Review by flex_ible2000

"These Sonic games truly are gems! *Spoilers*"

Introduction:

Sonic the Hedgehog is my favorite gaming series out there, and for good reasons. The games included in Sonic Gems Collection (SGC) are some of those reasons. This compilation of overlooked and sometimes underrated Sonic games is named well: Sonic Gems Collection. Because that's just what it is... a collection of Sonic Gems. Although I have the advantage of being a huge Sonic fan, and having nostalgia tied to most of these games, I think anybody would really enjoy them. Instead of giving different sections for graphics, value, etc. I'll rate each game individually. And I'll be rating the games not by today's standards but by the standards for when the they came out. But, technical specs aside, this is a wonderful Sonic compilation that any Sonic fan should own. In fact, even if you're not a Sonic fan you might want to check this game out, but it'd be more fun if you were a fan.

Gameplay: 8

The gameplay is different for each game, so I'll do a section on each one. But first I should mention the menu's gameplay. Yes, the menu itself has gameplay that ties into the games included spectacularly. There's plenty to unlock in SGC, and the museum has most of that stuff. By playing different games long enough, beating them, and stuff like that, you can unlock a bunch of things such as artwork, hints, new songs and remixes, and more. The songs are the coolest thing to unlock in my opinion, but the artwork and hints are great too! The hints, unlike most games' hints, actually help! But enough about the menu. There is a grand total of 11 games in SGC, 3 of which are varied Sonic games, 6 more are Game Gear games, and 2 are unlockable. But, um, don't get too excited about the unlockable ones, we'll talk more about them later. First off we'll talk about..

Sonic R:

Ah, Sonic R. The best game included. Where to start? Well, I've gotta start somewhere, so here goes…

Gameplay: 8

Sonic R might be one of the most underrated games of all time. It was one of my first Sonic games ever (the first of many) and it stands up as an excellent entry in the series. It has a very unique feel to it, which I will attempt to explain in the rest of my review. So let's go!

Gameplay: 8

Sonic R is fun, speedy, and relaxing. There are plenty of characters to choose from (the number of which I won't spoil), and some great courses to go along with them. It would be nice to have a few more tracks, but you can race them in reverse mode too, which adds on some replay. Some characters run, some hover, and a couple even pilot vehicles! The ones that run and hover are by far the most fun, and the ones that pilot vehicles are pretty much just worse than the others. But this doesn't really matter too much since you'll be having so much fun just cruising along the courses. The control is great, but there is one problem. Sometimes turning around can be very difficult if you bump into a corner, but since this doesn't happen very much, it's fine. You can race in the Grand Prix to unlock courses and characters, or you can just race around the tracks in Time Attack mode. You can search for hidden balloons, play tag with computer-controlled characters, or race against yourself by facing your “ghost” from your last run. There's a great multiplayer mode too, which provides much enjoyment. There's just something about this game that relaxes you. It's so fun to speed along the course, you'll find yourself coming back to it over and over again.

Graphics: 9

The graphics are highly enjoyable in Sonic R. From the bright, vibrant scenery to the nicely animated characters models, it's all good. Of course, it's not perfect. Certainly not up to today's standards, but it was pretty nice for the time. I enjoy them, and they sport some very nice water graphics. It's also worth mentioning that the weather and time of day changes. It usually doesn't effect gameplay, but when it's snowing, the water turns to ice, allowing you to walk on it. A nice touch. (A note about the weather changes: I'm not %100 sure that SGC's version of Sonic R includes changing weather, but I think it does.)

Sound/Music: 10

The sound and music in Sonic R is awesome. The sound effects are all classic Sonic sounds, including springs, rings, and the ever-classic spin-dash sound effect. The sounds are great, and the music is too. Some say that the soundtrack in Sonic R is cheesy and ridiculous. That is something I need to clear up. The soundtrack in Sonic R is amazing. Maybe it's cheesy, that depends on your taste, but it always puts me in a good mood when I listen to it. The tunes are memorable, and all of them have lyrics and vocals. I recommend buying Sonic R just for the music. If you put the PC version of Sonic R in your CD player, you can use it as a soundtrack! All of the songs are available too, including the non-vocal versions. Overall, the music is awesome. But if for some reason you really hate it, you can turn off the vocals, or even turn off the music altogether.

Value: 7

The game, technically, is too short. It's very easy to unlock all of the characters and courses if you know what you're doing, and there's a slight lack of race tracks. However, the fact that it comes with a bunch of other games (the full price of SGC is a worthy buy just for Sonic R), and that it's so enjoyable to make new record laps, race your friends, and just enjoy the sights, the value is really pretty good.

In the end, Sonic R is an awesome racer with all the charm and feel of a true classic. It's just one of those special games that always sort of cheers you up, and provides catchy gameplay as well. And that's just one game!

Total Score: 8.8/10

Sonic the Fighters:

Okay, wow, I think I just wrote a whole review for Sonic R. I really like that game, so I went on a while about it, but I'll keep this one shorter. Sonic the Fighters (also known as Sonic Championship) is a comical 3D fighter with the familiar Sonic cast of characters (and even some not-so-familiar characters too). This game reminds me of the old days of Sega... Fast and entertaining fun. And in case you're wondering, yes, Sega found a way to make a fighter totally non-violent. It's hilariously cartoony, and even though Fang has a gun, it only shoots corks. Very unlike the Shadow the Hedgehog game. That game is not right for Sonic. It's just... wrong. But onto the review, I said I'd keep this short. (Due to this originally being an arcade game, I can't give the seperate sections scores.)

Gameplay:

Think Virtua Fighter meets Sonic. It's basically a simple version of Virtua Fighter, with only minor changes. Very fun, very catchy. Of course, it's much more fun if you're facing a friend. The combos are fairly easy to use, and there are too many moves to count! Many of them are really quite entertaining to watch. If you're fighting Espio, a chameleon who uses his tongue to attack often, you can do a special move where your character stretches Espio's tongue out and then lets go, causing it to snap back into Espio's mouth. This move is so fun to use against a friend. So, the gameplay is seriously fun (or more of not serious but fun), and the final fight in arcade mode is very challenging. Almost unfairly challenging. Oh, and the only problem with the gameplay is that some characters seem to be too good. Like Fang. His popgun is way too good. It's long-ranged and can fire in very quick spurts, causing your opponent to lose almost every time. But he's really the only character who seems to be unfair. But you'll most likely end up not caring too much about this since it's just plain fun to play!

Graphics:

The graphics are cartoony and vibrant, very good. Although you can tell the characters are made up of simple “plates”, for lack of a better term, it's still pleasant to the eye. There's really nothing wrong with the graphics at all.

Sound/Music:

The sounds effects are basic, cartoony punches and boings, with a slight lack of classic Sonic sounds. Nothing bad, but it's not super great. The music is all really catchy, except for the theme song... that's super catchy. Oh, and a cool touch included is when you pit Sonic and Knuckles against each other. Since they're long-time rivals, a special high-energy song starts up, which is cool.

Value:

The game isn't really very long. I mean, it used to be an arcade game, and they can't have people hogging the arcade machine all day. Multiplayer matches provide the most fun, and is best in short spurts.

If you're looking for simple fun, or have enjoyed Virtua Fighter games in the past, you'll most likely get a pretty good time out of Sonic the Fighters.

Sonic CD:

See, wasn't Sonic the Fighters shorter than Sonic R? Well, now for the final main attraction: Sonic CD. I used to own this game on the PC, but it stopped working years ago. It was my favorite game at the time, so naturally I tried to get it to work over and over again, but it just wouldn't run. So I finally gave up and moved on. Several years later Sonic Gems Collection was announced. You can imagine how excited I was when Sonic CD was proclaimed to be included in it! This is also the game that launched the debut of Metal Sonic and Amy Rose. So, here we go…

Gameplay: 9

The gameplay is classic Sonic gameplay with a twist. You can now travel forwards and backwards through time by hitting signs around the stages. Once you hit a sign, if you keep a high speed going for a certain amount of time, you can warp to the past or the future, depending on what kind of sign you touched. This adds a nice dimension to the game. You can also use a super-speed-type move if you hold up on the control stick and charge with the jump button. It's pretty much like the spin-dash, but instead of rolling into a ball, Sonic moves his feet really fast and rockets off in the direction he's facing. It looks pretty cool. I found the game to be quite a bit too easy and short though.

Graphics: 8

The graphics are better than average for a classic Sonic game. The intro/ending cartoon is really cool, and the bonus stages are actually pretty nice 3D. Nothing amazing, just basic Sonic stuff. But hey, that is amazing!

Sound/Music: 9

The sound effects are more or less basic sounds from the Sonic Universe. The main difference is that the jumping sound is different. Why they changed it, I don't know. But there's something different about the sounds compared to other Sonic games, a bit more subtle than the jumping. A soft kind of... I don't know, it's cool but hard to explain. Anyways, SCD has taken a different approach than most classic Sonic games in terms of music. It has more rock, techno, vocals, and a huge dash of everything else. It's quite simply brilliant. One of the Stardust Speedway songs is so insanely catchy and I enjoy so much, I listen to it over and over again. There's a special kind of quality to the music, and it's so good. It's a treat to listen to every song. The fact that each zone's past, present, and future all have different tunes is an excellent touch as well. And like Sonic R, the PC version can be used as a soundtrack!

Value: 8

This game is too short. Luckily, it has a Time Attack mode. I haven't been able to collect all of the Time Stones yet, it's quite difficult, so that adds some replay on. Oh, a couple of bad things about Time Attack… the bonus stages don't appear in the stages and neither do the past/future signs. That's really too bad, because the time travel thing is really fun.

Sonic CD's unique take on the classic Sonic games combined with its insanely awesome soundtrack makes a game worthy of the Blue Blur's name. This game, too, is worth SGC's full price.

Total Score: 9.0/10

Game Gear Games:

Now that that's over we'll move onto the Game Gear (GG) games. All of these GG games were available in Sonic Adventure DX: Director's Cut, but you had to unlock them, which is pretty hard to do. Now they're available right off the bat in SGC! Wait, there's more! You can now save your game at any time in the game! Any time! Say you just finished a stage and you're about to fight the boss. You can save right before it so if you die, you can load your old data and try again! Wait, there's still more! There's a quick save option that allows you to save and load in seconds! When you're ready to quit you can do the normal save to save it to your memory card. The only downside? It takes up a lot of blocks, so make sure you have room on your memory card! Of course, being able to save any time does take a lot of the challenge out of beating the GG games, but you don't have to use the save option if your don't want to.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2:

This game has great cartoony graphics and is really hard. It plays like a kind of strange classic Sonic game, and the sounds and music are okay. I haven't spent a lot of time on this one, mainly because of this weird hang-glider thing. It's very hard to understand.

Sonic Spinball:

This game's pretty good, but the Genesis version is a lot better. It's like pinball, but you more of explore the worlds, looking for emeralds to progress to the next stage. The sound and music are kind of lacking and the graphics suffer from a few slowdowns. It's actually rather short, but provides some level of entertainment. The GG games get A LOT better, keep reading!

Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble:

Here we go! This is one of the finest GG games ever made! It has pretty good graphics and the music is about average for a Sonic GG game. The best part is that it has great classic Sonic gameplay! You can play as Sonic or Tails through speedy zones, picking up cool power-ups along the way. Of course Tails is pretty much better since he can fly, so he's kind like an easier mode, while playing as Sonic is a bigger challenge. But Sonic can do that ‘hold-up-and charge-with-the-jump-button-super-fast-run thing' like in Sonic CD! Triple Trouble has very strange bonus stages too.

Sonic Drift 2:

This game is surprisingly good! It's a sort of behind-the-shoulder racing game with a large cast of Sonic characters. You can race in multiplayer or in a few Grand Prix type races. Every time you collect 2 rings (3 rings for Metal Sonic) along the track, you get a power-up. They vary from speed-ups to high-jumps to missiles, and it really adds some depth to the game. Not that there's a whole lot of depth in the first place, but that's not a bad thing. The courses have pretty nice graphics, and the zones all differ in looks. For example, one course is held inside a tunnel, and one takes you along a sunny field and a beach. The music is nice and catchy and the sound effects are average. Overall, this game is really quite fun.

Tails' Sky Patrol:

This is a very fun and addicting game, and along with great graphics and a catchy soundtrack, this game is an awesome GG title! The gameplay is hard to describe. You fly along the moving screen as Tails, and your main concern will be avoiding things that might bring you down, such as ramming into walls/enemies and running out of flying energy. You use a magical ring to swing on polls, grab items, destroy enemies, and other useful things. Since the camera is constantly panning left, you can't stop, which creates the entire challenge of the game! And what a challenge it is. I tried long and hard to beat this game before I had the save feature, and was out of lives on the final boss and barely pulled through. The save function makes it MUCH easier.

Tails Adventures:

And last but not least… certainly not least… far from least… in fact, it's the best GG game ever! This game mixes RPG elements with Sonic gameplay, along with its own Tails twist! Instead of zipping through the stages, you'll walk and fly through them, finding items and destroying enemies with bombs and other items. That's a huge part of the game, finding all kinds of unique and fun items. You can explore so much, go back to Tails' house to change items, pilot a submarine and find upgrades for it, and much more! You'll have to play it to believe it. Plus it has awesome graphics and great sounds and music! I'm telling you, Tails owns the GG! With games like Tails Adventures and Tails' Sky Patrol, Sonic's going to have to move over and make room for his little buddy!

The Unlockable Games:

*SPOILER WARNING*

The unlockable games are not very good. But, here you go anwyays.

Vectorman:

This game like a free Internet game that has little quality except for some nifty graphics. It's very hard and rather boring. The sound is kind of cheap, and not too interesting. Trudging through the game isn't all that fun, and I seem to die a lot. Maybe I should set it to the Lame difficulty instead of Wicked (yes, those are the actual names of the difficulty levels). It's pretty much an average shoot ‘em up sidescroller, but with some twists. You play as a robot name Vectorman who's trying to stop an evil robot from destroying the world or something to that effect. I really wasn't much for Vectorman. I don't mean to be overly critical, or excessively negative, but I just didn't like it all that much. I don't mean to offend Vectorman fans, maybe I'm missing something. I know how annoying it is to read a review for a game that you really enjoyed, and all the reviewer can seem to do is bring out the negative, which I don't mean to do. I mean, it's okay, but in the end, it just isn't… fun.

Vectorman 2:

I was disappointed with Vecotrman, but there was still one more unlockable to find. When the message popped up saying we had unlocked Vectorman 2, I was on the verge of screaming. But I gave it a try. I must say, Vecotrman 2 is much better than Vectorman 1. It had better graphics, better gameplay, and I actually progressed into the game a little bit. I haven't spent very much time with Vectorman 2, I mean, I bought this game for Sonic stuff, and it didn't hold my interest for long. But, this game is okay.

*END OF SPOILER WARNING*

Outro:

Well, that about wraps up Sonic Gems Collection! All of that for just $20. This is a must-have game for Sonic fans, and anybody who wants to know more about Sonic or just wants a great game should check this out. And if you want more Sonic compilation historical games, you might want to check out Sonic Mega Collection (GameCube and PS2) and Sonic Jam (Sega Saturn), both of which are beyond excellent games. Sonic has been spin-dashing for almost 15 years now, in fact, his 14th birthday was shortly before the release of this game. This is a perfect game to mark that milestone. So, let's hope Sonic sticks to his roots and keeps on going… Classic Sonic style!

Total Score: 8.8/10


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/12/07


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