#6 - Sonic 3
Friday, June 22, 2012
Sonic 3 was a game I bought, or maybe it was bought for me. Either way the point is it was my game. It always felt a little weird buying games for the Genesis because the system itself was Chris's. He had done all the leg work and research and had actually saved all the money to buy the thing, so it was a little weird buying games for someone else's system. Especially when that someone would be leaving for college and taking it with him.
But 1994 was well of from any college acceptance letters, so I got it. It was no surprise that it was an excellent game. Sonic the Hedgehog was a breakthrough platformer that looked better than anything Nintendo had put out at that point. By the the time Sonic 3 rolled around we had a 16-bit Mario game, but to me it felt like catch-up. Sega was way out ahead at this point.
So what makes Sonic 3 the best in the series? Lot's of things.
1) Shields that do things
2) Varied locations
3) Awesome music (un-credited but written by the King of Pop)
4) Huge boss battles
Sure Sonic 1 and 2 had some of these things, but they didn't do it as well as they did in Sonic 3. I also liked the ability to select your level once you had beaten it. This save feature made it possible to put the game down and not have to play from the start to the end in one sitting. But let's get back to the list.
Previous Sonic's had shields, but all they did was protect you from a hit, the shields in Sonic 3 were a tactical advantage, collecting rings, protecting you from all fire attacks, or allowing you to breathe underwater. They all gave you one extra hit, so it was a no brainer to get them, but which one you got gave you some choices. For instance the lightning and fire shield would be lost if you entered the water, so you would have to avoid water once you got them, but they allowed you to do things like double jump or speed forwards, so it was easier to avoid these things. The shields added a new level of tactics to the game that the previous titles lacked.
2) Varied Locations
Sure, all Sonics have this, but the first two adventures still felt like they were based off tiles. IE, the developers had built the levels by dropping down predefined images, and all the levels were were a different mix of all these images. In Sonic 3, the levels felt fresh, and things you saw in the beginning didn't repeat near the end. Almost as if instead of building the stages out of blocks, they just drew one big image that you moved through, so each area was unique.
3) Awesome music
I cant stress enough how great the music from the Carnival Night Zone, and the Icecap Zone. Really all of it was great, but those are the two zones that stand out most in my memory.
4) Huge boss battles
From the first boss battle where you first have to out run a giant air ship dropping bombs on you, to the final battle with the multi-stage flying fortress battle, the final bosses on each stage were imaginative and frustrating, until you figured them out, and that's the most satisfying thing a game can do to you. First make you feel like an idiot, but then make you feel like the smartest kid ever for cracking the code.
I hear Sonic 4 is pretty ok, and takes the series back to it's 2D roots, but in High Definition, but again, my stinginess tells me to wait till they release all of the episodes in a bundle...to save money.
Well we are 1/2 way through our countdown and we have seen some pretty amazing games so far. If Sonic 3 (arguably the best title on the Genesis) couldn't even crack the top five what absolutely amazing things will we see next week?!