This is the Buttonhole review PLUS!
Publisher: Sega/THQ Australia
Fri, 25 March 2005
Email the Author
This is the same as Sonic Mega Collection for the Nintendo Gamecube, only with a couple of extras (hence the Plus). There is a lot to love here. It takes some searching to get the most out of this collection, but once you unlock everything it has to offer it becomes a must have disc for fans of classic games (a couple of which are not Sonic games).
Sonic was a HUGE deal in his day. I realize that Sonic games are still being released, but they aren't the massive news they once were. Sonic the Hedgehog, for a while at least, made the Megadrive (or Genesis as it was known in the USA) the coolest, hippest gaming system to own. Despite the fact that hardcore gamers knew Sega's 16-Bit console was already home to many great games prior to Sonic's arrival, the blue hedgehog's game was the one to really grab people's attention on a more mainstream level. The game's blazing speed and eye catching graphics managed to attract a massive number of fans.
Sonic was seen as Sega's answer to Nintendo's Mario. The Sega character seemed much cooler and more "edgy" and full of "attitude" (all of that '90's crap) than Nintendo's fat plumber, who suddenly seemed a little old fashioned. Of course now we know that has Mario stood the test of time (probably quite a bit better than Sonic) and it is all about the depth of gameplay, not "attitude" or flashy graphics. But to me the comparisons were always a little off. The Mario and Sonic titles both might have been a series of platform games, but they were completely different styles of platform games. It was a case of the proverbial "comparing apples to oranges" syndrome. They were/are both excellent in their own distinct ways and there was plenty of room for both. Anyway, while at the peak of their popularity the Sonic games sold like hotcakes and went a big way to making Sega number one...God, that seems like an eternity ago now!
Sonic still has a sizable (cult like) following and many people still love the 16-Bit Sonic games, so these collections make plenty of financial and historical sense. Of course, as the title of this game makes perfectly clear, the main appeal is going to be for those who loved the Sonic the Hedgehog games of old. But there are also some other beauties included and, as far as I'm concerned, they are what help to really make this package great. The included games are:
GameGear: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic Labyrinth, Sonic Drift, Sonic Chaos, Sonic Blast, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
Megadrive: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3D Flickie's Island, Sonic Spinball and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. Unlockable extras: Blue Sphere, Knuckles in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Flicky, Ristar, The Ooze and (apparently) Comix Zone.
Pretty sweet amount of games right? Yeah, except the GameGear titles are, quite frankly, not a patch on their 16-Bit big brothers and are really more of a novelty than anything else. I didn't spend more than about 10 minutes with each of those; there's just no real incentive to play lesser versions when you have the good stuff ready and waiting. For instance why would anybody play the GameGear version of Mean Bean Machine over the exact same game with better graphics in the Megadrive port that is also here?
The Megadrive games have mostly held up really well. The main Sonic games are all basically the same, you run really fast, collect rings and go bouncing about all the place. 2D platforming level design was at its peak during this era and the Sonic games are no exception, they remain a lot of fun to play. You can choose just to try and get through the levels as quickly as possible or, if you want to explore, there are plenty of hidden rewards to discover. Their graphics still look remarkably good too, especially to those (like me) who appreciate quality 2D aesthetics.
Sonic CD which appeared on the Mega CD/Sega CD is still missing, which is a bit of a shame, as that is generally regarded as one of the very best Sonic games. This is supposed to be a "Mega Collection PLUS" after all. You'd think Sega would've found some time and space to add that awesome game to the list, especially given that Sonic 3D Flickies Island, the black sheep of the Sonic family (though I don't hate it, many "old school" Sonic fans do), managed to rear its ugly head. But, apart from that unfortunate omission, there's a massive amount of Sonic action on offer here. Hours upon hours of Hedgehog action, for those who enjoy that kind of thing (much more painful than gerbils I am sure). Opinion tends to vary amongst hardcore Sonic followers as to which of his Megadrive games is the best, many of them tend to go with Sonic 2. I enjoy each of them, but if I had to pick a favourite I'd go with Sonic 3 (or, more specifically, Sonic 3 & Knuckles).
As I was saying, what really seals the deal is the unlockable bonus goodies. They are a total pain in the arse to get hold of though. Here's how to access them:
Flicky: Play Doctor Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine 30 times.
Knuckles in Sonic 2: play Sonic the Hedgehog 2, and Sonic Spinball 20
Sonic 3 and Knuckles: Play Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles
20 times each.
Blue Sphere: play Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic 3D Blast 20 times each.
Ristar: Play Blue Sphere, Knuckles in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 and Knuckles and Flicky 30 times each.
The Ooze: Unlock everything except for Ristar or have a Sonic Heroes save on your memory card
Comix Zone: Play all non-GameGear games (even the unlockables) thirty times each. Or, get a Sonic Heroes game save on your memory card. (At least that's what I read needed to be done, but this last one didn't actually work for me)
The quickest (though it still takes ages) way to do it is to just load the games then return to the title screen and repeat over and over. It would have been much better just to have included the extras as playable from the start. Or maybe they could have made it so you have to finish one of the games to unlock another; an earned reward like that would be fine with me. As it is, the way that the extras are activated is just ridiculous and I think many people won't even be bothered to get them. This is a real shame, as some of them are great.
Flicky may look primitive, but it has very addictive gameplay once you get into it. The Ooze is a bit of fun and quite an unusual kind of game that is worth a look. Comix Zone is a unique game too (also and excellent one), so I'd like to have gotten that one working, but like I said, I had no luck in making it happen. Ristar is one game that is actually worth all the aggravation and time it takes to access. It is a friggin' masterpiece! It still looks fantastic and plays extremely well. In my opinion it truly is one of the best 2D platform games ever made, up there with greats like Yoshi's Island and Earthworm Jim. I actually like Ristar even more than any of the Sonic games.
The disc also includes a bunch of viewable Sonic related drawings, comics and instruction manuals for all the games. You have to zoom right in to be able to read any of the print though, which makes viewing much of it a little clumsy in practise, but as a little added extra it is still pretty cool.
Those who have no interest in either Sonic or 16-Bit games in general aren't going to find any reason to have anything to do with Mega Collection Plus. But this is a very nice collection of classic games and if you like that kind of thing you should definitely grab a copy. There must still be plenty of Sonic fans around too, because last I heard Sonic Mega Collection Plus was at the top of both the Xbox and PS2 sales charts.
Email the Author
More articles by Hillelman
A very enjoyable collection of classic games, but strictly for old-school fans. Extra button scored for including Ristar!