Review by KTRSFan

Reviewed: 01/26/06 | Updated: 02/06/06

Diamonds in the Rough...

(Or Gems in the Rough, take your pick...)

Anyway, Sonic Gems is a "follow-up" to Sonic Mega Collection. Now, yes, some games aren't too hot. But don't let the one or two drop the value; there are still several good games. I'll just grade 'em all individually, as well as give them a difficulty rating.

Sonic Championship / Sonic the Fighters : 10/10

Depends on where you live. Gems calls it Sonic the Fighters either way. Anyway, STF happens to be an ADDICTIVE fighting game. Pick a character, pound the living daylights out of the other eight (And a copy of yourself, thanks to Robotnik...) to face Robotnik. Naturally, the fights only get harder as you progress. "Stage Nine" (the Death Egg) is a fight that'll tempt you to pull your hair out, so be forewarned, eh? Anyway, the multiplayer is SUPERB, and can actually be quite comical at times. At other times, you'll end up making your buddy get VERY frustrated. (Ask me how I know...) Difficulty is High, even on EASY.

Sonic CD: 9/10

Sonic 1 on Genesis with time travel. Huh. Anyway, simply put, this is one of the BEST Sonic platformers I've played, but there's one flaw: the goals take just WAY too long to reach, or are very frustrating to get to. (Notice the common theme yet?) However, that's how I like 'em. You get more satisfaction out of winning the dang thing. Getting back to the point, though, if you want to be the best in speed, not ability, you'll like Time Attack. It only keeps track of the fastest time, and once you do all of them, if they add up low enough, you get a reward or two. ...Don't ask me what it is, though. Anyway, gameplay is good (It's basically Sonic 2 without Tails, only MUCH bigger.), graphics are good (Depending on what you've done in the past, the future changes, and if you destroy a cage of some sorts, you free the future from Robotnik, and it looks MUCH better. Plus, they actually had cartoonists make a couple cartoons for the beginning and ending. ...Well, it's a CD with how much space?), sound is fair (Never was one to care much for sound, though.), and the music is very nice. (Just get rid of the lyrics. They just don't sit well with me.) And they apparently took a cue from Maxis in the manual. (Special Thanks) Difficulty is Medium High.

Sonic R: 9/10

NASCAR this ain't. Mario Kart this ain't. This is entirely different. Three goals in the game: Win, gather all the emeralds, and unlock all the characters. Simple, right? In a word, no. To unlock characters, you have to first gather all the "Sonic Tokens" then place third or better. Then you have to beat them. The problem is that some of the tokens are pretty well-hidden, or right under your nose so obviously that you don't see them. It took me ten tries to find them all at Regal Ruin, and that whole time, it was RIGHT THERE! The Emeralds are relatively easy to find, but the ones on the fourth track seemed to be too well-hidden. Then I grab an Emerald, and for some odd reason, I get both. Huh. Anyway, the variety of characters is nice for the time. (They outdid Nintendo's Mario Kart, which up until Double Dash, had eight characters to pick from. Sonic R has 10.) Every character has a strength and weakness (or multiples), including Super Sonic. He's dang hard to control, y'know? Difficulty is Low.

Those are the main three. Now, there are the 8 others.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2: 8/10

Actually, this isn't as bad as I first thought. I hate the fact that you can't play as Tails (The story explains why.) but then again, what the hey? Anyway, the tough levels come early, and you don't get a break until zone four of seven, and even then it's pretty small, but they, at least, keep the difficulty somewhat consistent, so you don't end up getting overwhelmed later on. If you just hang tough, and learn from your mistakes FAST, it'll essentially become a piece of cake until, what, zone six? There, it's not "OMG, a nearly impossible jump" tough, it's "Where the heck am I?" tough. However, they went overboard early, which keeps it from being a 9. A good game, nonetheless. Difficulty is High.

Sonic Drift 2: 9/10

Seven characters to pick from, only three to race against. Lucky you. Anyway, this grand prix is actually pretty difficult. The manual is rather inaccurate (Amy is way faster than it infers.) but otherwise, it's a somewhat good indicator of what each character is. This is basically a Sonic version of Mario Kart, only handheld. Still, it's pretty nice, and you can actually pick your foes. Graphics, gameplay, sound, and music are all pretty nice. Difficulty is high.

Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble: 9/10

Do I really need to type "the Hedgehog" every time? Oh well... Anyway, this is the only platformer where you can pick between Tails and Sonic in this whole collection! Tails can fly in this one, and Sonic uses his "burn-out" from Sonic CD. You'll have to use the Spin Dash and these other special abilities to gain the five Chaos Emeralds and defeat Robotnik for the sixth! Anyway, this is the usual "grab the Emeralds before Robotnik" storyline, but new to it is that you have to deal with trouble from three flanks this time: Robotnik, as usual, Knuckles, like in Sonic 3, and Fang/Nack, a treasure hunter out for a fortune. You'd be surprised how Knux finds out that he was wrong about Sonic... ...What? No, beat the game to find out! Difficulty is Medium.

Sonic Spinball: 6/10

The poor framerate just KILLS this one... You'd think the GameCube could speed it up... It's just the same as the Genesis game, only with different layouts. It's also easier at first... The bonus levels are a bit more interesting, though. As Sonic on foot instead of bouncing around, you have to find rings, continues, lives, and reach the goal before time runs out, or you lose everything you got! Difficulty is Medium.

Tails' Skypatrol: 8/10

Again, not as bad as I first thought. Sky Patrol is actually fairly quite fun, although you'll use the save feature a LOT, and I mean a LOT. There's not too many checkpoints... ...Anyway, the basic story, from what I gather, is that Tails must rescue an island from the control of an evil witch and her cronies. Naturally, poor Tails gets a rough time without Sonic, as he must fly through far more obstacles than Sonic would ever face... Anyway, the interesting thing is that, unless you refill your energy gauge, you'll eventually run out of energy and crash. Naturally, this works like the old TMNT game: one candy piece, 1/4 energy, 2, 1/2, 3, full. I have to say this because, unless you can read Japanese (One of the reasons why I want to take a Japanese class at the community college...) you'll never read the manual... Graphics are nice, sound effects and music are both good. Difficulty is Very High.... And I mean it.

Tails' Adventures: 9/10

I'm a sucker for a RPG. This is as close as you can get. And whoever thought that the cute fox could become a good demolitionist? Anyway, the basic idea is to use bombs to blow up foes and obstacles before they get you. Not that simple, though. You can fly and duck (no pun intended) to avoid foes as well as fly in a submarine (??????), and go underwater to face your enemies. It's pretty fun. Just one warning: the solutions aren't always as obvious. Sometimes, you read how on the lone FAQ available, and ask yourself why you didn't do that. The ending is worth it. Difficulty is Medium.

Vectorman: 8/10

The Orbots from Ristar have returned as... entire cast! Anyway, the basic story is that Earth is too polluted to live on, and so man has left to wait for the damage to be repaired by Orbots. Naturally, nothing goes to plan. Mind control kicks in under a tyrannical leader, WarHead, and only one guy is free from it: Vectorman. So, V-man now must destroy everyone to keep WarHead from implementing his plan to destroy mankind. Figures. Graphics are nice (A bit hard to tell which option you're on on the info screen...) and gameplay is good. Sound is nice, as is music. Difficulty? Medium.

Vectorman 2: 8/10

V-man returns to get rid of mutant insects. Yuck... ...Exterminator V-man, at your service! Just like the original in gameplay. Haven't beaten yet, but I did enjoy myself. Difficulty is Medium.

Extras: 10/10

A LOT to unlock. Including several demos! If you have Mega Collection, the only ones you'd care about are for Game Gear, but it's nice to have all the Chaos Emeralds before a fight against Robotnik... Anyway, a LOT of pictures, a few movies, and a group of demos all are availible for your unlocking. Good luck...

Overall: 9/10

This compilation is excellent. Coupled with good old Mega Collection, you have two compilations that are all nostalgia and all kid-friendly. Now, if only everything were that way...

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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