Review by Angnix
"A Sonic Fan's First Impression: Updated"
After playing the game a little more, I need to update this, so I guess it really isn't a first impression anymore.
Sonic Gems is a game that hardcore Sonic fans like me have been waiting for quite a while after Sonic Team originally claimed that Sonic CD couldn't be brought to the Gamecube console and the inclusion of Sonic the Fighters which was previously only available on arcade and Sonic R which was released on Saturn and PC. But a few little quirks and annoying/not obvious menu options has lead me to give this Gem an 7/10 after just playing it for a few hours.
IMO, the interfaces and effects look very nice, that's about all I can say.
Pros: The three main games are ones that Sonic fans have been wanting to play on home consoles for some time without having to buy old systems or illegally emulating them. Sonic the Fighters is especially a treat, only released on arcade it was very, very rare that a Sonic fan had played this game without trying to emulate it. Playing Sonic CD would have meant either buying a Sega CD add-on for the Genesis or trying to play the PC version that unfortunately naturally doesn't work on Windows XP, even a fan-made patch isn't quite right. And Sonic R is also hard to find.
The Gamegear games have been released on Gamecube before as unlockables in the game Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, the 6 in this collection happen to be the hardest to unlock in that game and are great for Sonic fans that haven't completed DX yet or never even bothered to buy DX because they have the Dreamcast version already.
Also there are very nice save options that make the Gamegear games much easier to play, for example Sonic Triple Trouble has hard special stages but now you can save your data at the beginning of the stage before you try with a Quick Save, making that and the other Gamegear games more playable.
Cons: The three original games were modified a little from their original versions, mostly with a little addition of new menu options and of course so they would work on the Gamecube. The game that was changed most is Sonic CD. It is supposedly based on the PC version, but owning the PC version it is really not. It does play a lot better, but for some mysterious reason the water in Tidal Tempest is clear, and a loading screen that if I remember correctly is from the original version of Sonic CD had been added after a much faster version of the time travel animation, which I believe was originally a loading screen itself if I am not mistaken The weirdest part is the opening and closing videos. When I heard that they were going to replace the animation with full-screen versions, I was expecting the very high quality and enjoyable versions included in Sonic Mega Collection nope. For some reason when the final video first played, the frame rate and speed was visibly down from the Mega Collection version making the animation choppy, but the opening sequence played just fine. Also they added a movie-theatre black fleck affect I don't really like and I would say the colors are less vibrant than the Mega Collection version, but at least it is a huge improvement over the CD and PC versions of the same movies, but on the other hand some nostalgic fans would have wanted the original movies..
Also some people are ticked off there is no option to hear the Japanese soundtrack in the American version, but it's not really SEGA's fault but some sort of licensing/copyright issue so quit whining. So all in all these games really can't be claimed to be the original versions, they are the Sonic Gems versions and we have to accept that.
Also since the Gamegear games have been on Sonic Adventure before, a lot of Sonic fans see the inclusion of them a little redundant. Also they are not always the most enjoyable games to play, which is why I still haven't played most of the Gamegear games included much even though I do have them unlocked on DX.
Also the two unlockable games don't really fit into the rest of the collection, especially since the collection seems to focus on non-Genesis Sonic games and these two games are Genesis games that have nothing to do with Sonic. Knuckles Chaotix and Segasonic Archade would have been better choices. Plus a lot of Americans feel cheated because Japan got the Streets of Rage series and Bonanza Bros and we didn't because that would have raised the rating past E,
And finally the annoying menu controls. Why is the only way to exit the three main games is to look for the option within the main menu or options menu of most of the games? It took me a little while to find it in each game, I prefer having the ability to press the Z button and having that handy menu pop up that is similar in all games like I can in Sonic Mega Collection.
Also the gamegear games and the two unlockables share 8 save slots, and each save slot takes up so much space on the memory card that you might have to get a whole new memory card to save the game data if you want to save the Gamegear data that is, right now Gems is taking up almost half of an entire memory card, but I guess sacrifices have to be made in order to be able to save data for these games.
Pros: Indeed there are hundreds of images and most of them are fun too look at, plus the fact you can unlock music tracks is kind of fun. Unlocking everything unlike what I said earlier doesn't mean you have to be that good at the games, but it does mean playing the games quite a bit and playing them quite a few times.
Cons: Sorry, but there are just too many annoying things. First all the pages should be available from the get-go so I would have a very good idea what all there is to unlock from the start. Second, I had to look up in the instruction manual how to do things like switch pages and how to open up the music track player. The music player is the most annoying out of all of these because it's totally hidden and you end up having to press Y of all things to bring it up, I probably could have figured it out just by pressing all of the Gamecube buttons, but that's an annoying way to do things. Finally, the easiest stuff to unlock is obviously the older pictures. But most Sonic fans have seen these pictures already. The things we are looking for are possible videos for upcoming games, we are hoping for footage of Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Rush, which no one has found yet. Plus at least I would have liked to see the rest of the comic covers and maybe even more comic books.
On the subject of just plain unlocking things, it's not as easy to do as it is in Mega Collection and there are more different things to do, it adds replayability, but well we want to see the good things and at the same time it's annoying we will have to play the game so long to see any videos for example.
Also me and other people are having problems unlocking certain pictures that require you to choose other pictures in a certain order to see.
Also, I was sort of hoping for nice remixed versions of Sonic CD songs, IMO the versions on there are kind of awful and there are not as many of them as I was hoping. :P
And finally, I already discussed the unlockable games in the Games section, so look above :P
It will take quite a while to unlock all the extras, but the games themselves except maybe Sonic CD are really not that fun to replay themselves, especially some of the gamegear games, but the ability to save does make them easier.
Overall First Impression:
It's not a bad game for a Sonic fan and has given me the chance to play a couple of games I never tried before, but the slight annoyances I see and the fact that I will have to play for hours to see the good unlockables knocks it down a few pegs for me. A game every Sonic fan should have for sure, but maybe a game that non-Sonic fans might not appreciate quite as much because of some of the less enjoyable games in the series and they might give up trying to unlock everything that maybe like in Mega Collection should have been available from the start.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 08/18/05, Updated 08/22/05
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