They say that Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are solid games on their own, but combined, they form what may very well be the greatest game of the classic series. Honestly, this doesn't make much sense to me. Two lukewarm beers do not make a cold and refreshing one.
Both halves of this game have some admittedly solid zones (I'd argue that Sonic & Knuckles more-so), and some really vibrant backgrounds that makes it stand out from the previous two games. Unfortunately, the attractive package is severely hampered by plenty of other subpar, and even downright terrible zones (I'm looking at you Carnival Night). The problem is made even worse by the fact that most of the zones are just too damn long. I actually ran out of time while doing one of the Acts in Carnival Night. That has never happened to me before in a Sonic game.
Y'all can laugh all you want and say it's skill issue (hell, I didn't even know you could jump in the special stages until someone pointed it out), but I still beat it, didn't I? I just really don't think the level design is up to par with what I expect from a good Sonic game. It's ambitious, I'll give it that. And you certainly get a lot more content than your average classic Sonic title. This game is like crab legs, though. If you wanna enjoy the meaty bits, you gotta really work for it, and I honestly don't think it's very much worth it. I'll just go back to the superior game: Sonic 2.
P.S. I'm not a big fan of seafood.

Reviewed on Feb 22, 2023