Sonic CD travels 25 years forward in time
And it hasn't aged a day
Skirting the 25th anniversary of Sonic CD's US release, would it be provocative to begin an article with the sentence "If you don't like Sonic CD, you are a simpleton"? I'm thinking yes, so I'll soften it a little. If you don't like Sonic CD, you are almost certainly a simpleton.
Sonic CD is often accused (by simpletons) of having "bad level design". This isn't true, but these people (simpletons, remember) can be partially forgiven for thinking this. Only partially, mind you, because the cause of these wrongthoughts is - ultimately - laziness. A lack of effort into learning what makes the game tick, a distinct mindset that walls you off from Sonic CD's charms. To develop as a person is to cultivate an appreciation for the game. You learn to walk. You learn to read. You learn to drive. You learn to love Sonic CD. To do otherwise is incorrect. Not my standards; the standards of civilised society. Which, coincidentally, exactly mirror my own standards.
Case study: Me. Sonic CD is a game I used to think was awful, coming from Sonic 1, 2 and 3, which I played first. I thought it was a point-missing, confusing mess, drastically divergent from the mainline series. After a while I actually tried to get a “Good Future” on each act and realised it was, in fact, god-like genius. Time travel to the past. Find and destroy Dr Robotnik’s robot generator. That’s all there is to it and a lot of the common complaints about Sonic CD are instantly resolved by learning how to play it correctly, understanding these mechanics, these intended goals and how to achieve them. The effect on the game experience is - without a word of hyperbole - transformative. It becomes something completely unique – not just as a Sonic game, but among games, period. A beautiful snowflake. I'm so glad that I took the time to learn how to play and am now hugely appreciative of it. The delicate, graceful, elegant design that only comes to the fore when you care to put the effort in. I adore it. If you're playing it straightforward left to right, sure, it probably seems like it sucks. If you're playing to win, then no, it's an intricate, revelatory masterpiece. I could write an essay about the brilliance of that game's levels. But I shan't, because you don't deserve one.
Sonic CD is available on PC, PS3 and Xbox One (via Xbox 360 backward compatability). Please at least try and do it properly. I'm not angry, just disappointed.