Review: Sonic & Knuckles (Sega Genesis)

In this review, we continue collecting golden rings in the Sega Genesis game Sonic & Knuckles. We find out what this adventure game is all about.

This game was released in 1994. It is notable for it’s lock-on feature that modifies the first three Sonic games. This review will only focus on the game as a stand-alone game. We are growing familiar with this series. We previously reviewed the original Sonic the Hedgehog. That game got quite the great score here. We also tried the Sega Master version of that game. That game got a decent score as well. We then tried Sonic the Hedgehog 2. That game also got a great score. We then tried Sonic the Hedgehog 3. That game got a good score, but is a comparatively disappointing follow up. So, we thought we’d try this title to see if it turns things around.

The game allows you to choose between playing as Sonic or Knuckles. The storyline also depends on which character you play as. If you play as Sonic, Dr. Robotnik is wreaking havoc again. It is up to Sonic to stop him. If you play as Knuckles, then the storyline starts out with Knuckles hanging out in mushroom valley. A robot that looks similar to Dr. Robotnik drops a bomb right where he is relaxing. Knuckles then chases this robot.

Whether you play as Sonic or Knuckles, there is some basic gameplay that governs both sides of the game. There are up to two acts per world you visit. Most levels end with a boss. If you reach the end of the second act, the boss will be an iteration of Dr. Robotnik or the robot. Sonic has 8 worlds to go through while Knuckles gets six.

Rings and large warp rings make a return in this game and they operate exactly like they do in Sonic the Hedgehog 3. Items are also found in small TV screens like previous games. There’s nothing really notable about the power-ups not otherwise found in the previous Sonic games.

Sonic retains all of his characteristic moves from the previous game. Knuckles, however, has his own set of moves. If you jump and hold down the jump button, Knuckles will glide through the air. Knuckles can also climb walls if you jump up to a wall and hit jump again.

One thing that is an improvement over the previous game is the fact that the various level features are more intuitive. As such, you won’t spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out one little obstacle.

Another thing about this game is the fact that the levels are the longest out of all the Sonic games I’ve played to date. The default time limit is set to 10 minutes. In one instance, I still can’t beat one of the levels within the time limit and require the use of a second life to complete it. It’s the first time I ran into this problem purely because there is so much to traverse. Other levels will take more than 3 minutes to complete as well.

In addition, the addition of the second character gives this game much more content. The length of the game is now comparable to a number of Super Mario games out there. While the second character runs through the same courses, the routs are different. The game is generally more challenging when playing as Knuckles as well.

My problem with this game is that momentum seems more pronounced in this game. As such, sticking landings becomes much more annoying. It’s especially problematic for small platforms because an additional jump may be required to slow the character down enough to not slide off of it completely. As a result, it’s like you are playing on ice all the way through the game.

Generally speaking, this game definitely gets this series back on track. It has great length and is much more intuitive than the previous game. The second character adds to this game nicely. There are minor features that keeps the progressive nature of this series going. The physics make this game rather annoying at times. Still, there’s not much to complain about this game.

The graphics have improved a bit, but there are plenty of other games out there that have upped their game in this field. Still, the small effects that dot the landscape helps things a lot. The different environments are nicely drawn. An overall great experience.

The audio is also well done. Each area has its own music and keeps a good variety going. The sound effects are alright, but nothing much separates this game from previous games. Still, a solid job.

Overall, I was hoping for a turnaround in this series and I got it with this game. It has great gameplay and the length has improved by quite a bit. The addition of knuckles adds a bit to the gameplay as well. The physics can be annoying at times, though as it makes an otherwise simple jump a challenge. The graphics are great and the audio is well done. Definitely another great game from the series.

Beat the game both as Sonic and Knuckles.

General gameplay: 22/25
Replay value: 8/10
Graphics: 8/10
Audio: 4/5

Overall rating: 84%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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