Review by AndrewTS

"Except for the sound, almost a perfect rendition of the Genesis classics..."

Among the most popular games for Genesis ever will be Sonic series. Deservingly? Somewhat...they're certainly fun, rewarding, and challenging games with great graphics and gameplay, even if there were superior action/platformers out at the same time as them. The Sonic games have always been simple, fast, friendly, family-friendly fun.

After the hit Sonic the Hedgehog and the follow up Sonic 2 (considered by some to be the best of the series), Sonic Team went back to work and made Sonic 3. The best looking game of the series, featuring a new enemy, Knuckles, duped into working for Robotnik. However...something was amiss. The game seemed a bit short (Knuckles never seemed to find out he was working for the bad guys), and there were mysterious extra stages on the level select...

Well, Sega, in a neat marketing gimmick, plugged a ''backward-compatible'' cartridge called ''Sonic and Knuckles'' which would attach to Sonic 3 creating a new game and allowing you to PLAY as Knuckles. PLUS you could ''lock on'' to Sonic 2 and play as Knuckles in there...

Less ingenuous than Sega said, however. The programmers didn't finish Sonic 3 and instead decided to release these extra stages as a semi-sequel to the game.

Sonic and Knuckles Collection is Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Sonic 3 and Knuckles is more than the sum of its parts...but Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles is kinda pointless to have on the disk (although it didn't take up any extra space of course; hell, Sonic 3 has all of the Sonic and Knuckles music in the sound test!). And alas, there is no Sonic 2 on the disk, so you can't ''lock on'' to that. And starting a saved game in Sonic 3 has no effect on the Sonic 3 and Knuckles game. Let's break what's here down, then!

Graphics: 9

Amazing colors on the Genesis, and perfectly translated here. Sonic and pals appear to be rendered sprites here, and all the levels burst with color. A bit pixely in the full screen mode, but that couldn't really be helped.

The game has great looking parallax, moving aspects in the backgrounds and foregrounds, great looking enemies. No complaints except for perhaps the fact that the 2 player levels look rather drab in comparison.

Sound: 6

Despite Genesis' sound limitations, the Sonic games always had great music. The Sonic 3(& Knuckles) saga was no exception, with standout tracks like the Ice Cap Zone and Lava Reef Zone themes. Well...in the process of translating this game to CD, why not remix the tracks and drop them onto the CD during gameplay? Make them even better?

Didn't happen...this may be the one weak aspect of the translation. While some tracks sound almost identical (Angel Island), many of them sound rather tinny in comparison (Lava Reef). Also, some of them were changed inexplicably. Well, Carnival Night's theme I never cared for, but the universally-praised Ice Cap Zone's theme was changed to a happy little tune that sounded alright...but didn't fit and replaced a superior theme. :P Bad move.

The sound effects are pretty much the same as the original, although there aren't too many of them.

Gameplay: 8

Well, what do you expect? Same as the originals. Super-Deformed little mammals rush through levels at breakneck speed defeating robots along the way--typically through the jump-on-the-head method--and fight a boss at the end of the second act. Wasn't unique in its day, but rarely is/was it done so well.

While it didn't make as many improvements as it could have, there is still plenty to be excited about this round. Play as Sonic, Tails, Knuckles or Sonic and Tails, through the biggest 2D Sonic of all time, with the ability to collect up to 14 emeralds and use their Super/Hyper selves, and even play 2 player co-op or competition! Once you get all the emeralds the game loses staying power, but the bonus level select the Sonic 3/Sonic 3 & Knuckles save slots give you after that make replaying a blast.

However, the inability to play as Knuckles in Sonic 2 hurts it a bit. Of course, then they'd have to include all of Sonic 2...and after that--why not Sonic 1? So doing it this way made probably was the most simple route to take.

Overall: 7

A great game(s) translated to the PC almost flawlessly. However, one--and perhaps only--fly in the ointment is that slowdown can occur when one plays as Hyper Sonic. Other than that, an important Genesis milestone and one of the best overall platformers around awaits you...

So unless you have Sonic Jam, highly recommend! ^_^


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/01/02, Updated 03/01/02


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