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“That's right: Sonic is back in yet another chapter of the Sonic saga.”

Sonic and Knuckles

by Sonic Team

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Sonic 3 was a great Genesis game, but it always left me with a lot of unanswered questions. Why, for example, was the final battle with Dr. Robotnik so uninspired? What happened to Knuckles at the end of the game? More importantly, what were those three unattainable stages listed on the secret Sound Test/Stage Select menu?

My guess is that Sonic 3 wasn't really ready for release on Hedgehog Day in February, so Sega simply cut out the unfinished zones in order to get the game shipped on time. This is not an unusual practice; each of the previous Sonic games contained unfinished stages that were cut from the game before release.

This time, instead of leaving those zones on the cutting-room floor, Sega has used them as a springboard for the design of an all-new Sonic adventure, Sonic & Knuckles. Aside from the new bonus stage, new enemies and new zones, its most significant feature is the addition of Knuckles as a playable character. Last seen as a villainous henchman in Sonic 3, this fire-engine red echidna offers a totally different approach to the game because of his unique skills. He can climb walls, he can glide through the air, he can punch through rocks with his fists - each of these talents allows him to reach certain sections of the game which are completely unavailable when playing as Sonic.

Unfortunately, the two-player capabilities of Sonic 3 are missing. I never cared for the split-screen competition mode, but I did enjoy playing as Tails; it was a great way to introduce novice players to the system because you could follow them around and help them collect rings not to mention having the ability to pick them up and fly them out of danger.

Happily, Sonic & Knuckles has new features which completely outweigh such a minor complaint. While Sega has stubbornly refused to share specific details about how this works, the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge can be physically connected to existing Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 cartridges to create new and different adventures.

Connect Sonic & Knuckles to your Sonic 2 cartridge and you can play as Knuckles in the Sonic 2 game. You'll get a modified title screen and an adventure that's been slightly reprogrammed to allow for Knuckles' abilities - remember, he can climb walls and all that, so he can easily reach parts of certain stages which were originally designed for Sonic's limitations. The programming here is extremely clever; with Knuckles Sonic 2 is a very different game, and it even includes some new enemies in some areas.

Hook up Sonic 3, though, and the result is the longest, most option-filled Sonic game you could possibly imagine. You'll get to play as Sonic, Knuckles or Tails in an adventure that combines the zones of both games into a quest for 14 chaos emeralds with three different bonus stages.

The only disappointing aspect of Sonic & Knuckles is the fact that Knuckles - last seen as a troublemaking jerk in Sonic 3 - has essentially become the star of the game. Playing as Sonic yields, a longer adventure, but most players will be much more interested n the skills and variety of attack patterns of his former enemy. Fortunately, having such a wide variety of options makes Sonic & Knuckles a really tremendous value for your gamming dollar; now let' see what the little guy has to offer us in the 32 bit arena!

Graphics

While I'd rather see more of the game's 18 megabits of memory used to create a longer game with more puzzle-solving, you can't deny the universal appeal of the character animation and super-detailed back-ground graphics.

Sound/Music

Right up there with the rest of the Sonic carts. Those who discovered the themes from the Sandopolis, Flying Battery and Mushroom Valley zones in the hidden Sound Test/Stage Select menu of Sonic 3 will enjoy hearing them here at last.

Playability

As always, superb control response and an instinctive feel that never requires a peek at the instruction manual. Playing as Knuckles changes the game considerably; even the patterns of the boss characters' attacks are different.

Lowdown

If you think there's no room in your collection for another Sonic game, think again. Sonic & Knuckles stands on its own as another excellent action/platform game, but the "backward compatibility" features make it a must-have for players who own copies of Sonic 2 and 3. We may never know it these features were planned or if they're just a happy accident, but you gotta love the end result. Sega says this may be the last 16-bit Sonic game; if so, the hedgehog's gone out with a bang.

Continue: Sonic Compilation (arcade/action)

Sonic and Knuckles forumDiscuss it on Sonic and Knuckles forum (3 posts)

That's right: Sonic is back in yet another chapter of the Sonic saga. This time you can play as Knuckles, the guy that bugged you all through Sonic 3. Hey, he's got a right to his emeralds, doesn't he?

The basic game looks to be a typically solid and entertaining Sonic adventure, with seven all-new zones and plenty of hidden stuff. Play as Knuckles, though, and it's a whole new ball game. While the Knuckles adventure is shorter than Sonic's, the play is entirely different for two reasons. First, Knuckles has different skills than Sonic. He can glide through the air, scale walls and punch through certain walls that Sonic's spin-dash can't even crack. These abilities allow him to get to certain areas of each stage which Sonic just can't reach. Secondly, the enemies respond differently to Knuckles; the boss characters are noticeably tougher to defeat.

The globetrotting special stage of Sonic 3 is back, and there are two all-new bonus stages, which can be reached by touching the star post checkpoints with different numbers of rings. One is a rotating slot machine stage that plays like the dizzying bonus round of the original Sonic game, and the other has Sonic whizzing around glowing globes as he tries to climb out of a deep well.

Finally, Sonic & Knuckles is said to be "backwards compatible" with other Genesis cartridges. Sega's not telling us exactly what that means; the only thing we know is that if you own a copy of Sonic 3, you'll be able to plug both cartridges into your Genesis at the same time and do some interesting things, including playing as Knuckles in Sonic 3 or playing as Sonic's pal Tails in Sonic & Knuckles. Tails is nowhere to be seen in the standard, unmodified Sonic & Knuckles game. Sonic 2 cartridges are also compatible with Sonic & Knuckles, and it's rumored that the game can also be used with other, non-Sonic game cartridges. Sounds cool....

If you like Sonic and Knuckles, try other games: Sonic 3D, Sonic Compilation, Sonic the Hedgehog.

Sonic and Knuckles system requirements:SystemP-200.

Systems: Win9x Windows 9x, Windows 2000 WinXPWindows XP.

Game modes: Sonic and Knuckles supports single modeSingle game mode .

Sonic and Knuckles rating

Sonic and Knuckles news:

2006-05-09 Play as both Sonic and Knuckles in 8 new zones in two different adventures!

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