Sega’s Sonic CD is one of the strongest games from Sonic’s early-nineties heyday, so we’re thrilled to see it available on the Windows Phone Store for our Nokia Lumia phones. But how has it translated to the small screen?
Sonic CD has a strange history, in that while it’s widely regarded as one of the best of the classic Sonic games, it wasn’t really played by many people back in the day. That’s because it was launched on the ill-fated Sega Mega CD add-on for the Mega Drive, which no one bought.
Thanks to the work of independent developer Christian “Taxman” Whitehead, whom Sega employed to convert the game for smartphone platforms, we can now play it on Nokia’s Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 7.5 handsets. Joy!
That’s the history lesson over. So how does Sonic CD play?
Surprisingly well, actually. Why surprising? Because Sonic CD is a typically fast-paced 2D platformer, and those don’t typically play well on smartphones with their virtual touchscreen controls. Sonic CD gets it just about as spot-on as it’s possible to get. It still lacks the precision of a physical D-pad, but it works.
That’s also helped by Sonic CD’s wider, more sprawling levels. While other Sonics might funnel you towards the level exits in a blur of loop-de-loops and massive jumps, Sonic CD calls for a little more considered exploration to unlock all of its secrets. There are so many nooks and crannies filled with golden rings and power-ups that you simply have to take your foot off the pedal from time to time.
That makes it much more playable on a phone as a result.
Another reason you’ll want to slow down and take a look around is Sonic CD’s innovative time travel mechanic. Hit one of the past or future signs dotted around each level and get up to speed and you’ll make like Marty McFly and jump through time. Each time zone has its own unique look and feel, and actions in the past have a noticeable effect on the far future stages.
The process of jumping into the past or future is a little too fiddly for its own good, but it certainly adds to Sonic CD’s unique appeal and impressive longevity.
It still looks and sounds great, too – good 2D sprite work never ages, and Sonic CD’s bold palate and detailed backgrounds work a treat on modern hardware. It whips along at a fair old rate, even on older Windows Phone 7.5 hardware, but it looks and plays best on the 4.5-inch screen of the Nokia Lumia 920.
All in all, Sonic CD is a classic 2D platformer that retains almost all of the things we loved about it 20 years ago. It even has a few new things to bost about, including widescreen support and those Xbox Live achievements. We’d recommend you give it a spin ASAP.