It’s been a long time coming. SEGA first announced Sonic CD for Windows Phone way back in August 2011. We then interviewed Ken Balough, Sonic’s brand manager, shortly before the Xbox 360 version launched on December 14 of that year. At the time, there was no indication that the WP7 port would arrive dramatically later than the XBLA one… But here we are in November 2012, and the game is finally available. Good news: it was worth the wait!
For those who don’t know, Sonic CD was originally released for the Sega CD/Mega CD add-on for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive way back in 1993. It was developed concurrently with Sonic 2 but came out a bit later. At the time, Sonic CD wowed gamers with its fully-animated intro and ending, terrific backgrounds, CD quality audio, and unique time travelling mechanics… Not to mention the introduction of Metal Sonic and Amy Rose, two characters who became quite important to Sonic lore.
Believe it or not, the Windows Phone port of Sonic CD is actually better than the original game in several ways. The display has been expanded to a widescreen aspect ratio without distorting the characters or backgrounds in any way. That’s thanks to developer Christian Whitehead who created his own unique engine for this remake and also appears to have personally coded the WP7 version.
Other improvements include the option to toggle between the Japanese and US soundtracks, both of which are completely unique and worthwhile,
better looping of the music, the ability to toggle between two styles of spin dashes, voice samples for Sonic, and of course, Sonic’s sidekick Tails unlocks as a playable character after beating the game. Tails was first introduced in Sonic 2, but since Sonic CD came from a separate development team during the same time Sonic 2 was in the works, he didn’t appear in the original CD game.
The most unique aspect of Sonic CD compared to other games in the series is the ability to travel in time. Each stage has multiple versions: present, past, good future, and bad future. By touching a ‘Past’ or ‘Future’ sign and then maintaining a high speed for several seconds, Sonic can jump between these different time periods (and get an easy Achievement). If Sonic manages to destroy Eggman’s Robot Transporter in the past, he can travel to a good future free of ring-stealing enemies.
Touch-screen platforming games will never control quite as accurately as they would with a physical controller. But like Sonic 4: Episode I before it, Sonic CD actually controls really well (much better than Earthworm Jim). Chalk it up to using only one action button, making it easy to keep your right thumb in place. The actual on-screen d-pad is a bit too small in this version, but luckily you can press out past any direction and it still counts as pushing that direction.
Also note that the bonus levels (which you get by clearing a zone with 50 rings and jumping through the giant ring at the end) just use touch-screen controls. No ill-advised tilting here!
Super Sonic warrior!
Stay tuned for our full Sonic CD review next week. But if you like Sonic or you’re just itching for a quality platformer, you can safely buy it right now. Sonic CD works with both WP7 and WP8 and costs $4.99, the same as the XBLA version. Get it here in the Windows Phone Store.