The StarSoldier


Again I just like showing this art whenever I can.
Month it won: July 2005

(Sega, October 1994)
Special note: Come on! This is the only game that uses Sega's Lock On technology!
Introduction and Story:
For years I have been playing tons of legendary games like Final Fantasy III, Super Mario Bros., and so many more exciting titles that I just played them to death. Sadly, like a lot of things in life they all have to come to a end. Sure, you can save all your money and just wait for the sequel (for games like Metroid and Gunstar Heroes it would be a very long wait by the way) but wouldn't it be cool if there was a way to just expand the original instead? Although this practice is commonplace for many popular Personal Computer games thanks to the useful expansion paks, there are few console examples that actually prolong a great single game. Fortunately, Sonic & Knuckles is those few special games that's actually compatible with other games believe it or not thanks to something called Lock On technology! A very cool idea by Sega. Imagine digging up two of the most popular games for the Sega Genesis like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and having a whole new reason to play them again?

So why are we here? After the events of Sonic 3, Sonic had just defeated his old nemesis Dr. Robotnik again and destroyed his plans for rebuilding the Death Egg super weapon on the once peaceful Angel Island. Unfortunately all is not well since both Robotnik and his partner in crime Knuckles the Echidna have escaped. Now you must explore the rest of Angel Island to get some answers and not only can play as the lightning quick Sonic but you can also play as his arch rival Knuckles in a adventure to understand what Dr. Robotnik is really after.
Controls and Game Play:
Like a lot of Sonic titles the game play is simple; if your character has at least one magic Ring in their collection they can't be killed by their many metal enemies. Your heroes are not defenseless either because they can use their jump attacks and spin dashes on everything to steel butterflies to Dr. Robotnik's top sentrys. Another thing that made the Sonic games so unique over the typical platformer is the action is much more intense because each character could run insanely fast across some well designed 2D environments like the diverse Mushroom Hills to the highly challenging Death Egg zones. S&K also focuses more on puzzles then the past games of the series did so be ready for a tough action game here.

S&K actually features 6 different levels that were suppose to be in Sonic 3 but Sega had to cut these levels out to perhaps to make the game's release date. Fortunately they also had the idea to release unique cartridge that would let you combine both Sonic 3 and S&K so you can play all the stages in one grand experience. Simply place the game on top of the special S&K cart and you're ready to go. Not only will it work on Sonic 3 but you can also use it with Sonic 2 so you play as Knuckles complete his new moves.

Knuckles may have controlled just like Sonic and Tails in the multi-player mode of Sonic 3 but here in S&K he has moves that Sonic doesn't like the ability to climb walls and guide in the air. Knuckles can also punch away certain obstacles to reveal new areas. Sonic and Knuckles get to travel through some of the same stages but it's cool to see where the other can't go since the levels are so massive and unlinear.
Graphics and Sounds:
The Sonic games have always been some of the best looking games on the Sega Genesis and S&K is no exception. A good example of the programmers pushing the 16-bit limits here is when you battle the first Dr. Robotnik boss. While you chase the evil doctor down there is this really cool 3D effect that merges the foreground and background together. The game still has a lot in common with Sonic 3 so it hardly looks unique plus after a month of this game's release Rare and Nintendo would bring out Donkey Kong Country; a game that blew everyone away with it's advance computer generated graphics. Despite having a cartoon-like look everything still looks way above average for Genesis title.

Like the graphics many of the background tracks and sound effects have been lifted from Sonic 3. The background tracks for the Death Egg and Sky Palace are especially good plus the various bells and beeps have a lot of impact don't get me wrong, but you can listen to many of S&K exclusive soundtracks in Sonic 3's old secret debug menu. Although very good still, it didn't feel like it's anything too new since both games were released only months apart.
The Bottomline:
OK, by itself the game has a few problems worth mentioning. This may be another high quality Sonic title here but there is no two player mode or Save feature either for whatever reason so unless you have the two other compatible games this is going to hurt the replay value. Another thing that bugged me was Knuckle's adventure is way shorter then Sonic's. If you look pass this minor issues though it's the game's innovative Lock On feature really takes it to the series to the important next level. Don't worry buying this and the other games either since both of them are highly common Sega titles and can be purchased relatively cheap and other Genesis games may unlock secret 3D bonus stages as well. It's a shame that only Sonic & Knuckles experimented with this cool technology because it was one of my favourite gaming experiences growing up and I had the rental late fees to prove it. Fortunately, I just bought the thing out right and you can easily get it cheap on the original Genesis or through Sega's many Sonic Retro Collections.
overall rating: 99/100

Find Sonic & Knuckles on eBay here!

For 1 to 2 players
Rated (K-A) for Kids to Adults

graphics: 8/10
sound: 8/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 9/10


(Ryan Genno) 2007

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