Review by SneakTheSnake
"Reliving some of the lesser-known of Sonic's adventures"
If I may, I would like to start off this review with a brief history lesson. During the early 1990s, when videogames were simpler and console makers duked it out much more intensely for computer support, Nintendo and Sega were the giants of the era. The NES paved the way for Nintendo's state-of-the-art Super Nintendo, and Sega's Genesis played a very important role in the video game industry, and was Nintendo's strongest competitor at the time. The SNES and the Genesis were graphical powerhouses (Well, the SNES more so), but mascots, licenses, and gameplay gimmicks were just as important to the industry to win over potential buyers and seasoned gamers alike. Now, however, Sega has gone multiplatform, which leads to several Sonic outings on new platforms. Sega has gracefully published this compilation, and I'm glad that they have.
The three primary games in the Gems Collection are Sonic CD, Sonic the Fighters (Or perhaps better known as Sonic Championship), and Sonic R. These were developed and published on the Sega CD, arcade systems, and the Sega Saturn, respectively. The games are all represented faithfully, and I could, overall, recommend this game for purchase.
Sonic CD, which is considered by some to be one of the best Sonic games, was published in 1993 for the ill-fated Sega CD. The graphics are very Genesis-like, but some Mode-7-type effects allowed the flat planes to rotate and zoom. This lead to some interesting level designs and bonus stages. Additionally, the game allowed for time travel. For example, Sonic could zoom into the past, destroy the evil machines Robotnic planted, and would subsequently change the future positively. The sound and music are also quite good, and on this representation, load times are minimal. This is clearly the best game in the set.
Sonic the Fighters is basically a 3D arena-based fighter. Story goes, a Sega programmer fooled around with the Virtua Fighter 2 graphics engine and made a low-poly Sonic model, and overseers resolved to make a Sonic-themed fighting game. The simplistic controls lead to some rather tedious ring matches, but it's fun in a novelty sort of way to beat the rings out of Knuckles using a low-poly Sonic who has oversized hands. The music and sound are fairly standard, and the graphics, while having been good for their time, will be seen as crude by modern gamers.
Sonic R? What to say about Sonic R? Sonic foot-racing. While not exactly hopping onto the mascot-type kart racing phenomenon of a few years before, Sonic and his cohorts go out into this semi-freeform racing romp with a little flair. The game certainly has a lot of innovation. Players race around the tracks and collect rings, and race their best to beat Robotnik. Earning enough rings around the track opens up certain bonus passageways. Bonus tracks and characters can be unlocked along the way, and additionally, there is a good multiplayer race mode. The tracks are good, while in short supply, and the music is really quite interesting, to say the least. It does, though, feature multiplayer play, which is a plus.
The box of this game boasts "6 Bonus Game Gear Classics", though these are barely classics in their own right. The Game Gear was a powerful system for its time, and caught on with mild success, but these games (Well, a few of them) are some high-quality and typical examples of games. These range from good to above average graphic quality, slow to moderate speed, and hard to extremely hard difficulty. Honestly. Try beating Tails' Skypatrol.
Additionally, Gems has a few bonus games, such as Vectorman and Vectorman 2. These don't have much to do with Sonic except these were on the Genesis, but they are good examples of the peak of the Genesis' powers, and are fun action platformers to boot.
The emulation of these games is good, but the interface is a little uninspired. As an incentive, though, there is a plethora of concept art, game shots, full manuals, trailers, and other extras. Sonic fans should, by all means, purchase this. If gamers would would like to find out more about Sonic in his heyday, this is a good recommendation. Also, these games are extremely rare to find individually. But where's Knuckles' Chaotix?
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 11/07/05, Updated 12/01/05
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