3D Sonic the Hedgehog (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 10.01.2014 3

Review for 3D Sonic the Hedgehog on Nintendo 3DS

Originally designed as a direct competitor to Nintendo's Mario, as the cooler dude with an attitude, Sonic entered the video game industry with a big bang over twenty years ago, on the SEGA Mega Drive. And as SEGA's new mascot and flagship series at the time, it certainly helped forge the Arcade giant's success in the console market with the Mega Drive (Genesis in North America), its most successful console. Continuing the series of 3D SEGA classics that the team at Cubed3 knows and loves, developer M2 has helped convert the original Mega Drive classic to true stereoscopic 3D for the 3DS. How well did it succeed this time? This review shall reveal that right away!

Sonic is still a very straightforward affair and the game remains largely unchanged from the original title in terms of content. For those who may not yet know what Sonic the Hedgehog is all about, the blue blur has to run at the speed of light through 2D levels, collecting rings as he goes, while avoiding hazards scattered along the way, such as enemies, pits of lava and the all-time classic spikes. The goal of the game is to defeat Dr. Robotnik, also known as Eggman nowadays, who kidnapped animal inhabitants of the world and imprisoned them in capsules because apparently that's supposed to help him get his hands on the Six Chaos Emeralds that he's after. He wishes to harness the power of these artefacts for his own plan of world domination but the titular character, Sonic the Hedgehog, the fastest creature alive, has to use his speed to collect them first.

The same 18 stages are still present, representing just a few hours of gameplay - an afternoon, perhaps, for the most dedicated fan, which is not so different from a lot of other games released around the same time. However, it is guaranteed to require several play-throughs due to the quest for the Chaos Emeralds in the bonus stages, and the difficulty of the game itself with its rather harsh lack of saving system, originally.

Screenshot for 3D Sonic the Hedgehog on Nintendo 3DS

What was added this time in the core game, however, is the fan-favourite Spin-Dash introduced in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, making the game that extra bit more playable. Other additions are to be found, of course, but they come as additional purchase incentives, added on top of the core game, which in itself is still widely the same.

The most prominent of those is obviously the stereoscopic 3D effect. As with other 3D SEGA Classics, it is incredibly well-done! The menus present the option of either making the game pop out a little bit from the screen, as the far background appears to be the main plane with everything else appearing in front, or rather the reverse thing, which is the one selected by default, where the main plane is the foreground where the action takes place with all the other backgrounds appearing to be far away in the distance, which makes a lot more sense and is more comfortable to use. There is also another display option - called classic - where the game is simply in 2D, but appears to be rendered on an old CRT TV, slightly blurred and curved as was the case in the old days with curved screens. It's hard to imagine who would want to exchange the extreme sharpness of the regular display offered by default for a recreation of the limitations of old, but the option is fun to use for just a few minutes.

Screenshot for 3D Sonic the Hedgehog on Nintendo 3DS

Otherwise, the game keeps its 4:3 aspect ratio with black borders all around it, which is a bit unfortunate as the iOS versions were indeed rendered in full screen, widening the view considerably and actually making spotting upcoming hazards that much more comfortable. The sharpness and pixel perfect rendition of the original on the 3DS screen is, however, still very pretty to look at, as the game's visuals have aged quite well and remain charming and colourful throughout, being accompanied by perfectly emulated SEGA Mega Drive music.

The rest of the additions are, as always, to be found in all the menus of this 3D re-edition. Those are, however, not quite as rich as in the previous Arcade game ports, certainly because, as opposed to the full-body experiences ported so far, recreating the home console experience on the handheld as faithfully as possible didn't require as many options, which is totally understandable. An option to directly enable the Stage Select screen is there, removing the need to enter a code to access it, and it's also possible to switch the game between its Japanese version and its international version. The Spin Dash can also be removed if one wants to play the game exactly as one would have originally, and PSG sound emulation can be chosen between "Mega Drive" and "Mega Drive 2."

Screenshot for 3D Sonic the Hedgehog on Nintendo 3DS

Indeed, the sound tended to be arguably worse on later Mega Drive models due to a change in the sound hardware of the machine, and if anyone wants to relive the atrocity of the sound not sounding quite as pristine, then this can be 'enjoyed' in 3D Sonic the Hedgehog.

Last, but not least, are the "Load" and "Save" functions, allowing progress to be saved and reloaded at will, making the experience much more palatable by modern standards than it would have been otherwise, especially on a handheld system in this day and age when very short play sessions must be possible in order to compete with the quick gaming fixes allowed by modern smart devices. This also makes the game a lot easier and might be called cheating but, as always, just because the option was included doesn't mean that hardcore gamers who consider it cheating have to make use of it.

That wraps up the list of options available this time around in this 3D SEGA Classic entry. The sound test hasn't been included directly inside the main menu this time, as it was already part of the original game in the Stage Select menu, as that would have made it a bit redundant, but it would have been convenient to have the same cleaner sound test menu, with each music track neatly titled, like they were in other Arcade ports in the series.

Screenshot for 3D Sonic the Hedgehog on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Sonic the Hedgehog was already a pretty solid game in the past, although perhaps not the most definitive 2D Sonic experience as all subsequent games continued to build upon the experience and improved on it as Sonic Team was gaining experience. This new 3D version offers the same experience, only improved upon by modern additions and made to look even more incredible thanks to the excellent implementation of stereoscopic 3D, which breathes new life into a great classic. SEGA fans should certainly appreciate the effort put into this one, although a true full screen option would have been most welcome. There's a bit of wasted potential indeed due to this and the lack of other features such as more playable characters like Knuckles or Tails, which would have made this latest iteration all the more worthwhile, and that's what prevents this game from possibly scoring a little bit higher with our Cubed3 standards. What's now left for M2 to do, if SEGA will allow it, is to re-release the even better Sonic 2 and Sonic 3!






2D Platformer



C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


Sounds really good, might, might just pick this one up. Do loves me a good Sonic I do! If they release 3 & Knuckles in 3D, I'll be there in a heartbeat!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

I definitely need to pick this one up at some point. Like I said about Streets of Rage, it would be great if M2 could bring Sonic 2 and 3 over to the 3DS.

jb said:
If they release 3 & Knuckles in 3D, I'll be there in a heartbeat!
Had a feeling that they could add 3 & Knuckles as a bonus to 3D Sonic 3 if/when they release it. Same with Knuckles in Sonic 2.

Had a feeling that they could add 3 & Knuckles as a bonus to 3D Sonic 3 if/when they release it. Same with Knuckles in Sonic 2.

Totally would be after all three *drools*!

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

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