23: Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Developer: Sega Technical Institute
Format: Mega Drive
Still, once you’d got your Sonic & Knuckles cartridge and plugged your Sonic 3 cartridge into the top and switched the whole thing on, you got the Blue Blur’s finest hour. A massive, varied, endlessly exciting platform adventure stretching from firebombed jungle to a showdown in the middle of a meteor shower via a flooded carnival, ruined temple floating in the sky, lush forest, ghost-filled pyramid and inside a volcano while it was erupting, you can’t accuse STI of thinking small. It was also the point at which they started trying to give these things proper plots, with even a couple of little silent cutscenes to move the story along and hints of what was to happen later – witness the Sonic vs. Knuckles fight in the Hidden Palace Zone, with a mosaic on the wall foretelling the Super Sonic vs. Robotnik clash that would end the game in the Doomsday Zone. It may have all been downhill from here for Sonic, but what a peak to reach.
MAGIC MOMENT: the start of Sky Sanctuary Zone, as Sonic, Tails and Knuckles all leap out of the teleporter while the Death Egg breaks through the clouds as the soaring music kicks in. Glorious.