Sonic CD

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Sonic CD
Sonic the Hedgehog CD North American cover art.jpg
North American cover art
Developer(s) Sonic Team
Publisher(s) Sega
Director(s) Naoto Ohshima
  • Minoru Kanari
  • Makoto Oshitani
Programmer(s) Matsuhide Mizoguchi
Artist(s) Hiroyuki Kawaguchi
Composer(s) Japanese/PAL version:
North American version:
Series Sonic the Hedgehog
Platform(s) Sega CD, Microsoft Windows, Android, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, iOS, Windows Phone, Ouya, Apple TV
Genre(s) Platformer
Mode(s) Single-player

Sonic CD[a] is a 1993 side-scrolling platform video game published by Sega for the Sega CD. The story follows Sonic the Hedgehog as he attempts to save Little Planet from Doctor Robotnik, while making rounds with his robotic doppelgänger Metal Sonic, who has kidnapped Amy Rose. While gameplay is similar to previous games in the series, Sonic CD is distinguished by its time travel mechanic. By traveling through time, players can access different versions of stages featuring alternate layouts, music, and graphics.

Development of Sonic CD began after the completion of the original Sonic the Hedgehog. Development was handled by Sonic Team, directed by Sonic character designer Naoto Ohshima. It was conceived as an enhanced port of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 that would take advantage of the Sega CD's abilities, but split into a separate project after lower-than-expected sales of Sonic 2 in Japan. Two soundtracks were written for the game, with the North American version composed by Sega Technical Institute.

The game received critical acclaim from critics, who praised its graphics, gameplay, and audio. Some critics have called it one of the best games in the series. It was also the Sega CD's best-seller, with 1.5 million copies sold by 2015. It was ported to Microsoft Windows as part of the Sega PC brand in 1996 and to PlayStation 2 and GameCube as part of Sonic Gems Collection in 2005. An enhanced port using the Retro Engine was released for various platforms in late 2011.


Gameplay screenshot showing Sonic in the "present" timeline of Wacky Workbench, the fifth level of the game

Sonic CD is a platform game that shares the same basic gameplay elements defined by earlier Sonic games. Players control Sonic the Hedgehog as he ventures to defeat his nemesis Doctor Robotnik. Sonic CD introduces a time travel system; by hitting posts labeled "past" or "future" and maintaining his speed for several seconds, Sonic can move between 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 takes Sonic to a "bad future", an industrialized dystopia with scenery themed around neglect and decay. Players are encouraged to convert each zone's timeline to a "good future": a technogaian utopic in which technology and nature are fused into a sustainable, colorful environment, and in which there are no enemy robots.[1]:11 Players attain good futures by traveling to the past — primitive, vegetation-filled versions of each stage with few enemy robots and muted, natural colors — and destroying a hidden "robot transporter".[2]

The game is split into seven levels referred to as "rounds", each with its own unique appearance and enemies. Each round is split into three "zones"; the third zone is set in the future, where players must defeat Robotnik in a boss fight.[1]:12-14 Players guide Sonic, who runs at high speeds and collects rings, which protect him if he is hit by an enemy or obstacle, as well as items such as shields, invincibility, and speed shoes. Sonic also has the ability to perform "spin dash" and "peel-out" maneuvers, which increase his speed. Players start the game with three lives, lost when Sonic collides with an enemy, obstacle, or takes damage without rings; additional lives are earned by collecting rings and power-ups. If the player loses all their lives, the game ends.[1]:17 The game also features an instant game over scenario in the form of an Easter egg: if the game is left alone for three minutes, Sonic shouts "I'm outta here!" and leaps off the screen.

By finishing a level with more than 50 rings, players can access "special stages", in which they must destroy UFOs floating around a three-dimensional plane within a time limit. Time is reduced if players run through water, though a blue UFO which appears when time is running out grants extra time if destroyed. If players destroy all the purple UFOs before the time runs out, they earn a Time Stone. A good ending is achieved by collecting all seven Time Stones, or by achieving a "good future" in every act.[3] Players automatically achieve a "good future" if they collect all the Time Stones.

The game also features a time attack mode, where players can replay completed levels in the fastest time possible.[1]:18-19 In the 2011 version, players can also play as Miles "Tails" Prower after clearing the game once.[4] Tails has the same abilities as he does in Sonic the Hedgehog 3; as with Sonic, Tails can use the spin attack and spin dash, but can also fly and swim. He cannot use the peel-out or be used to earn achievements.[5] Players also have the option to use the faster Spin Dash physics from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.[3]


Sonic journeys to Never Lake, where an extraterrestrial body, Little Planet, appears on the last month of every year. He finds the planet tethered to a mountain by a chain and partially mechanized. Sonic realizes this is the work of his nemesis Doctor Robotnik, who has led his robot army to Little Planet to transform it into a giant fortress. Robotnik also seeks the Time Stones, seven jewels capable of altering the passage of time. Sonic ventures into the planet, followed by the besotted Amy Rose, his self-proclaimed girlfriend.[b] Learning of Sonic's presence, Robotnik dispatches his top robotic enforcer, Metal Sonic, who kidnaps Amy in order to lure Sonic into danger.

To save Little Planet, Sonic travels back and forth through time to stop Robotnik's evil plans. He clashes with Robotnik and Metal Sonic throughout his journey, and saves Amy from the latter's clutches before ultimately defeating Robotnik. Two alternate endings exist, dependent on whether or not the player obtained a good future in each zone. In the game's good ending, Little Planet is returned to its rightful state and leaves Never Lake. In the game's bad ending, Robotnik uses the Time Stones to reset time and transform Little Planet back to its decaying, mechanized state under his rule, and Sonic returns to save it.


Sonic CD's special stage uses the Sega CD's enhanced graphical capabilities

The 1991 release of Sonic the Hedgehog, the first game in the Sonic series, was a major commercial success, and positioned Sega as Nintendo's main rival in the console market.[6] However, lead programmer Yuji Naka had grown dissatisfied with Sega's rigid corporate policies and moved to the United States to work with Sega Technical Institute along with several members of Sonic Team to develop Sonic the Hedgehog 2. At the same time, Sega was planning to release the Sega CD, a hardware add-on for the Sega Genesis, and wanted a Sonic game that would show off its features. A separate team in Japan led by Sonic character designer Naoto Ohshima began developing an enhanced port of Sonic 2 for the Sega CD, codenamed Super Sonic.[7] It was to feature additional levels, a fully orchestrated soundtrack, sprite-scaling effects, and animated cutscenes.[7][8] After lower-than-expected sales of Sonic 2 in Japan, Super Sonic was split into a separate game[9] and retitled CD Sonic the Hedgehog[10] and later Sonic CD.[9]

The game introduced Amy Rose and Metal Sonic, both designed by artist Kazuyuki Hoshino. Although the final in-game Amy graphics were created by Hoshino, many staff members contributed ideas to her design. Her headband and trainers reflected Oshshima's tastes while her mannerisms reflected the traits Hoshino looked for in women at the time. Metal Sonic was designed in response to Ohshima wanting a strong rival to Sonic. Hoshino had a clear image of the character in his mind from the moment he was briefed, and Metal Sonic's design emerged after only a few sketches. The character graphics were created using Sega's own proprietary graphics system for the Genesis, the Sega Digitizer MK-III, featuring a bitmap and animation editor. The main computers used were Macintosh IIcis. Graphics data was stored on 3.5-inch floppy disks which were handed to the programmer to work into the game.[11]

Ohshima cited Back to the Future as an influence on the game's time travel element.[12] The team worked under less pressure from Sega than the Sonic 2 developers, which Ohshima attributed to Sonic CD not being a numbered sequel.[12] Because of the expanded storage space on CD, the team include animated cutscenes produced by Toei Animation.[13] Due to time constraints, Sonic CD had unused assets and features not included in the final game.[14] The game was released in Japan on September 23, 1993.[15]

The 2011 remake of Sonic CD was developed from scratch by using the Retro Engine created by independent developer Christian "Taxman" Whitehead.[16][17] Whitehead produced a proof-of-concept video of his fangame[17] running on iOS in 2009, showing the Palmtree Panic stage and enhancements such as widescreen graphics and spin dash physics from Sonic the Hedgehog 2.[18][19] He also designed two original stages, but they were excluded as Sega wanted to keep the game faithful to the original release.[20] The remake was not released on the Wii as it exceeded the maximum downloadable size that WiiWare allowed.[21]


Two soundtracks were created for Sonic CD; one used for the North American version of the game, and a Japanese soundtrack used for other territories. The Japanese soundtrack was composed by Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata, who had previously worked on the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It features two songs: "Sonic - You Can Do Anything", often referred to as "Toot Toot Sonic Warrior",[22] composed by Ogata and originally written for Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and "Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself", composed by Hataya. Both are sung by Keiko Utoku, who also provided Sonic's voice samples in-game.[23] The composers drew inspiration from club music, such as house and techno; Hataya was inspired by artists such as C+C Music Factory, Frankie Knuckles, and the KLF.[24]

Wanting the North American release to have a more rich and complex soundtrack, Sega delayed Sonic CD for a few months to have a new soundtrack by Spencer Nilsen, David Young, and Mark Crew of their North American studio Sega Technical Institute.[25] All the music, save for the "Past" songs, which were in sequenced PCM audio rather than Mixed Mode CD, were replaced,[26] and the theme tunes were replaced with "Sonic Boom", composed by Nilsen and performed by Pastiche, an ensemble comprising Sandy Cressman, Jenny Meltzer and Becky West.[25][27] In 1994, a soundtrack album, Sonic the Hedgehog Boom: The Music from Sonic CD and Sonic Spinball, including tracks from Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, was released.[28]

The 2011 Sonic CD rerelease features both soundtracks, with the option to switch between them. However, "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" and "Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself" were replaced with instrumental versions due to licensing issues.[16] A 20th anniversary soundtrack was released in Japan in November 2011, featuring remastered versions of the soundtrack along with "Sonic Boom" and arrangements by Cash Cash and Crush 40, who had created music for later Sonic games.[29]


Sonic CD was first released for the Sega CD (shown here as attached to the right of the Genesis)

Sega ported Sonic CD to Microsoft Windows in 1995, making it the first Sonic game released on personal computers.[30] A second port was given a retail release as part of the Sega PC brand in 1996,[31] distributed by SoftKey in Japan on August 9, August 26 in North America, and October 3 in Europe. The PC version contains the complete FMV animation; all versions use the North American soundtrack.[32] Despite the improvements in the opening and ending cutscenes, this version suffers from technical issues such as slowdown.[33] This version of Sonic CD has been included in a number of compilations;[c] however, it is only compatible with older Windows 9x-based computers.[38]

On August 25, 2011, a remastered version of Sonic CD developed by Christian Whitehead using the Retro Engine 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.[39] Prior to the release, Android gaming tablets purchased from GameStop from November 2011 contained the full game.[40] This version supports widescreen graphics and adds spin dash physics from Sonic 2,[18][19] the ability to unlock Tails as a playable character,[40] both the Japanese and American soundtracks, and achievement and trophy support and iOS features.[41] It was released on the Ouya console on August 1, 2013,[42] and on Apple TV on March 31, 2016.[43] The iOS version was released free on October 30, 2016 with in-app advertisements.[44]


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 84% (X360)[45]
78% (PS3)[45]
Metacritic 93/100 (iOS)[46]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 4.5/5 stars[47]
Destructoid 9.0/10 (X360)[48]
EGM 34/40 (SCD)[49]
GameFan 400/400 (MCD)[50]
315/400 (SCD)[51]
GameSpot 8.5/10 (PS3)[3]
IGN 8.5/10 (X360)[5]
OXM (US) 9.0/10 (X360)[52]
Electronic Games 92% (SCD)[53]
Sega Force Mega 85% (MCD)[54]
Publication Award
Electronic Gaming Monthly Best Sega CD Game of 1993[55]

Sonic CD received critical acclaim; some have considered the game to be one of the greatest video games of all time.[56] The iOS version holds a score of 93/100 on Metacritic, making it the highest rated game in the entire Sonic series on the site.[57]

Reviewers praised the game's soundtrack and detailed graphics. GamePro called the visuals "brilliantly colorful".[58] Justin Towell of GamesRadar claimed the Japanese soundtrack seems "totally fresh today" in their review of the 2011 version.[59] IGN gave the game an Editor's Choice award, stating the game "looks great" and called the game "so unique, and cool".[5] The time travel mechanic received consistent praise; GameSpot claimed the system added "a more satisfying way to play",[3] and Destructoid claimed it added "depth" to game.[48] The 3D special stages have also been praised despite framerate problems.[59] Allgame wrote that Sonic CD was "easily" one of the best games for the system.[47]

Awards and honors[edit]

Mega placed Sonic CD at #3 on their list of the Top 10 Sega-CD Games of All Time.[60] The game was awarded Best Sega CD Game of 1993 by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[55] In May 2009, GamePro listed Sonic CD as one of the Top 20 Best Platformers: 1989 to 2009, ranking the game in 12th place.[61] In March 2013, the game was nominated for and won the Windows Phone Game of the Year category of the Pocket Gamer Awards.[62]


The Sega CD version of Sonic CD sold 1.5 million copies, making it the best-selling game for the system.[63][64] The Android port received more than 100,000 paid downloads.[65] The PlayStation 3 version was ranked number one on PlayStation Network's Top Sellers for December 2011.[66]


The story of Sonic CD was adapted in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog comic book series.[67]

Two characters introduced in the game, Amy Rose and Metal Sonic, became recurring characters in the Sonic series. Metal Sonic later appeared as a major antagonist in Knuckles' Chaotix (1995),[68] Sonic Heroes (2003), and Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II (2012), whose story heavily connects to that of Sonic CD's. [69] Amy Rose became a playable character in later games, most notably Sonic Adventure.[70] The game's animated sequences were included as bonuses in the compilation Sonic Jam (1997). "Sonic Boom" was used as one of Sonic's themes in Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008).[25]

To celebrate the Sonic series' 20th anniversary in 2011, Sega released Sonic Generations, which remakes aspects of various past games from the franchise. Both versions feature a re-imagined version of the boss battle against Metal Sonic.[71] The 2017 game Sonic Mania features updated versions of Sonic CD's "Metallic Madness" and "Stardust Speedway" levels, including a boss battle against Metal Sonic.[72]


  1. ^ The game is fully titled on the title screen and original Japanese cover as Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Japanese: ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグCD, Hepburn: Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Shī Dī)
  2. ^ In the North American manual, Amy is incorrectly identified as Sally Acorn, a character from Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog comic book.
  3. ^ The game was released as part of Sega Family Fun Pak (1996),[34] Sonic Action 4 Pack (2001),[35] and Sega Mega Pack (2003) for Microsoft Windows,[36] as well as Sonic Gems Collection (2005) for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2.[37][27]


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External links[edit]