Sonic 3 and Knuckles is actually a combination of two halves of one game that were sold separately.
Let me try and explain
in February 1994 Sonic the Hedgehog 3 was released for Sega Mega Drive (Genesis in USA) while the game sold well and was genuinely a really fun game it only had six zones and the ending of the game felt lacking and a little forced, the reason for this is that the game was intended to be longer and due to time restraints it was rushed to consumers, around six months after this a new Sonic game was released called Sonic and Knuckles.
Sonic and Knuckles was first advertised as a brand new Sonic game and it definitely felt like one, it lacked in Tails but players could now control Knuckles who was an antagonist in Sonic 3, of course this felt odd and the plot of the game stated that this was a direct follow up to Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and was later confirmed to be the second half that was originally missing.
Another odd thing about Sonic and Knuckles was the cartridge, it had two connecting ports one that went into the Mega Drive and another that would connect to the Sonic 3 game cartridge and if they put both these into the system at the same time the full finished version of the game would play.
Sonic 3 and Knuckles is the definitive version of Sonic 3 and is the intended fully finished game which combines both halves, this also allowed players to use Knuckles in the original Sonic 3 Levels, Sonic 3 and Knuckles is the superior version of the game and is the version that is often included in sonic video game collections.
After the events of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Dr Robotnik’s death egg crash landed on Angel Island where he meets Knuckles the Echidna, Knuckles is the Guardian of the Master Emerald, this emerald allows the island to levitate so it is very important, Robotonik tricks Knuckles into believing that Sonic and Tails are trying to steal the Master Emerald causing him to try and defeat Sonic while Robotnik repairs the Death Egg.
The game-play is the regular Sonic style where players will need to get through each act as quickly and strategically as possible while making sure to try and avoid damage from enemies, you can play with either Sonic or Tails and similar to the second game Sonic is faster but Tails is able to hover momentarily.
With the game originally split into two parts, in the second part players could control Knuckles who had the ability to climb walls and discover secret areas of course in Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Knuckles was available in both parts.
There are four shields in the game, they are each based on elements and are useful in different situations, the insta-shield will defend against enemy attacks, the fire shield against heat, the water shield allows the characters to breath under water and the lightning shield would attract rings and deflect enemy projectiles.
The special stages are back and to be honest I really dislike these stages, the idea is that you need to move over a 2.5 D space and collect all of the blue balls but the controls on the Mega Drive are a little clunky here and it makes it quite difficult to get through.
Unlike previous games when you get the seven chaos emeralds here you actually unlock super transformations for all three characters, Super Sonic is invincible, Knuckles can move and climb faster but the best one is Tails who can call upon and army of Flicky birds to very quickly hurt enemies, this is really useful for winning boss fights.
Sonic 3 has the best soundtrack out of the original trilogy, while I do prefer the second games soundtrack for nostalgic reasons this one is more memorable for its upbeat music and the use of different sounds to help match with the necessary environments.
Sonic 3 and knuckles is probably the best Sonic game ever made, I wish that it wasn’t so complicated of a release and if I was too just review Sonic 3 alone I would argue that it was one of my least favourites but when in its final state it was one of the most innovative and creative video games of its time. It added a save system which made the game much easier to pick up and play from where you left off, with three playable characters and each with a super transformation it added many reason to play over and over again, the only downside for me was the special stages which I still think are not very well designed but they are playable and with practice can be completed, overall a fairly flawless game which easily earns a 9.8/10 even with its ridiculous release history.
I hope you enjoyed this review of Sonic 3 and Knuckles for the Mega Drive/ Genesis
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