- Machine: Genesis;
- Manufacturer: Sega of America; Sega of Japan
Spin A Blue Streak
He's bad, he's blue, he's got the world by the short hairs! You know him, you love him - Sonic the Hedgehog!
Back, and blue as ever, is Sonic the Hedgehog in his second game of 1994 - and this time, he's not alone. Knuckles the Echidna has rolled out a game of his own - well, half a game anyway - and he's every bit as hip and attitude-ridden as the blue spiny one himself.
We all saw him first hassling the Hedgehog King in Sonic 3, and if you're like me you were a little disappointed at the end of the game when their expected confrontation just never happened. Sonic and Knuckles picks up immediately after Sonic 3. Robotnik has survived, and he's still after the Chaos Emeralds. However, having once tricked Knuckles into believing that Sonic was a bad guy, Robotnik tries to eliminate the Echidna Warrior before he can find out the truth - big mistake.
You can play as either Sonic or Knuckles, and you get a different game, with a different ending, depending on who you take. Knuckles has most of the same abilities as Sonic - seems an echidna can do a Spin Dash attack just as well as a hedgehog - but he also has a few new tricks. He can fly for short stretches, climb walls like a mountaineer, and his knuckles can bash through 'most anything. Although he's not as fast as his blue buddy, he can go plenty of places Sonic can't.
Which bring us to the most exciting news: If you think back to Sonic 3, more than a few readers noticed obstacles that sure seemed like they might have something on the other side, but there was no way Sonic could get through them. The fact is that Sonic can't - but Knuckles can!
In a gaming first, Sonic and Knuckles will be 'backward compatible' with earlier Sonic carts, allowing you to play both Sonic 3, and even Sonic 2, as Knuckles the Echidna! With his new abilities, Knuckles can bash through or climb over those treasure-hiding obstacles in Sonic 3, and give you whole new strategies for getting through the trickiest zones of Sonic 2!
Sega is keeping the exact details under tight wraps, but even though we can't show it to you yet, we've seen it work, and it all fits in a single $69,16-meg cart! Keep reading Game Players, 'cuz we've always got the inside line!
Never one to let evil stand in the world, Sonic is always ready to battle the nasty and environmentally unaware Robotnik - again and again if need be, until the money stops coming in.
Sonic's got all the moves you've seen before, plus a whole crop of new gadgets and odd stuff to spin through and run around - make 'em beg, oh spiny, blue one!
Red And Ready To Roll!
You may have seen him before, but never quite like this. The last survivor of an ancient civilization of Australian spiny anteaters, it's Knuckles!
Ladies and Gentlemen, in case you missed him the first time, let me introduce you to the one and only Knuckles. He can spin and he can dash, and he's got attitude to burn. He may also be the first echidna in history to sport dreadlocks - way cool!
He's not as quick on his feet as Sonic, but he's still got a few tricks up his bright red sleeve. For a start, Knuckles has a manly pair of knuckles - he can smash through walls that would stop a speedy, blue hedgehog!
I didn't know that echidnas were avid climbers, but Knuckles can finger jam a 5.10 pitch with the best of them.
Echidnas can also fly. Well, glide anyway. Jump, jump again, and he's floating on the breeze. Y'know, between him and Tails, it seems like Sonic knows a lot of critters who can get into the air somehow - a little odd, isn't it?
Mushroom Hill Zone
You gotta hand it to the folks at Sega, every new Sonic game looks better than the last one - and Sonic 3 was gorgeous! Sonic and Knuckles is amazing.
Sonic runs across a whole plethora of new stuff to hold him up and help him out - sticky vines and floating mushrooms are the least little has to worry about.
And what the heck is this? I mean, it's a handy thing to find, but you gotta wonder why such a large, mechanical device is just lying around in the forest like this!
Of course, it's also possible to play through the game as Knuckles, in which case you're relatively hassle-free - just doesn't seem fair, does it?
Hey! If you remember Sonic 3, Knuckles would show up from time to time to make life hard for poor old Sonic - well, he does it here too.
At the end of the level, Sonic chases Robotnik's mean machine through the forest. These latest two Sonic games use 3-D rendered graphics, and it all looks really cool!
Flying Battery Zone
Never one to fear competition, Sega throws this ringer of an entry into the 'Level Names That Make No Sense' sweepstakes.
This level's sub-boss isn't too bright: you beat him by tricking him into bashing himself on the head!
Most of the level is spent avoiding or using various gadgets, which is something Sonic should have plenty of experience with. Knuckles is a rookie to all this, but that doesn't seem to slow him down.
New stuff to watch for includes swinging arms with magnetic knobs on the end, and an echidna-nabbing crane. As painful as it may look, the crane actually helps old Knuckles to get by!
The adventure continues, rolling through the haunted tombs of an ancient ruin. Spooky!
The tombs are haunted. When the lights go out, watch for the angry ghosts. Fortunately, there are big pull-chains here and there so you can turn the lights on. Whew!
Some areas can only be reached by cracking open these odd valves and letting a whole bunch of sand fill the place - just don't get caught!
Watch out for robo-scorpions. Fortunately, one of Knuckles' many talents is to hit things on the fly. Way to go!
The sub-boss is a big, invincible rock guy. You can't beat him with brawn, so you have to out-think him. Considering he's made of granite, that shouldn't be too hard.
Oh, and even though Sonic can't climb like Knuckles, he still manages to get in a good rappel every now and then. Good for him.
Robotnik waits at the end of the level, of course. Notice when you play as Knuckles, Robotnik wears a mask to disguise himself. I don't know who he thinks he's foolin' - how many other red, round, armored villains can be running around?
Lava Reef Zone
We're talking major hot. When you wake up next to a pool of lava, go back to bed, because this isn't going to be a good day.
The caverns of the Lava Reef Zone are big and dangerous. As you can see here, it takes almost all of Knuckles' skills to get to the bonus stuff - way to go, little red guy!
Judging by the size of his mechanical hands, it's probably just as well the sub-boss of the lava reef never comes up to say 'hi!' Geez, he's big - I mean really big!
Three Times Bonus!
Lots of special and bonus stages have always been a Sonic trademark, and if you think they're gonna quit now, you're nuts!
If you can collect all the blue spheres - and that's a big 'if' - you gain a fabled chaos emerald!
Hey, recognize this? That's right, the Special stages from Sonic 3 are still hanging on - and they're twice as tough as before! The horror, the horror!
There's also a couple of new bonus rounds: one is a weird sort of giant pinball machine (actually, it looks more like pachinko machine, but never mind).
The other bonus round throws our spiny hero into a giant slot machine, where he can get tons of extra rings if you can just get him into the coin slot!