Even by App Store standards, it's been a fantastic week for classic game revivals. Already we've had Chrono Trigger, Grand Theft Auto III, and now the icing on the cake: Sonic CD. Sega's legendary blue hedgehog roars onto the iPhone and iPad in perhaps his greatest platform adventure ever.
First released in 1993 for the Mega-CD console, the game has a convoluted history. It was intended to be the sequel to the original Sonic the Hedgehog, but internal wrangling over the character's future meant it become something altogether different. It was hived off as a launch title for Sega's fledgling CD-ROM platform, where prohibitive expense and limited distribution meant the game never found the audience it deserved.
How does it play?
Obstensibly, Sonic CD has the same fundamental structure of every other Sonic game ever made. Run across the terrain from left to right, collect as many gold rings as you can, and evade the occupational hazards of hyperactive platforming. What makes the game unusal, however, is the addition of a new feature – time travel.
Scattered around each level are lampposts marked with "Past" and "Future". Cross either of these lampposts, and then run at top speed for a certain amount of time, and then Sonic is sent on a journey up and down the time-stream. The future is a grim place, darker and even more dangerous than the present. But if you can go into the past and destroy a robot generator first, the ripple effect changes the future so that everything is good, happy and safe.
It's all very Back to the Future, but quite radical for a platform game, and a concept that's hitherto been unrepeated for the rest of the series. For this iOS conversion, Sonic CD looks and plays like the real thing. The graphics and in-game physics feel entirely authentic, and the touchscreen d-pad is just as responsive as it needs to be. Fortunately, the controls weren't that complicated in the first place.
Why do we like it?
Let's count off the plus-points. Historically, this is the first appearance of two major characters in the Sonic universe, Amy Rose and Metal Sonic. There's a choice between two different soundtracks, the jazzy Japanese version, and the more abrasive American version. Finally, there are animated cutscenes that show Sonic at his spiky speed-demon best. As restorations go, Sonic CD is damn near flawless.
Ah, but there're some modern enhancements too. Sonic's longtime sidekick Tails is added as a playable character that's unlocked once you've completed the game for the first time. Throw in Game Center integration for global leaderboards and achievements, and you've got the perfect platform adventure to tide you over for the Yuletide holidays.
Sonic CD is available on the App Store, Universal (£1.49)