I know what you’re all thinking. Seriously, Radical?! Sonic 3 and not the second game?! And believe me, I know how much more iconic the second game is compared to the third and I will put the spotlight on that game sometime soon as well. But in terms of nostalgic value for me, the third installment of this well…once illustrious series is far higher than that of its predecessor.
I don’t know if there’s a game that I played longer and didn’t finish. I think I must’ve been around seven or eight when I first got the game, do you want to know how long it took me to finish the game? Until I was twelve years old. Now you’re thinking how bad was I at the game? I wasn’t terrible, actually it was really only the final boss I had trouble with. The other part is that I was so hellbent even at a young age to finish the entire game in one run without a game over. So actually whenever I game over’d, I started from the beginning again. I play the game nowadays and I struggle to get through the first couple levels without dying, when I was playing that game as a kid, Angel Island and Hydrocity at least were nothing short of speedrun worthy for me back then, not that I’d be competing with the best, but I was damn good then. After all, when you’re playing the same six levels time and time again, you start to remember where you need to be to get it done quickly.
For a game that featured only six levels, they were six fantastically designed levels. Angel Island continues the trend of the strong grassy first levels like Green Hill and Emerald Hill and yet has a really cool and frantic lead-up to the Act 2 boss with the airship bombing you from above. Hydrocity is your standard water level with tons of frustration in not being able to get to that bubble fast enough, but also has that cool section where you’re trying to get through a section underwater as fast as possible while a wall’s closing in on you. Marble Garden is probably the weakest of the levels, though the spinning drills and ropes that pull you up are a cool idea, the level just takes away a bit of the speed aspect of the game. Carnival Night is your classic silly over-the-top designed level with balloons you can use to gain height, pinball bumpers and the cylinders you have to use to get enough momentum down or up to get where you need to be. I was dumb back then and didn’t realizeI could just hold up and down on the D-pad, I would try and jump on the cylinder as if it was a physics puzzle. Ice Cap is quite possibly my favourite Sonic level of all-time with the sheer speed you can gain with the chunk of ice you ride down on. Lastly, there’s Launch Base which is a massive test of all you’ve learned from Sonic games, a lot of tough enemies, traps and many other things that intend on making your journey to the final boss a difficult one.
The one thing though that really separates this game apart from the other Sonic games is obviously the music. For those who don’t know, Micheal Jackson was intended to be involved in the game, but was removed from all credits after the sexual abuse allegations going on during that time. SEGA has often spoken about his involvement, stating that all the music he composed for the game (Carnival Night being one of them that we know of) was re-worked and any resemblance to Jackson’s music was not intended at all. Yet Ice Cap’s music, especially the bass line sounds a lot like it belongs in a re-mixed version of Smooth Criminal. The music in the game is still fantastic, I actually have it as the best game musically compared to all the others.
Sonic games, in particular the SEGA Genesis games have a very special place in my heart when it comes to gaming nostalgia. The music again is top-notch, the majority of levels are super memorable, hell for me the game was so challenging as a kid that I played it happily for about 5 years before finally beating it, that’s crazy to me!
It’s just a damn shame that SEGA decided to go and fuck it all up with the current generation of Sonic games. And I had high hopes after Colors and Generations were both very fun games.