Review by alpha5099

Reviewed: 01/13/03 | Updated: 01/13/03

Not a perfect compilation, but well worth the time of any Sonic fan, new or old

First off, I’d like to begin with some background info. For my eight birthday, I received my very first video game console, a Sega Genesis. It came with Sonic Spinball, which I loved, and continue to this day to think was a fine pinball game. Soon afterwards, I received 3 more games for Christmas: Sonic and Knuckles, Aero the Acrobat, and Castle of Illusion starring Mickey Mouse. As you can tell, most of the games I owned for my Genesis were mascot based platformers. Until 7th grade, 5 years later, when I received an N64, my only console was a Genesis (I also had a Game Boy). I played many games to death: Aladdin, Vectorman, Revolution X. But none were more beloved by Sonic. To this day, Sonic holds a very special place in my heart. But it saddens me to see Sega’s ‘tude filled mascot reduced to starring in second string 3D platformers, when once he and Mario owned the 2D platformer genre. Luckily, Sonic Team shares my love of Sonic’s heyday, and it is through their kindness that we’ve been blessed with Sonic Mega Collection, a compilation of Sonic’s best games on the Genesis.

To make this easier, I will do little mini reviews of the numerous games included on SMC.

Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2 and 3 and Sonic and Knuckles
This is the bread and butter of the Collection. We have 4 examples of incredibly fun, blast-processor induced goodness.

Gameplay: 10
While Mario and the like plod around slowly, trying to rescue princesses, Sonic is too busy being a badass. He’s got no time to walk around, solving asinine puzzles. No, our favorite blue hedgehog would rather blast his way through levels as fast as possible. The core Sonic games have always encouraged you to go as fast as possible. In fact, they have a 10 minute time limit, but you rarely go over 3 minutes in a Sonic game. While some may look for deeper gameplay, fans will enjoy the alternate take on platforming. A word of warning: don’t expect any lame ass treasure hunts with Knuckles. When you play as anyone other than Sonic, you’ll essentially be playing as Sonic. Everyone can run fast, only Tails can fly for short periods and Knuckles is able to glide and climb walls.

Overall Score: 10
This is the best Sonic ever was, and, sadly, it may be the best Sonic ever will be.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
Every good compilation contains a puzzle game, and the Mean Bean Machine is SMC’s token puzzler.

Gameplay: 9
If you’ve ever played Puyo Puyo, you know exactly what to expect. You have 5 or 6 different colored blobs, and the goal is to join 4 or more to get rid of them. However, the game encourages combos, because when you eliminate your blobs, your opponent will be buried in beans which they can only destroy by eliminating their own blobs nearby. If you have no experience with Puyo Puyo, I’ve no doubt confused you, but trust me, it’s great.

Overall Score: 9
Puyo Puyo is among the best puzzle games ever made, and it’s a great experience, both one player and two player.

Sonic Spinball
An odd little concept: Sonic acts as the silver ball inside Robotnik’s fortress, which for some inexplicable reason is designed like a pinball machine. Some despise it, but I find it an enjoyable experience.

Gameplay: 8
Well, it’s certainly not the best pinball game in existence. The physics seem screwy, and some would say it’s too slow. But if you have the patience, you’ll find an enjoyable and creative pinball game which will take an hour or two to beat.

Overall Score: 7
It’s not Sonic’s finest hour, but it’s good enough that it doesn’t drag the compilation down. If you want great Sonic gaming, stick with the first four. But for a change of pace, Spinball might be right up your alley.

Sonic 3D Blast
Ugggh. The black sheep of the Sonic Universe. Sonic Team had nothing to do with this game, and it shows.

Gameplay: 6
It’s isometric. Enough said. You play as Sonic in this psuedo-3D world, knocking out robots to save little birdies. It plays nothing like the 2D games, and this is probably a large reason why so many old-school gamers refuse to accept the Sonic Adventure games.

Overall Score: 6
Perhaps if it were it’s own game, it’d be decent. But compared with the other Sonic games, 3D Blast is mediocre at best.

Now, onto rating the entire compilation as a whole.

Sound: 9
Sonic contained some of the best tunes of the 16 bit days. Back in the day, the sounds rocked. Unfortunately, some may see these as dated, but it’s great to see that the sounds were preserved perfectly. One of my biggest worries going into this game was that, like the Sega Smash Pack Vol. 1 on the Dreamcast, the sound would end up disgustingly tinny. Luckily, this is not the case.

Story: 1
The Sonic games always, and I mean always, had the same story. Robotnik takes a bunch of innocent animals and imprisons them in robots. Now Sonic has to go and jump on all the robots to free the birdies and bunnies. It’s stupid, but it’s never really brought up in the games, so it doesn’t get in the way.

Graphics: 3
This is pretty unfair. These games, especially Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles, looked great back in the day. But of course, this was a decade ago, and graphics are far more advanced now. But honestly, who cares?

Replayability: 10
You get 7 games off the bat, 5 of which are great, plus there are 5 unlockable games, most of which are worth your time. You can never get tired of Mean Bean Machine, it’s just a great puzzle game. If there’s one tragic flaw, it’s that they didn’t bother to implement save features in Sonic 1 and 2 and Sonic and Knuckles. Sonic 3 contained a save feature, which was quite nice. Maybe if Sonic Team had had more time, they could have programmed in some save functionality. Back with the Genesis, it wasn’t a big deal leaving your system on over night. But your GameCube might overheat these days, so you might want to set aside a few hours if you plan on tackling Sonic 1 and 2 or Sonic and Knuckles.

Buy or Rent?
I highly recommend buying this game, for both long time Sonic fans and those who may have just joined the franchise with Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. If you have all of the games for Genesis, then perhaps its not worth it, but if you missed some games, the 40 bucks is well worth it. And for newbies, they can experience the true roots of Sonic, and understand why so many crotchety games claim the 16 bit days were the greatest. For they probably can’t fully understand why so many hate the Sonic Adventure games, just as many were befuddled by gamers talking about the good old days of Contra and Castlevania, back when the mediocre 3D games came out. Experience 2D Sonic, and experience the greatest franchise to come out of Sega.

Overall: 8
Sonic Team did a good job getting together the cream of the crop for this compilation. As a collection of the Sonic games for the Genesis, it’s more then adequate. The inclusion of Sonic 3D Blast is even forgivable, as it gives newbies a chance to see the evolution of Sonic. If there’s one problem, it’s the lack of Sonic CD, argued by many to be the finest in the franchise. I, like many, have never experienced Sonic CD, and would have loved the opportunity to play it. Hopefully, Sonic Team can come up with more games left out of SMC, like Knuckles Chaotix, Sonic R, and some other forgotten gems, and give us a Sonic Mega Collection Volume 2.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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