A look back at the definitive Sonic 3 experience

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Christopher Quiton, Staff Writer

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Back in 1993, there were two games that have been said to take the world by storm. The names of these two games are Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. Throughout the years, it has become common knowledge that these two games were split up due to hardware limitations, so they’re technically one game. Thus, for the full experience, just play Sonic 3 & Knuckles. There’s no real reason to just play Sonic 3 by itself, right? Well, some of the music was changed for legal reasons in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, like Knuckles’ theme, the mini-boss theme, the title screen, etc. The final boss in the end of Sonic 3 was also nowhere to be seen. However, there is a game made by a bunch of fans that fixes these problems. It’s called “Sonic 3 Complete.” It restores Sonic 3 presentation where it was changed in Sonic 3 & Knuckles, it restores the final “Big Arm” boss at the end of Sonic 3, it places the Zones (the games versions of Levels) in their intended release order, gives the player the choice between playing Sonic 3 Complete, Sonic 3 (Part One), Sonic & Knuckles, Blue Sphere, and so much more.

All the custom features are found in the Options Menu when you boot up the game (either on an emulator, or on a Genesis flash cart). On the Options Menu, you can change the music options from Sonic 3 to Sonic & Knuckles, and in some cases the original music from Sonic 1 and 2. You can even change the some of the actual Zone songs to the ones found in the “Sonic & Knuckles Collection” on PC (with Genesis renditions and everything.) On gameplay options, you can change Sonic’s move set, utilizing Sonic’s moves to Sonic 1 (no spin dash or insta-shield), Sonic 2 (no insta-shield), Sonic CD (replaces insta-shield for Super Peel Out), or you could just turn all the moves on (which makes for an interesting experience). You could also turn the game’s easy mode on (featured in the 1996 compilation “Sonic Jam”), or change the name of “Mushroom Hill Zone” to “Mushroom Valley Zone” (The way it appears on the Sonic 3 level select). The best part however, is the ability to play the game in the way it was intended: by placing Flying Battery Zone (The airship that appears in “Sonic Mania” after Studiopolis Act 2 in case you weren’t sure.) in between Carnival Night Zone and Ice Cap Zone. This makes the game flow much better than it does in the original. The final “Doomsday Zone” can also be played from the level select screen, as any character. That’s two things the original “Sonic 3 & Knuckles” failed to do.

Other than playing with the options, prior to downloading the game you can customize how you want it to look. If you want that Jackson-esque credits music to play instead of a medley of all the Zones, then that’s an option. If you want Sonic to look like he did in Sonic 1 or 2, then that’s an option. Just keep in mind that these changes to the game are permanent and cannot be reversed. If you accidentally had an option that you didn’t like, then you’re going to have to download the game again. Fortunately, the game is free (because selling it would be illegal).

As far as gameplay goes, it’s a 2D platformer, so if that’s something you’re into, then you’ll have a good time. If you’re more used to the Modern Sonic games, like “Sonic Unleashed,” or “Sonic Forces,” then you might be a little disoriented. There’s less of a focus on speed and more of a balance between speed and platforming. The game is also way harder than Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Since it restores many of the Sonic 3 Zone Layout, Sonic must face more tricky traps, making Zones like Hydrocity and Launch Base a lot harder. The basic controls are running fast and jumping on enemies. The insta-shield now blocks projectiles for a short while, while also making your attack range slightly larger.

However, I still have a few gripes with the game. Super and Hyper Sonic no longer have death sprites, which is kind of a shame considering it was present in the original game. The game also lacks fade-in music between the Zone theme and the Act Clear theme, which doesn’t flow with the music.

In the end, this game is no Sonic Mania; It’s not a revolutionary blast to the past that caused thousands of fans to scream “Sonic is back!” But, this is still an extraordinary game that shouldn’t be missed. Did I mention it was free? Oh, and if you’re worried about the legality of getting this game, don’t be. SEGA loves the stuff the fans make (or else we wouldn’t have Sonic Mania). I highly recommend this game; as it’s a must-play for any gamer; old or new; retro or modern; Sonic or Mario.


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