I have not posted in quite some time, but during the holiday season I thought I’d reflect on some of my best and most memorable gaming moments, so here we go. Nowadays most Sonic games get mixed reviews at best. For those of you old enough to remember, though, there was a time- about 20 years ago during the Golden Age of console gaming- when Sonic games were mostly outstanding, and Sonic 3 and Knuckles is still my favorite, and arguably one of the best games ever. Back in 1994, I had gotten my Genesis not too long before that, and had already played the original Sonic game, Sonic 2, and even Sonic CD at my friend’s place, whose dad could actually afford to buy him a Sega CD at the time. Those were all great, so naturally I was interested in Sonic 3 and Knuckles.
At some point, probably in late 1994 or early 1995, I remember holding both Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles in my hands after reading the instruction manual, and I was amazed that I could use lock-on technology to make two games one. As I put the two together and began playing, I was in sheer disbelief, and quite excited, as you can well imagine. They are considered one big game, after all, but to my early teenage mind, this was quite a big deal, and it still is today. Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin on how amazing this game is, and how cool the lock-on technology was at the time. Just a few years later Sega would also incorporate save transfers-another interesting feature for consoles at the time- between scenarios in their overlooked Sega Saturn masterpiece- Shining Force III, which is another of Sega’s best games ever.
The look and feel of S3 and K, gameplay, soundtrack, control, and replayability are just all perfect. Not only could you play through as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, you could also get seven Chaos emeralds and seven Super emeralds to go Super/Hyper Sonic, Super Tails, or Super/Hyper Knuckles. The sphere bonus stages are fun and challenging, the zones are some of the best in the entire series- Hydrocity, Ice Cap, Launch Base, Flying Battery, Lava Reef, Sky Sanctuary, Death Egg- all with incredible tracks to back them up. You can still do a 2 player mode with both Sonic and Tails, like you could in Sonic 2, and both the minibosses and Eggman machines are some of the most memorable. There’s also a slew of great remixers on Youtube and elsewhere that have done some fantastic remixes/mash-ups of classic Sonic tracks.
Back when I first played Sonic 3 and Knuckles when I was in elementary/middle school, I was never good enough to make it all the way through and win. About ten years later, though, in late 2005 and early 2006, I played the Sonic Mega Collection on Gamecube and happily played through all the classics as a young married man at the time. That feel of getting to Eggman at the end as Hyper Sonic is on the of best ever. Playing through the entire game is one of the best experiences ever, come to think of it. I still get goosebumps when snowboarding down the slope of Ice Cap Zone Act 1 as I listen to that memorable track.
Times have changed a lot, Sega has changed immensely, and the video game industry is completely different now than it was twenty years ago, but most Sonic fans(myself included) would agree that Sonic 3 and Knuckles was and still is a true masterpiece. There’s simply no denying that. If I only had one Sonic game to play for the rest of my life, S3 and K would be it.