Scotsman Games review: 3D Sonic the Hedgehog

IT is perhaps surprising that is has taken so long for Sega to focus on its best-known character as part of its ongoing drive to update its historic franchises for 3DS owners.

Sonic in action. Picture: Contributed
Sonic in action. Picture: Contributed

3D Sonic the Hedgehog (Nintendo 3DS)

Score: 7.0 / 10

The previous beneficiaries of the 3D Classics initiative, such as Space Harrier and Super Hang-on, have by and large been games that have won the respect and admiration of players, though few - Streets of Rage aside - could be said to have enjoyed the iconic status of Sonic.

The Japanese publisher’s totem title has been tarnished down the years and subjected to repeated reinventions, the most recent being last year’s Sonic: Lost World, a spirited and enjoyable addition to the canon, albeit one plagued by fundamental design flaws and performance issues.

Like so many Sonic games before it, the title appeared earnest in its attempt to recapture the simplicity and fluidity of the 16 bit years, but ultimately, was incapable of resisting the opportunity to complicate things.

3D Sonic, by contrast, knows its audience. A decidedly retro adaptation of Sonic’s debut, it takes no risks with the platformer’s earliest formula, instead opting to spruce up the visuals and appeal to nostalgists who still regard the 1991 title as Sonic’s best outing to date. The additional features are modest but well-chosen, especially the ability to choose between Japanese or international versions of the game (the latter is a greater challenge for Sonic veterans, but comes complete with questionable collision detection).


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The most successful change, however, is hinted at in the title. Turn on Fall In mode, and the use of stereoscopic 3D, far from robbing Sonic of its flow or charm, makes for a pleasing and unobtrusive upgrade. The parallax scrolling backgrounds, impressive over 20 years ago, become even more enticing, with each section given its own makeover to add a sense of depth to the game world.

With the ability to select individual stages and skip Green Hill Zone (a masterclass in level design, yet quite possibly the most ubiquitous level in the history of gaming) those with fond memories of tearing through the Megadrive version are well catered for. After 23 years, some of Sonic’s lustre is starting to dull a little, but this solid adaptation plays to its early strengths and wisely avoids adding superfluous bells and whistles.