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Sonic 3 was the 1994 follow up to sonic 2 and was released for the sega megadrive (or genesis if you're reading from America) and has now been revamped for the xbox 360 on the xbox 360 live arcade. The game is 400 microsoft points (or was as I write this) which works out around £3.40 so is it worth it? Read on...
The plot of the game follows on from the end of sonic 2, having blasted Dr Robotniks (evil professor and main big bad of the series) evil moon base known as the 'death egg' out of space, it lands on a floating island and Robotnik tricks a local, Knuckles the Echidna (a type of anteater) into hindering sonic's progress as he rushes to relaunch his death egg and sonic tries to stop him.
The game is a 2D platformer with a jump button and directional pad controlling most of the action, you choose to play as either sonic the hedgehog or tails the fox or as sonic with the computer controlling tails, a second player can join in at any time to help out. The idea is simple get from one end of the level to the other and beat a boss, the levels usually go from left to right but can also go upwards and downwards with multiple paths through each level. The game also encourages you to collect rings, 100 of which will give you an extra life and also act as a barrier, if you are hit by an enemy or obstacle your rings will scatter, get hit again without one and you lose a life, you can also lose a life by drowning, falling into bottomless pits and running out of time (you have 10 minutes a level but this is hardly ever the case at the speed you go!)
Jumping is used to avoid obstacles and attack enemies while holding down and pressing the jump button creates a spin dash move. Double tapping the jump button activates a special move, as plain sonic it does very little but with one of the 3 power up bubbles you can grab; lightning (which attracts rings) gives you a double jump, fire (which protects you against fire based attacks) propels you foward, and water (which gives you unlimited breath underwater) gives you a bounce ability. Double jumping with tails activates his flying ability which sonic can grab onto to get an air lift for ten or so seconds before it needs to recharge. In addition to these obstacles there are items in the levels that will speed you up so you can run across water, zoom up walls and across ceilings.
The levels are a great bunch, each split into two acts, at the end of the first you fight a boss robot and at the end of the second you fight robotnik in one of his robotic death designs, starting with the tropical angel island which is burned down halfway through you then swim through the aquatic hydrocity zone, then it's on to the beautiful marble gardens where robotnik tries to bring the roof down. You head on to party in the carnival night zone, chill out in the ice cap zone before battling robotnik in the launch base. Each level is unique with its own obstacles, enemies and link between the levels which adds to the story.
To fully complete the game you need to grab all 7 chaos emeralds, these are hidden in the special zones which are reached by hitting star posts throughout the levels with at least 50 rings. These levels involve being transported to a 3 dimensional chequered sphere where you can travel left, right, straight on and jump. You need to grab a certain number of blue spheres and change them red without touching any of the other red spheres in the level, if this is done you get a chaos emerald. Once all 7 chaos emeralds are collected, grabbing 50 rings and performing a double jump allows you to become super sonic, super sonic is invincible (mostly), kills regular enemies with on contact, runs faster and jump higher than normal sonic as well as having a great yellow demonic look. However while playing as super sonic, the ring count is drained down to zero at a rate of one ring per second. Once all rings are gone sonic turns back to normal.
The music is all great, catchy songs that fit each stage wonderfully, there are also rumours that Michael Jackson was called in to help out with the soundtrack but was dropped due to the controversy that arose around the time of development however musical comparisons exist on youtube and it seems to match up very well.
The transition to HD doesn't work too smoothly, the game can either be bordered or stretched to fit the screen, with this you can choose to keep the original pixelated graphics or the 'smooth' option which looks like someone has slapped a load of vaseline over your tv, this really annoyed me when you consider how well other games such as super street fighter hd remix have been updated to look good.
There was always a save system on sonic 3, 6 save slots allow you to pick up where you left off, and on the xbox allows you a quicksave option which does make the game a lot easier.
The achievements are stupidly easy, for example there are 3 points based achievements which I was able to get in the first level alone (not boasting here it isn't hard!) and the rest mainly revolve around completing levels or performing simple tasks.
Overall this was a great game for 1994, in 2009 it shows its age, especially as it hasn't been updated in any major way. However it is a great platform day with great catchy music and as it played such a big part in my childhood it will always be a firm favourite which I keep heading back to and for only £3.50(ish) I would advise you to do the same.