Sonic and Knuckles
Box Shot
Sonic and Knuckles
Platform: Genesis
Publisher: Sega
Designer: Sega
Genre: Action
Players: 1
Published Date 1995
Reviewed by: Chuck Roberts

The story has been used past the limit, but in other words the Death Egg crashes right after Sonic 3 ended and Dr. Robotnik wants to get it right back up in the sky. So, once again Sonic is on the case to stop him, but this time, you can use Knuckles as well. He even has his own little story to back him up: Resting with those tiny animals (counselor needed for him), Robotnik's little stunt double robot type thing drops a bomb and ruins Knuckles' happy trip. That was the last straw for Knuckles is lookin to kick butt, so he goes through most of the same zones, only he takes different paths through them than Sonic does. Knuckles doesn't go after Robotnik, but instead he's off to save the Master Emerald, which the Robotnik copy and Sonic Robot have. What this game is truly meant for is hooking it into Sonic 2 or 3 for a whole new gaming experience.

For Sonic 2, it's almost the same, except you go through it with Knuckles instead. You can climb to a couple extra places, but not much. The real excitement is when S&K and Sonic 3 go together to make the ultimate Sonic game! You can go through as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, each with a different advantage and ending. For Sonic, the quest is about 14 zones long, with your goal being to get the Chaos Emeralds, then surprise, The Super Emeralds! It's kind of dumb, but you have to deal with it anyway. Tails and Knuckles must do the same thing along the way, but each one progresses to their own point, which adds some flavor to the recipe. What's dumb about this is that for conquering the game, you get an ending that is practically the same as Sonic & Knuckles. Major bummer!! Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all look like before, as does Robotnik and company.

As I just was speaking of, the graphics are really not any better than Sonic 3. The inside of the Death Egg for a zone is something a lot of people were probally waiting for and Sega sure does make it a memoriable experience for all of us. One thing that almost kills me to hear is that damn SEGA voice, the same scratchy, no good piece of noise that still blares at the beginning. Why must Sega torment me like this???? Aaaaaarrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!!!! The jumping noise is STILL (yes, still) here, where when you combine 3 and S&K, you hear it, oh, only about 1,000,000 times!!! The music doesn't even stand too well versus the excellent Sonic 3 tunes, but they don't do such a bad job in the Flying Battery and Doomsday zones :) .

The difficulty is just about equal to that of Sonic 3. More long zones, more fat Robotnik appearances. I advise getting 3 with this, for that's the main reason it came out! I didn't think it was too difficult, though, I only beat it 100 times! You will have plenty of time just burning away playing this game. The control is not so tough to master, for it's just like 2 or 3 and I'll be damned if I have to say it again! It's a nice game to have and a lot of people like this game, like the editor of this site, Mr. Kalata for one! It's has that certain appeal that had my brother waiting in line for his own copy! Well, at least he spent the 70 or so bucks and not me, I wanted Sonic 3 instead. Give it a whirl and don't send Sonic plummeting to his death, it's just not fun in these games!

Reviewed By: Kurt Kalata

Without Sonic 3

With Sonic 3

As great as Sonic 3 was, I can't help but feel that something was just... missing. The game just seemed way too short...I beat it in a day. Apparently, from what I've read, the game was actually released in America first...then a few extra levels were added in and published in Japan later (hence the missing levels and strange tunes in the Sonic 3 sound test/level select mode.) Plus, there were whole sections of levels you could NEVER get to, unless you cheated with the Debug mode. Sonic 3 was, essentially, not finished.

And you know what? Sonic & Knuckles more than makes up for it.

Sonic & Knuckles works as a stand alone cartridge and starts off with the ability to choose Sonic or Knuckles (Tails is absent...more on this later.) There are plenty of new zones to play through, many were the ones mentioning in Sonic 3 (Mushroom Hill, Flying Battery, Sandolpolis... even some rendition the mystical Hidden Palace zone deleted from Sonic 2, even though it's nothing more than a transition stage and looks nothing like the old pictures.) The storyline's the same for Sonic (blow up Robotnik's Death Egg that's wreaking having on Floating Island) but Knuckles, the previously evil Echidna, now learns of Robotnik's evil schemes and goes up against him. Knuckles can crash through certain walls that Sonic can't, can climb vertical surfaces, and do a floating jump. On the other hand, he can't use some of the special shield powers like Sonic could (no bubble bouncing or anything.) There's actually plenty of differences between Sonic's and Knuckle's adventures, in addition to the gameplay. There are places Sonic can go that Knuckles can't, and vice versa. And sometimes the characters start in different places, leaving each playing exploring different places of the same zone. The mini-bosses are actually harder with Knuckles, plus you get to play through different levels near the end of the boss (and totally different last bosses.) The Knuckles game is a bit short, but since there's the Sonic game and the Lock-on (mentioned below) it's OK.

Now, what am I so excited about otherwise? Using Lock-on Technology (great buzz-word) you can put a Sonic 3 cartridge on top of it (it's similar to what a Genesis Game Genie looks like.) Now, you have Sonic 3 and Knuckles. He's a playable character now. And it opens up a whole new world to Sonic 3.

Just like in the Sonic & Knuckles level, there are plenty of new places to explore in the old Sonic 3 levels. The mid-bosses are still tougher (the first level mid-boss now shoots napalm in addition to floating around spewing fire) and Knuckles can access all of those previously unaccessable areas. In fact, Angel Island Act 2 is TOTALLY different with Knuckles than it is with Sonic. Many other levels follow that same pattern. It's like playing a totally new adventure. And it's huge too. There are a total of 12 zones with the Knuckles game, and 13 with the Sonic/Tails...much better than the pitiful six on the original Sonic 3 cartridge. Plus, with Sonic 3, you can know same the game (there's no battery in the Sonic & Knuckles game) and add Tails to it too.

You can also attach it to Sonic 2 and play as Knuckles in there. But there's no new levels or anything to explore, so it isn't quite the same. Still, it makes for a slightly new gaming experience, with Knuckles new abilities.

The new levels themselves on Sonic & Knuckles are great. Thoughy Flying Battery is essentially similar to the Flying Fortress zone, and Mushroom Hill is your typical light-hearted foresty zone, the rest are great. I like pyramids so Sandopolis was cool, and Lava Reef reminded me of a better designed Marble Zone (from Sonic 1.) And the Death Egg...I haven't seen a last level designed this well since the Scrap Brain (again, from Sonic 1.) On a whole, it rejuvantes what seemed to be degenerating into a stale series.

In fact, there's only one problems with the game, and that's the timer. Like Sonic 3's levels, the areas you must travel are huge. Apparently the designer forgot about the 10 minute time limit, because some levels can barely be completed in this amount of time (especially the second Sandopolis zone, since it has some puzzle element to it.) While additions like these add to the gameplay, it's frustrating to not finish in time.

The graphics are on par with Sonic 3, with means they're excellent. I personally love the music...the new mid-boss theme is tons better than the old one, and each of the zones music all have a nice ring of them (Flying Battery is especially awesome in this respect.) Just like Sonic 3, the music changes to a remix in the second half of the level, so you're never left with hearing the same tune over and over.

Although I hate giving two ratings. Sonic & Knuckles really deserves it. As a stand-alone catridge, it's a superb game and could be called Sonic the Hedgedog 4. But when attached to Sonic 3, it becomes a whole new experience by taking an old game and rediscovering it, adding new adventures, long levels (and plenty of them)...making one of the best undertakings on the Genesis system. Fully recommended in all respects.