Sunday 23 December 2012

Sega Megadrive: Why I Love Sonic & Knuckles

Segaaaaaaaa! That one word takes me back to a whole era of classic gaming on the Sega Megadrive (or Genesis to you Yanks). The Sonic series defined that console for me and I loved playing every single game that featured the little blue hedgehog. While on Xbox Live recently, I spotted 'Sonic & Knuckles' amongst the downloadable games and I just couldn't resist. I remember renting it from Blockbusters back in the day and getting frustrated that I could never quite complete it in the time I had before the game had to be returned. Aaargh! So why do I love 'Sonic & Knuckles' so much?  

Well, for one thing, the game cartridge (I know right!?) had this incredible gimmick where you could slot in one of the earlier Sonic games and play as Knuckles on the old levels. What's so great about this you ask?

Well besides the fact that such a technological feat seemed almost impossible back in 1994, it was awesome to play as the red echnidna Knuckles, as he could glide and climb walls using those freaky giant hands of his, instead of just jumping around really fast.

While the level design may not have been as consistently clever as the stages from its predescessors, 'Sonic & Knuckles' had its fair share of awesome levels, including the flying airship and Ancient Egypt. Saying that though, the Sandopolis Zones were horrendously difficult and pretty much broke me as a child. There should have been an 18 certificate on 'Sonic & Knuckles' just for the sheer stress factor!

How awesome were those shields that could suck in rings or make you into a 'human' fireball?!

The bonus stages were also pretty cool, with the casino style slot machines stolen from an earlier Sonic. I wasn't particularly a fan of those weird energy balls though, as I always threw Knuckles accidentally into the psychadelic death loops at the bottom of the screen. My favourite bonus stages were the main ones where you had to jump over the red balls or bounce into the yellow springy ones to collect all the blue balls and eventually win a chaos emerald... what do you mean I wasted my childhood away? These things matter don't you know?!  

Of course, any Sonic game would not be complete without an appearance from Dr Robotnik himself and sure enough, he crops up regularly from the end of the very first level.

However, 'Sonic & Knuckles' also sees the good doctor share the stage with an assortment of other strange boss characters, including a sand golem thing and a super metal Sonic at the end of the game. I have to applaud Sega for mixing things up, although I do kind of miss the hilariously crap Dr Robotnik when he's not on screen. Here's a clip of Knuckles defeating the final Mecha Sonic at the end. Why is he metal do I hear you ask? Who the hell knows.

Sure 'Sonic & Knuckles' has a largely incomprehensible story but it wouldn't be a Sonic game if it made sense. For me, this fourth entry in the series was the last great Sonic game that Sega made back in this classic era and unfortunately, it all goes a bit downhill from there. If you have a Xbox live account or even if you still own your Sega Megadrive, I would definitely recommend that you get 'Sonic & Knuckles'. And it's great value for money as the game also extends the life of all the previous Sonic games too so get it now!

So is 'Sonic & Knuckles' your favourite Sonic game from the 90s? Or was Knuckles' debut the beginning of the end for your favourite speedy blue mascot? Let me know by liking, commenting and sharing below.


  1. Sonic and Knuckles was defo the beginning of the end I think

  2. Yeah while it didnt quite match the standard of the first 3 games, 'Sonic & Knuckles' was still pretty good in its own right. But what the hell happened after? Sonic pinball? Sonic adventure on the Dreamcast? Urgh!

  3. The success of Sonic and Knuckles made Sega think mixing things up was the way forward. Unfortunately they mixed things up a bit too much, and strayed too far from the original formula. I still enjoy playing all the Mega Drive Sonic games, Sonic Unleashed is very under rated, and obv Sonic 4 episode 1 & 2 and Sonic Genrations is cool. Oh - and Sonic CD too. But the rest suck. I think "Sonic Heroes" was when it jumped the shark, and also, when it started to introduce talking humans. wtf was that about.

    1. Haven't played Sonic Unleashed but I heard some good things about Generations. Heroes was just shocking. The talking humans and that extended cast of multi-coloured animals started getting ridiculous. Its the gameplay and core characters that made Sonic special. The rest was just selling out.

  4. Played the new version, or rather the demo if it. You get to play Green Hill Z1 on either new or old. I have to say, the old one was far more fun.

    1. I didn't know there's a new version coming out!? I'm excited but there's no way it'll be as good as the original!