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Sonic Classic Collection review

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AT A GLANCE
  • Four Sonic games in one
  • A decent holdover until Sonic 4 hits
  • Awesome music
  • Performance goes all jerky for no apparent reason
  • Simplistic gameplay hasn't aged well
  • Colour palette looks grainy and muted

The entire Sonic collection on a cartridge the size of a special edition Christmas stamp… If we could go back in time and tell ourselves we’d be playing this on a full-colour dual-screen handheld, in the year 2010, we’d have been amazed. Surely it’s not going to take the best part of 20 years for the rest of the world to realise that Sonic is actually a load of old pants…

Now that retro is a legit part of the gaming business – and maybe even a pixellated art form in its own right – we know there are certain things we’re supposed to overlook in these creaky old games. But however we approach it, there’s no escaping the suspicion that these particular Genesis/Mega Drive oldies were somewhat less than golden to begin with.

When a large part of the thrill involves little more than watching a character run very, very fast, there’s clearly something missing. It’s a trick repeated in all four games on this compilation – Sonic zooms along a flat surface, with the occasional loop thrown in for visual amazement, and the only thing preventing you from completing a large chunk of the level simply by holding right on the D-pad is the odd rock or spike that stops you dead if you don’t see it in time.

There are more complicated parts, of course, but those are hampered by Sonic’s utter uselessness at anything below top speed. He accelerates about as quickly as a fully laden oil tanker, and is equally maneuverable. Consequently there are few areas that call for great dexterity, and much of the challenge comes from remembering which bumpers will bounce you the right way to collect some items hidden far off the screen.

Considering this is a game series that has long prioritised flash over function, you’d think they’d have made sure the conversion to DS was absolutely spot-on. But there are some weird juddery glitches in the scrolling, and the Genesis/Mega Drive colour palette looks grainy and muted on DS. There are few extras (a tiny art gallery) and no two-player modes. Sonic fans should check out the Virtual Console versions rather than this one. It’s far from a definitive compilation.

Mar 31, 2010

More Info

Release date: Mar 02 2010 - DS (US)
Mar 26 2010 - DS (UK)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Action
Published by: Sega
Developed by: Sega
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Comic Mischief
PEGI Rating:
3+

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7 comments

  • GameManiac - April 1, 2010 4:04 p.m.

    I've only played the first Sonic game, so I may consider this if I had more money.
  • GoldenMe - April 1, 2010 4:55 a.m.

    I already have all 4 from XBLA. I still play Sonic 2, and Sonic 3 w/ S&K attached. You can't take away my fanboyism, Mr. Martin Kitts from the UK (feh)
  • TheWoolyMammoth - April 1, 2010 1:36 a.m.

    Ah now this makes me sad, would have liked to play the originals on the go. I'm still rolling on a high for Sonic 4 though, looks amazing so far to me!
  • GamesRadarBrettElston - April 1, 2010 12:32 a.m.

    I'm not surprised by this, but am disappointed. I'm a sucker for re-releases of the Genesis Sonic games and fully planned on buying this, but feared the emulation would be shit, as was the case with Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis on GBA. When the point of the game is speed and fluidity, you must have 100% accurate emulation, not this stuttery BS.
  • philiptomlinson - April 1, 2010 12:29 a.m.

    But the immaculate presentation is one of the biggest strengths of Sonic, especially when you hit the later stages of S&K and you watch the Death Egg's lasers cause a cavern to explode into flame, run up a collapsing sky-island and run from an emerald-powered robot so big that only its head fits on screen. As a set of thrilling and well-paced adventures they really haven't aged too badly. But then, I play games to visit new worlds and explore new realities. Sonic's gameplay may not be too challenging but it is VERY immersive, and that's suited me as a gamer since the day I picked up a pad. Shame the DS conversion is poor.
  • MisterAdequate - April 1, 2010 12:29 a.m.

    I played through the Sonic games just last summer, and I found them as brilliant and engaging as ever. I can't speak as to the quality of this port, but I think you're severely off base to claim that the gameplay has suffered. It's a pretty simplistic presentation of what Sonic entails, and criticizing Sonic because it involves running fast is kind of like criticizing DooM because it involves shooting things or Street Fighter because it is centered around martial combat.
  • crumbdunky - March 31, 2010 11:40 p.m.

    Oh, GR is always harder on Sonci than Mario! Every time. Obviously the games aren't as slick as some we play today but they're still classics, by and large, for a reason and if you just don't like the blue hedgehog then just leave it!

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