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A nearly perfect port of Sonic's classic adventures
on March 3, 2010
Though Sonic's original Genesis adventures have been packaged together numerous times in the past, this is the first time that these classic platformers have all been in the same place on a handheld system. With Sonic the Hedgehog 4 launching later this year, no doubt many Sonic fans will be wanting to revisit the original games, and Sonic Classic Collection provides a fantastic way to do so on the go.
Included in the collection are Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. In addition, the two lock-on versions of Sonic 2 and 3 are included, so one can play as Knuckles in those games as well, which is a welcome inclusion. Sadly, the multiplayer player modes have been stripped out of all the games. Admittedly, multiplayer was never a major focus in the original Sonic games, but not even being able to have someone jump in as Tails in Sonic 2 is a bit disappointing.
Another frequently asked question is whether or not the original level select codes work. The answer, sadly, is no. It would seem that, while the codes can in fact still be activated, there is no way to access the level select menus themselves after doing so. This might be a deal breaker for certain fans, but it's an omission that many likely won't care about.
As for the classic games themselves, things are fairly solid. It must be said that the ports are not perfect. Framerate issues are present. It has to be said because they are there. However, they are very slight and after playing for a minute or two, they become nearly unnoticeable. Sonic 1 seems to chug the most for some reason. Overall, the games run fast and smooth, which is a vast improvement over the disaster that was Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis.
[UPDATE] Having recently had an opportunity to play this game on a DS lite and a 3DS, I have observed that the framerate issues vary depending on the system. This review was originally written based on the experience of playing the game on a DSi, where framerate issues are present but not prominent. On a DS lite, however, the framerate dips were more frequent and significantly more noticeable. By comparison, when played on a 3DS, the game runs nearly flawlessly, with only slight lag appearing, mostly in places where it occurred on the original Genesis. So if you're thinking about picking this one up off the bargain rack or whatever, take into account which console you'll be playing it on, as it will effect your playing experience.
In order to make the games fit on the screen, SEGA had to mess with the graphics. They use two solutions in game. First, the view has been cropped in a little, allowing it to scroll side to side slightly to frame a good view. Second, similar to the Classic NES series on the GBA, every few lines of pixels have been removed, causing all the graphics to appear slightly shorter. It's subtle, and a few distortions are visible, but when running at full speed, the compromises are nearly unnoticeable.
The sounds and music made the jump to DS just fine. Music sounds nearly spot on to the original Genesis titles, with only slight subtle differences appearing in a couple of songs. Sound effects are quiet faithful as well, but like the music, tiny oddities sometimes occur. Occasionally a sound effect will loop in an odd way that doesn't quite match the original. Overall, the games still sound like themselves, and only the pickiest of fans will notice the changes.
Beyond the actual games, Sonic Classic Collection is a bit sparse on extra features. It features a small photo gallery where artwork of Sonic characters can be viewed. This is somewhat interesting, but really is only worth looking at once. Beyond that, it's just the classic games and that's all. All the games have now been fitted with individual save functions, which is very handy. Oddly, all the menu buttons are mapped to the touch screen alone, so pausing and saving must done there, and the start button does nothing. This is not a big issue, but it takes a little getting used to, since the start button is nearly universally used for pausing.
Overall, Sonic's original adventures are lengthy and diverse, and having them all on one cart means getting some serious bang for your buck. Are they absolutely perfect representations? No. However, the problems are so slight that many likely won't even notice or care. If you're a classic Sonic fan looking for a portable fix, or if you've never had a chance to play these games and see why Sonic is so famous today, Sonic Classic Collection could not be more highly recommended.