Sonic and Knuckles was the last good Sonic game for the Sega Genesis, and it was released at the height of the 16-bit era. It was basically an expansion pack for Sonic 3, although it could be played by itself. Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles were originally intended to be one game (as a matter of fact, if you do the level select code in Sonic 3, you can hear music from the stages in Sonic and Knuckles, and McDonalds featured a promo based on Sonic 3 that mentioned the Flying Battery Zone, a level which wasn’t seen in the game). However, time constrains reared their ugly head, and Sonic 3 was cut down to 6 zones. However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as we got 2 awesome Sonic games in the same year, and S&K utilized a pretty cool feature.

S&K takes place just moments after Sonic 3. Robotnik has crashed his ship on a mysterious tropical island, and Sonic and Tails once again give chase while having to deal with Knuckles the Echidna, who was introduced in Sonic 3. Eventually, Knuckles realizes he’s been played, and teams up with Sonic and Tails. The game by itself was more of the same high speed action we’ve seen in the previous 3 installments. However, the cartridge itself was special, as you could plug either Sonic 2 or 3 in the top to access special features. The former allowed you to play through Sonic 2 with Knuckles, while the latter allowed you to play through all of Sonic 3 and S&K as either Sonic or Knuckles. Playing it with any other Genesis game on top allowed you to play through a randomly generated bluesphere bonus stage level. S&K was a very high point for the franchise, and the 16-bit era in general. Sadly, it would be followed up by the craptacular Sonic 3D blast, which would signify the downfall of the series.

S&K, along with Sonic 3, is available as part of just about any console, Sega Compilation, or digital distribution platform. If you haven’t played this game yet, you need to experience this classic entry from a classic platforming franchise.