Review by The Unheard Z

Reviewed: 12/22/02 | Updated: 08/09/05

Here's Looking at You, Kid.

Pop open a bottle of champagne, ladies and gentlemen - Sonic is officially 10 years old. The Hedgehog has been through a lot: a struggle with Mario over mascot supremacy, the transition to 3D, and Sonic 3D Blast in general, to name a few. Now, after a decade of being Sega's trademark mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog is celebrating his tenth birthday with an anthology bringing together all of his original games from the Sega Genesis age. As expected, the omnibus is a worthy addition to any Sonic fan's library, yet a small host of nagging aggravations holds it back from being the definitive Sonic the Hedgehog experience.

The basic gist of the main Sonic the Hedgehog games involves running through levels as fast as you can while collecting golden rings to increase his number of lives - initially three at the beginning of the game - and to keep him from dying when he gets hit. As par usual, Sonic still jumps at the press of a button and runs through hoops to reach the little turnstile at the end of the level. Gameplay is linear and fun, with Sonic blazing through each level in a fairly straightaway manner as he completes some sidequests placed near the end of the game. Even though the obscure titles like Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine deviate from the Sonic norm, they still manage to hold their own. If you didn't like the games originally, though, don't expect to like them now. Just because they're in a new packaging doesn't mean that they're any different than before; for better or for worse.

Whereas the Genesis pad had a reasonably large D-Pad, the Gamecube controller’s D-Pad is, upon first glance, an apparent afterthought. Because Mega Collection is a compilation of titles from long ago that, in all likelihood, cannot be played on one's Genesis anymore, it's readily apparent that the D-Pad is the best way to play the game. However, the controls on Mega Collection are, because of the awkward placement and minuscule size of the D-Pad, unusual and require a little time to fully get used to. The only alternative for someone who cannot use the D-Pad is to use the joystick, and even that takes a little getting used to.

The games themselves have been perfectly ported over to the Nintendo Gamecube. Which is good - it is not a bland museum highlighting Sonic’s history, nor is it an extra-packed circus with the games thrown in for good measure. Mega Collection is, to put it simply, the games and nothing but the games. Sure, there are extras to go along with them, such as the manuals to the titles and some comic book covers, but every extra present in the package is pretty lame. The brief History of Sonic video is merely a small movie of brief clips taken from each game strung together in chronological order - nothing at all special. The extras were blatantly an afterthought, made even more obvious by such things as the addition of Sonic Adventure 2: Battle's intro movie. For a collection highlighting all of Sonic’s roots and putting all of his old games together for his fans, lazily adding in a group of items which are so bluntly bland seems like a slap in the face. A showcase of Sonic’s history deserves better than this, as does his fans.

Sound-wise, the catchy tunes from the original games are there in full force and still remain appealing despite their age. The ancient beeps and bloops of old still remain endearing despite their remarkable simplicity, and though the music itself is not on the level of an old Final Fantasy or as catchy as the fabled Mario theme, the music and myriad of sounds hold their own. Appearance-wise, the graphics are still some of the most vibrant and respectable to be seen from the old Sega Genesis, despite the occasional slowdown the occurs when things get hectic within the water levels. Overall, there isn't anything new about these classic titles, and though it is quite a deal to have them together in one package, the added extras are remarkably weak.

What is left in Sonic Mega Collection despite those extra features, though, is strong and stands strong amidst the ever-flowing tides of time. The controls may be cumbersome at first due to the Gamecube'd pad, but it gets easy to adjust to after a few minutes. The extras may be lame, but the games here are the main draw, presented flawlessly and exactly how they were originally released. Don't let the superfluous additions or the initially odd gamepad scare you off: the games are perfectly ported, the compilation is organized and holds up well, and its flaws unquestionably outweigh its value. Here's looking at you, kid.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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