Sonic The Hedgehog 3 Team Sonic (1994) Sega Genesis

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I wont stand idly by any more, and allow Van Rockingham to continue to sully the good(?) name of Sonic. Although, in retrospect, most of the negative reviews of Sonic games here on GR were written by *leafs through documents* ….Me. Shit.

Righto, Sonic 3, over the wall lads.

Story

Oh my word, this one actually has a little meat on it’s bones!

So, after you’ve smashed up the Death Egg at the end of Sonic 2, it crash lands on Angel Island. Sonic and Tails make haste to the island, presumably with the intent of asking Dr Robotnik if he’s keen for another swift spanking. Here, they meet Knuckles, the guardian of the Master Emerald. When i say meet, I mean they both get a swift punch. Knuckles has already come into contact with Dr Robotnik, who has told him filthy lies about Sonic coming to take the Master Emerald for himself in order to buy himself time to repair his fledgling spacecraft. Hilarity ensues.

S’alright that, innit? It’s no Citizen Kane, but it’s a damn sight better than “I’m a baddie” met with “well I’m not!”.

Presentation

The best looking of the Mega Drive Sonic games in a walk, and it bloody well should be! I’m not a huge fan of the Sonic model from this game (apparently nobody is, he’s back to Sonic 2 style in Sonic Mania), but the levels are tremendously put together. The backgrounds are full of life, and the levels distinct enough from one another to keep things interesting.

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Angel Island gets torched at the end of Act 1, giving you this awesome Diet Apocalypse Now scene in Act 2.

 

The soundtrack is arguably the weakest of the Sonic games – nothing bad about it, but it’s certainly the least memorable of the 3 games. Except for Ice Cap Zone. That shit is my jam. Then there’s that whole thing about Michael Jackson ALLEGEDLY helping to compose the soundtrack. Do I think he did? Who cares.

Gameplay

Bit up and down this. It’s a classic Sonic game, so it’s great, of course it is. The new additions of the flame, spark and bubble shields are great fun, and their quirks of stopping you from drowning/burning are pretty inspired for the time.

The two areas, for me, where Sonic 3 slips up are – the special stages and the actual length of the game. It’s admirable for Sega to try a different style of bonus game in each Sonic game, but when you ask people to think of a Sonic bonus level, what do they say? They say “who are you? How did you get in here? What have you done with our son?” blah, blah, blah. But yeah, I feel like the quintessential Sonic bonus stage is the Sonic 2 half pipe. Sonic 3? Ehhhhhh..

So you navigate Sonic across a sphere, gathering blue balls as you go. When you gather a blue ball, it turns red. If you go around the outside of a grid of blue balls, they turn into rings. Touch a red ball and it’s over, get all the blue and you’ve done it. Fine, right? Yep, just fine. It’s tough to say I like these too much, and when you factor in the fact that they speed up the more stuff you gather, they can actually be downright stressful. The music is hideous as well.

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*deep breath* Do it for Super Sonic…

And the length. There are only 6 zones in Sonic 3, which is pretty paltry compared to the almost double 11 zones of Sonic 2. Sonic games aren’t the longest at the best of times, but I’d venture to say 3 is easily the shortest. The fact then, that this is the first Sonic game to contain a save feature is a touch baffling. Granted there’s a touch more longevity added by the nifty little multiplayer, where you and your STUPID OLDER BROTHER WHO ALWAYS WINS can race one on one, but it’s a rather shallow proposition, and truthfully exists as more of a novelty than a viable long term multiplayer.

Verdict

Sonic 3 is probably my least favourite of the 3 original Sonic games, but it’s far from being a bad game. Rather, it simply suffers from not being long enough to really sink your teeth into. It’s still brilliantly designed and buckets of fun, with just enough small innovations to make it feel different to the first two games. It’s just a bit of a shame that the limitations of the day kept it from being more fully fledged.

86%

Pros : Fast without any frame rate drops, really interesting level design, looks the business, just challenging enough to be immensely satisfying.

Cons : Very short, the special stages make me feel ill.

Background

Sonic 3 was released to critical and commercial success in 1994, and was praised as the strongest game of the trilogy. In particular, it received praise for it’s outstanding visuals and soundtrack.

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