Review by JPeeples

Reviewed: 04/25/03 | Updated: 04/25/03

Sonic boom, Sonic boom, Sonic boom...

First off, I’m going to give you a quick listing of all of the default games in SMC, along with their original years of release: Sonic the Hedgehog (1991), Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992), Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994), Sonic and Knuckles (1994), Sonic 3D Blast (1996), Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine (1993), and finally, Sonic Spinball (1993). Each of these games is notable for some reason or another in Sonic history, and this collection replicates them all perfectly. Keep in mind, there are a ton of unlockable games in this collection, but due to most of them just being altered versions of games already available, I won’t include them in the review.

The gameplay in four of the seven games (Sonic 1-3 and S &K) is traditional, fast-paced plat forming gameplay that popularized both the Sonic games, and the Sega Genesis. If you’ve never played a Sonic game, but you’ve heard the hype, start with these games, as they are what helped make the series great (and popular) in the first place. If you’re familiar with them, then they provide a nice trip down memory lane, and stand the test of time well. I

Onto the other three games. Sonic 3D Blast takes the series into the third dimension (I know, the game’s title probably didn’t give that away) thanks to it’s ¾ overhead isometric perspective, which lets Sonic move all around the levels. This new perspective kind of screws with what makes Sonic games great, since it ends up slowing the pace of the game down considerably, and it makes judging jumping attacks difficult. Despite the faults, it’s still a fun game in short bursts.

Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine is just Puyo Puyo with a Sonic one of the most addictive puzzle games I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. That’s probably because it uses the legendary Puyo Puyo gameplay style, which is widely-regarded as being among the best puzzle gameplay systems due to its‘ ease of use and complexity.

The goal of the game is to fill your opponent’s play area up with an assortment of colored jellybeans and stone jellybeans, causing them to lose. Now this might not seem like the most exciting premise to a game, but the execution of that premise is flawless. First off, the Puyo Puyo gameplay style is addictive to begin with. The simple goal of defeating your foe quickly becomes a journey due to the difficulty of the game. You’ll find yourself on the losing end of the stick more times than you might like, but once you beat an opponent, you will get a nice feeling of satisfaction. The gameplay revolves around connecting four jellybeans of the same color together, and then doing that over and over again with other colors (or the same color, depending on the situation) and chaining them all together to form combinations that will cause junk to be dropped on your opponent’s play area, making things all the more difficult for him. Conversely, this can be done to you, so be sure to beat your foe to the punch if you want to have a hope in hell of winning. As you can probably tell by my lengthy rant, I really dig Mean Bean Machine, and find the addictive gameplay to be a blast.

Sadly, all good things (like fun Sonic games) must come to an end, as it’s now time to describe Sonic Spinball. Folks, this game is widely considered to be the worst Sonic game out there, and with good reason. The game revolves around Sonic being used as a pinball, seriously now, that would make for a fun mini-game, but it’s not exactly a concept that lends itself well to an entire game, as the failure of this game proves. Much like with 3D Blast, it can be fun in very short bursts, but if you spend any serious amount of time with it, you will probably be bored to death, since the pinball-based gameplay isn’t particularly fast or exciting at all.

All in all, SMC gives you a fun collection of games. Barring a couple of stinkers, you get an A+ assortment of Sonic games to enjoy. It’s a great Sonic starter’s kit for folks who have never played a Sonic game before. The controls for the games are replicated pretty well for the GC pad. I wouldn’t recommend using the D-pad for anything but Mean Bean Machine though, as I found it to be more of a hindrance during gameplay.

None of games’ graphics push the power of the GC, but they’re still jaw-dropping in places. The sheer speed of the platforming games is unbelievable, even to this day, and the complexity of Sonic 3‘s backgrounds (like the layers of flame that surround the game early on) are still a sight to behold. The other games aren‘t too shabby. Sonic 3D Blast still looks pretty decent today, barring the intro, which looked great on the Genesis considering the hardware, but it looks horrid today. Mean Bean Machine still looks great, thanks to the fantastic animation used for the characters during play. Sonic Spinball looked pretty bad in it’s day, and it certainly hasn’t aged well. The lack of detail on things in the game really hurts things quite a bit.

The music in all of the platforming Sonic games is a highlight thanks to the upbeat and fast tempo of them. They really help get you in the mood to zip around levels and such. The music in Mean Bean Machine is pretty memorable due to it intensifying along with the gameplay, as things sped up in the game, so did the music. The music in 3D Blast is pretty forgettable though. It is quite generic and doesn’t really compliment the gameplay at all, if anything, it siphons some of the fun out of the game. The music in Spinball is actually pretty decent, and it’s the highlight of the game. It keeps the same type of sound as the plat forming Sonics, which adds to the fun of the game. The sound effects in all of the game are pretty decent. They all either sound realistic, or add emphasis where it’s needed to heighten the mood and the gameplay.

Sonic Mega Collection gives fans a fantastic look back at the evolution of one of gaming’s most beloved and historic characters. If you’ve never played a Sonic game before, or you’re an old fan of it looking for a quick trick down memory lane, Sonic Mega Collection is the game for you. Keep in mind that these games are, at a bare minimum, seven years old. If you’re looking for something that will show off the power of the GC, this game won’t do it. There are some nice extras including on SMC, like a history of Sonic video that showcases most of the Sonic games, as well as Sonic Jam, which has some features that SHOULD be on this compilation, like being able to save in all games, and being able to use the spin dash in the original Sonic game. The video also goes over how historic the Lock-on technology was for Sonic and Knuckles, which I found to be a nice treat since I loved that feature.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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