Sonic Classic Collection: review

  • Format: DS
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Developer: Sega
  • Site: www.sega.co.uk

Sony vs Microsoft fanboy arguments? Pish and pshaw. Hugs and kisses compared to the Nintendo vs Sega war of the nineties. Yet here we are in the space year 2010, and Sega have bundled together a bunch of Sonic platformers for Nintendo’s latest handheld. Either the sad demise of the Dreamcast had some positive side effects, or somebody went back in time and killed the wrong butterfly…

If you’ve never played a Sonic game, you’re missing out on an important part of the industry’s heritage; and if you don’t recognise the name or image of Sonic The Hedgehog, then do yourself a favour and sell your videogame collection to fund your new hobby of knitting. We all know the drill here, surely; platformers with the emphasis on speed, running through loop de loops, collecting rings for points and protection, killing robot monkeys, etc. etc.

The most important question is: how good a job does the compilation do? Official emulations tend to be lazy and, in the case of compilations, bafflingly random. Neither, thankfully, is the case here. You get Sonics 1 – 3 and Sonic And Knuckles, as well as another two half games (more on which later). We squealed with delight when the opening screen informed us that all were USA versions. Why? Because our original PAL versions, the ginger stepchildren of nineties videogames, ran over 17% slower than the NTSC versions.

Gameplay takes place on the top, slightly higher resolution screen (and the game has been made to fit perfectly – no borders) with the touchscreen acting as a permanent options menu. The decision to put the pause button there too, even though the start and select buttons aren’t used for anything else, is odd – but you get used to it. Each game now has a quicksave feature apart from Sonic 3, which retains the autosave at the start of each Zone.

Sitting down to play the games brought a shamelessly dumb grin to our faces, as all the memories came flooding back. Not only have the series’ music and sound effects aged surprisingly well, but so too has the simple yet iconic art – even in the first game. Sonic 3 marks a small but noticeable improvement in the graphics, but what really matters is the gameplay. How has that aged?

Please don't try to make a real hedgehog do this. Although it would be very funny.

Like a fine wine, and just as intoxicating.

You can rush through the levels as though you’re trying to set a world record (and possibly unsuccessfully trying to attract a member of the opposite sex) if you like, or you can take a more sedate pace and uncover all the hidden items and routes, which is fine; but going through these games again reminded us of something that could sometimes frustrate us. Although the Sonic titles allow and actively encourage the player to zip through the levels as quickly as possible, doing so will sometimes see you run straight into an enemy or hazard you had no way of seeing in time. Then you see all the rings you collected up until that point scatter; and a little piece of you dies, knowing that it’s literally impossible to pick them all back up again.

Still, it’s all part of the Sonic experience, and most players are happy to go by trial and error in the relatively short levels where necessary. This collection can also be rather cathartic for those who hate Sonic’s sidekicks with a passion. Tails the fox was introduced in Sonic 2, and was perfectly bearable before Sega gave him a voice. How many of you, we wonder, will choose him as your avatar in Sonic 3 just so you can send him to his death again and again?

The best of the bunch is surely Sonic And Knuckles, where you get to choose to play as either Sonic, or Knuckles The (wait for it) Echidna. It’s tougher than the previous three games – some enemies and hazards require a little more thinking than before to overcome – but all the more satisfying for it. Knuckles’ ability to glide through the air and climb walls also gives the series a welcome breath of fresh air. Now, who remembers what was odd about the Sonic And Knuckles cartridge?

Look out Sonic, he's got a... er, he's got an, um...

+10 Nerd XP to you if you knew it could connect to the Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 cartridges. What this did, basically, was allow you to play through the previous games as Knuckles. It opened up a few new routes, enemies and items; but the biggest effect playing as Knuckles has, is it makes the games slightly easier. The games were designed for Sonic and/or Tails of course, which means there are plenty of opportunities for a fumbled jump to be overcome by grabbing onto a wall and climbing it, or for a tricky section to be glided over. In case you hadn’t guessed, Versions of 2 and 3 both with and without Knuckles are included here.

We would’ve liked to see Chaotix, Sonic 3D and Sonic CD here for a sense of completeness, and Sonic Spinball would’ve been most welcome. It’s also sad that all the games are singleplayer only. Nonetheless, it’s a great way to see what all the fuss is about if you’ve never played these games – and serves as an enjoyable reminder of why everyone’s so excited about a new 2D Sonic if you have.

And who doesn’t love Casino Zone?

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Written by Luke K

Luke plays lots of videogames, now and again stopping to write about them. He's the editor in chief at Critical Gamer, which fools him into thinking his life has some kind of value. Chances are, if you pick up a copy of the latest Official PlayStation Magazine or GamesMaster, you'll find something he's written in there. Luke doesn't have a short temper. If you suggest otherwise, he will punch you in the face.

One comment

  1. Krazyface /

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