Review by Brianzilla2004
"For Sonic fanatics only."
Sonic Gems Collection is what you might call a sequel to 2002's Sonic Mega Collection, or even more so a sequel of the later released Mega Collection Plus+. It's by far a lesser compilation when compared to it's predecessor, not only because of the tiny roster of games to play, but because only two of them are truly worth playing.
Though each game was more or less an exact emulation of the Genesis releases back in the first collection, the three games that the box stresses the inclusion of
the most are actually slightly modified. This is mostly a good thing, but for some reason, the menu that allows you to exit the game and view hints is gone, and in place of it, there is an option to return to the main menu. Unfortunately, there is no way to view hints whilst playing these games, so if you planned to use the hints menu to see what that handy debug cheat's password was, you'd better have a good memory. The Game Gear titles are directly taken from Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, and feature the menu the others don't, so everything's cool with them.
Sonic CD is one of the greatest games to date, and this less-than-perfect port, though acceptable, could have been better. The game remains as awesomely fast and still has it's great US soundtrack, as well as the fantastic anime sequences. This game is just like the other 2D Sonic games though, so if you want some classic Sonic, but are merely a casual fan or are simply curious, you're better off with the other compilation.
Sonic the Fighter is one of the greatest fighters I've played in a long time. The characters all play fairly differently, and are pretty well rounded. To add onto what is already a great addition to anyone's collection, Sonic's arcade endeavor also features a moves list that you can view while in the pause menu, which can help you master the game and complete it with Super Sonic. The fact that Metal Sonic is one of the last bosses just brightens my attitude towards this fighter.
Sonic R isn't a great game, but considering it is obviously a lackluster release, the end result is surprisingly satisfying. When you take into account the low track count of 5, there's plenty to do in this "mini" game. There are 5 characters to unlock, plus Super Sonic when you collect all of the Chaos Emeralds. If you put the difficulty on Hard, you should have a good time. Even if you don't care for the game, being able to race ON FOOT as Sonic is awesome. It's a shame the other racers pit him against others on a vehicle.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a pretty dull Game Gear counterpart of the Genesis classic. The game isn't interesting in any way, other than perhaps the strangely brutal first boss, or second zone. At least this game gives you bragging rights for completing it.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble is by far the best classic action game the Game Gear ever coughed up, and it's fairly impressive. Sonic has a different look to him this time around, and he looks pretty cool. The clumsy Nack makes his first appearance here, and it leads players through several special stages. The music and level design is pretty good too.
Sonic the Hedgehog: Spinball is a train wreck. You can't play something this broken without wondering what single-digit number represents the amount of weeks the project took, and which one represents how many people worked on the game in said time. This game does nothing but soil the name of the decent Genesis title.
Sonic Drift 2 isn't going to hold your attention for too long. Considering what type of game it is, it's a masterpiece. Of course, I was never a fan of "Poll Position." The enhancements over the original, including 3 new characters (all of which are AWESOME characters), more tracks, variations of track types, and the unique abilities each character has, make it worth a bit of time, but not much.
Tails' Sky Patrol falls under the same category as Satan and Barney Rubble. They're evil, and this little handheld release makes good use of the word. What's terribly shocking is that this is supposed to be a game aimed at little kids, complete with boring, brightly colored levels and dumb, goofy enemies, and yet, it's one of the hardest games I've ever played. The only game I recall being tougher was a game in which a couple of dumb-looking planes flew around punching things. No, you didn't read that incorrectly. The planes PUNCHED things. The game had no margin for error, and it was, go figure, also a childrens' game. Makes me wonder what prodigies the developers foresaw purchasing the game.
Tails Adventures is quite possibly the best Game Gear title of all time. While it features action-based stages, it's nothing like previous Sonic titles of the genre. Tails walks through several sections of an island being attacked by metal duck... guys, who Tails must destroy. Along the way, Tails will come across many objects, including special weapons and gadgets, a bunch of rings, and even the Chaos Emeralds. This is a must for anyone fond of Tails, or any Sonic-related properties, who's looking for something new.
Sonic CD and Sonic the Fighters look great, but many of the others aren't so hot. Sonic R is one of the most mediocre game to look at of all the Sonic games, and Tails' Sky Patrol, as well as Sonic Spinball, are absolutely hideous. Sonic 2 is fairly bad to look at, but in as good a way possible, since it suffers mostly from incredibly basic sprites, as opposed to Sonic Drift 2, which attempts to add detail to the tiny screen, and sadly fails to create worthwhile visuals. Triple Trouble is decent, the best I've seen on Game Gear, along with Tails Adventures.
The tunes in every game are good considering the quality of their respective consoles' audio capabilities, except for... Sonic R. Yikes! What's about guy? Did you write those lyrics in 12 minutes? My god, what does knowing who you want have to do with Sonic? Go you, marry the guy and leave me alone! Not alone is the vocalist terrible, but the instrumental aspect sucks too. Of course, this is perhaps a good thing, since I find the songs quite humorous. They're also quite catchy, "Living in the City" just won't go away!!! The sound effect are fine, and there's no voice work to speak of, except for Sonic CD, in which Sonic shouts "Yes" as you collect extra lives, which sounds fine.
While the majority of the games controls perfectly, there are a few Game Gear additions that cripple this section's score. Tails' Sky Patrol feels clunky, and the handling is just plain awkward, while Sonic Spinball feels more like a matter of luck than anything else. Sonic Drift 2 is a little clunky, but every game I've played in the genre has felt the same, so I guess I can't complain...
Sonic CD, Sonic the Fighter, Sonic Triple Trouble... they barely have any story at all. It's essentially the same thing every time. Sonic must stump his nemesis, Robotnik, at his own game, whether it be racing, fighting, or playing a game of pinball. With these oldschool games, you've gotta be a little easy on this aspect of the games. The stories aren't anything special, but they certainly don't define the games. After all, the only thing you need to boot Sonic out the door is a decent plot to take over the world.
The multiplayer modes of Sonic the Fighter and Sonic R are excellent. With Fighters, you can't go wrong, since it's a fighting game anyway. Punch the crud out of your buddies and show them that Knuckles tops Bark! Sonic R works as long as you use characters that are fairly equal, otherwise it's a waste of time. I'd hardly consider EggRobo vs. Super Sonic fun, just funny... and sad. Sonic Drift 2 isn't bad considering the fact that it's a Game Gear title, but it's not worth getting too involved with it.
The collection of images is fairly impressive, and the remixed tunes... are different, but there could have been so much more. Why no box art? Also, why put demos into this compilation? I bought Sonic Gems Collection to play through one of my favorite Sonic titles and try out Sonic the Fighter. If I wanted to play the last level of Sonic 1, 2, 3, Blast, or the other Sonic titles excluded from this game, I would've popped in my "Sonic Mega Collection Plus+" or "Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut" discs. I don't want to see the "true" ending again, I want to see more movies, like the CG opening of Sonic Adventure, a nice little addition to the "Museum."
One cool thing worth mentioning is the way you unlock the images. Sonic Team actually thought of some interesting ways to get things activated for the consumers. You'll find many puzzles to solve in order to view a number of images, and you'll also be forced to change the internal clock over and over and over... Certainly a lot better than Mega Collection's instantly accessible extras.
Vectorman and Vectorman 2 are unlockable, and though they're great, I don't really want them on this compilation, since I bought this expecting Sonic. Chaotix would have been much more welcome, or even the Saturn and/or PC version of Sonic 3D Blast. The Sonic & Knuckles Collection also could've been a good addition, since it has an enhanced soundtrack that gives players a totally different listen from the Genesis original.
There's also Hints for each game, as well as manuals, though the Vectorman manuals aren't here, which seems lazy on Sonic Team's part, since the extra games in Mega Collection Plus+ had their manuals present.
There's enough extras to unlock to keep you busy for a while, and Sonic CD's got plenty of bonus features to enable. The multiplayer segment of Sonic the Fighter will undoubtedly take up some of your time, and Sonic CD is an excellent enough title to keep you occupied for days, but after that, it doesn't go very far.
Sonic Gems Collection has some worthwhile titles, but the majority of it isn't. Sonic fans will surely be pleased with Sonic CD and Sonic the Fighters, but the rest have all been perfectly accessible on the PC for a bargain price or online for free. Not to mention the complete Game Gear collection is already on Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut. This game is hard to recommend unless you're a real Sonic junkie.
Rent or buy- Buy
If you're a fan of the series, there's enough here to keep you busy for well over the 5-day rental's worth of time, and even when you get tired of the collection, you'll eventually come back to the more solid titles in this collection. You might as well purchase it, so it'll be on tap, just in case your need kicks back in.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.0 - Fair
Originally Posted: 08/22/05, Updated 01/02/07
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