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Retro rings: Sonic CD hits iOS in perfect form

Run, don't walk, to get this rare time-traveling Sonic game: it's finally on the iPhone.

Forgive my excitement, but Sonic CD just hit the iPhone--and it's only $1.99.

Sonic CD: a rare game emerges again. screenshot by Scott Stein

Sega has done some questionable things--to say the least--with the Sonic franchise, but Sonic CD isn't one of them. Sonic CD, despite the misleading title, isn't a soundtrack or a music game. It's one of the biggest, and best, side-scrolling old-school Sonic games ever made, but it was only available for the short-lived Sega CD, a CD-ROM add-on for the Sega Genesis (it also saw brief life in a 2005 Sonic compilation game for the GameCube and PS2). I actually owned a Sega CD, and Sonic CD was its best game by far--though technically that wasn't saying much.

The levels may look similar, but they're completely different from other Sonic games. screenshot/Scott Stein

Besides the requisite high-speed neon-colored racetrack levels, Sonic CD has another neat trick up its sleeve: trigger certain waypoints and, with sufficient speed, Sonic will travel back and forth in time to alternate sets of past and future versions of levels. A "bad" and "good" future await depending on whether you've accomplished certain tasks.

Sonic CD's translation to iOS is perfect: the touch controls are, as always, not as perfect as physical buttons, but the minimal one-button mechanic of classic Sonic games is a perfect fit. The speed and the sheer amount of levels--not to mention the higher-than-normal level of difficulty of Sonic CD--make this a perfect holiday iPhone/iPad game to discover (yes it's a universal app). Right now, it's priced at $1.99. I'd rank this higher than Sonic Generations or last year's Sonic 4 for anyone looking for a Sonic fix.

screenshot by Scott Stein

Did I mention the Saturday morning-style Sonic cartoon cutscenes? After all, this was originally a CD-ROM game.

Sonic CD will be available today on the App Store.