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Sega Download: Sonic CD (Android)

By now, it’s probably safe to assume that just about everyone has played Sonic CD in some form or another, either on the actual hardware, through emulation, or on the Sonic Gems collection released for the GameCube in 2005. People have most likely already made up their minds about this game, and those who hate its often odd level design and whole “past-present-future” dynamic are probably already reading another article. For the rest of you, I’m going to devote this article to convincing you to buy Sonic CD again, this time for your Android phone. Fans of mobile gaming are going to want to stick around for this one.

In truth, the whole concept of playing Sonic CD on my cell phone still amazes me, to some extent. Do we even use these things for making calls anymore? My own phone is my portable connection to the world, and with all the different ways there are to contact someone, I hardly ever actually call anymore. Texting, posting on Facebook or emailing is just so much easier. You know, I think Apple or someone needs to make a device for that whole calling thing. Still, even with all the apps, internet, and video streaming, I never used to really consider my cell phone a worthy substitute for a dedicated portable system, but playing Sega’s most controversial classic Sonic game on it has done a lot to change that perception.

Who Says Sega Doesn’t Listen?

Originally conceived by independent software developer Christian Whitehead, the mobile version of Sonic CD stunned fans in 2009 by running at 60 fps on the iPod Touch. He ported the game as a response to Sega’s call to fans about what they would like to see next on the iPhone and iPod. Most impressive was the fact that he did it without source code or disassembly, and in short order at that. Whitehead actually began talks with Sega, and then the game suddenly vanished from the radar. Everyone thought it had become the latest victim of the Copyright Brigade until August of 2011, when Sega announced that Sonic CD was coming to Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, iOS and Android. Finally, the game most hedgehog fans wanted was being released almost everywhere (sorry Wii and DS owners). Better still, Sega stuck with Whitehead’s work for the port.

The importance of this last bit cannot be stressed enough. What Whitehead has done with Sonic CD is awesome indeed. The game runs seamlessly on my Samsung Galaxy S, and the resolution and colors are incredibly vibrant. Everything looks beautiful, even the opening cut scene, which has a nice, new HD transfer. Simply put, Sonic CD probably looks better on a mobile phone than anyone thought it could, and it definitely runs better than most thought would be possible, given Sega’s spotty track record with emulation.

Sega didn’t stop with just making the game run well. It took a great engine and went nuts adding to it. From the start screen, players can choose which type of spin dash they want – original or Sonic 2’s, either the American or Japanese music score (THANK YOU SEGA!), and even the option to play as Sonic or Tails, providing the latter has been unlocked by completing the game. The extra menu unlocks new goodies as players progress through the game, which adds a ton to the replay value. There’s also a time attack mode, which basically lets gamers rip through the adventure without worrying about the whole time travel shtick. Being able to save at the start of the last stage reached means that it can be played in spurts, something vital for mobile games.

Perhaps my only complaint is one that’s quite common with mobile games: those damn virtual D-pads. My stubby thumb not only slips around the pad, it also blocks a good chunk of the screen. It takes some getting used to, and while it’s not a deal-breaker, it’s definitely something that takes away from the overall package. Gamers playing this on the Xbox 360, PS3 and PC don’t have this problem, but they can’t take their games on the go! Again, the instant save feature makes a world of difference when faced with that darn virtual pad.

Another downer is the lack of achievements and leaderboards. iOS and Windows phones have them, so what’s the deal here? Achievements may not be a major problem, but we should at least have leaderboards. Maybe the Christmas spirit will move Sega to release an update? How about some downloadable content with those new zones that were axed during development? Come on Sega, you’ve taken it this far!

Why Are You Still Even Debating A Purchase?

The bottom line is that for a measly $1.99, this is one port that fans should not pass up. It looks great, it runs great, and there’s a lot to come back to. And it finally has both soundtracks selectable from the start, so everyone can shut up about the music now! Do yourself a favor and splurge a little. Sonic is definitely worth it this time around.


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