renamed Metallix. The game's story was also adapted in issue #25 of Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series.

Two characters introduced in the game, Amy Rose and Metal Sonic, are featured in many later games in the Sonic series. Metal Sonic later appears as the main villain in 2003's Sonic Heroes, as well as making appearances in various spin-offs in the series. Metal Sonic reappears as the main villain in Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II, whose story links to that of Sonic CD's.[40] Amy Rose has also gone on to become a character in many subsequent games as well.

For Sonic's 20th Anniversary, Sega released Sonic Generations, a game that remade aspects of various past games from the franchise. It features a remake of the Sonic CD boss battle against Metal Sonic, set in the bad future of Stardust Speedway. In the Nintendo 3DS version, the battle takes place in a Sonic the Hedgehog 2 themed "Casino Night" level which contains a faithful design of Stardust Speedway.[41]


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