Sonic & Knuckles Review (Xbox360)

Back in 1994, Sonic the Hedgehog was a global star that could do no wrong. He starred in dozens upon dozens of single-player adventures and spin-off titles. In every passing game, he would gather and meet new friends. He literally was among the biggest video game mascots of the ‘90’s. In the new millennium, it could be said his shining star in the sky is starting to fade and Sega is stuck trying to figure out what demographics to cater for – the old legacy that has gamers now in their mid-20’s to 30’s or the new generation of young gamers. To preserve face, Sega is releasing Sonic & Knuckles on the Xbox Live Arcade to continue to serve gamers a dose of nostalgia.

Taking advantage of the Sonic 3 engine, Sonic & Knuckles made use of a new technology in the mid-90’s that was dubbed “lock-on technology.” Sega has made sure that this feature from Sonic & Knuckles made its appearance on the XBLA through the form of an option on the menu titled “Bonus Content.” Players are eligible to play through Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Blue Sphere if they have already downloaded the three previous iterations of Sonic on the XBLA. If gamers have no clue what these three titles entail, well, the first two are simply what their title reveals – they allow for Knuckles to be a playable character in the first two Sonic titles, plus a wide variety of other features. The third, titled Blue Sphere is the mini-game of sorts that’s based on collecting the chaos emeralds.

The first boss remains the same.
As expected, bonus stages are included.

Speaking about the gameplay of Sonic & Knuckles, it faithfully remains in tact. Players are able to choose between the beloved blue hedgehog, Sonic and the bad-attitude echidna, Knuckles. Knuckles comes equipped with signature moves such as gliding, wall climbing and, of course, his powerful white fists to takedown the opposition. To glide, players have to press jump and hold jump to glide throughout the levels. Wall climbing is as easy as pressing jump twice next to any wall. As for Sonic, if gamers have ever played a Sonic game in the past, they’ll feel right at home with his dashes and super speed. They’ll also be able to perform a spin dash that can be continually revved up while they hold down on the D-Pad and pressing the “A” button rapidly to gain major air.

The main priority of Sonic & Knuckles is to reach the end of the level, fight the bosses that Dr. Robotnik has in store for our heroes or Dr. Robotnik himself. Along the way, Sonic and Knuckles will collect rings, power-ups and defeat Robotnik’s henchman. If players collect 100 rings, they’ll gain an extra life. If they collect 50 rings in a bonus or special stage, they’ll gain an extra continue. On the topic of bonus and special stages, the few bonus stages include the “Glowing Sphere” where players are tasked to reach the top of the magnetic sphere before the force field catches up to you and the “Slot Machine” – a stage where players must jump towards the center to stay within the mini-game to collect rings.

All Knuckles wants is a hug.
Sonic is waiting for you to download his latest adventure on the XBLA.

There are 12 easy achievements to earn, so players won’t be wasting countless hours to collect them all. The only other asset for the replay value is to post a personal best on top of the leaderboards online. Outside of that, there’s not much replay value besides reliving one’s childhood or a 15-minute diversion. The levels don’t last that long and with a 10 minute time limit, they weren’t supposed to last tremendously long.

If players are wondering about the graphics on the XBLA, then they should look no further than the three previous entries – it’s a straight-up port with the ability to stretch the screen size to any length or height. There’s also the option to toggle on and off the graphics smoothing, but that doesn’t do any wonders on the eyes of a gamer. So, in the end, it is best not to come into Sonic & Knuckles looking for redrawn sprites or HD graphics – this is a faithful port that doesn’t try to crush anyone’s memories of how the game performed in the ‘90’s.

Top Game Moment:
When all the memories of how great the ‘90’s side-scrollers were come rushing back to the gamer. This usually will occur when the single-player story begins and they start speeding around at lightning speed as Sonic or gliding around like a flying squirrel as Knuckles.

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By Praetorian (SI Core) on Sep 11, 2009
Nice one :)