Sonic the Hedgehog and Miles “Tails” Prower return in 1994‘s Sonic the Hedgehog 3 – a game with a new graphical style, and a – thankfully – fixed two-player mode.
This time, in Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sega decided to shrink the scale of the graphics down in the two-player “Competition” game, rather than squash down the graphics, like they did in Sonic the Hedgehog 2. It makes a huge difference and is much, much more enjoyable to play this time around.
The new graphical style? Uhhhh… In places it looks a bit scraggy, but overall it is quite wonderful. The waterfalls unfortunately look a bit… dithered, but otherwise there’s not a lot to complain about.
One other new addition to the Sonic 3 gameplay is the ability of a second player to play as Tails alongside Sonic in the single-player game. If one falls back they just play catch-up. At least it’s better than just having a useless AI companion…
Sonic 3 also introduces Knuckles the Echidna, and island guardian who sets traps for Sonic and Tails.
The Special Stage this time sees Sonic and Tails running over the surface of a large spherical planet, collecting spheres.
There are lots of other surprises in Sonic 3 too, like underwater levels that change the physics; conveyors that you can grab on to; tubes that you run vertically through; swings and ‘death slides’; extra bonus stage minigames; even R-Type-like spaceships!
Sonic & Knuckles, which was developed concurrently to this, came out the same year as Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and is – I think – the better of the two games. Particularly graphically. It’s all down to taste, though. Some prefer Sonic 3.
What is interesting is that when the Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles cartridges are connected together using a special adaptor they combine together into one game, called Sonic 3 & Knuckles. You can buy this combined game on Steam at the time of writing, which is very cool.