Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – Review

It must be difficult for game creators. Do they stick to a winning formula for a sequel and run the risk of the concept becoming stale, or do they gamble on new features that have the potential to disgruntle loyal fans to the franchise? It’s a hard balance to get right as many games have shown over the years. The question is, will Sonic 3 fall foul of over-zealous creators or will they get it right for a third time in a row?

Title screen (Screenshot taken by the author)

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a platform game developed and published by Sega. It was released in 1994 on the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis and latterly for Windows in 1997. Later, it would be made available for the Game Cube, PS3 and Xbox 360. For this review, I revisited the Sega Mega Drive version.

Visually, very little has changed between Sonic 1, 2, and 3 (Screenshot taken by the author)

After Sonic 2, Dr. Robotnik’s spaceship crashed into the mysteriously floating Angel Island. He meets and tricks the island’s guardian, Knuckles the Echidna, into believing that Sonic is trying to steal the Master Emerald. Sonic and Tails must once again defeat Dr. Robotnik who is being aided by Knuckles.

There are several new features to this game. Sonic can attain three shields: lightning, bubble and fire, each giving him a unique ability when using them. The giant gold rings, which are portals to finding the Chaos Emeralds, are now found in secret locations.

The bonus stages themselves are much for interesting and fun than Sonic 2. They consist of Sonic and Tails running around a globe in third person view. The object is to collect all the blue spheres. If you hit a red sphere you fail. The more blue spheres you collect, the faster Sonic runs, adding some difficulty to the harder bonus stages.

Once Sonic gains all the Chaos Emeralds, he can become Super Sonic, making him invincible for a short period of time.

The new bonus stages are so much more enjoyable than the tunnels of Sonic 2 (Screenshot taken by the author)

As expected, the game looks great. Lots of beautifully designed levels for you to navigate through, and plenty of unique sprites to evade or destroy. However, I feel that if you were to be shown screenshots of Sonic 1, 2 and 3, there are times you’d be hard pressed to distinguish between the three. This is certainly not the case with the Mario franchise where the graphics of each game are very distinguishable. Now, I concede that Super Mario 1, 2 and 3 were all released on the NES and Super Mario World on the SNES, and so is bound to look different. However, even when comparing Super Mario World to Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island, there is a clear distinctive design to the levels and enough gameplay changes so that both games can stand on their own.

The all too familiar underwater levels…you’d have thought he would have learnt to swim by now! (Screenshot taken by the author)

One of the issues I have with this game is that the levels are so much bigger than previous games, but are filled with slopes and shoots and other features that you feel like you’re just whizzing through the levels without actually doing much. I appreciate that the whole appeal of Sonic is that he is fast, but sometimes it feels like you’re just on autopilot because he just whizzes through the game. Along with this speed comes another issue that the creators have yet to rectify…when Sonic is going at full speed, the game lags and the sprites flicker.

That being said, I enjoyed playing Sonic 3 much more than Sonic 2, but for the reasons stated above I cannot give Sonic 3 5 stars.

Did I complete the game?

Yes, with all Chaos Emeralds captured.

What the critics said:

Electronic Gaming Monthly: “Sonic 3 is simply the perfect Sonic game. It beats out all previous Sonics with outstanding graphics, more hidden items and new items like many types of shields…The bonus rounds give the average player a fair chance this time, unlike “those tunnels” of part 2. It seems unlikely that Sega will be able to top this one. Overall 38/40.[1]

Gamepro: “Sonic 3 proves that you can teach the old hedgehog new and exciting tricks. Take that old Sonic magic, add fun new variations, and you have another spectacular game. Overall 19/20.[2]

Hyper: “Everything you expect from a Sonic game, nothing more. If it was just me, the score would be lower, but Sonic freaks are going to go off. Overall 90%[3]

Entertainment Weekly: “Sonic 3, by contrast, represents the apotheosis of the Sonic concept: Unlike previous games, the stages are linked cinematically (Sonic and Tails literally tumble from one scene to the next), and the characters have some stunning new techniques — I, for one, never thought I’d see a spiny blue hedgehog on a pair of skis. Ovearll A+[4]

Mean Machines Sega: “Sonic’s Back! Back! Back! This game re-establishes him as King of the Hill, Top of the Heap and Life Emperor of the Platform Universe. Huzzah! Huzzah! Overall 94%[5]

Sega Power: “No radical changes to the game, but its sheer size, super graphics, wealth of imagination and above all playability, guarantee Sonic gold status. Overall 90%.[6]

Sega Magazine: “An amazing release and serious contender for Best Platform Game ever award. Overall 95%.[7]

My verdict:

“Sonic 3 is a very good game. If you like the solid formula of speed, ring collecting and bonus stages that the creators have been successful with in their first two outings, then this game is for you and you’ll enjoy every second of it. Personally, I worry that there aren’t enough differences between this and the previous two games and it’s in danger of going stale.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Sonic the Hedgehog 3? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Sonic 3’. Electronic Gaming Monthly. (March 1994). Volume 7, Issue 3:30. https://retrocdn.net/images/a/ae/EGM_US_056.pdf Accessed 23rd November 2020).

[2] ‘Proreview – Sonic the Hedgehog 3’. (March 1994). Gamepro. Issue 56:42-44. https://archive.org/details/GamePro_Issue_056_March_1994/page/n43/mode/2up Accessed 23rd November 2020).

[3] ‘Sonic 3’. Hyper. (March 1994). 4:26-29. (http://sost.emulationzone.org/sonic_3/scans/sonic3hypermarch943.jpg Accessed 23rd November 2020).

[4] Strauss, B., (February 11, 1994). ‘Sonic CD; Sonic Chaos; Sonic Spinball; Sonic 3’. Entertainment Weekly. (https://ew.com/article/1994/02/11/sonic-cd-sonic-chaos-sonic-spinball-sonic-3/ Accessed 23rd November 2020).

[5] ‘Mega Drive Review – Sonic 3’. Mean Machines Sega. (March 1994) Issue 17:49. http://www.outofprintarchive.com/articles/reviews/MegaDrive/Sonic3-MMS17-6.html Accessed 23rd November 2020).

[6] ‘Mega Drive Review – Sonic 3’. Sega Power. (March 1994). Issue 52:30 (http://sost.emulationzone.org/sonic_3/scans/segapowermar943.jpg Accessed 23rd November 2020).

[7] ‘Mega Drive Review – Sonic 3’. Sega Magazine. (February 1994). :87-88. https://archive.org/details/sega-magazine-2-february-1994/page/n87/mode/2up Accessed 23rd NOvember 2020).

Sonic the Hedgehog – Review

In a bid to compete with the popularity of Nintendo’s Super Mario Bros., the early 90s saw Sega introduce a new hero for their latest console, the Sega Mega Drive. Whilst it was still a platform game with a recurring antagonist, it was unique enough so as not to be accused of copying Mario’s format. In 1991, Sonic burst onto our screens and has maintained a place in the hearts of retrogamers everywhere.

Copyright © Sega

Sonic the Hedgehog is a side-scrolling platform game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega. It was released on the Sega Megadrive in 1991, spawning one of the most successful videogame franchises of all time. This review is based on the Mega Drive version.

Sonic is a blue hedgehog who has the ability to run at incredible speeds. This speed, and ability to attack enemies by curling into a ball, allowing his spikes to damage his enemies, is put to use when the evil Dr. Robotnik arrives in Sonic’s homeland. He proceeds to steal the Chaos Emeralds (which have the ability to warp time and space), and captures the local wildlife, transforming them into evil robotic animals. Sonic must navigate through six zones, evading Robotnik’s minions, collecting rings (they act as health), and attempt to steal back the Chaos Emeralds which are found via special stages.

Screenshot from retrogames.cz

We bought our Sega Megadrive for Christmas 1991, and Sonic came with the package. I have very fond memories of this game and have spent many an hour playing through it (it only takes about 25 minutes to complete). Its an easy game to play but still challenging when trying to attain all Chaos Emeralds, and the game appeals to all ages of gamer.

This game really was revolutionary for its time, and still holds up well today. The sprites are beautifully illustrated and coloured, and are all unique. The music is very recognisable and even when I hear it now, I can recite every note. There are two endings depending on if you manage to collect all the Chaos Emeralds which adds a little replay value, and the high speed at which Sonic can achieve makes for exciting gameplay.

Did I complete the game?

Over the years I have completed Sonic the Hedgehog many times without the use of cheats, and will no doubt re-visit the game in the future to make sure I still can.

What the critics said:

Mean Machines:Yep, it’s true – Sonic is really great! I can’t think of a Megadrive game with more spectacular graphics…”. Overall score 92%.[1]

Entertainment Weekly: “Dazzlingly fast yet never chaotic, consistently challenging but never impossible, Sonic the Hedgehog is quite simply one of the best video games I’ve ever played. A+.”[2]

Mean Machines Index: “Sega’s hyped-beyond belief character stars in a game inspired by Nintendo’s Mario platform game series. It’s very addictive with brilliant graphics and speed. However, the gameplay is frustrating at times and experienced gamers should have this one licked within days. Overall 90%[3]

Sega Power: “World famous and rightly so. This is almost certainly the game that has sold more Sega systems than anything else. It’s a bit easy and looks slightly dated now, but it’s still one of the best games around. Overall 5/5”.[4]

Sega Power: “Sega’s answer to Super Mario Bros, Sonic is the fastest parallax scrolling collect-‘em-up ever! A stunning rotating bonus round and a feast of visual effects – a classic. Overall 5/5”.[5]

Awards:

Overall Game of the Year – Golden Joystick Awards

Game of the Year – Electronic Gaming Monthly

My verdict:A revolutionary riposte to Nintendo’s Mario franchise. Every gamer should play this game as a rite of passage.”

Rating:

What are your memories of Sonic the Hedgehog? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1] ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (July 1991). Issue 10:42-44. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-magazine-10/page/n43/mode/2up Accessed 10th December 2019).

[2] Strauss, B., (August 1991). ‘Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Entertainment Weekly. (https://ew.com/article/1991/08/23/sonic-hedgehog/ Accessed 10th December 2019).

[3] ‘Review Index: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Mean Machines. (October 1992). Issue 1:140. (https://archive.org/details/mean-machines-sega-magazine-01/page/n139/mode/2up Accessed 16th February 2020).

[4] ‘The Hard Line – Review: Mega Drive – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (September 1993). Issue 46:98. (https://retrocdn.net/images/b/b9/SegaPower_UK_46.pdf Accessed 17th February 2020).

[5] Jarrett, S., ‘The Hard Line – Sonic the Hedgehog’. Sega Power. (April 1991). Issue 23:54. (https://retrocdn.net/images/8/89/SegaPower_UK_23.pdf Accessed on 29th July 2020.