Saturday, January 23, 2016

Sonic 3 and Knuckles (Sega Genesis, 1994) (Sonic 3 Half)

 Today I'm playing a game that I've never played before, even though it was beloved by a lot of my classmates in the mid-90's. I was a Nintendo guy across the board until around 1997 when the Playstation got Final Fantasy VII.

This is an interesting game. Sega wasn't able to get Sonic 3 done by the intended release date, so they ended up splitting it into two different games. One was Sonic 3, while the other was released later in the same year as Sonic and Knuckles. Via plugging the carts into each other, players could play the full combined game that was originally intended to be Sonic 3. That's a good thing, because individually the two halves aren't all that impressive as full games. I liked Sonic 2 more, and a lot of that is probably due to it feeling more like a finished product.

We begin with Tails the raccoon (?) flying a plane over the ocean, in what may be the most competent raccoon scene until Guardians of the Galaxy.

Super Saiyan Sonic flies by and Tails gets blasted with waves. RUDE!

The game begins, and it's a lot like the previous two right off the bat. The first level is all green.

 Here's Knuckles, making his debut as a bad guy...I think. He's basically to Sonic what Bass is to Mega Man. He's an antagonist here but then he joins Sonic for the fourth game.

 Knuckles brushes past Sonic. RUDE! What's with all the dickery in this game?

 Sonic meets a violent end as he lands on some spikes. I'm trying to get used to the controls here and it isn't easy because he slides all over the place. This series lacks the tight controls of a Mario game, for sure. I was expecting this to be competition for Super Mario World, but it's way too short for that.

Sonic does his best Pitfall Harry impression as he swings on vines.

The bosses are the usual fare for the series, not too different from what I talked about in the Sonic 2 post. You jump into them while watching out for various spiky things that they might emit.

Each of the six worlds is divided up into two acts, with a midway boss separating them. The second act of the first world begins here, as Dr. Robotnik* sets the forest on fire like the sonofabitch that he is.

* No, I'm not calling him Eggman. I grew up with "Dr. Robotnik" and that's what he is to me.

The iconic loop-de-loops abound in this game. I really like the first stage music, which is catchy and fits the mood of the game well.

 Boss fight! Time to pay for setting the woods on fire, you sonofabitch!

Way to order me around, game. RUDE.

Robotnik himself is sorta a combination of Dr. Wily and the original Bowser. The former because he attacks in all kinds of flying vehicles, the latter because he's a recurring boss throughout the game.

As if burning the forest wasn't bad enough, now they're bombing our heroes! RUN, SONIC!

I like how expressive the characters are. That and the bright colors are the two best things about the game.

Water levels are a bit rough in Sonic titles because you have a limited amount of time underwater before Sonic loses a life. It's hard to tell just how much time you have left until you're nearly done, because the timer doesn't show up until the last few seconds.

This is either a minigame in Sonic 3 or a new mobile game from Konami. "THIS will make the big bucks!" say Konami execs while peeing on a Castlevania poster.

It's Robotnik Marine as our heroes lock horns with him yet again. I like how Tails serves as a second attacker; even though he's following Sonic and apparently not doing much for the whole game, he can damage bosses. Sometimes a lot.

I see Sonic is still "getting through" levels. Between this and "COPE" in one of the earlier games, I wonder if one of the developers was depressed when they made these games. If so, I hope all the bright colors helped.

I like that Sonic can essentially take unlimited hits as long as you keep collecting rings. It's still a bit jarring to get hit and see all of your rings scattering about.

 Look at Tails hovering around up there. Smug hovering bastard! He's the Princess Toadstool of this game.

 It's interesting to note that long spikes don't actually damage Sonic unless he touches the points. In other words you can walk along the sides of them and not take damage.

 Defeat Robotnik at the end of each world and you rescue a smorgasbord of little woodland critters from one of his death-traps. Apparently his goal is to turn all of these critters into cybernetic monstrosities, highlighting the dark and disturbing undertones of this series.

This game excels when you're speeding along with reckless abandon. The problem is that you often run into obstacles without warning, so it's hard to relax and get into the speed-based gameplay.

This Robotnik mech is particularly irritating because it has that little fire jet on the side. Landing good hits on him without bumping into it is surprisingly difficult.

The next world is some sort of Neon Night Riders metropolis...or a massive fairground. I'm not sure.


"I need that money like the ring I never won" says Sonic as Knuckles makes another appearance to...not do much.

Oh COME ON. Some of these stages are total mazes and very difficult to find your way through. Here I discovered that the time clock actually has a purpose.

Saucer Wily Robotnik drops a huge magnetic ball on Sonic, but unfortunately for him Sonic is technically immortal as long as he has money. It's the traditional American health care system at work.  

The fifth level is my favorite, and starts off with Sonic snowboarding for fun and profit.

Oh no! Our hero falls into a pit and gets buried in snow, like most of the eastern seaboard right now.

 Matter of fact, there's a lot of falling in this stage.

"When I was fallin' I was young" says Sonic.

This creepy. I don't wanna talk about it.

Even the penguins have been turned to evil by the vile Dr. Robotnik.

There's one good thing about this frozen hellscape: The music.

 Great track for these levels.

For the next fight, Robotnik is kind enough to supply our hero with a platform to jump off of. It almost makes up for how the sonofabitch froze Tails.

The final stage (yeah, already) is the Launch Base Zone. Here, Robotnik is building what appears to be a Starkiller Base.

 The music here is very noteworthy, because it's a Michael Jackson song. That's right, Michael Jackson.

This stage is surprisingly easy; the only difficult stages have been the water and ice levels. Those are levels 2 and 5 (out of 6). Weird difficulty curve. It's more like a difficulty bow.

Robotnik again supplies our hero with a handy platform to reach him with. It's another simple boss fight, and I'm starting to wonder why all of these bosses only take like five hits.

Knuckles gets in Sonic's way again as Sonic makes off with Robotnik's saucer.

Ultimately, though, he allows Sonic through. Huh, I was fully expecting Knuckles to be a boss. This is weird. In any case, the true final boss is Robotnik again, this time in some kind of robo-centipede.

Tails' bum gets scorched, but otherwise there are no casualties in the fight. It's a little more difficult than most of the other boss fights because Robotnik has this weird little spike-ball hovering around his pod; it can block your attacks without much warning.

Starkiller Base flies off, and that concludes this game. Looks like Robotnik got away, and there's a reason for that...

...Sonic and Knuckles starts immediately where this game left off. Sort of. It's a separate game, but connecting the carts causes the story to continue right from one to the other. The good news is that the already-tame difficulty should go into a valley here since I'm technically starting a different game. More on this soon.

Other Sonic Posts:


  1. That dickery is what's known as ATTITUDE

    Good highlighting of the music here. You should look forward to Lava Reef.

  2. I had so much fun playing these games as Tails and Knuckles, just flying around everywhere. The graphics are so lush too!

    I would read an article about how the S3&K lock-on technology worked. Seems like it was Game Genie-like.

    So, Wikipedia has a clear-enough plot for S3&K, though I think Knuckles should've had a problem with Sonic turning the other animals on the island into robots...if you don't have the instruction manual you can't figure out what's going on from the game exactly though, so some text would've helped.

    Man, I love how much the colors of Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles contrast, and how Sega made random animals like hedgehogs and echidnas cool.

    Getting all the Chaos Emeralds in these games was so hard for me. I never managed it as a kid.

    The forest bombing here in the first stage reminds me of Vietnam.

    The rings scattering, and the rushing to get the rings back, is so cool and a signature effect of these games.

    This carnival level is memorable for me. I remember timing out and dying because I couldn't figure out how to use the controls to get through a certain obstacle, a platform that swung up and down when you pressed up and down on the D-Pad.

    Man, Ice Cap Zone is a great song. And I'm so happy Michael Jackson could join us!