Review by Vyse_skies

"No one, not even a psychic could have anticipated this calamity."

The world of gaming is divided between two types of gaming aficionados....well three types of fans. Sonic lovers, Mario lovers and Sonic and Mario haters. It's rare that you get someone who likes both. Me? I'm a Sonic lover and I love these type of compilation collections as I think that most of them give you not only great value for money, but plenty of nostalgic goodness. I picked up Sonic Gems hoping for more of the same greatness that Sonic Mega Collection gave me, and with many games on offer, many of which I've never played Sonic Gems seemed like a worthwhile purchase.

Sonic Gems is a collection of past titles taken from a rather large back catalogue of Segas infamous Sonic the Hedgehog series. The front case bragged and boasted in big, bold letters 3 MUST HAVE HITS. The three hits they were referring to were Sonic CD, a game that was on a console that failed miserably called the Mega CD which enhancement of the great Sega Mega Drive/Genesis; Sonic R a racing game that originally came out for the Sega Saturn and Sonic the Fighters an Arcade release. They do though mention the six other remaining titles in small on the back of the case, which were all Game Gear games.

Sonic CD
I'd never played Sonic CD before and I was kinda excited and had high hopes for the game. Although the game case's front picture is specifically designed to show off Sonic CD, you can tell by the way the show Sonic facing off with his evil metal counterpart Metal Sonic (Which for some weird reason I always thought was called Metaniks) So before I'd even played the game they were already shoving it in my face.

Now when I did boot up SCD and played it I was expecting something on a par with the awesome Sonic 3, but what I got was an ugly mess. Each level was so ugly to look at. The backgrounds were awful and each level poorly designed (You'd have a spring in mid air that did absolutely nothing, or pieces of ground in odd places and that's just the least of SCD problems) It was a strain on the eyes and each level just seemed like a glitched version of a real Sonic game.

SCD pretty much like any other Sonic game except with a slight twist. Now a cool but new flawed gimmick was available here that supported time travel. Pass through a past or future sign post while at full speed and while keeping up that speed sonic can switch between the past and the future. Levels change slightly in design, backgrounds change (Past levels for the better, Future for the worst), music changes (again past fairs better than future) and you just continue Sonics uninspired adventure. There is once again a special stage where you have to hit UFOS but it plays very badly and as it tries to bring Sonic once again in to 3D it just fails in the process and the whole affair is just bordering on unplayable.

Sonic R
I had Sonic R as a kid and had completed it many times. When I saw it in the collection I was happy that it was included as I had longed to play it once again after my Saturn had broken down.

Sonic R boasts the best visuals on the collection. Sonic R still looks as good as its PC counterpart. Character models look good for the time, and there's the weather added to make things more pretty like rain and snow, snow makes water change to ice that's walkable, it changes tracks with water a little. Tracks have plenty of detail and are varied in design, from the tropical beaches of Resort Island to the Night Life (complete with mini pinball table) of Radical City. Each level looks cool and there's plenty of detail to go around because the developers didn't make enough of them. Music in SR is pretty awesome. Composed by the brilliant Richard Jacques, every track is vibrant and up beat and they allow the races to feel a lot faster paced than what they actually are. Every track has a separate song that is supported with strong vocals by TJ Davis, a singer I admire and I love all of her work. Although the songs are corny they also have that like-able factor corny pop songs have. I love the music and they suit the pretty visuals well.

Sonic R is a bit on the short side and with only five levels available (4 right of the bat) you'll complete it within the hour and even shorter if you're a skilled player. Apart from the usual Reverse track designs, Sonic R tries to add a few extra play modes in order to prolong it existence. First of all there is Tag. The objective is to tag all computer characters on a track of your choice. The com get a 3 second head start and then have to chase them down and tag them in as fast a time possible. There are no rewards for this and trying to tag characters like Super Sonic can be frustrating because they're so fast and because turning is poor catching characters is a little more annoying, but its still a fun mode for a while. Next there is Balloon Tag. Choose a character and find balloons spaced out throughout the level. Now while this may see fun on paper, when actually playing it's not that much fun finding the first few balloons is ok but when you're down to one balloon and you search everywhere to no avail its just annoys you. Every time you play BT the balloons are always in the same places, so once you've completed it once there is no real reason to comeback and play it for a second time. That's a shame because like I said on paper this mode looked liked it had the goods. Now the best part of Sonic R is the collecting of coins that are spread out throughout each level. Collect all these coins and come 1st, 2nd or 3rd to race against a secret character. Beat the character and he's now playable. These races can be fun, but lose and you have to collect all the coins all over again. And finally there's the collecting of the Chaos Emeralds and everyone knows how dodgy most Sonic games are when it comes to this area (With the exceptions of Sonic 2 and Sonic 3)

Sonic R is an embarrassingly short game. So what if it looks pretty and has a ton of characters available. People don't want characters they want tracks (well I do anyway) Plus for some reason Sonic R is incredibly easy even on the hardest difficulty setting. This is one Sonic game that was a real let down.

Sonic The Fighters
STF is a fighting game that plays similar to that of Segas Fighting Vipers (Am2s other fighter and the one nobody cared about). You choose from a bunch of Sonic characters, some not a recognisable as others (Bean and Bark) and then fight ins blocky polygonal arenas. I reckon that it was a good thing that Sega hadn't released this on the Saturn as it's an abysmal game that far too short, can be quite frustrating and is not fun in every area. The music is horrid, too. It's like a mixture of dance beats and themes that try to stir along the pace of the game, but the tedious gameplay is neither cured by this and the whole package just ends up as another wasted idea Sega could have capitalized on. Why is it that Sega can't make a decent Sonic game that's out of that 2d side strolling platformer developing area. Sonic the Fighters has nothing on offer after the first forced completion that would warrant another play-through.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Nope, not one of the better Sonic 2d games that graced the Mega Drive back in 1992. This was the shoddy Game Gear rendition. It plays like a Sonic game but just doesn't feel like one. It lacks sonics magic, Sonics charm and it sucks all the fun out of what made Sonic such a great joy to play. It felt like they rushed the game in order to make a fast buck of the Sonic name, sure it had the right elements but this title is just lackluster entertainment. The camera (for me) is way to close up on the action and so you seem to be making leaps of faith sometimes into the middle of nowhere in hope of finding ledges. And don't expect engaging Sonic gameplay as your speed is always cut short by stupid death gaps in the floor and the levels that you can pick up speed on are over in literally seconds. Well the game wasn't made by Sonic Team after all so what could I expect? Sonic 2 does introduce a few unique features that carry out reasonable well in game, such as Sonic riding mine carts, flying a tricky to function hand glider. But these additions add nothing special to the overall gameplay and just make a poor game slightly better.

Sonic Drift 2
It's a lame Mario Kart clone. Why is Sonic in a Kart anyway? This is the main question I've asked myself. He's the fastest thing on the planet and should be running on foot. Sonic has all the elements that would make a great racing game but somehow Sega always manage to screw things up. Every track is virtually the same thing over and over and if it wasn't for the background colours being different and a small map that shows you where you are on the track, you'd never actually know where the hell you were on the track as everything looks and feels the same. The music is also hideous and cringe-worthy, probably some of the worst on Game Gear. Sonic Drift is one of those games that Sega should leave in the closet with the rest of their terrible skeletons of gaming.

The gameplay is poor as well. You could be in 1st place and be driving at the fastest speed, taking perfect corners and never making mistakes and the enemy racers will still pass you. The point of this game is the same as all other racing games. You need to come first in cups to win a Chaos Emerald. But getting first place is just random as like I mentioned above you could be playing superbly and still lose.

Sonic Spinball
Guide Sonic through 4 pinball tables and collect Chaos Emeralds as you rack up points. Once you have collected the Chaos Emeralds on a table you have the opportunity to fight and defeat the table's boss. Defeat the boss to advance to the next stage. Stages have their own unique elements. The Machine stage for example has a massive animal cage in the centre of its table that you have to hit numerous times in order to save the animals trapped within. Expect plenty of flippin action and plenty of bumpers as well as death holes. Spinball is one of the better games on the collection.

Tails Skypatrol
Skypatrol is nothing like any other Sonic game. Everything has been changed here, no longer do you have to collect rings, emeralds etc., there is no Sonic, no Eggman and the gameplay has nothing to do with speed. Tails' flies the whole time and the only objective in the game is to get through a bunch of tough courses with the screen continuously pushing you along. Touching walls, objects, the ground or enemies etc., and Tails will lose a life. Tails carries a golden ring with him which he can throw as to defeat enemies or break walls. He can also use the ring to cling to devices you will come across in each stage, such as rail carts that help you through the area faster. In order to survive each stage Tails is required to stay afloat (which is quite difficult in its own right due to obstacales) Tails has a life bar of sorts and is gradually decreases as the level progresses. Scattered throughout each level are little candies which will replenish Tails' health. These candies are vital in the completion of each course.

Now I think Skypatrol is a pretty nice game to play if you can get past the difficulty level. Think Alex Kidd in terms of dieing easily and up the difficulty by 3 and you have Skypatrol, enjoy.

Tails Adventures
The second crappy title developed by Aspect. Tails Adventure (no relation to the awesome Sonic Adventure) again like Skypartol is completely different from other sonic titles. It moves also at snails pace and is purely a puzzle based adventure with RPG elements. You collect items, backtrack and then collect more items and use those items to solve puzzles in order to claim more items. Yes, you do this through out the whole game. Each level though only allows Tails to bring in 4 items with him out of a possible 26. On most occasions your probably gonna have to re do the level due to picking the wrong items. You see each level requires you to use specific items and if you don't pick that item before you enter then you're not going to be able to complete the level. If slow paced (and I'll place emphasis on the word slow) gaming is your bag then I'm sure you'll have fun with this. It's a welcoming break from all the speed.

Triple Trouble
As all Sonic games are virtually the same its kinda hard to in my opinion write a separate review for each as each game is so alike. Well anyway this is developer, Aspects 3rd game on the collection is SGCs best game. Triple trouble resembles the Mega Drive games more that any other GG game. TT was actually pretty fun and played decently as well. It was also much larger than other Sonic GG games. You can choose between either Sonic or Tails and play through 6 zones, 3 acts per zone. This in my opinion was what GG Sonic games should have been.

Conclusion
Now SGC isn't the worst game on the planet it just fails when compared to much better compilations such as Sonic Mega Collection or even that of Mario Allstars. The games involved are pretty much the rear end of the Sonic system and are by far titles that all leave a bad taste in your mouth, than a sweet one. (With the exception of Triple Trouble) But SGC wouldn't feel right without unlockables and although it boasts having hundreds of stuff to collect the only things worthy of collecting were Vectorman and Vectorman 2. Both games are packed full of side strolling shooing action and are pretty fun to play. But both games have serious issues with flashes (believe me they're epilepsy inducing flashes) In fact they flashed so much that you could see the flashes clearly in a bright room with your eyes closed. Now that can't be good for your health. Other unlockables included artwork (boring, and pointless) and a museum of Sonic games playable for about 5 minutes each. This part was fun and gave you the ability to play all the past Mega Drive Sonics you never got a chance to the first time.

SGC could have been a million times better and I have a feeling that Sega knew that they were releasing some of their worst ever games and that they also knew that it was going to sell a bundle. Well I can't say I blame them, if they can make more money off of Sonic (even if this collection is poor) then I'll give them a pat on the back for drawing/urging such a huge number of people to buy it. Sonic mad people will buy this game regardless of criticism, people like myself. But seriously, this is the worst possible Sonic games ever conceived, most of them aren't even by Sonic Team, so do yourself a favor and leave this dud on the shelf, even if you find it on the cheap.


Reviewer's Score: 3/10 | Originally Posted: 12/12/08

Game Release: Sonic Gems Collection (EU, 09/30/05)


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