DF Retro: Sonic CD - A Genuine Sega Classic!

On this episode of DF Retro, John explores Sonic CD and all its ports. With a focus more on exploration rather than speed and a bright presentation, Sonic CD remains one of the most unique games in the series. Curious about how it uses the Mega CD hardware? Or how about the three separate versions of Sonic CD for Windows? It's all here!

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  • KuraIthys

    ah, that sampled music...Your comparison to the SNES is makes sense, but keep in mind a few things that don't make it quite as comparable as all that.Firstly, the SNES has 64 kilobytes of audio RAM, sure, but the games are still on cartridge.500+ megabytes (CD capacities vary. Not sure about the Sega CD specifically) vs 1-3 megabytes for most games is a pretty big difference.(there are games up to 6 megabytes, and 96/12 megabyte games when you include a dedicated data compression chip, but those are rare. Speaking of that though, consider Tales of Phantasia on the Super Famicom which has a several minute long intro song with full lyrics. Storage space is not a trivial consideration.)Secondly I have no idea how the Ricoh chip is configured, but one of the things the Mega Drive's regular z80 audio processor has over the SPC700 in the SNES is that it has direct, independent access to the cartridge bus.Granted there are technical issues, and potential for bus collisions, but that means you can stream extra audio data directly from ROM.The SNES audio hardware is completely isolated from the rest of the system by means of a set of data ports. (4 single byte channels with independent buffers in both directions.)This means to transfer any audio data at all requires you to be using both the Audio CPU and the system's main CPU in tandem, running some kind of synchronised data transfer code on both.Needless to say this is a lot trickier to coordinate than just letting the Audio CPU read data by itself (even if it does block the bus in the process and have other quirks.)No idea how the Ricoh chip works, but I can reasonably assume it isn't constantly trying to use the main CPU as an intermediary.If you go back to Tales of Phantasia on the SNES for instance, that particular piece of music, and much else besides in the game is only possible because somebody wrote a data streaming routine that is constantly loading new samples from ROM into the Audio system. Of course, if space is no object that same logic combined with an abuse of the echo buffer lets you play back 16 bit 32khz uncompressed audio. but of course by definition that requires loading at least 64 kilobytes of new data each second. (so something like a kilobyte of audio data every frame. On the upside since you're not performing a VRAM transfer you can do this outside of vblank, but still....)Subtleties do matter, and saying something is comparable without considering the massive increase in storage space and any potential architectural differences could certainly give a misleading impression.Having said that, I know very little about the Sega CD.I know a lot about SNES hardware, and a decent amount about the Mega Drive, but very little about the CD unit and it's extra hardware...

  • ChrisWY27

    First user I've ever subscribed to, what an amazing in-depth video!

  • merlingt1

    I grew up with Sonic 1-3 and I could never get used to the slow spin move in Sonic CD. It was very irritating.

  • Gregoire Seaman

    Eww 2D looks shit at 30 frames . It really looks terrible .

  • Alan Lee

    Segacd was huge wasted potential

  • Treeface

    Just got to point out that the Gems Collection on the Gamecube does actually let you select the region soundtrack in the options. Or was it just a soundtest? Been awhile but I know both soundtracks are on the game. Good video never the less John.

  • corsegerspwnd

    Amazing! Love it. Another episode!

  • Cavey Manta

    Sees the secret creepy screen I'M OUTTA HERE!

  • the dark helmet

    IGN =sonic was never any good

  • SpontaneousWeasel

    Great video! More digital foundry minutes please!!!

  • Nate Christensen

    Love DF retro. When do we get to buy a DF retro DVD/blu ray

  • 9chan

    What's the song at the beginning?

  • Amdecreations

    Great video, despite the level design Sonic CD is my favourite Sonic game.

  • Timothy Burchell

    I love Sonic CD. I still have my copies on the Sega CD, PC physical 96 and Steam, Gamecube, Xbox 360 (still looks amazing on the Xbox One for a game of it's time), and Android! I know it's the unpopular option but I love the US soundtrack mainly cause it is the one I grew up on with the Sega CD.

  • Skeeter Baba1

    What’s your intro music ?

  • Enthusiastic Gamer

    The Japanese soundtrack for Sonic CD is better overall.

  • Dog of War

    It's on Xbox Game Pass, still a fun game all these years later.

  • Ben Wagner

    Intel indeo 4 is lovely on a 120mhz pentium

  • Chris Howson

    Awesome Game Sack ref John 😂 This is another incredible episode of DF Retro!

  • Josh Dollins

    played it for the first time on my sega cd in mid 2000s then on my cell phone and now on my xbox one hell of a game so 90s man I miss the 90s

  • Jeremy Cline

    I never played Sonic 2 until many years later because all we had was this one. And a fine game it is.

  • Grahamhg

    In the early 90s the amiga was the gaming computer of choice, not windows pcs.

  • Travis Ryno

    The bad future looks like a better, more prosperous place. Just not as dolled up.

  • Joseph Franc

    Awesome video to one of my most favorite games of all time

  • Heiny Reimes

    It was horrible for the people like me who were waiting for that title but had a vast superior version in the form of Sonic 2 more than a year before Sonic CD. No Tails, no Super Sonic, way less animation in the sprites, less interesting bosses and the color use was also less than Sonic 2.Only the intro and outro was a nice extra.

  • Tales from the Man Cave

    Auf Wiederhören vielmehr. Noch haben wir Alex nicht gesehen… ?

  • Rokkas Gaming

    sonic cd was mi first real game, my dad buy the game when I was 3 y/o for the pc (I don't remember what version was, I think maybe the first one?) I remember my mind exploding because of the super awesome intro, it realy left a mark on me

  • Gameking 012

    It's free on Android and iOS.

  • PandaCynima

    Df retro do rayman 1

  • 玛轼亚瑟

    Was my favourite 2D Sonic game after playing it for the first time in 2002.

  • wolfpup3

    Huh...I may have to give this a try on Xbox. I owned and loved the original on SEGACD, then owned the second version for Windows...but it’s pretty terrible. It just doesn’t look or control right. Every version I’ve tried hasn’t looked as good or played as well as it did on SEGACD...but sounds like the Xbox version might. I have played it briefly on iOS, but regardless of how good the coding might (or might not) be, its unplayable without a game pad. Like most games, it’s hard enough with flawless controls...touch screen, not so much. Didn’t realize the history of it...very interesting. Of the first 5 games, it’s by far my favorite. IMO it looks, sounds, and plays better than any of the genesis games. So interesting that Mark Cerny was STI! I had no idea! Was he like 12 years old or something? He’s young NOW. No idea So if’s Crestor moves there either...never understood how that all worked. Kind of interesting too to learn that the game not even counting the audio is like 3x larger than Sonic 2, 6x than 1. And while I heard the claim about the Japanese soundtrack since literally 1993, I personally vastly prefer the US one, now that I’ve finally heard it. Such a cool video...I love how it talks about the PCM music in the past, which is something I noticed, but have never heard anything talk about. The PCM tracks were fantastic too. On SEGACD, the red book tracks have a certain...I don’t know, freshness and crispness that’s somehow unlike any other game I’ve ever played. I never saw any performance issues with it though on SEGACD. I really, really like the SEGACD hardware. You added a second CPU clocked 50% faster...and the genesis already had the best cpu to begin with. Added hardware scaling and rotation that surpassed the basic upgrade chips on the snes. And added audio hardware similar to but probably better than the snes, that worked with the audio hardware in the genesis. It had games that were pretty mind blowing at the time. Thunderhawk was mind blowing for the early 90s, and doesn’t look painful now. And some games had the same name, but were actually different I didn’t actually like Ecco On the genesis, but the SEGACD version didn’t just sound billions of times better (going from terrible to kind of otherworldly) but looked much better and played much better too. It has more color and more detail, even if I guess it was still theoretically stuck with the genesis limits, it was still enhanced in that regard, and played soooooo much better. Spider-Man is another example. It took the art assets basically from the genesis, but the SEGACD game was totally different. Massively larger, and non-linked, and played massively better. That Batman game added 3D driving segments that blew away what the snes could do. It looked amazing. There’s probably more examples I don’t know about, but those three are really not the same game as on genesis, and drastically better. Usually I’ll hear people bashing it, and they ever played it, or literally think the entire library was fmv games, which in reality were a small minority. (And based on sewer shark, weird, not what you’d want most games to be, but not actually the worst thing ever anyway). And....Lunar.

  • Bucky Seton

    I have the 1995 windows port of this game. Came with our first home computer, which also came with an Echo the Dolphin and I think a Quake? It was the first video game I ever played and I love it to this day. Of course being a young child who loved to draw, I somehow managed to 'hack' into the loading screen, which I think was just a bmp image hidden in the game's folder, and scribble all over it in MS paint. The scribbled-on map was then forever part of my game : )

  • AwesomeRock9080

    I honestly think Sonic is better than Mario. No Mario game will ever be as good as a Sonic game to me.

  • 9chan

    What's the song at the beginning?

  • Eric Burson

    Where is this fellow from? He sounds American, but all of his games seem to be PAL versions.

  • Alex Loy

    Is the resolution on xbox 360 1080p or 720p? Anyone? Please help!

  • Jason Walsh

    Sonic cd is a brilliant sonic game whatever the version. my favourite video game character of all time.

  • linkinboss

    That big PC box sure brings some memories. That was how I met sonic in the first place. I wish my parents didn't throw out the cardboard box... I'd love to get one of those

  • Xanafalgue

    Banzai DigitalFoundry \O_O/ \O_O/ \O_O/

  • Jesus Ruiz

    Can't love this episode enough. Thank you for your amazing videos.

  • Joshtrip1™ Gaming

    I grew up with the dino version. When the intro would play the graphics would switch from 256 to 16bit color.

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