Thursday, September 6, 2007
Sonic The Hedgehog 3 (Mega-Drive, 1993)
The way I see it this third installment of Sonic's 2D platform adventures is the best up to this day; as well as one of the best games ever made. While still not any radical departure, Sega refined the concept to such a degree that it makes for an amazing gaming experience.
And while the graphics are some of the best in the series yet, it is the level layouts that make the difference. They have really turned into roller coaster rides. If previously Sonic was a platform game with serious speed excursions, now it is a full blown rocket ride. Not that this detracts from the skills needed to complete a course (as it did in Sonic Advance 2). It just offers more intuitive (and enjoyable) gameplay mechanics. The courses are also more complex, with often more than one way of finishing them, and with even more tricks than ever before. For example in the Marble-Zone Dr.Robotnik pops-up with a drill machine that changes the level layout. Or in the Carnival-Zone Miles the Echidna causes a blackout and it's up to you to save the day.
Furthermore the sense of atmosphere has increased a hundredfold. The levels now start and end in a cinematic way, seamlessly blending with each other. Also we get some really classic worlds. The Icecap-Zone in particular is pure gaming heaven thanks not only to the super-fast gameplay but also to the surroundings, with brilliant parallax animated backgrounds of crystal stalactites shining etc. Couple that with some really groovy music and you got a slice of gaming genius.
If in the future there ever is a class in universities about videogames (and there should be), this game will most certainly be featured under the tag "best cases of 2D platforming".