Written By Shaun McCracken

In 2002, Sega released the Sonic Mega Collection compilation of the Gamecube, which contained almost every 16-bit Sonic game that appeared on the Genesis. Notice how I used the word "almost", because Sega left out Sonic CD, which is one particular game Sonic fans really wanted to see in the compilation. Well, nearly three years later, Sega fulfills that wish in the Sonic Gems Collection, where you finally get to play Sonic CD over 10 years after it's release on a console. Now this is a collection, which means there are other games in the compilation, but in this case, it seems like the games are whatever leftovers Sega could find to put on the disc, and yet it's STILL missing certain titles.

Aside from Sonic CD (which is probably why you would pick this collection up), you get Sonic R, Sonic The Fighters, a handful of Sonic games released on the hand held Game Gear platform, and Vectorman 1 and 2 from the Genesis. While Sonic CD and the two Vectorman titles are solid entries in the compilations, the other games feel like just filler.

Getting into the games, Sonic CD is the basic reason to pick up the collection, as it's the first time we actually get to play the game if we missed it back in the 90's. Sonic CD falls between the original Sonic and Sonic 2. Tails is not there chasing you around, so you're alone throughout the game. Sonic CD feels just like every other Sonic game released, but one of the gimmicks is that you can jump back and forth through the past, present, or future. What you do in those time periods can affect your progress through the stage and the entire game. While this element adds some strategy to the game, time travel has a bit of a random feel since you blast through the stages so quickly, you don't know if you activated a time post or not. As for boss battles, they're pretty weak, and some of the easiest in Sonic history. Other than that, it's not a bad game, and really would have fit in with the Sonic Mega Collection rather than be set aside in this collection.

As for Sonic R , the game is entertaining for awhile, as it is a racing game (although you run instead of drive), but there are only five courses and not much to do. At least it's a port of the PC version than the Saturn release, as the textures are sharper and the overall look is cleaner. If you're expecting something like Super Mario Kart, though, you might be in for some disappointment. Sonic The Fighters was an arcade game that feels like a heavily watered down version of Virtua Fighter, nothing at all like what Nintendo did with Super Smash Bros.. You basically go one on one with a Sonic character and beat the living rings out of them, but there's really no strategy to the fighting, and no real depth whatsoever. Vectorman and Vectorman 2 are not really relevant to the Sonic franchise,, but at least it's something different and something worth your time. If you don't know what Vectorman is/was, it was basically Sega's countermeasure to Nintendo's Donkey Kong Country. Vectorman used the same kind of pre-rendered 3-D modeling DKC used, but the game was more of a platforming shooter than an adventure game. Both games are pretty challenging, so if you're looking something tough, well, here you go.

Now a word on the Game Gear games. If you already own Sonic Adventure DX for the Gamecube or Sonic Mega Collection Plus for the PS2 or Xbox, you probably won't bother with these games, because they've appeared on the two said games above. If you haven't played these games before, then you might find some mild thrills here. Note that these games don't look that great (especially when they're magnified), since they're developed for the Game Gear system. Sonic The Hedgehog 2 and Sonic Triple Trouble are decent platformers that are a little different from their Genesis counterparts, and if you're a Sonic fan, you'll probably play these all the way through. Sonic Drift is a slow Mario-kart like game that really wasn't such a good idea to develop for the Game Gear period. Tails Sky Patrol and Tails Adventures are pretty disposable, with one not being any better than the other. Finally, there's Sonic Spinball, which is nice if you had a Game Gear then, but on a console, you would much rather have the Genesis version. I do have something to say about the appearance of Game Gear games in this collection: why are they here? Sure, they're Sonic games, but wouldn't this be a better fit for a collection on the GameBoy Advance?

While it seems like Sega scraped up the leftovers in terms of Sonic games, they actually still forgot some games. Knuckles Chaotix from the 32X, while not great, should have been included in this collection. Also, where is Sonic Labrynith from the Game Gear, and why couldn't they include the Sonic game that appeared on the Neo Geo Pocket Color (even though it's a modified version of Sonic 2 on the Genesis)? Streets Of Rage should have been left in from the Japanese release, but Sega didn't want to get a T-rating, so that got axed. Then there's Sonic Shuffle on the Dreamcast, which was never ported to a console or included in a compilation. How Sega could not include any of these games is beyond me.

Visually, the games are dated, but look how you would expect them to (maybe better, in terms of Sonic R). Sonic CD looks like a Genesis game with a little more color, but at least you never have any slowdown problems. Sonic R is a port of the PC version of the game, so the textures are sharper than the Saturn version, and lack the texture warping problem prevalent in that era. Sonic The Fighters looks okay, but I've never played the arcade version, so it's hard to compare the two versions. The Game Gear titles look kind of ugly blown up in a full screen mode, but these games were never meant for a big screen anyway. Vectorman and Vectorman 2 look nice, probably the best looking games to come from the Genesis console (although the color depth is not as great as the pre-rendered SNES games). The menu for the collection is much cleaner, but also a little more sterile, like Midway Arcade Treasures 3.

For the audio, it's basically the same story. The music for Sonic CD and Sonic R were disc based, so they sound better than the rest of the games in the collection. Sonic R has some bizarre pop music with lyrics, which really doesn't fit with the game (although they as weird as they are, it would have been at home in Metropolis Street Racer on the Dreamcast). The Game Gear games sound like Game Gear games, which is to say that they sound like NES games. Vectorman 1 & 2 survive the translation with little to no audio errors. I will say one thing about the effects in Sonic CD, particuarlly the jumping effect, which is out of place. It doesn't sound like the other Sonic games, it's weird and almost annoying. I don't know if it was there in the original game or if they screwed up here, but it definitely doesn't work.

Final Thought

If you never played Sonic CD, well this is pretty much the cheapest and easiest way to do it. While much of the collection is filler, the two Vectorman titles do increase replay value and challenge, even though they have nothing to do with Sonic. It would have been nice to see Knuckles Chaotix and Sonic Shuffle in the collection, but what can you do? For $20, the game might be worth having if you're a Sonic fan, but if all you want to do is play Sonic CD, you might just want to rent this one.




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Had these games been included in the original "Mega Collection", this compilation wouldn't even be necessary.

Sega Smash Pack

Sega Classics Collection

Sonic Mega Collection

2003-2006 SPM

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