Review by Ryan Harrison
Outdated now that there's SMC+, but still worth a place in any Sonic fan's GameCube library.
Way back when in a much-heralded age of video gaming, two companies scrapped it out for supremacy in the market, with Nintendo being the more established, family-friendly console maker, whereas Sega would present themselves as slick and cool to aim for the older kids and young adults. It was more or less the same for their video game mascot characters; Nintendos good-hearted, happy-go-lucky plumber Mario answered by a blue rodent who wore red sneakers, had tons of attitude, and sped through stages quicker than you could say Sega does what Ninten-dont.
Back in the 1990s, it would have been almost unthinkable that one character would start appearing in games made for the rival companys console, but when Segas Dreamcast sadly just couldnt keep up with the sales of the PlayStation 2, they decided to stick to exclusively developing games, and working as a third-party developer. Thus, were now getting Sonic and Mario appearing together in all these Olympic-themed games, but also several classic Sonic games now being ported onto Nintendo consoles. Right here is a compilation of several classic Genesis/Mega Drive Sonic games on one single mini-disc for the Nintendo GameCube, Sonic Mega Collection, first released in 2002.
Compilations of the old-school Genesis/Mega Drive Sonic games can be found on many modern systems in abundance, but even in 2002 they werent anything new; Sonic Compilation for the Mega Drive gave you the first two games in the main series plus Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine; Sonic Jam on the Saturn providing the classic quartet of side-scrollers Sonic the Hedgehog 1-3 and Sonic & Knuckles. This was the biggest collection of Sonic games to be found on a single disc at the time it was made, as it comes with a total of seven different Sonic games available to play from the off, and a few additional bonus games that can be unlocked by playing them a certain number of times.
With the only real drawback being that there are newer Sonic compilation games that have more to offer, this still proves very good value for money if you are a Sonic fan or just a fan of old-school action-platforming games in general, looking for something to add to your GameCube library. There is loads of fun and replayability to be found in SMC for the GameCube, which these days could be bought for no more than 10 pounds/dollars (a little over 1 pound/dollar per game on the disc).
You get a nice variety of games on the disc, most being of very high quality, and the others being of a generally decent standard. A quick rundown of the 7 main games are the main quadrilogy of Sonic titles (Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles), Sonic 3D: Flickies Island (an isometric game that also uses the element of guiding lost chicks to an exit gate, first seen in the Sega arcade game Flicky), Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball (a short but challenging pinball game in which Sonic is the ball) and Dr. Robotniks Mean Bean Machine (a rehash of the classic puzzle game known as Puyo-Puyo that features Dr. Robotnik and the robotic villains from the Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon series). In addition to these games are some bonus unlockables which include the aforementioned Flicky (Genesis port), Comix Zone, Ristar and The Ooze.
I certainly do think there are some games that are of considerably lesser quality than others. Sonic 3D, I felt did not really capture the essence of speed and all-round excitement and fun of the side-scrolling games with its difficult control and awkward and obstructive isometric camera view; Flicky provides mild fun but starts to feel real old real quick. Another thing that goes against SMC is the follow-up for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC, Sonic Mega Collection Plus offers every game that this one does, plus an additional offering of Game Gear titles from the Sonic franchise to play some of these on the GameCube requires the purchase of an altogether different game, Sonic Adventure DX.
To make up for this, though, youve still got that outstanding four-piece set of classic Sonic platformers; Sonic 2 and the conjoint Sonic 3 & Knuckles games rating as some of my favourite games of all time all emulated perfectly with very precise and crisp control, awash with plenty of beautiful, colourful and detailed graphics that look fantastic through the GameCubes high-quality video output. These games all come with some excellent level design with plenty of routes to choose from to make your way to the end; enemies to face and traps to make your way around. There is plenty of catchy, enjoyable and very fitting stage music and classic sound effects, which again sound much clearer and better with the improved audio capabilities of the GameCube in comparison to the original Genesis/Mega Drive console. With most of these games being very quick and fast-flowing, they handle perfectly and there is only the very rare occasion of slowdown in frame rate.
Many of the Sonic games have lots of replay value, and Sonic Mega Collection helps to keep you coming back and playing these games over, mostly by rewarding you with unlockable games when you play others in the collection for a certain number of times. Not only are most of the main games very fun, addictive and will offer a huge amount of playing time, but some of these bonus games are also very enjoyable; Ristar and Comix Zone also rate as a couple of the best games from the Sega Mega Drive library. By playing Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles enough times, you can unlock the Sonic 3 & Knuckles lock-on game that sees you play through the storylines from both games in one continuous run with a few subtle differences at some parts. Not only this, but you can play through with different characters for different endings.
Still not enough? The disc also contains scanned copies of each games instruction manual, preview videos for other Sonic games available on Nintendo systems, and even a complete, scanned copy of the first edition of the Sonic Archie comic to read. You can also watch a short video that showcases the history of the Sonic series, from his beginnings in the 1991 original to going fully 3D in 1999s Sonic Adventure, along with the introduction of new characters as the series has moved on, and what to expect in the latest games on the GameCube and Game Boy Advance systems at the time SMC was released. There is plenty of interesting content, and the overall presentation is top-notch.
Despite being outdated thanks to later compilations, the only valid reason not to get Sonic Mega Collection for the Nintendo GameCube is if you have the option to go for one of said later compilations. Its still a fantastic value for money and while a couple of the games are maybe not so much as enjoyable as others, the core games are still fun and addicting as ever, and are emulated absolutely perfectly. This will still fit in very well with your GameCube collection, so if you do not happen to have one of the newer systems to get one of the expanded compilations for; or are content to go for the better-known Sonic games at a lower price, this game is a recommended purchase.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Sonic Mega Collection (EU, 03/07/03)
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