In the wake of the release of Sonic Mania, today’s Videots visits the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise.
Though I’m not a gamer, I’m quite fond of the Sonic mythos and aesthetics. Who knew that a game series about a blue cartoon hedgehog in sneakers who runs really fast while thwarting the schemes of an egg-shaped mad scientist who builds crazy robots and tech to try and take over the alien planet they all live on with other anthropomorphic animals could be so compelling?
The Sonic games have given us tons of cool, amazing looking stages, levels and arenas and some seriously kick-ass background tunes, and that’s what we’ll be looking at today. Today, Videots presents my Six Favorite Sonic Zones.
-I’ll level with you guys: compiling this list wasn’t easy. I like A LOT of the various stages and music from the Sonic games; some I preferred the look of the stages themselves (EX: Angel Island Zone, Ice Cap Zone, Labyrinth Zone) and a lot I liked primarily for the music (Metropolis Zone, Lava Reef Zone, Mystic Cave Zone, Scrap Brain Zone, Oil Ocean Zone, Sandopolis Zone), but if I listed every Zone that I like here, I’d end up typing something the length of the Encyclopedia Brittania, and….
…Also, I wanted to keep the video embeds to a minimum; these days we try not to go crazy with the embeds here since YouTube has the annoying tendency to take them down at inopportune moments, so, while it was hard, I narrowed it down to only 6, all of which I liked the visuals and the music equally. Now the usual preliminaries: I know other folks will have their own personal favorites, and that’s cool, heck, these aren’t even all of my favorite Zones, but I didn’t want to make this list too long for reasons aforementioned. Finally, all together now: these aren’t in any particular number, so I won’t be numbering them. That said:
STARDUST SPEEDWAY ZONE
Stardust Speedway is the sixth round in Sonic the Hedgehog CD. It is best known as the place where Sonic the Hedgehog raced and defeated Metal Sonic. One of the fastest levels in Sonic history, Stardust Speedway is a highway adorned with musical instruments above an enormous city; like its namesake implies, the city glows with many lights. A statue of Dr. Robotnik can be seen undergoing construction in Zone 2, with girders and incomplete sections. This stage is freaking gorgeous, and the music has that cool Japanese sound to it. Post Mario Kart, I’m partial to racing levels with a night sky and tons of bright lights.
Frog Forest is the ninth stage in Sonic Heroes. The stage is played differently for each team. In the level, there are Giant Frogs which can be found. They have the power to create rain and make plants grow faster, allowing teams to progress through the level. During Team Rose’s version of Frog Forest, Big the Cat mentions that Froggy comes from the Frog Forest. This fact is backed up by the fact that the frogs here are very similar to Froggy, but much larger.
Frogs aren’t my favorite things, but I do like pristine green forest stages, plus this level’s music is totally psychedelic.
CASINO NIGHT ZONE & CARNIVAL NIGHT ZONE
I decided to list these 2 levels together since they’re sort of similar.
Casino Night is is the second Stage in the Nintendo 3DS version of Sonic Generations. It represents Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the Classic era of the game. Classic Sonic’s stage features the slot machines from the original level while Modern Sonic’s stage has giant roulettes (which can award fifty or a hundred rings if you land in the Ring or Sonic logo respectively). Modern Sonic also has his own version of the slot machines, as well as some other gimmicks that were present in Casino Street Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode I. The Classic remix adds a new baseline to the them, while the Modern remix has a distinctly Jazzy theme reminiscent of settings such as Las Vegas.
What can I say? This is just a cool stage and the music rocks. In my head I imagine this level’s music being titled “Rhinestones ‘n’ Concussions”.
Carnival Night Zone is is the fourth Zone of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (or Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles). It is very similar to Casino Night Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but with a carnival theme. The Zone is a playful carnival filled with balloons, pinball bumpers and cannons to launch from, although unlike Casino Night Zone, there are no slot machines. Think of Carnival Night as Mobius’ version of the later, family-friendly Vegas.
CHEMICAL PLANT ZONE
Chemical Plant Zone is the second Zone in Sonic Mania. This Zone is a re-imagination of Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 for the Sega Mega Drive. Like the original Zone, this Zone is set in an industrialized area that contains pools of various synthetic chemicals, most prominently Mega Mack, as well as long tubes. Act 1 in particular bears a strong to the original Chemical Plant.
Act 2 on the other hand goes deeper into the plant to an indoor section, with large beakers and jars present in the background. New additions to Act 2’s setting also include gelatinous chemicals, sticky platforms and chemical bubbles.
Come on, you knew this one was going to make the list. Studiopolis Zone is is the third Zone in Sonic Mania. Studiopolis Zone Act 2 was the first Zone developed for Sonic Mania (which was known as Sonic Discovery back then). Back then, this Zone was presented to Takashi Iizuka of Sega to showcase the developers’ capabilities.
This Zone is set up in a high skyscraper city decorated with studio equipment, cinema elements and theater objects.
The first Act takes place in the color-filled city, whose tall skyscrapers and buildings can be spotted in the background. Along the paths are street lamps with spinning rings inside, frail shop windows filled with TV sets, giant popcorn machines, satellite dish-mounted vans, TVs, director chairs, and giant clapperboards. Dotted around the Zone are LED marquees spelling out various phrases.
In the second Act, the action moves into a large television studio-like environment. This area is dominated by images in Dr. Eggman’s likeness. Features here include stacks of monitors with Eggman’s face on them, unstable stage lights, electric cables, flappable panels that reveal words and phrases, and giant glass spheres that are designed like lottery machines. It’s basically the HQ of Eggman TV.
So there you go. Six of my favorite Sonic Zones.