|Sonic Mega Collection|
|Developer: Sonic Team
Release Date: Out Now
Whether you love him or hate him, you have to admit that Sonic is one of those gaming icons that just won't go away. So after a relatively successful GC debut with Sonic Adventure 2 I suppose it's about time Sega gave all those Sonic fans out there a little more to play with. Sonic Mega Collection was announced a while ago and whilst I was never sure of the lineup, now it's here you can't fail to be impressed with the content of this compilation package. The inclusion of seven nicely emulated, and sometimes improved (but not much), Sonic-themed games means Sonic fans of old can have a fairly complete history, all on one tiny Gamecube disc. Additionally, you can unlock five bonus games, some of which are worth seeing, and others less so…
So what do you get? - Seven of your favourite Sonic games: Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, and 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, and Sonic 3D Blast + five unlockable bonus games including more fun with Knuckles. You also get interactive virtual versions of the original Genesis (Megadrive) manuals and artwork and movies from the games.
Although the rose-tinted specs have to come off when you're playing games of this vintage, they still play extremely well. Sonic is still a nippy little bugger and the levels still have an immediate zoom-through fun factor that the Mario games never had. But, if you're allergic to jerky scrolling and dodgy frame rates then you'd better leave the Sonic classics in the past. These games have been well emulated but make no mistake, they look and play just like the originals, for better or worse. This means things like sluggish control and iffy collision detect that we'd laugh at if they appeared in a game today.
Although it doesn't feel quite as eye-poppingly quick as I remember it, the fast action offered by Sonic the Hedgehog is still appealing, even now in the days of Mario Sunshine & company. And I know that there is a huge audience out there that prefer the originals to Sega's recent 3D attempts. So, Sega has included all three originals (including Sonic 3, a game that caused more arguments than alcohol). Then you have Sonic & Knuckles, which is one of my personal favourites, and probably plays better than any of the others. These games all play in a similar way, with Sonic (and pals) collecting rings as they zoom through levels comprising of swooping loops and sometimes traversing old-school 2D platform sections using springs. You'd also be on the hunt for 'chaos emeralds', either within the levels or by collecting 50 rings and accessing a bonus level (or something like that).
If I remember rightly you could get a similar package to this lot on the Sega Saturn, but this compilation gives you more with Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast, and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
Sonic Spinball is basically a multi screen, Sonicfied scrolling pinball game with flippers and bonuses all over the place. Sonic 3D Blast stole mercilessly from classic games like Marble Madness and Red Led and sees Sonic strolling around in a pre-rendered isometric 3D world. The problem with this game was that although it played nicely and was a good challenge, it didn't feel much like a Sonic game, and it feels like a bit of a strange departure even today, with its heavy feeling of inertia and momentum. This oddity of a game just adds to the diversity contained within the collection though.
So to Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, a game that may just have been the inspiration for a whole load of Tetris style puzzle and bubble popping games. If you've played any of this sort of game then you'll know what to expect; you guide a pair of coloured 'beans' down the screen and can place them where you want and position them by rotating them. You make them disappear by getting four adjacent to each other and you can score big bonuses (and wipe out your opponent in the 2 player game) by achieving drops that form combo chains. A cracking little game that barely seems to have aged - if you like puzzle games then there's much fun to be had with the two player game in particular.
So, quite a collection and at a budget price too. If you enjoyed the old Sonic titles or just feel the need to find out what us old fogies played back in the early 90s, then this is a must-buy, as long as you can afford to part with money for what is basically old rope. Oh, go on - you'll have a whole selection of Sonic games, a potted history and virtual memorabilia all in one place. Now Nintendo, where's that Mario collection?
- It's Sonic isn't it?
- 7 varied and challenging games plus loads of extras.
- There's nothing else like this on Gamecube.
- It's just a load of old games.
- Some of the graphics now look shockingly basic.