Sequels can be deadly, but a few classic characters can successfully return to video games again and again. Until now, Mega Man and Mario have been the kings of the replay pile, but the popular 'hog's making a bid to wallow at the top with this excellent addition to his collection of adventures.
Here's the Story...
Okay, so the story line never changes much, but think of it as part of a saga. Sonic and Tails destroyed the Death Egg ship at the end of Sonic 2... or so they thought. It seems the scrambled vessel crashlanded on the Floating Island, which is powered by Chaos Emeralds. The Emeralds are guarded If a new character in the saga, Knuckles, an engaging echidna (a "spiny-coated toothless burrowing nocturnal mammal," according Webster's dictionary) -- Robotnik Cons Knuckles into believing that Sonic and Tails are trying to steal the Emeralds. Bet you can guess what happens next!
- To defeat the boss at the end of the first Marble Garden Act, dodge the spikes he drops and then simply bonk him.
- Stand on the blue tops in the Marble Garden Zone, and Spin Dash. They'll soar through the air and take you to otherwise unreachable spots.
- Don't forget to breathe when you're underwater.
At first glance, Sonic 3's game play is identical to the prior Sonic sagas. A closer look, though, shows some very def additions and improvements to the formula.
The six Zones on the Floating Island are new. Each Zone has two huge Acts, and Sonic battles Robotnik at the end of almost every Act. There are loads of secret rooms and other surprises throughout each Act. The Acts have multiple pathways, but they are more linpear than those in the first games.
If Sonic finishes any Act with 50 or more Rings, he enters the Bonus Stage, where a giant gumball machine coughs up power-ups.
- At the beginning of Act 2 in HydroCity, an advancing wall threatens to crush Sonic. As you leap to each new platform, turn right, Spin Dash, and leap to the next platform to the right If your timing's quick, you can escape.
- After you skid across the water in the second HydroCity Act, leap up and to the left to discover a 1-up just past the spikes.
Special Stages are Sonic's forte, and he's upped the ante with two delightfully original kinds. When Sonic locates a giant gold Ring, he zaps to the Special Stage, where he has to race to transform blue spheres into gold Rings. If he collects all the spheres, he gets one of the Chaos Emeralds. If you snag all the Emeralds, you see the game's real ending.
- Jump up and down on these platforms in the Carnival Night Zone to make them go up in the air.
- The balloons in the Carnival Night Zone are often the only way that Sonic can reach higher spots. Leap on them as if they were stepping stones.
- In the Carnival Night Zone, launch Sonic to new heights with the Cannons. The Cannon automatically rocks back and forth. Wait 'til it's pointed in the right direction, then tap any button to launch Sonic.
- Don't forget to use Tails to air-lift Sonic to hard-to-reach spots.
Sonic's as fast as ever and even faster in some areas of the game. He has his usual repertoire of moves and a new move called the Insta-Shield. If you quickly tap any button twice, Sonic gets a few seconds of Shield protection. Tails can fly or swim for a limited time, and, when you're playing as Sonic, Tails can grab Sonic and airlift him away. The airlift is a little tricky, but the rest of Sonic's moves are simple, and the precise controls make him easy to maneuver.
- There's a button hidden under the first rock you reach in Act 1 of Angel Island. Break it, ricochet to another button and then up to the left to a secret ledge that holds several power-ups.
Look for the familiar power-up Monitors, but also look for new contraptions. There are now three shields. The Fireball Shield protects Sonic from fire attacks and gives him a Fireball Spin Dash attack. The Water Shield enables Sonic to breathe underwater and to bounce like a ball. The Lightning Shield attracts Rings like a magnet, protects him from electric attacks, and enables him to double-jump in mid-air. The shields add a new strategy element to the game play. Also, beware of the Robotnik power-up. Robotnik's face is on it, and if you grab it you'll take damage.
In the second Act of the Marble Garden Zone, an earthquake hits. Speed through this area before you're trapped by falling pillars.
If you're playing solo, you can take on Robotnik as either Sonic or Tails. Tails' ability to fly gives the game different twist when you play as him. Either way, the other character tags along. Remember that Controller Two can be used to maneuver the other character.
The Two-Player mode's new face-lift ups the fun factor and saves your eyesight, too. The split screen has been enlarged to full-screen size, making it a beck of a lot easier to track your racer. Each of this mode's five Zones is unique, and you can play three ways. Practice in the Time Attack mode, then take on another player for the best time in a Match Race in a one-zone contest. Or, duke it out in all five Zones in the Grand Prix mode. Two-Player still isn't as fun as the main game, but it's much improved over Sonic 2.
Hedge Your Bets
Sonic 3 looks as good as it plays. The new Zones have gorgeous background detail and lots of visual treats. It's still impressive to watch Sonic hit top speeds, especially on new obstacles like HydroCity's curving pipes and waterslides. Sonic himself is a slightly larger sprite, with a more well- rounded 3D look. Robotnik's creations are always entertaining to look at -- and Sonic 3's contraptions are no exception.
The tunes are similar to those in the other Sonic sagas. Each Act has a theme song that's catchy... until you've heard it a hundred times. The sound effects are the familiar bounce and being noises.
Challenge-wise, Sonic's a mixed bag. Beginners can zip through the game and beat the bosses easily, but they'll probably miss out on most of the secrets. Advanced gamers can search for hidden areas, try to snag all the Chaos Emeralds, and discover the real ending. There's enough here to satisfy a range of players.
Who's Hogging the Genesis?
Okay, so maybe you're secretly wishing that hedgehogs were extinct. But when you've got a good thing going, there's no reason to give up on it. Sega's taken that motto to heart, and as long as they enhance every Sonic sequel to make it a winner, there's no reason to stop. This 'hog's gonna take the blue ribbon at the state fair... and probably in this year's game sweepstakes, as well.