Upon playing ‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles’ for what feels like the hundredth time I immediately remember why this 1994 platformer video game is still among my favorites of all time. The gameplay, level design and replayability represent one of the high points of the genre, and the game is possibly the most polished of its series.
The game plays like a traditional 2D platformer with running, jumping and destroying enemies, with the key difference being the game’s emphasis on speed.
The characters feel faster than most other platformer characters, and the fun of Sonic comes from the combination of these two elements and trying to manage your speed and platforming to get through levels as fast as possible.
The game gives you control over three characters: Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. These character options are different enough to feel distinct from one another, yet remain similar enough that there is a sense of cohesiveness throughout the game.
Tails’ ability to fly, Knuckles’ skills at breaking walls and Sonic’s speed each give them their own different play styles and advantages. The differences in play means replays with different characters are a unique experience from your first play-through. Combined with perfect controls, the game remains a classic that will always be fun to play.
When playing this game after Sonic 1 or 2 the first thing one may notice is how big the levels are in comparison. They’re not just bigger in length, but in how many pathways there are to complete a level. This again encourages replays, even with the same character, because of wanting to explore the different paths just to see what you missed.
The exploration of these paths also helps promote the series’ trademark focus on speed, with the emphasis not just being on finding a path through the level but finding one which takes you through the level in the shortest time. The levels are also able to mix up challenges and deliver tough boss battles difficult enough to stop any monotony.
‘Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles’ remains one of the best and most re-playable games I’ve ever played and should enjoyed by every fan of platformers.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles is available on numerous platforms but can be seen on Wii, Xbox 360 and Steam (On Wii and 360 you must buy Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles to play Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles).