"The hit games are as wonderful as I remember them being, featuring the speedy blue rodent ripping through Green Hill, Labyrinth, Oil Ocean, and Angel Island Zones, to name a few. "
I'm trying to figure out who Sonic Mega Collection Plus is for. Diehard Sonic The Hedgehog fans would already have all the great Genesis games in their possession, surely. And if they wanted a convenient way to play those greats, they could use emulation to back up their hard copies--I'm thinking that emulation is legal in this capacity. So perhaps SMC+ is for the true Sonic collector, who just has to own everything Sonic.
If that's you, SMC+ is an absolute must have. It not only includes such greats as Sonic The Hedgehog 1, 2, 3, and Knuckles--all for the Genesis--but it includes a slew of not-so-greats, such as the Game Gear (Sega's short-lived portable Master System, really) incarnations of Sonic 1, Sonic Chaos and others. For the sake of completeness, the compilation even carries a few outright stinkers, such as Sonic Drift, which is about the worst racing game I've ever played. As if to compensate for this, Sega has included several unlockable non-Sonic titles such as Comix Zone, and the amazing Ristar, which is arguably better than any Sonic game on the disc.
The hit games are as wonderful as I remember them being, featuring the speedy blue rodent ripping through Green Hill, Labyrinth, Oil Ocean, and Angel Island Zones, to name a few. The cutesy two-tailed fox Tails is here, as is the tough guy echnida, Knuckles. Aficionados will be happy to learn that the Knuckles plus Sonic 2, and Knuckles plus Sonic 3 combinations are also intact. The games are mostly of the same timeless 2D recipe, offering high velocity ring marshalling against colourful backdrops and the constant danger of spike beds and cutesy animal-cum-robot nuisances.
You'll be able to access the titles from a striking menu that shows you each one in action as you scroll through. While this is going on, a pretty sweet new tune plays and manages to capture the feel of the franchise, and warm you with happy nostalgia even before you've played a single game. It also bears mentioning that if you find yourself caught up playing and it's time to leave for that Justin Timberlake concert, SMC+ allows you to save your progress at any time, during any game.
Drawbacks to this collection are few, and expected, but significant enough to make this game somewhat unattractive to the average gamer. Again, many of the games are weak, and would not warrant a look at all--indeed, would wilt away in obscurity, were they not crammed on this disc. Would you have ever bothered with Sonic Spinball, the decidedly lame pinball game starring the blue blur? And if you wanted to try your hand at Sonic's version of Puyo Puyo, the Mean Bean Machine--surely the Genesis version would suit you well enough that you wouldn’t also feel the need to play the far inferior Game Gear version?
Further, the unlockables are exceedingly difficult to gain access to. Some will require you to enter and exit other titles hundreds of times before they show up on the game list. This is unnecessarily tedious and does not even reflect time spent playing the games, but instead, time spent accessing them repeatedly. Also: after a few saves of progress during a few games, you'll notice your memory card filling up shockingly fast. Each title--even the tiniest and crummiest of 8-bit adventures--requires close to 300 kb of memory to establish a save! This is all really annoying stuff.
Still, if you love old school gaming, and old school Sonic in particular, the game is a decent deal, and as such, an attractive prospect to the Sonic collector. Other gamers--including moderate Sonic fans--mightn't see the point of shelling out for about five solid 16-bit titles interspersed with a host of derivative and outdated filler.
Staff review by Marc Golding (May 04, 2005)
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