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Sonic Mega Collection Plus (PlayStation 2) artwork

Sonic Mega Collection Plus (PlayStation 2) review

"I've not actually seen Ristar on this collection because of the painfully tedious process of unlocking games. From doing a good bit of reading, you apparently need a save for Sonic Heroes on your memory card to get a couple of the games, while the rest are unlocked by starting up various Genesis games a whole bunch of times; and game hints are unlocked by keeping games open for three hours. This is just so stupid…"

As a guy who loves his retro games, few things are more valuable to my collection than a large compilation. What better way to relive those glory days of the 8- and 16-bit systems than having a bunch of them on on disc that I can plug in whenever I feel like going back in time?

And so, when I was out shopping a number of months ago and saw Sonic Mega Collection Plus on sale for a low, low price, there was no resisting on my part. I snapped it up, went straight to the cashier and left the store with a warm, fuzzy feeling deep inside. I was going to have all of the classic Sega Genesis Sonic titles, as well as a bunch of games involving the speedy hedgehog that I wasn't so familiar with that were released for both the Genesis and the portable Game Gear. Making things even better, there were a handful of games to unlock, including the "so awesome it should be illegal" Ristar. I was like a Norse warrior finally setting eyes upon Valhalla when I put this one in my PlayStation 2!

And why wouldn't I be? The Genesis Sonic titles are some of the more fun platforming games created -- maybe not at the elite level of King Mario, but a strong runner-up. Over the years, I've become reasonably fond of wasting time with Puyo Puyo-themed puzzle games, so Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine looked like a winner, too. And Sonic had apparently been quite the busy animal over the years, as he'd also gotten involved with racing (Sonic Drift), pinball (Sonic Spinball) and other leisurely pursuits.

This was a pretty comprehensive collection of Sonic games. If you recall, the fourth game, Sonic & Knuckles could lock on to other games in the series to enhance them with the presence of Knuckles the Echidna and even alterations and additions to levels. All that stuff can be unlocked, so by purchasing this compilation, a player wouldn't be missing out on anything they could get from owning the actual cartridges and a Sega Genesis. You also can save progress at any time in any game, so none of them have to be finished in one sitting and if a particular zone gives you a lot of trouble, you can essentially practice it until you're clearing it effortlessly.

So, what could go wrong with this purchase? Sadly, three really important things conspired to turn this into a disc that didn't really get a great deal of time in my PS2 after my first week of ownership and, more importantly, a disc it's unlikely I'll pick up again. And this is where I clumsily and abruptly segue into a list of things that went wrong.

*awkward silence*

First, let's look at the content. Or specifically, stuff from the Genesis era that's not here, such as Sonic CD from the Sega Mega-CD or Knuckles' Chaotix from the 32x. After pondering omissions like those, then start playing some of the Game Gear games or even Genesis ones like Sonic 3D Blast or Sonic Spinball. Feel the disappointment wash over you as you realize just how many games in the collection are mediocre or just plain bad. Get confused trying to figure out just why it was determined that gamers needed two different versions of Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. But, hey, that shouldn't be such a big deal! After all, I can just ignore the presence of duds like Sonic Drift to focus on unlocking those cool extras, can't I?

Or not. I've not actually seen Ristar on this collection because of the painfully tedious process of unlocking games. From doing a good bit of reading, you apparently need a save for Sonic Heroes on your memory card to get a couple of the games, while the rest are unlocked by starting up various Genesis games a whole bunch of times; and game hints are unlocked by keeping games open for three hours. This is just so stupid…if I wanted to unlock Ristar, I'd have to unlock all the Sonic & Knuckles lock-on bonuses and another Genesis game, Flicky (playing virtually every Genesis game at least 20 times to do so) and then play all of those 30 times each. Sure, in lieu of actually playing any of these games, I could just start them up and cancel out at the title screen, but with the load times present here, that's a time-consuming and tedious process that's just more trouble than it's worth.

But now, I'm playing Ristar, Sonic the Hedgehog and many of the other titles present on this disc with ease, which leads to the final problem with this collection -- if you have a system more modern than the PS2, the creation of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection makes this one mostly obsolete. I bought that for my XBox 360 the other day and got a whopping 40 Genesis games, which includes all of the ones here except for The Ooze and the Sonic & Knuckles lock-on games. While there are games to unlock there, get this -- you do so by actually accomplishing stuff in games! There's no "start, quit, start, quit" tedium to access extra materials and, while there are definitely some duds, at least they're not shoddy hand-held duds designed solely to cash in on Sonic's name by placing him in isometric mazes or race cars.

In today's gaming world, I'd guess the only people whom Sonic Mega Collection Plus has meaning for are those who are looking for a decent-sized collection of games revolving around the hedgehog and his assorted friends and foes. While there are a number of those on the market, this does have a large selection of Sonic games and, unlike my 360 collection, includes the ability to experience the lock-on expansions, which is a nice bonus. On the other hand, it sadly seems like most retro Sonic games that aren't part of the main Genesis series are of dubious quality, with only maybe one Game Gear game being particularly enjoyable. Unlocking additional content was the sort of tedious busywork I couldn't even get into when too inebriated to actually play games or do anything requiring actual competence and the load times for switching between games or quick-saving progress got to be a pain, as well. This disc might have been good stuff when it was first released and it might have value today for Sonic junkies, but other than that, it's hard to recommend this to people when superior options are currently on the market.


overdrive's avatar
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (September 20, 2013)

Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.

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