Genre: Platformer Developer: Sonic Team Publisher: Sega Enterprises Players: 1-2 Released: 1994
Sequels usually flop, whether it is music, movies, or video games. They are often never as good as the original and are sometimes the opposite (Matrix Revolutions). Such is not the case here, as not only is this game actually better the previous two, but it also expands on them even more. This game corrected every little mistake that was found in the first two Sonic The Hedgehog titles and does them one better. With more reasons to play, more secrets, and just more Sonic fun, part three was hyped well before its release and I have to say it lived up to every little bit of it. Everything that was rumored and speculated about is it made it into the game. I was very impressed with it the first time I played it and I honestly think it makes the original Sonic The Hedgehog game look like an 8-bit memory. You will have to delve deep in to the heart of Sonic 3 to fully appreciate all the things that have been thrown in as side bonuses. For instance, Tails can now fly, there is now a save feature (yay!), and even a new character.
After the events of Sonic 2, everyone thought they had rid the world of Dr. Robotnik once and for all. Sonic and Tail’s plane crashed, stranding them on a mysterious island called Angel Island. Still in possession of the Chaos emeralds, Sonic runs into his greatest adversary yet, a feisty young Echidna by the name of Knuckles. Unable to avoid Knuckles, Sonic dropped all the Chaos Emeralds, which Knuckles wasted no time in picking up. Not willing to let this mysterious new foe leave with the emeralds, our two heroes follow him and the adventure begins. Meanwhile, Robotnik has recaptured many of the furry little animals Sonic calls friends and has turned them into robots. He has learned that Sonic has landed on Angel Island and knows that he may still possess the Chaos Emeralds. The evil Dr. tries yet again to take them back. Tenacious to say the least.
Sonic’s sprite appears to be smaller in this version, but that is not a problem as his level of detail has vastly improved. He had been finely rendered throughout the entire series but this time it seems as though he has received an even greater level of detail. Tails, on the other hand, looks a tad bigger though, perhaps to represent the fact that he has grown some since the last adventure? Knuckles, the new character, is highly detailed himself and is a bit taller than Sonic. Additionally, some new animations have been added. For instance, Sonic has new idle animations and they look a lot better than they did before.
In addition to the improved character models, the backgrounds are more gorgeous than ever and have really taken an overall turn for the better. Everything is clear and large and there are more things to be seen this time around, which places this sequel ahead of its predecessors, if that’s even possible. In the first act, for example, the grove catches on fire and it looks extremely realistic with its smoky background, burning trees, and other little things.
The music in this game is outstanding! Part two has the best music, in my opinion, but Sonic 3 is a close second . The sound effects took a turn in the right direction, as you can hear more of a distinction between what’s going on in the background and the foreground. The music in some of these stages is truly remarkable, especially in the opening stage and some of the later ones, it’s the type that keep you humming after you played, I reckon. One thing that I did find to be a huge error on Sega’s part was the fact that they severely changed the opening theme. Although it was good, it just wasn’t the same. Because of this the invincibility star’s music has changed as well, I know these aren’t huge differences but they are noticeable. The good music outweighed the bad, however, and I have to say that besides the opening theme there isn’t anything bad about this game musically. The sounds go well with the gorgeous graphics in this game and makes it an overall enjoyable experience to watch and listen to.
Sonic 3 is for one or two players and you have the same two characters from previous installments to choose from: Sonic & Tails. They both have new abilities which greatly enhance the game. Tails, for one thing, is able to fly for a short time and he can even hoist up Sonic to take him over the heads of enemies and too hard to reach places. Sonic himself has a sort of a double jump now where his spiked hair stands up and it results into a nasty attack on any badnik he faces. Also there are some new power ups, which are way better than the rather lame ones from the other games. Now you have a fire shield, which makes you invincible to fire, and Sonic can even glide with it. Then there is an Electric shield, which attracts rings to you, gives you a double jump, and deflects projectiles. Lastly, is the water shield which is like a bubble and gives you a quick jump, or if you are in water, unlimited air. There is also a new special stage, which though, hard to believe, is even better than the one found in Sonic 2. It is set in a 3D globe-like arena, where you have to collect a certain amount of blue spheres, seemingly with no time limit. The fact is that after a while the game speeds up, increasing the difficulty. Moreover, you still have to collect all the Chaos Emeralds to get your bonus, which is just like the one you got from Sonic The Hedgehog 2. For those who want a change from the main game, an updated vs. mode has been included. You can pick Sonic, Knuckles, or Tails to use but if you don’t have the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge you won’t be able to do any of Knuckles trademark attacks. You can play either a time challenge or a point challenge and there are a lot of different stages to choose from as well. Additionally, you can race and play through each stage to beat a human controlled opponent or earn a new time record.
New to this game is the save mode, which this was a very good idea. Now at the end of each stage, you can save your game via auto save and come back at any time to pick up where you left off. This is something that was much needed and even though I believe this is the shortest Sonic game, it has to be one of the toughest. There are next to nil chances of you actually completing the whole game in a single sitting. The difficulty has been beefed up greatly, making part three by far the hardest of the original trilogy. I would say that even though it may seem like it’s not geared towards a younger audience, the new challenge is definitely a plus for experienced gamers.
This is an absolutely fabulous game, without a doubt. This has got to be of the all-time classics for Genesis and one of those games you won’t put down for a long time. My only real gripe was that the opening music could have been better. But with all its good qualities, like the ability to save, more characters, and better graphics, I’ll let it pass. Considering the fact that this game has more packed into it than any of the others and that you and a friend could already play this for hours without any sign of boredom, it gets even better when you pop in Sonic & Knuckles. Not only can you relive the adventure as Sonic you can also now do it with Knuckles. Sonic & Knuckles also adds more secrets as well. Some would argue though, that the whole “lock-on” premise was incomplete and I would have to agree with them. If you use a cheat code, for example, you’ll see that there are 3 levels that you cannot choose. That was something that I felt should have been added to make this game more complete. Aside from this minor detail, Sonic 3 is definitely a game you should not pass up, especially if you have Sonic & Knuckles.
SCORE: 10 out of 10
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