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Ask not what others can do for you, but what you can do for others.

Sonic the Hedgehog, Japanese box artwork

Sonic the Hedgehog CD (ソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグCDシーディー Sonikku za Hejjihoggu Shīdī?), commonly known as Sonic CD (ソニックCDシーディー Sonikku Shīdī?), is a 2D platformer game in the Sonic the Hedgehog series that was developed and published by Sega. It was released for the Sega CD (an add-on for the Mega Drive) in 1993. The title is best known for its time travel feature, in which levels are divided in several time frames that can be explored and feature unique secrets.

A sequel to the original Sonic the Hedgehog story-wise (despite Sonic the Hedgehog 2 being released prior) as explained in Sonic Origins, Sonic the Hedgehog CD is set on the mystical Little Planet, which is known to make an appearance over the earth once a year. When Dr. Eggman invades this planetoid to acquire the Time Stones hidden there and control time itself, it is up to Sonic to prevent the doctor from achieving his evil plans and save Little Planet from a dystopian future under the scientist's control. Along the way, he also has to rescue Amy Rose, an innocent young pink hedgehog who has been captured by Metal Sonic, a very powerful robot created by Eggman to surpass the blue hedgehog's own powers. This game is a part of the grand Death Egg saga.

Upon release, Sonic the Hedgehog CD received critical acclaim, with reviewers noting that the time travel-based gameplay left room for replay value. The graphics and animated cutscenes were also praised, but the change of the original soundtrack in North America was met with controversy. It is the best-selling Sega CD game, with more than one million copies having been sold for the system. The game is frequently listed as one of the greatest Sonic games ever released.


Spoiler warning: Plot, ending details or any kind of information follow.
Sonic CD Mega-CD title screen

The title screen of Sonic the Hedgehog CD.

On earth, there is an enormous lake called Never Lake, which is known for being where the mystical Little Planet, a small planet of both beauty and wonder, appears above for one month once a year. Also known as the "Miracle Planet", this planetoid is known for being the home of the Time Stones, seven mystical gemstones that can freely control time, which allows them to turn a desert into a jungle, clean polluted lakes, and perform other time-crossing wonders.[2]

Not long after Little Planet makes its annual appearance at Never Lake, Dr. Eggman takes notice of the Time Stones. Intending to build a fortress on the planet and use its stones for his goal of world domination, he plans to seize it for himself. To make sure that the planetoid does not leave, the doctor chains it to a nearby mountain with his face sculpted on it, before covering it in a metallic shell as he constructs his fortress, all while scouring the planet for the Time Stones.[2] Meanwhile, the doctor uses the unique temporal passages on Little Planet to invade the past of the planet, where he fills it with robot transporters and Metal Sonic holograms in order to turn its future into one where he has total control. This affects Little Planet's fate severely, to the point where it becomes a ruined land in Eggman's future.

Eventually, Sonic the Hedgehog races his way across fields, over lakes and through forests to get to Never Lake and see Little Planet for himself, not knowing about Eggman's actions. Upon receiving the report that his nemesis is approaching, the doctor's eyes light up and a fearless smile appears on his face. Assured that he will be able to finally crush the hedgehog once and for all with his scientific prowess, he excitedly proclaims, with a blue flash of light that lurks behind him, that he will seize the Time Stones and finally conquer the world.[2]

Meanwhile, Sonic arrives at Never Lake. To his surprise however, he finds Little Planet in its sad and chained state following Eggman's takeover. Seeing the planet chained to the nearby mountain, he suspects that the doctor is behind it all, and travels to Little Planet via the chain keeping it tied to his world.[2] Ending up in Palmtree Panic, Sonic learns that he needs to destroy the robot teleporters in the past and secure the Time Stones before his nemesis does. As he continues his adventure however, he meets Amy Rose, a female hedgehog who has come to Little Planet after predicting a "destined" encounter with him on the small world with her tarot cards.[3] Upon seeing the blue hedgehog, Amy instantly falls in love with him and tries to hug him. Not reciprocating her advances, Sonic tries to continue with his adventure.

After encountering Eggman and forcing him to retreat by defeating his EGG-HVC-001, Sonic continues onward to Collision Chaos, with Amy following him. Upon arriving there however, the pink hedgehog is kidnapped by the doctor's latest and greatest creation to date: Metal Sonic, a lethal robot built in Sonic's image. The robot proceeds to leave with her despite Sonic's attempts to save her. Now having to save both Little Planet and Amy, the blue continues onward, overcoming and defeating his nemesis and his contraptions along the way.

SEGACD-Sonic-CD-european-version Sep23-15 45 55

Sonic racing against Metal Sonic in Stardust Speedway.

Eventually, Sonic arrives in Stardust Speedway. There, he finds Eggman and Metal Sonic, the latter challenging him to a deadly race, with the former keeping a laser active behind them as they race forward. In the end though, the hedgehog defeats his robot copy, who gets smashed after he crashes into a gate closing in front of him, which forces the doctor to retreat. Afterward, Sonic frees Amy, who hugs him as thanks.

Soon after, Sonic travels to Metallic Madness. Inside this stronghold, he eventually encounters Eggman using the Egg Spinner in an attempt to defeat him. However, the machine is destroyed, triggering a chain reaction that causes Little Planet's metallic shell to crumble and forces the hedgehog to escape from Little Planet with Amy. Landing near Never Lake, he leaves her in a safe place and runs away, before noticing the shell covering Little Planet break apart. After that, the ending of the game will depend on the player's actions:

Sonic CD Mega-CD good ending

The good ending of Sonic the Hedgehog CD.

  • If the player has not managed to secure a good future for all the Rounds in the game, Eggman will retreat on his hovercraft with a blue Time Stone in the palm of his hand while laughing at Sonic. Noticing the doctor, Sonic will throw a rock at him, hitting his vehicle and causing it to explode. A post-credits scene will show Little Planet re-appearing above Never Lake in its poor state once more. The text "TRY AGAIN" will also be shown.
  • If the player has managed to secure a good future for all the Rounds in the game, Sonic will look at Little Planet, which will be shaking for a moment before disappearing and leaving behind some sparks in the shape of Sonic's face. After the credits roll, some Little Planet flowers will appear around Never Lake with the text "YOU'RE TOO COOL!" appearing.


Image Character Biography
Sonic and Amy 1
Sonic the Hedgehog You know him, the fastest hedgehog in the world. He's cool and popular with everyone, anytime, anywhere.[4]
Amy Rose A cheerful girl full of energy who likes mystical things and fortune-telling. She came to Little Planet by the "divine message of cards," but there she has a "destined" encounter with Sonic. And then...[3]
CD Eggman
Doctor Eggman An evil genius scientist. This time around, his target is the Time Stones. He also schemes for world domination. In order to oppose his rival, Sonic, he has constructed a robot just like him.[3]
Metal Sonic 1
Metal Sonic The ultimate robot built by Eggman. His abilities are the same as Sonic's, and what's more, he can put out speeds faster than Sonic in an instant. Aligned with Eggman's intentions, he regards Sonic as an enemy.[3]


Collision Chaos Present

Sonic in Collision Chaos, the second Round in the game.

Sonic the Hedgehog CD is a side-scrolling 2D platforming video game which plays similar to past Sonic games. The game is split into seven levels (known as "Rounds"), each divided in three playable acts, which are called "Zones." The playable character here is Sonic, whose most basic actions involve running and jumping. He can also perform the Spin Dash and new Super Peel Out.

The main goal of Sonic the Hedgehog CD is to beat each of the Zones in each Round in the game, with the third one of each Round being a boss fight, in less than ten minutes. The Zones are designed so that they branch in numerous different paths, offering the player more secrets to find. To finish the first two Zones, a Goal Plate has to be spun. The third ones on the other hand, require that a Capsule is destroyed.

Throughout the first two Zones of a Round, the player can find Time Warp signs. Their main purpose is to make Sonic enter the Time Warp. If Sonic touches a Time Warp sign and then runs at a set speed for a short period of time, he will enter the Time Warp and end up in another timeframe; touching a "Past" Time Warp sign will send him to the past, while a "Future" one will send him to the future. However, in the past, only the "Future" Time Warp signs are seen, which will send the player back to the present. The opposite is applied to the future.

Sonic in the present timeline of Palmtree Panic, with two Pata-Bata Badniks flying above him.
Sonic in the past timeline of Palmtree Panic, about to Spin Attack an Anton Badnik.
Sonic in the bad future timeline of Palmtree Panic.
Sonic in the good future timeline of Palmtree Panic, with an Invincibility power-up active.

The various timelines of Sonic CD's first level, Palmtree Panic. Top: present and past; bottom: bad future and good future.

The player will start in the present of the first two Zones of a Round, while Zone 3 will always take place in the future. By default, the future will be depicted as a chaotic and ruined place ruled by Dr. Eggman. However, if the player travels to the past and destroys a robot transporter, they will create a "good future" in that Zone. Getting a good future in the first two Zones of a round will make Zone 3 of it take place in the good future. Furthermore, destroying all robot transporters will result in the good ending of the game being played upon competing it.

In gameplay, Rings appear scattered through the Zones. The number of Rings carried by the player is displayed in the top left corner of the HUD. As with past Sonic games, Rings serve as the playable character's main method of protection from damage; if the playable character takes damage while they carry at least one Ring, they will survive, though they will lose all their Rings. Taking damage while not holding any Rings will cost the player a life. The player can also lose a life if they drown underwater, get crushed, fall into a bottomless pit, or spend ten minutes in the same Zone. After losing a life, the playable character will respawn at the latest Lamppost they touched, or at the start of a Zone if they have not touched any Lampposts or are in any timeline that is not the present. If the player runs out of lives, they will get a Game Over. Extra lives can be obtained by breaking 1-UP Monitors or collecting one-hundred Rings, along with being awarded for every fifty thousand points collected.

The secondary objective of Sonic the Hedgehog CD is to gather the seven Time Stones by completing Special Stages. To enter a Special Stage, the player must collect at least fifty Rings in any of the first two Zones of a Round and then enter the Giant Ring at the end of them. Collecting all seven Time Stones will automatically ensure a good future in every Zone of the game.

Scoring system[]


Button formation Sonic-Icon-Sonic-CD Movement
Controlpadds left/right Walk/Run
Controlpadds up Look up
Controlpadds up x2 > hold Controlpadds up Scroll the screen up
Controlpadds down Look down/Duck
Controlpadds down x2 > hold Controlpadds down Scroll the screen down
Move + Controlpadds down Super Spin Attack
Sega Genesis A Button/Sega Genesis B Button/Sega Genesis C Button Spin Jump
Look up + Sega Genesis A Button/Sega Genesis B Button/Sega Genesis C Button Super Peel Out
Duck + Sega Genesis A Button/Sega Genesis B Button/Sega Genesis C Button Super Spin Dash
START Pause/Skip Time Warp animation



Gimmicks and obstacles[]


Playable characters[]

Non-playable characters[]



  1. Palmtree Panic: A tropical level with mountains and waterfalls in the background.
    • The past features a more prehistoric looking area.
    • The bad future is completely mechanized with smog in the air and chemicals and oil in the water.
    • The good future is also mechanized, but bright, vivid, colorful, and clean, with potted plants and trees adorning the area as well.
  2. Collision Chaos: An unusual mechanized forest with a well-established casino and a large "reflection" similar to the lower half of the forest.
    • In the past, Collision Chaos shows a rather surreal, orange tinted forest.
    • The bad future is dark and creepy with gray machines.
    • The good future shows a bright pink and blue futuristic paradise.
  3. Tidal Tempest: A series of underwater ruins at the base of a volcano. The water level appears to have risen over time: it's low in the past, higher in the present, and at its highest in either future.
    • In the past, it's an underground cavern, untouched by man or machine, except for the pipes.
    • The bad future shows a broken down, polluted, over-industrialized water plant.
    • In the good future, Tidal Tempest is a fully operational turquoise aquarium harboring much plant life and fish.
  4. Quartz Quadrant: Quartz Quadrant is a busy mine with conveyor belts and platforms. The appearance of this level changes drastically throughout each time Zone, while being an active mine and partially a swamp in the present.
    • In the past, it is a swamp with hardly any technology, but it has a large quantity of quartz.
    • In the bad future, it is an overly mechanized mine with apparently no quartz.
    • The good futures shows an underground golden-colored city that is possibly made of quartz.
  5. Wacky Workbench: An industrial site located in a canyon, with various "wacky" machinery.
    • The past features an early construction of the factory.
    • In the bad future, the level is ruined and rusty.
    • The good future shows an advanced pink and purple plant, similar to that of a fictional toy factory.
  6. Stardust Speedway: One of the fastest Rounds in Sonic history. It is a highway adorned with musical instruments above an enormous city full of lights that spans thousands of square miles. A statue of Dr. Eggman can be seen undergoing construction the center of Zone 2.
    • In the past, the land is old, ancient, Roman city, and vines adorn the highway as there is little to no technology to speak of. It also has a Gothic-styled building in the center of Zone 2.
    • In the bad future, Stardust Speedway has become a corrupted, polluted dystopian city underneath a large electrical storm with a completed statue of Eggman in the center of Zone 2.
    • The good future looks like a giant futuristic amusement park, with bright pink and green colors dominating the landscape with a beautiful cathedral in the center of Zone 2.
  7. Metallic Madness: Eggman's base of operations on the Little Planet full of various death traps and high tech machinery.
    • The past shows the base still in construction with cranes adorning the skyline.
    • In the bad future, Metallic Madness is a dark, sinister completely broken-down base ruined from neglect.
    • The good future still shows a mechanized factory, but it has become more in tune with nature, as though Eggman was never there.

Special Stages[]

Special Stage-1-Sonic-CD

The first Special Stage in Sonic the Hedgehog CD.

As in the original Sonic the Hedgehog, Special Stages can be accessed at the end of each Zone if the player has collected, and is holding on to, at least fifty Rings. A Giant Ring will then appear above the Goal Plate, which the player can jump through to enter the Special Stage.

The Special Stage consists of a three-dimensional, flat surface. To complete a Special Stage, and thus collect its Time Stone, the player must seek out and destroy six UFOs flying around the area before time runs out. The UFOs move around in an erratic fashion, which can make them harder to hit. If a UFO is destroyed, it gives a prize; UFOs with yellow frames give a Ring Bonus and the ones with white frames give temporary speed boosts. Also, if the timer goes below twenty seconds, a special blue UFO with red frames will appear in the center. This UFO does not count towards the actual UFO count, but it awards the player an extra thirty seconds when destroyed.

In a Special Stage, there are many gimmicks and obstacles the player can interact with; Springs bounce Sonic upwards; Bumpers bounce Sonic back when touched; Fan Blocks make Sonic float for a short time; Chopper Blocks tiles slow Sonic down and causes him to lose Rings; and Dash Zones force Sonic into different directions. If Sonic steps into the water portions of the stage, ten seconds will be lost from the clock.

After either succeeding or failing to beat the Special Stage, the game will count the obtained points and add them to the player's score. The player will be then sent to the next Zone, where they will resume playing the game as normal.


  1. EGG-HVC-001 (Palmtree Panic) (only appearance)
  2. Egg Tilter (Collision Chaos) (only appearance)
  3. Egg Bubble (Tidal Tempest) (only appearance)
  4. Egg Conveyer (Quartz Quadrant) (only appearance)
  5. Egg Razer (Wacky Workbench) (only appearance)
  6. Metal Sonic (Stardust Speedway) (first appearance)
  7. Egg Spinner (Metallic Madness) (only appearance)

Other modes[]

Time Attack[]

The Time Attack mode in Sonic the Hedgehog CD functions much like it does in the other Sonic games. From the title menu, the Time Attack option can be selected to enter the menu, and from here a leaderboard of the faster clear times of all the Rounds that have been completed in the main story mode.[5] A total time is also displayed below the Rounds, showing the time it took to finish the entire game. All three Zones of each Round can be played, with Time Warp signs being absent.[5] Similar to arcade leaderboards, Sonic the Hedgehog CD prompts the player to enter a three character name upon getting a record.[5]



Sega CD Model 1

The Sega CD model in North America, attached to a Genesis. Sonic CD was developed for this system.

By the early 1990s, compact discs (CDs) were growing in popularity as a form of storage for music and video games. In 1988, Sega's competitor NEC released the CD-ROM², an add-on attachment to the TurboGrafx-16 console. At the 1991 Tokyo Game Show, Sega unveiled the Sega CD, a CD-ROM add-on for the Mega Drive/Genesis which was released in Japan in late 1991 and between late 1992 and early 1993 in the rest of the world.[6]

In 1991, Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog, which was a massive success for the company and allowed the Mega Drive/Genesis to directly compete with Nintendo's Super NES console (specifically the Super Mario series) for several years to come. After Sonic 1's release, lead programmer Yuji Naka had grown dissatisfied with the rigid corporate policies at Sega of Japan, so he, alongside a large number of the original Sonic Team that developed the first game, moved to the United States to develop Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with the Sega Technical Institute (STI).[7] Designer Naoto Ohshima wanted to go to the US along with his colleagues, but the president of Sega convinced him to stay in Japan.[6]


Sega wanted to capitalize on the first Sonic the Hedgehog's success, and sought to make a new Sonic game for the Sega CD to show off the capabilities of their new system. Ohshima was one of the most qualified candidates to head development of this game and became its director. He then assembled a completely new development team made up of Japanese developers. Some of these members had made other games such as The Revenge of Shinobi, Golden Axe 2 and Streets of Rage.[6][7] Another newcomer was Kazuyuki Hoshino, who served as designer and would go on to work on various future Sonic games.

At first, we intended to use most of the elements from Sonic 2 and add new things with the possibilities offered by the CD (medium). But the more development progressed, the more different it became from Sonic 2, and we finally decided to make it a new title.

Naoto Ohshima on the initial concepts for Sonic CD[8]

Pre-production of Sonic CD began in 1992, when Sonic 2 was at the middle of development.[6] Compared to the STI, Ohshima's team had much more time and freedom to develop the game and far less pressure from Sega to release it on time; Ohshima felt in retrospect that this was because they were not making a "numbered sequel" like the other crew was.[9][6] Initially, the title was intended to be an enhanced port of Sonic 1 for the Sega CD. The original plan was to use most of the elements from Sonic the Hedgehog and incorporate new features offered by the Sega CD. However, the team began having a different vision for this new installment, and over time the game became less of a port and more of a new work. Ultimately the developers scrapped the idea of a port and decided to make an original title.[8][7] The title was originally named CD Sonic the Hedgehog[10] (CDシーディーソニック・ザ・ヘッジホッグ Shīdī Sonikku za Hejjihoggu?) before being given the final name.


Sonic 1 was packed with platforming sections despite its high-speed gameplay being its selling point. While Sonic 2 leaned into the latter aspect, Sonic CD focused on platforming and exploration. The core gameplay of Sonic 1 was untouched in the Sega CD game, and the developers used the code of the first game as a foundation for Sonic CD.[7] The team began to think of a strong concept that would add more flavor to the game's gameplay and make use of the storage space; time travel had been considered for Sonic 2 early in development, but was scrapped due to time and memory constraints.[11] Without these limitations, the developers of Sonic CD reused the concept for their game. Inspiration for the concept also came from the sci-fi film Back to the Future.[6][12][7][9] Four different time zones were made for the game; each one was designed with different level designs, but all were carefully made to be compatible with each other.[6]

Ohshima intended to have a near-seamless transition between time zones like in Back to the Future; the transition was intended to be a sonic boom that would change the level instantly with a flash.[9] However, it was considered impossible to make; the Sega CD was unable to access the Mega Drive RAM, which was needed for this, and would instead copy data from the Mega Drive CPU and pass it through the other components, which noticeably slowed down the process. The developers ultimately convinced Ohshima that this instantaneous transition could not be made, and a short loading screen was added to cover up the hardware's loading.[6]


The only known screenshot of the original Special Stage, based on the ones from Sonic 1.

The Special Stages were intended to be an improved version of those from Sonic 1 and meant to use the Sega CD's rotating function, where the player had to find the Time Stones by alternating between two rotating mazes. However, the developers were not satisfied with the speed. Instead, they imagined a concept of a race game that would showcase the full power of the Sega CD. Inspiration also came from the then-recently released Super Mario Kart.[13][12] Ironically, the graphics of the Special Stages in the final game by the Sega CD are comparable to the scaling 3D effects of the Super NES seen in Super Mario Kart, known as "Mode 7".


Sonic CD marked the debut of two major characters: Metal Sonic and Amy Rose. The idea for the former came from Hoshino, with the keyword "menacing". The team decided to give him red eyes to give him an intimidating look, and the jet engine in his chest came from several ideas to show his speed. The overall appearance was based on CGI trends at the time.[6][14] As for Amy, she was the result of multiple ideas brainstormed up by staff members from various departments;[15] Ohshima gave her the appearance,[16] while Hoshino finished her design,[17][18] laid down her personality traits and drew her sprites.[15][6]

Design and art[]

The art director for Sonic CD was Hiroyuki Kawaguchi. He and four other designers would make the pixel art for the levels' setpieces. They faced the challenge of making a consistent look across all time zones while still making them look distinct from each other.[6] Inspiration came from several films, books and illustrations, including the aforementioned Back to the Future.[14] The artists experimented with several color palettes which they thought would be fitting for the levels.[14] The Badniks for this game were based on insects, like cicadas, ladybugs and bees, and the bosses were designed to compliment the design of the stages.[14] In the end, the art style did not stray far from that of Sonic 1 own due to Ohshima's direction.[6]


3D sculptures of Sonic created by Taku Makino; these were used as a base for the title screen of the game.[12]

Design-wise, Sonic CD was made to resemble computer-generated imagery (CGI), which Hoshino wanted to implement into the game. In order to provide an impression of CGI, the sprites of Sonic at the title screen were based on pictures of sculptures of the character (right), while the emblem behind him was designed to look metallic for contrast. The artwork of the Japanese box art was also manually drawn by Hoshino to resemble the CGI of the time.[12]

Animated cutscenes[]


Concept artwork of Sonic in Never Lake by Studio Junio, one of the studios behind the animated cutscenes of Sonic CD.

The endings of Sonic 1 and 2 received criticism for their "plain" endings.[12] For Sonic CD, the developers envisioned fully animated sequences to introduce the adventure to the players. The Sega CD's storage capacity gave them the ability to implement them, and the success of Sonic 1 granted them enough budget to make them a reality. The team contacted Toei Animation, the studio behind several anime series at the time, for this. Toei in turn subcontracted Studio Junio (later Junio Brain Trust) to help in production.[6] On the developers' request, the animators of Dragon Ball were brought in to make the cutscenes.[12]

The cutscenes were traditionally animated; the characters were drawn frame by frame on paper, traced on transparent cels, and inked to give them color. The cels were photographed against still background art, and additional layers were also included for effects.[6] The team played a large role in the production, making several requests so that the animations could match their vision.[12]

Sonic CD cutscene comparison

One frame of the opening cutscene in the original Sega CD release (left) compared to the actual animation (right).

When it came to transferring the animated sequences to a format which would be compatible with the Sega CD, a couple of restrictions had to be put in place. Graphics still needed to be passed through the Mega Drive's video chip, meaning that limitations such as the available colors and resolution were already there. The animations also needed to be compressed so that they could be streamed in real time on a CD, resulting a slower framerate. Nevertheless, the cartoonish animations in Sonic CD were suitable for color reduction, and the end result still looked acceptable.[6] The game made use of the STM file format for its animation, providing uncompressed imagery to the video display processor, which produced superior results compared to the Cinepak compression used in many Sega CD titles.[7] The opening alone occupied around 13 megabytes, more than eight times the size of the average cartridge at the time. However, it was actually one of the earliest parts of the game that were completed during development.[6]


The soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog CD was composed by Naofumi Hataya and Masafumi Ogata. Notably, it was the first Sonic game to feature vocal tracks, which featured vocals by Keito Utoku. The opening and ending songs were titled "Sonic - You Can Do Anything" and "Cosmic Eternity - Believe in Yourself", respectively.

In North America, the release of Sonic the Hedgehog CD was delayed to have an entirely new soundtrack composed by Spencer Nilsen, who had composed soundtracks for other Sega CD games, with the help of David Young. Most of the tracks were replaced with new ones, with the only exception being the "past" tracks, as they were sequenced PCM tracks hard-programmed in the game (similar to other Mega Drive Sonic soundtracks), which meant replacing them and programming new music would take a much longer time. A new song performed by Nilsen and the band Pastiche named "Sonic Boom" was used for the opening and ending of the game.


The front cover of Sonic the Hedgehog Boom.

This difference in soundtracks, rather infamously, created polarized opinions concerning which soundtrack was superior. Gaming magazine GameFan, which gave the Japanese version a score of 100%, gave the American game a lower score for the American version and it was made clear that the score had been based on the soundtrack alone, rather than any changes in the gameplay.[19] In response to the controversy regarding the soundtracks, Nilsen said that he believed the arguments to be "ridiculous" and that both soundtracks "represent two completely different musical philosophies and approaches."[20] He also thought that "critics were trying to find a reason to bash the game," although he acknowledged that replacing the soundtrack for the game, which was already out for some months, was like "replacing the soundtrack of a Star Wars movie after it had been out for a while."[20]

Both the Japanese and American soundtracks of Sonic the Hedgehog CD were included in various music albums related to the series, and so were they remixed in future releases. Sonic the Hedgehog Boom includes slightly rearranged versions of most of the tracks from the American soundtrack. Sonic the Hedgehog - Remix has original music composed by Naofumi Hataya, which uses samples from the Japanese music of the game. Sonic the Hedgehog CD Original Soundtrack 20th Anniversary Edition, released in 2011, includes all of the tracks from the Japanese soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog, as well as remixes of "Stardust Present" and "Sonic Boom" from the American soundtrack by Crush 40 and Cash Cash. In 2019, the Japanese soundtrack was released on the Sonic CD vinyl album. During the Sonic the Hedgehog 30th Anniversary Symphony in 2021, Crush 40 also played "Sonic Boom" once again.


Role Voice actor
Sonic the Hedgehog Masato Nishimura


Contemporaneous reviews[]

Review scores
Publication Score
Computer and Video Games 85%[21]
Electronic Games 92%[22]
Electronic Gaming Monthly 34/40[23]
GameFan 100%[24]
GamePro 5/5 starsStar fullStar fullStar fullStar full
Sega-16 9/10[25]
Sega Force Mega 85%[26]
VicioJuegos 97%
Entity Award
Electronic Gaming Monthly Best Sega CD Game of 1993[27]

Upon release, Sonic CD received critical acclaim.[23] The presentation, graphics and music were all praised. Electronic Games said that the game looked similar to older games and used the Sega CD's special features minimally, but this did not detract from the quality. The reviewer also wrote that the audio helped add richness to the game.[28] Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly praised the music, as well as the animated cutscenes, but noted frame drops at the Special Stages.[29] In 1994, the magazine Mega placed it at #3 in their list of the "Top 10 Mega-CD Games of All Time."[30]

Retrospective reviews[]

Sonic CD has been praised as one of the best Sonic games in the years after its release. In May 2009, GamePro listed Sonic CD as one of the top 20 best platformers from 1989 to 2009, ranking the game in twelfth place.[31] GamesRadar listed Sonic CD as the sixty eighth best game of all time.[32] Much later, in 2022, IGN placed Sonic the Hedgehog CD as the seventh best Sonic game in their "10 Best Sonic Games" list.[33] WatchMojo placed it at third place in their "Top 20 Sonic The Hedgehog Games" list, behind Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.[34]


Sonic CD is the best-selling Sega CD title of all time, with over 1.5 million copies sold as of 1994.[35]


In 1994, Sonic CD was awarded "Best Sega CD Game of 1993" by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[27]


Image Title Platform Description
Sonic CD (PC) Sonic the Hedgehog CD PC Re-released for PCs running Windows 95 in 1996.
Gc sonic gems collection p o5pa9w Sonic Gems Collection Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2 Released in a compilation of other Sega Mega Drive and Game Gear games in 2005.
CD2011Art Sonic the Hedgehog CD Android, iOS, PC, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 Remastered in 2011 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Sonic series.
Sonic-Origins-Cover Sonic Origins Xbox Series X and Series S/Xbox One/PlayStation 5/PlayStation 4/Nintendo Switch/PC (Steam/Epic Games Store) Released on 23 June 2022 to celebrate the Sonic series' 30th anniversary. In addition to a remaster version of Sonic the Hedgehog, this game in the compilation contains additional modes, new cutscenes, and Missions. Additionally, the game includes Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles as playable characters, and the Drop Dash for Sonic.
Sonic Origins Plus Sonic Origins Plus An expanded re-release of Sonic Origins. Now featuring Amy Rose as a playable character & all the Sonic Game Gear titles. Released on 23 June 2023 (exactly one year after the original version). Unlike Sonic Origins, Sonic Origins Plus was released both physically and digitally.

Cheat codes[]

  • Round Select: At the title screen, press ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → Sega Genesis B Button.
  • View staff's Time Attack records: At the title screen, press → → ↑ ↑ ↓ Sega Genesis C Button.
  • Move title screen clouds: At the title screen, hold Sega Genesis A Button and press ↑ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↓ ↑. The clouds can then be controlled using Controlpadds on the second controller.
  • Sound Test: At the title screen, press ↓ ↓ ↓ ← → Sega Genesis A Button.
  • Edit Mode: At the sound test, select the following then press START: FM40, PCM12, DA11. An image of Tails will also be displayed.
  • Secret Special Stage: At the sound test, select the following: FM#07, PCM#07, DA#07, then press START
  • Hidden Images: At the sound test, select the following then press START.
Code Image Description Music played Artist
Chibi sonic with grey eyes Reads: You are cool
by Sanchanzu
The Palmtree Panic good future theme plays here. Masahiro Sanpei
Humonic Parody of Batman. Reads: S O N I C THE HEDGE HOG The final boss theme plays here. Takumi Miyake
Djonic Reads: "The Fastest DJ" MC SONIC
Can I kick it?
Come in Bad boys!
The Metallic Madness present theme plays here. Kazuyuki Hoshino
SonicCD Message Reads: Infinite fun. Sega Enterprises
-Mazin Picture
The boss theme plays here. Masato Nishimura
Sonic CD message 1 Tails and his favorite car, the Lotus Seven.[36] Also enables Edit Mode. Reads: SEE YOU NEXT GAME
The D.A. Garden Little Planet theme plays here. Yasushi Yamaguchi


Shogakukan produced a loose manga adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog CD as the finale of the Sonic the Hedgehog manga featured in the Bessatsu CoroCoro Comic Special magazine from December 1993 to June 1994.

The main storyline of the Sonic the Comic series from issues #24 to #28 features an adaptation of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, as a part of its "The Sonic Terminator" arc.

StH 290 Cover V2

The cover of Sonic the Hedgehog #290.

Archie Comics later made a tie-in for Sonic the Hedgehog CD in Sonic the Hedgehog #25. It has also been stated that the events of the game have taken place within the In Another Time, In Another Place reality. Sonic the Hedgehog CD would also occur in the Post-Super Genesis Wave timeline, and would be adapted in Sonic the Hedgehog #290, as the final issue of the Sonic the Hedgehog comic series and the third part of the "Genesis of a Hero" storyline.


  • Sonic CD holds the distinction of being the only mainline Sonic game of the 1990s to not feature the Chaos Emeralds, with the Time Stones temporarily replacing them. Due to this, the super transformation is unavailable, similar to the original Sonic the Hedgehog.
  • In the Sonic Gems Collection version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, the water is clear. This is because it is a direct port of the Windows 95 version rather than the original release, which utilized a certain graphics card for the water that was not emulated in the compilation.
  • The "Past" background music tracks, which are in PCM format, cannot be played in the D.A. Garden.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog CD is the first game in the Sonic series to feature animated cutscenes.
  • The animated short that introduces the Sega CD version of Sonic the Hedgehog CD is substantially shorter than the intro in the PC and GameCube ports, but animates slower therefore spanning over the same amount of time.
  • Sonic CD marks the official main game series debut of Amy Rose and Metal Sonic.
  • Spencer Nielsen and his sound team were given a meager two months to create the new soundtrack for the games US release. Nielsen claims that they used similar equipment to the Japanese sound team to create the games music. Unlike the Japanese soundtrack, where the entirety of the soundtrack (with the exception of the vocal songs) was sequenced from various synthesizers and sample libraries, Nielsen and co. did integrate live recordings of instruments into their sequenced music (specifically, all of the drums were samples, but the cymbals, hand percussion, congas, shakers, etc. were tracked live by drummer/percussionist Brad Kaiser) along with in-game backing vocals provided by Pastiche.[37]
    • Among the equipment used, Nielsen recalls using E-Mu (Proteus), Kurzweil, Korg and Roland synths/samplers, and believes that the drums were sampled from a Akai S-900.
  • Spencer Nielsen claims that the Past tracks (which were left intact in the US release) were not an influence on the US soundtrack in any way, as he did not have access to those tracks while composing it, nor would he have had the time to listen to them anyway.[38]
  • The uncut intro shows more of Sonic running through the landscape and over a lake. Strangely, a very small cut (about two seconds of footage) of the mountainside that Dr. Eggman uses to tether the little planet down, which has a massive carving of Eggman's face on it, is missing from the uncut intros but present in the Sega CD version. There is also a short segment missing from the ending FMV of the original version that was restored in both Sonic Jam and Sonic Gems Collection. This segment is viewed in its original form at the Pencil Test.
  • Sonic CD is the first console Sonic game to have an age rating. It was initially given a GA (General Audiences) rating by Sega's short-lived VRC (Videogame Rating Council). The PC port would be given the ESRB's K-A Rating, and subsequent rereleases would be rated E.
  • Eggman has a slightly taller head when riding in his vehicles, however when he is standing, he has his original sprite from the other 16-bit games, oddly enough.
  • When accessing the Edit Mode of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, a secret picture of Tails appears. Tails also appears in the Tornado at the D.A. Garden/Play Music.
  • The prologue in the North American instruction manual is almost identical to its European counterpart. However, Amy Rose is instead named "Princess Sally", with this being done to tie in with the Sonic the Hedgehog television series at the time, in which Sally was the lead heroine. The instruction manual describes the character as a young hedgehog, whereas in the TV show Sally is a chipmunk. Later re-releases of Sonic the Hedgehog CD correctly refer to Amy as such.
  • This is the first Sonic game to include centiseconds in the time counter, as opposed to just minutes and seconds.
  • In the original Japanese and European versions, the bad ending had the text "TRY AGAIN AND FREE LITTLE PLANET FOREVER". In the North American and Brazilian releases, the second line was removed, resulting in simply "TRY AGAIN". This change is also retained in the PC port (which was based on that release) and the 2011 digital version, the latter of which may be due to the then-upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode II. The North American version also had other minor changes besides the soundtrack, such as allowing the player to restart the level in their current time period at the cost of a life.
  • Metal Sonic's in-game sprites possess white eyes and a tail. This is due to concept artwork of him featuring these details before later being changed.
  • Metal Sonic mockingly wagging its finger at Sonic before their race is removed from the Sonic Origins remaster for unknown reasons. However, the Museum sound test section retains these sprites for Metal Sonic's animation while a music track is playing.
  • This is the second Sonic game to feature voice acting, with the first being SegaSonic the Hedgehog. When Sonic does one of two actions, such as when remaining idle for three minutes, Sonic will shout, "I'm outer here!" and jump off the screen, instantly resulting in a Game Over, or when getting an extra life, Sonic will shout, "Yes!"
    • Many believe Sonic instead yells, "I'm outta here!". It was not until years after the game's release that Masato Nishimura, the landscape designer for the game and the one who provided the voice clip for Sonic, corrected this, stating that Sonic actually says, "I'm outer here!"[39]
  • Most of the game's sprites for Sonic come from the original Sonic the Hedgehog, with only a few being exceptions. These original sprites include the Super Peel Out, spring jumps, the 3D images from the beginning of Palmtree Panic, Wacky Workbench and Metallic Madness, and the Special Stage sprites.
    • Also, despite using sprites from Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic does not bob up and down at all when he walks: his head stays perfectly steady.
  • This is the first Sonic game in which Sonic runs with his arms held out backwards, either by using the Super Peel Out or by moving at a super speeds.
  • According to Masato Nishimura, the lyrics in the boss theme in the Japanese soundtrack were sung by a black man named Steve; this man was not affiliated with the game's development at all, but was a part of Sega's foreign staff at the time.[40]
  • In Edit Mode, there are unused sprites of Sonic sneezing.
  • In Edit Mode, an unused Item Box containing a silver ring can be added during gameplay. When the Monitor is broken, the power up will give Sonic 50 Rings and will make the lamppost sound effect.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog CD had a complicated history with regards to its timeline placement, since no specific chronology was planned during the game's development.[41]
    • Ken Balough once stated that Sonic the Hedgehog CD has no official spot on the timeline, other than it took place sometime before Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I.[42]
    • According to Yasushi Yamaguchi in a 1993 article by the Japanese magazine, Beep! MegaDrive, the story takes place between the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.[43]
    • According to Masato Nishimura, the landscape designer for the game, the timeline placement of the game is vague. He also refers to Yasushi Yamaguchi's old statement as a contradiction since Metal Sonic is more advanced than Mecha Sonic.[44]
    • Ian Flynn stated that the "present" in Sonic the Hedgehog CD is placed in-between Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2,[45] with this also having been indicated by the Sonic the Hedgehog Encyclo-speed-ia.[46]
    • Sonic Origins later confirmed that Sonic the Hedgehog CD does in fact take place between the original Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the compilation's story mode where the player runs all four Sonic games in chronological order (from the original Sonic the Hedgehog to Sonic 3 & Knuckles).
  • This is the first Sonic game to utilize a game save feature.
  • In the original release of Sonic the Hedgehog CD, its Windows 95 port, and its Sonic Gems Collection port, a unique screen is present which can only be seen by completing the game with all the Time Stones, and with low enough Time Attack scores to unlock Visual Mode. Of note is that this screen uses a unique sprite of Sonic and multiple unique sprites of Amy which remain unseen elsewhere in the game.
  • The European manual of Sonic the Hedgehog CD contains many mistranslations:
    • The mistranslations in the Spanish paragraphs are the most frequent ones:
      • "Dash Zones" humorously translating to "F***ing Zones" (Zonas de putos).[note 1]
      • "Tidal Tempest" translating to "Water for everyone" (Agua para todos).
      • "Stardust Speedway" translating to "Stardust Speedometer" (Velocímetro de polvo estelar).
      • "Wacky Workbench" translating to "Work table for crazy people" (Mesa de trabajo para locos).
    • Similarly, both the French and Italian translations mistranslated "Dash Zones" as "Arrow Zones" (Zones fléchées) and "The zones the with arrows" (Le zone le con frecce) respectively. It is possible that the mistranslations, that mention the word "arrow", are a misunderstanding due to the English paragraph mentioning that the "Dash Zones" send the player in the direction the arrows are pointing, hence why the names include the aforementioned word.
    • The statement featured on the Japanese cover of Sonic CD, "Ask not what others can do for you but what you can do for others," derives from the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.



  1. It is possible that "zonas de putos" is misspelled and was originally meant to be "zonas de puntos", in which it translates to "Point Zones", in which the intentional word might have been a misunderstanding since the English paragraph mentions that the "Dash Zones" send the player in the direction the arrows are pointing.


  1. MEGA-CDディスク(セガ発売) (Japanese). Sega. Archived from the original on 22 June 2020.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega Mega-CD) Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 4-5.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega Mega-CD) Japanese instruction booklet, pgs. 6-7.
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Windows 95) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 7.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Sonic the Hedgehog CD (Sega CD) United States instruction booklet, pgs. 18-19.
  6. 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 strafefox (3 March 2020). The Making of Sonic CD. YouTube. Retrieved on 22 July 2023.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 Linnenman, John (8 April 2018). DF Retro: Sonic CD - under-appreciated but still brilliant today. Eurogamer. Retrieved on 7 February 2023.
  8. 8.0 8.1 "History". The History of Sonic the Hedgehog. Les Editions Pix'n Love. 6 September 2013. pp. 44-45. ISBN 978-1-926778-96-9.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Sheffield, Brandon (4 December 2009). Out of the Blue: Naoto Ohshima Speaks. GameDeveloper. Retrieved on 7 February 2023.
  10. Electronic Gaming Monthly staff (March 1993). "CD Sonic the Hedgehog". Electronic Gaming Monthly (44): 122. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 7 February 2023.
  11. strafefox (22 May 2018). The Making of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. YouTube. Retrieved on 20 April 2023.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 Sonic CD – Developer Interview Collection. Retrieved on 7 February 2023.
  13. Masato Nishimura (19 March 2012). まぢん on Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved on 9 February 2023. "Masato Nakamura: そういやソニックCDのスペシャルステージも、開発初期の段階ではメガCDの回転機能を生かし、ソニック1のスペシャルステージを発展させた、2枚の独立して回転する迷路を行き来しながらタイムストーンを見つけるタイプだったなぁ。結局あの形に変更されたのは、マリオカートが出たせいw [Come to think of it, Sonic CD's Special Stages were a development of Sonic 1's Special Stages that took advantage of the Mega CD's rotating function in the early stages of development, and was a type where you could find the Time Stone by going back and forth between two independently rotating mazes. After all, it was changed to that form because Mario Kart came out lol]"
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 Sega (12 December 2011). Sonic CD - Developer Diary. YouTube. Retrieved on 2 August 2023.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Stuart, Keith (6 November 2014). Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works. Read-Only Memory. p. 289. ISBN 978-0957576810. "Kazuyuki Hoshino: Although I created the in-game graphics for Amy, there were many people involved in the birth of the character, with staff members from various departments all contributing ideas. Just like Mickey needs Minnie to exist, Sonic's world needed a heroine that could not be ignored. Her fashion - the headpiece and trainers - reflect Naoto Ohshima's taste, while her mannerisms reflect the kind of traits I looked for in women at the time."
  16. Sonic the Hedgehog – Developer Interview Collection. Retrieved on 10 February 2019.
  17. Naoto Ohshima on Twitter. Twitter. Archived from the original on 10 February 2019. Retrieved on 10 February 2019. "Naoto Ohshima: An image of Retro Amy's decision was found. Mr. Hoshino painted the picture. Retro Amy's design finish[sic] was Mr. Hoshino."
  18. Naoto Ohshima on Twitter. Twitter. Archived from the original on 10 February 2019. Retrieved on 10 February 2019. "Naoto Ohshima: This picture is me, but Amy's finish design[sic] is Hoshino."
  19. GameFan (2): 18. January 1994. Archived from the original.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Horowitz, Ken (8 December 2008). Interview: Spencer Nilsen. Sega-16. Retrieved on 16 November 2021.
  21. Rand, Paul (November 1993). Computer and Video Games (144): 87. Archived from the original.
  22. Electronic Games (15): 140. December 1993.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "1999 Video Game Buyer's Guide". Electronic Gaming Monthly: 141. 1999.
  24. GameFan (12): 22. November 1993. Archived from the original.
  25. Peeples, Jeremy (27 June 2004). Sonic CD. Sega-16. Retrieved on 19 April 2014.
  26. Chris; Mark (January 1994). "Sonic the Hedgehog CD". Sega Force Mega (7): 102-104.
  27. 27.0 27.1 "Electronic Gaming Monthly's Buyer's Guide". Electronic Gaming Monthly. 1994.
  28. Camron, Marc (December 1993) (PDF). Electronic Games. CD Gallery. p. 140. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 22 August 2023.
  29. Electronic Gaming Monthly. November 1993. p. 48. Archived from the original. Retrieved on 22 August 2023.
  30. Mega (Maverick Magazines) (26): 74. November 1994.
  31. McKinley Noble (6 May 2009). The 20 Best Platformers: 1989 to 2009. GamePro. Archived from the original on 19 November 2009. Retrieved on 23 November 2011.
  32. The 100 best games of all time, Xbox 360 Features. GamesRadar (1 April 2011). Retrieved on 23 November 2011.
  33. IGN Staff (15 July 2022). The 10 Best Sonic Games. IGN. Retrieved on 2 December 2022.
  34. Reynolds, J. (2022). Top 20 Best Sonic The Hedgehog Games. WatchMojo. Retrieved on 19 December 2022.
  35. "Official Gallup UK Mega-CD sales chart". Mega (17). February 1994.
  36. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Sega Mega Drive) Japanese instruction booklet, pg. 42.
  39. Masato Nishimura on Twitter (Japanese). Twitter (9 July 2017). Retrieved on 6 December 2018.
  40. Masato Nishimura (12 September 2012). まぢん on Twitter. Twitter. Retrieved on 9 February 2023. "Masato Nakamura: 元々外資系の会社なので、外国人スタッフはそこそこいましたから。ちなみにソニックCDのボス曲でラップを喋ってるのもスティーブさんという黒人の社員でした(開発ではありません)。 [Since it [Sega] was originally a foreign-affiliated company, there were quite a lot of foreign staff. By the way, there was a black employee named Steve who rapped in the Sonic CD boss song (not a developer).]"
  41. 斗々屋 on Twitter. Twitter (23 November 2022). Archived from the original on 24 March 2023.
  43. Sonic CD – Developer Interview Collection; originally featured in BEEP and Marukatsu MD magazines. Archived from the original on 24 March 2020. Retrieved on 2 June 2020.
  44. Masato Nishimura on Twitter (Japanese). Twitter (13 February 2022). Retrieved on 21 December 2021.
  45. BumbleKast for February 21st, 2022 - Priority Q&A Podcast with Ian Flynn (39:15). YouTube (21 February 2022). Retrieved on 22 February 2022.
  46. BumbleKast Livestream Replay for Jan. 31st, 2022 - Q&A Podcast with Ian Flynn (46:00). YouTube (31 January 2022). Retrieved on 6 April 2022.

External links[]

Sonic the Hedgehog CD

Main article · Staff · Manuals · Glitches · Beta elements · Gallery · Re-releases (Windows 95, 2011)
Sonic the Hedgehog console mainline games