Saturday, 29 September 2012

Sonic & Knuckles - Introduction + Mushroom Hill

Sonic and Knuckles.jpg

Sonic & Knuckles
November 1994
SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive

Welcome to the second half of 'Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles'. Sonic & Knuckles was released roughly six months after Sonic 3, though both games were meant to be played as one. In order to do this, you could 'lock-on' Sonic & Knuckles with the Sonic 3 cartridge to get the complete game. Most re-releases group them together. We are looking at seven more Zones, though only the first four have two Acts (five and six have one Act and the last technically has three). There is an eighth zone, but is is only accessable if you have at least all the chaos emeralds, and I have none. Damn.

So, let's get straight to it then!

So, after Tails flies away we're left to play in this mushroom playground. The best thing about mushrooms? They're bouncy. Jump on them and you'll get a little bounce! But first, PLOT!

Hmm, what could he be hiding?

A giant ring! But this one won't take you to a special stage.

It will take us to the place where we would see our emeralds if we had any. Once I'm done with this game, I will go back and get all the emeralds to get Super Sonic. I'll just spam saves and whatnot to make sure I actually get them.

Being technically the first level (again), Mushroom Hill is rather chill. 

These fellas can be a bit annoying, Dragonflies. Sonic seems to be invisible, but I think I just lost my shield here. They fly up and down, you destroy them by hitting their heads (their bodies are full of spikes, as I demonstrated here, spikes hurt).

Ropes. Yes, swinging puzzles are in this game and I'm terrible at swinging puzzles. You know the kind, where you have to jump at a certain time to get max boost. I just never get the timing down whatsoever.

Oh, imagine if I had to play Sonic & Knuckles seperately? All of these poor extra lifes would go without a loving home. Come to me, my little pretties!

Naturally, Robotnik made mushroom-based robots for Mushroom Hill. They're called Mushmeanies. They just hop about, but they take two attacks to destroy so I usually just avoid them.

These mechanisms probably work best if I had a flying fox (but only a flying fox) with me, but sadly I'm all on my lonesome. It still works, just press down, Sonic will push down and the mechanism will lift up.

Now, it's time to meet our mini-boss for the day:

Say hey to hey ho, let's go beat him up. 

He's not difficult, he'll chop down the tree into little logs and launch them at you, gradually getting lower until he reaches the stump where his axe will get stuck. This is your chance to get a couple of hits on him. If you want to play it safe, concentrate on dodging until he gets stuck and them wail on him, but if you're feeling frisky you can just attack him while he's chopping. Eventually you'll cut him down...

And he explodes.

Act 2 starts with, hold on, there's something in the way...

KNUCKLES!! So, he takes us into a less colourful mushroom playground. He is simply the most diabolical villain since Satan himself.

We meet a robot chicken in this level. He likes to blow us (easy, now) into obstacles. Just wait until he stops and jump on his head. There's not too much new in this Act, but eventually we do see a satellite dish...

Hmm...let's destroy it! 

Ahh, bad timing on the picture, me! But yeah, apparently this is why it suddenly turned autumn when Knuckles forced us up here, Robotnik made a weather machine. We just destroyed it, now we shall destroy Robotnik!

In this battle we have to chase Robotnik through an obstacle course while catching up to him and hitting him. When he's shooting out flames from his exhausts it means he's moving away from you and I'm sure it hurts you as well. This always reminds me of those Crash Banicoot levels where you have to run away from giant boulders...except I am the giant boulders!

Eventually we destroy him (and his obstacles also blow up), but the tenacious bastard keeps going. At least until...

The fool hits a wall. FOOL!

Hmm, looks like we have a ship to catch...

Atta boy Sonic!

Next time: Flying Battery Zone!


Mushroom Hill Acts 1 & 2

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 - Progress Report IV - Launch Base Zone

Here we are, the final Zone of Sonic 3. Beating this Zone technically allows me to say I've beaten Sonic 3, except for one thing, but we'll get there when we get there. Now, as it had to be designed with people playing Sonic 3 solo in mind, this does act as a sort of challenging end-level, but it definitely isn't hard.

First of all in this level we bump into these guys again. This kind of Orbinaut is called...Orbinaut. While it may seem like they ran out of names, he is pretty much the smartest of his kind...he does not shoot off his spiky balls. Instead he'll only move when you do and the balls spin around him at a speed. It's best to just jump over him as it takes great timing to get a hit on him without invincibility.

This level loves its spinny elevators. The first one you just walk into and you spin as you head up the tube. The second one, the teacup looking elevator, just spins around the pole until you reach its destination. Some of them will spin until it breaks off allowing you to ride it (uncontrollably) until it hits a wall.

Like that. With special sparklies! Because we all know Sonic is a vampire (or I'm wasting an invincibility by not being able to use it on them).

More gimmicks, this one is just a fun little thing though. You run into this metallic cylinder and Sonic automatically loops around it. Most have a spring at the bottom left hand side to send you back where you come from, but you can slow down until you're in a position to jump where you need to be.

I hate this frog. You'd think a frog with boxing gloves would be at least 50% as awesome as the Penguinator, but alas no. Mainly because if you're (or more likely, I'm) not paying attention, he will punch you. There's a couple of kinds, this one just alternates from one hand to another punching the ground. The other one has one hand that spins around him slowly, that one is easier to dodge.

Also, I just realised that I refer to most of these enemies as 'him'. I am not being sexist, I'm sure there are just as many female robots that Robotnik has created to destroy Sonic with. This is just habit, sorry!

For some reason, the slot machines are the only kind of bonus stage I'm getting at the moment. I couldn't remember if I shown off what happens when you get Robotniks. I think at least two of him will take away all of your rings. All of them. I had 88. If I had a chance to collect all the rings surrounding the slot machine before entering it for the first time I would have had my 18th life. I would have been twice as immortal as cats!

More gimmicks for now, see that red thing beside the blue ball that is Sonic jumping in the air? Destroy that and it will open the ground, these are switches for the level.

Sonic here is hanging onto to something. Basically it will carry you in whatever direction you press. I keep expecting it to be automatic and I wonder why it's not moving before it clicks after a second.


What a dick. Still though, this takes us nicely to the last mini-boss of the Sonic 3 portion of the game!

Honestly, not that hard. His two arms will spin around and he'll swoop down and to the other side. After his attack he may settle down allowing for an attack or two. Eventually one arm will be destroyed...

And you'll magically lose a life. This is meant to happen and is not because I am a terrible gamer HONEST.

Act 2 is more of the same, though there is another addition...water. Which apparently does not appear at all in "& Knuckles" but appears in all but one Sonic 3 Zone.

Now, after this something strange happened. Let's play a game called 'Where's Sonic the Hedgehog?". It's like Where's Wally? except with Sonic the Hedgehog!

Do you see him? NO! I don't know what happened, I was expecting to go up the half pipe, but instead I fell into the geometry. And I couldn't get out, I had to reset. Thankfully I'm on the Steam version, meaning I can save wherever I want, meaning I just had to replace the first two minutes of Act 2.

Also, REDEMPTION! I'm back up to 18! (if I haven't explained it, Jackpot = 100 rings = extra life).

19! The next time someone tells me to get a life, I'll tell them I HAVE 19! Then they'll say something about how I just proved their point, but it won't matter, 'cause I have NINETEEN LIVES!

Four minutes in we meet our Robotnik boss for the level...well...the first one...

He'll shoot bowling balls at you. Now, there is an easy pattern. He'll shoot a ball from the top that will arch, just run towards the platform in that case and get a hit on Robotnik. He'll also shoot a ball from below the platform, this time you just jump over it, onto the platform and get a hit on Robotnik. It's not alternating though, sometimes he'll shoot two balls from above the platform. And after the first hit or two, they start coming back so you have to be careful when you fall after attacking him.

I did die once on this boss, but I managed to memorise the sequence pretty well (for my standards) and on my second attempt...

BOOM! But this is technically the final this can't be the end, can it? Well of course not. Look back at the early pictures and look at the background. It's the Death Egg. One would assume it's our goal.

Sonic rides the Eggmobile, but meets Knuckles whose attempts to punch the Eggmobile into oblivion are futile after the rocket decides to go off leaving Knuckles to fall to a very painful death (...of course not, he's a Sonic character, he could survive a fall from outer space).

So this is the final boss of Launch Base Zone, but not if we were playing Sonic 3 Hans-style. If that was the case, there'd be an extra boss, the Big Arm, to act as the final final boss of Sonic 3. Instead we get the 'Beam Rocket'. He's in a rocket, and he shoots beams. You can't see the beam in the picture, but you do see me getting hurt. I was not expecting it, but he does shoot a laser straight away and if you don't move it will get you. Even my second attempt (spoilers: I died), I still managed to get caught by it.

The idea is that he'll go up in his rocket, shooting two beams from his two lasers. Every time he'll shoot two waves, one can usually be dodged by not jumping into it, and the second wave is usually low enough to jump over and onto his stupid bald head. However, there is a ball orbiting his head that hurt me more than any of the lasers. Avoid that, if you can.

After a while...

You eliminate one of his sections, meaning you only have one laser beam to contend with each wave. However, I literally died straight after this. But at this point, as long as you have one ring you should be okay. Your period of invincibility makes it easy to reclaim a lost ring.

Dying here actually means you have to start from the ball shooter again, with just three rings. Just memorise the pattern and you should have all three rings for this boss. Avoid his first laser (which I didn't do) and you will have all you need to win. After destroying the first section of the rocket, the second is soon to follow...

At this point it is trivial. Just avoid the orbiting object and you've won.

But defeating Robotnik causes an unintended side effect...

The Death Egg will fall back down to Angel Island, but so do we. They clearly intend you having Tails here because literally the next scene is...

Thanks Tails, wherever you came from. This is the first level of Sonic & Knuckles, we'll see you there. And please, don't eat the Mushrooms, they do not make you larger this isn't that kind of game.


Launch Base Zone Acts 1 & 2 (I like this. Maybe it's all the 'GO!'s'?)

Note: I'll try and show off the true final boss of Sonic 3 at some point!