Review by Greliz

Reviewed: 01/05/03 | Updated: 01/05/03

Decent nostalgia backed by lackluster filler

When first announced, Sonic Mega Collection to be promising; a chance to relive Sonic's 16-bit glory days, with some juicy extras packed in. Rumors about the games SMC was to contain flew around like a Buzzbomber on a sugar high. The rarer titles, such as Sonic CD, Sonic R, Chaotix and others seemed like they'd be shoe-ins for the collection. Expectations were high, until the games list was released, that is. It was more than obvious at this point that the first three Sonics and Sonic and Knuckles would be included (duh =P), but the list was rounded out by Sonic 3D Blast, Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, and Sonic Spinball; three less-than-stellar games that tend to mar Sonic's reputation more than help it. Well, this certainly wasn't the line-up many were expecting, so, as you can guess, there were a lot of vows to stay away from SMC. I found myself rather wary, but the promise of some extras and hidden games drew me in. Problem is, it's not exactly worth it.

Graphics:
There's really nothing to say except the graphics for the games are the same as their Genesis counterparts. Maybe they're a little clearer, but it really makes no difference. The main ''hub'' (read: a slew of menus) is nice and colorful, pleasing to the eyes, but nothing really special.

Controls:
Most of the time, you'll only end up using the Control Stick and the A button to control the games. Some games require you to use B or X for some other things. It feels a bit awkward in comparison to the Genesis controller (which isn't a surprise), but it's easy to get used to.

Gameplay:
-Sonic 1, 2, 3, and Sonic and Knuckles are your run-of-the-mill 2-D platformers. The real allure of these games came in the form of the blaring speed Sonic possessed to haul ass through the levels in his quest to stop Doctor Robotnik and get the chaos emeralds.
-Sonic 3-D Blast takes Sonic into faux 3-D isometric view. The game was basically a scavenger hunt, requiring you to track down Flicky birds and take them through portals. The game was far from fast and furious, instead being rather dull and tedious. Definately not one of Sonic's better moments.
-Sonic Spinball: A pinball game with a somewhat obvious twist: Sonic acts as the ball that you whack about. =P The objective is to collect three chaos emeralds on each board and beat the boss of the level. Too bad that the boards were so laden with annoying hazards that you'd never get past the first level unless you're a damn pinball wizard (if you died, you lost any emeralds you had).
-Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine: Not actually a Sonic game, but rather an American release of the puzzle game Puyo Puyo. If you've already played Kirby's Avalanche, then you've played this game. For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, the game is sort of like Tetris, only instead of eliminating whole rows of blocks, you eliminate different colored blobs by getting four of the same color to touch each other. The only way this version differs from Avalanche and the Japanese original is that they shoved in the AWFUL ''Adventures of Sonic'' version of Robotnik, along with some pretty lame robot villains you fight (Scratch, Grounder, and Coconuts were the only cool ones XD). As a puzzle game, it's pretty decent, but I don't feel that it has ANY place on this collection, as the association only goes as far as plastering that ass-ugly Robotnik face on it.

Overall, only half of the games on this collection are worth playing if you wish to keep your sanity intact.
However, I still haven't gone into the extras this game supplied...

Extras: If you'll remember Sonic Jam on Saturn, it had this cool little ''Sonic World;'' just a small little 3-D rumpus room that Sonic could run around in, but it was a cool idea, nevertheless. You won't find anything like that here.
First of all, almost all of the ''extras''(I'm going to use that term loosely) are unlocked. And what are they, pray tell? Comic covers, clip art, some videos and scans of the Genesis game manuals. Huzzah. I can understand the manuals; hell, it's pretty cool looking at the old Badnik art. ^^ The clip art consists of shots of Sonic and Co., and art of some of the characters. Too bad it's limited to the cast of Sonic Adventure 2. =D If I'm not mistaken, we're missing Espio the Chameleon, Bean the Dynamite Duck, Nack the Weasel, Charmy the Bee, and a slew of others I'd rather not clog the review with. XD;;; I'm sorry, but if you're making a collection to commemorate Sonic's history, wouldn't it be nice to at least give mention to some of the more neglected members of the series?
The videos are probably one of the more decent areas; the opening and end videos for Sonic CD were put in there, which was pretty cool (although the whole game would be preferred =P), and they also had a promo video for Sonic Advance 2, and one on the history of Sonic. Not much, but it's still nice.
Then we have the comic covers; 110 covers of issues from Archie Comic's Sonic series, along with 31 covers for the Knuckles series, and a bunch of other covers for the various mini series and specials they had. Okay, while most of the covers are nice to look at, I find it to be rather boring filler material. I know, the main point of the game isn't to stare blankly at comic covers, but come ON, at least put in some extras that are mildly entertaining.
Speaking of which, I still have the extra games to go into.
There's five unlockable games to speak of, two of which that shouldn't even be secret.

Blue Sphere- If you had the Sonic and Knuckles lock-on cartrige, you'll remember that putting in an incompatible cartrige brought up a screen flashing NO WAY!!, from which you could access some randomly generated Sonic 3 special stages. I found this one to be pretty cool, as it didn't seem like something they'd go through the trouble of adding.
Knuckles in Sonic 2- Self-explanatory, really. Being an extension of the Sonic and Knuckles cartrige, I don't really see why I have to unlock this.
Sonic 3 & Knuckles- WHY are they making me have to unlock this? Another extension of the S&K package, allowing you to play from Sonic 3 all the way through the end of Sonic and Knuckles.
Flicky- Odd and entertaining. Flicky's premise is to rescue small yellow birds in a little platformed room and deliver them safely to the door in the room while avoiding cats and, oddly enough, lizards. Simple, yet very sweet.
RiStar- Having never played this before, I found RiStar to be the most worth-while of the unlockable games. A basic platformer, with an odd twist; your only method of attack is to grab onto enemies and ramming them with your body.

I really wouldn't be so sore about S3&K and S2&K having to be unlocked if the method of unlocking the games wasn't so damned annoying. Flicky and Blue Sphere are unlocked with SA2:B and PSO saves on your memory card. However, the other extra games can only be unlocked through a process of ''killing game logs.'' Put simply, everytime you enter a game, a log entry is recorded. In order to kill a game log, you have to enter a game at least fifty times. Now, given that some extra games require you to kill more than one gamelog to get them (RiStar requires you to kill about all of them, including the other extra games), I find it a pretty crappy deal. Who wants to sit around for hours on end entering and exiting a game repeatedly just to unlock something that could have easily been awarded to them for beating one of the games? Did they really expect people to play each of these games about 50 times when most of them aren't worth the trouble?

OVERALL: 6 out of 10
With only four of the games in the main line-up that capture the spirit of Sonic, a rather dull sets of Extras, and some extra games that are unlocked through an intolerable method, Sonic Mega Collection is rather disappointing for long-time fans of the hedgehog. However, if you're a first-timer to Sonic games, by all means, give Sonic Mega Collection a go. It's not a bad game by any means, but the line-up is mediocre. For those of you expecting a lot of extras to sink your teeth into, you won't find it here.

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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