Review by PentiumMMX
One of the best Sega Genesis games comes to PC, but not without a few flaws
In 1997, shortly after Sega ported Sonic CD to the PC, they worked their magic with Sonic 3 & Knuckles, which I consider to be one of the best games on the Sega Genesis. The result was Sonic & Knuckles Collection, which contained not just Sonic 3 & Knuckles, but the separate games that form it as well as the Special Stage mode. How good of a port is it, though?
After defeating Dr. Robotnic at the end of Sonic 2, Sonic and Tails go to explore a new island. When the arrive, the Chaos Emeralds are stolen by a new character named Knuckles, and to top things off, Dr. Robotnic is trying to take over this island. This, Sonic and Tails must collect the Chaos Emeralds and stop Robotnic, all while dealing with the ever persistent Knuckles. This is the first Sonic game to be story driven like the newer games, except the story is told without dialog, which actually works quite well. It's a decent story, though there is room for improvement.
Story: 6 out of 10
Like other ports of Sega games to PC before and after it, the controls are modified to work around the keyboard. It actually works quite well in most cases, though it may feel cramped on some laptops. However, you can reconfigure it however you want, making it very versatile. For those who can't stand using the keyboard to play games, you can always use a controller (Which works well, depending on the controller).
Controls: 8 out of 10
The graphics are unchanged from the original Sega Genesis versions of the game. It looks the same right down to the last detail, which is great, though looks inferior to many of the big, full 3D games coming out for PC at the time.
Graphics: 7 out of 10
Music \ Sound Effects
While the sound effects remain unchanged from the original version, the music is what drags this port down. Instead of carrying over the awesome soundtrack from the original Sega Genesis release, they remixed it with MIDI-compatible sound cards and FM synthesizers in mind to keep the system requirements low. The result is a soundtrack that sounds similar to the original, but with a few songs completely replaced (Some for the better, like Launch Base, and some for the worse, like Ice Cap). Overall, it's ok, but inferior to the Genesis version
Music \ Sound Effects: 6 out of 10
It plays exactly the same as the original Genesis version, right down the last detail (Except Debug Mode isn't available, though that's not too big of a deal). For those unfamiliar to Sonic games, this is a fast-pace platform game with some secrets hidden in the stages and some fun boss fights. From the start, you can choose between Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, or Sonic 3 & Knuckles (And through an in-game menu, the Special Stage mode), which is a nice feature, though not exactly the most useful addition to this port. Like the original, you can choose to play as Sonic, Tails, or Knuckles, though it depends on which mode you play on (Knuckles isn't playable on Sonic 3 alone, nor is Tails playable in Sonic & Knuckles). The game offers a save feature, which saves what zone you're on and how many Chaos Emeralds you've collected so far, and on Sonic 3 & Knuckles, how many extra lives and continues you have (A great feature).
However, the game isn't without some flaws outside of the soundtrack. The most notable one is how the game is unplayable on newer PCs because of how fast itll run, and the game only runs on Windows 95 or 98 (Windows 2000 and higher won't let you install it, while Windows ME can't run it). Also, it would have been nice had they included the first 2 games in the Sonic series with this. Though the game is awesome, the technical problems drag it's score down.
Gameplay: 8 out of 10
If you get past the problems, it's a decent port. Because it won't run on newer versions of Windows and is unplayable fast on newer PCs anyway, you might want to skip this and buy the PC version of Sonic Mega Collection Plus (Which includes the original Sega Genesis version of Sonic 3 & Knuckles as well as a bunch of other Sonic games).
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Sonic & Knuckles Collection (US, 12/31/97)
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