Sonic Mega Collection Review

Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega
Release Date: November 13, 2002 Also On: GCN, PS2, Xbox

For some odd reason, probably just gaming companies wanting to make more money on games already created, this generation is seeing a lot of ports, remakes, and compilations. Sonic Mega Collection is part of this group of games, and is one of the first ones to come to GCN. Sonic Mega Collection is a collection of 12 games (7 by default, five unlockable) that originally appeared on the Sega Genesis, along with other Sega systems.

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When this game came out, I was still relatively new to GCN and to 3D games in general, and, as such, I hadn’t grown into complete comfort with 3D platformers. Thus, even though I have never owned a Sega console in my life, I decided to give this game a try because it would give me 2D platformers that I had never played before, as well as some other games. Anyway, I got this game practically the day it came out, and I was not disappointed in that decision.

The games on this collection are exact ports, and as such, the graphics are far from GCN capability. They are not updated in the slightest from screens and viewings I have had of the original versions of the games; that is not necessarily a bad thing though. I have no problem about playing the games in the original graphics. In fact, it serves as a reminder of how far games have come in the past decade. Obviously, improvements could have been made, but their lack doesn’t deter from the entertainment values of the games at all.

Sound is the same story to the best of my knowledge. The sound effects and music certainly sound like a 16-bit system could have handled them. Once again though, the originals being used give a chance for reminiscence and don’t detract from the gameplay significantly, although, once again, improvements would have been possible.

Obviously, replay is there. With twelve games to play (five of which have to be unlocked, which obviously takes time), this game is going to last anyone a long time, especially since there aren’t any save options in most of the games (I’ll save my griping about this for the gameplay section of the review).

Now, let’s move on to gameplay. Since each game is different, I will cover them each separately. The first game on this collection is, obviously, Sonic the Hedgehog. This is the game that introduced the cute little hedgehog to the gaming community and that began the installation of speed elements into platform games. Obviously, the gameplay is rather simplistic by today’s standards: start at the left and go to the right to get to the end of the level, fighting a boss every three levels. Yet, somehow the old-fashioned left to right playing style never gets old. My one gripe is that you have to get through all of the levels in one sitting because there is no save option in this game. This is because it is a direct port of a game that didn’t have a save option. Overall, the game is still fun though.

After that comes Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Basically, it’s the same as the first, except there are more zones, but they are shorter. Once again, you have to play through the whole thing in one sitting. The only major thing that changes is Tails chasing you around, although it does little to benefit you unless you have a second player to manually control him. This game is just as fun as the first one is in most respects though.

Now, on to (surprise, surprise) Sonic the Hedgehog 3; once again, it’s the same gameplay style as the second (since Tails is back), but there is actually a save option at the end of each area, meaning you don’t have to give the game as much of a time commitment; another fun 2D platformer.

The last of the 2D platformers (at least in the original seven games), Sonic and Knuckles. The difference here is that Tails is gone, but you have a choice of playing with either Sonic or Knuckles, who jumps less height, but can glide across large gaps and cling to walls to climb them. Basically the same as the previous games in terms of gameplay and fun factor, but you can’t save in this one, unlike Sonic 3.

Now for the black sheep of the platformers in this set, the interesting Sonic 3D Blast; one has to wonder why this game was ever made, and rejoice that Sonic Team was not behind it. It utilized an isometric 3D style and was quite possibly the first collection-based platformer, since it required you to collect Flickies and lead them to large yellow rings. There is no save feature in this one either. Needless to say, this one is slightly less fun than the other platformers, but is still worth at least a look.

For those pinball fans out there, Sonic Spinball is included in this game as well. I am not overly fond of this game, which forces you to basically play pinball. I am not saying I hate pinball, but I seriously think that this particular incarnation of it is not particularly fun. It’s just a personal opinion though and the game can be entertaining for a while.

Last but not least is a puzzle game, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. I am not sure why this game made the cut, as Sonic is nowhere to be seen, but I like puzzle games, so I am not going to complain too loud. Anyway, all you have to do is clump groups of four beans of the same color in any shape to get them removed, and the objective is to survive longer than the computer opponents. This game has password based saving. Not as fun as some other puzzle games I’ve played, but certainly fun in its own right.

The first unlockable game is Sonic 2 and Knuckles. This originally came from the Genesis; Sonic and Knuckles had a slot on top of it where you could place either Sonic 2 or 3 in and then place Sonic and Knuckles into the Sega Genesis. The basic gist of it is that you go through the levels of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 with Knuckles. That’s the only difference, meaning there is not a save feature. Quite interesting actually, as Knuckles’ playing style allows large portions of some levels to be floated over.

The second unlockable game is Sonic 3 and Knuckles. Like the previous game, it is basically you play Sonic the Hedgehog 3 as Knuckles. The save feature still exists like in the original Sonic the Hedgehog 3. This game actually requires some route changes with Knuckles and has some different portions than what Sonic would go through, and is quite fun also.

The third unlockable game is called Blue Sphere. Basically, it is the mini-game from Sonic and Knuckles where Sonic tries to collect blue spheres without running into the red ones. This game is not really worth putting any time into.

The fourth unlockable game is called Flicky. This game looks old, almost like an early NES game, and executes as such. Basically, it’s a bird who tries to collect its babies without getting eaten by cats. This one can be entertaining in small doses.

Finally, what is quite possibly the best game on the collection, Ristar. This game has absolutely no relationship to Sonic at all, and it’s presence in this collection is something I would question to no end if the game weren’t so fun. It is a platformer with a little star-shaped guy who kills enemies by grabbing and then head-butting them. This is a very fun game, enough said.

There are also bonus features, like movies, pictures of pages from the original instruction manuals, and other assorted stuff, but nothing overly exciting. Overall, this is a very good game that any fan of Sonic the Hedgehog should seriously consider getting, although there are some games not on this collection that could easily have been included at the expense of the extra material.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 3
Replay Value/Game Length: 9
Final: 7
Written by Martin Review Guide

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