I can guess where you'll be going with this:
Bah, another compilation CD. Stupid rehashes and cash runs. Can't Sega stop doing stuff like this and PSO and give me a new Rent-a-Hero or Fighting Vipers?
Or maybe this:
Well, Sega did bring out a bunch of good games in one disc. Too bad they didn't add Sonic CD. KILL HATE CRUSH MAIM!
Or how about:
Pfft . . . I can always buy the actual games. Or emulate. You tools.
Or maybe you're just like me, and can see a great deal when it comes by? Seven Sonic games rolled up into one package is reason enough to check out Sonic Mega Collection, but throw in hidden games and loads of extras and you'd have to be down-right delirious not to try it out. Look at everything that's included:
Sonic the Hedgehog is Sega's one-and-only mascot character; he's blue, fast, and sported all sorts of early 90s 'tude back when his premiere game hit in 1991. Now it's 11 years later, and the blue blur has accumulated a vast résumé, seeing everything from pinball action to 3D to cameos in soccer matches. Sonic Mega Collection is easily summed up as the best of the best of Sonic . . . Sonic CD notwithstanding. This means not only will you get to play the original Sonic series, but also Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast, and Dr. Robotinik's Mean Bean Machine. Oh, and the innovative Sonic & Knuckles is here as well - in more ways than one. With such a large list of titles, how do the individual games break down?
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sure, the graphics and sound may be outdated by a decade, but believe me when I say playing it now is just as fun and addictive as it was during grade-school. This game takes you back to the time when platformers were about platforming and not finding one trillion ridiculous trinkets and items. Gameplay is fast-paced and almost flows to an artform - you'll find yourself in a jam or stressed for time, only for the level design to reach out and slow Sonic down, adding to your dilemma. Other times you'll be blasting through hills, casinos, and temples - only to find out you're missing half of what the game has to offer. That has to be the best aspect of all - no matter how many times you play, you can always find a new way to the goal.
This sequel offers more of the same when it comes to intuitive gaming, and introduces Tails - Sonic's sidekick buddy and partner in crime. He can fly for short periods of time and even carry Sonic along for the ride. With a second controller, a friend can play along as Tails, albeit in a limited fashion since the screen will always follow Sonic. What it boils down to is the first "1.5 player" game I can ever remember playing. It's a fun ride nevertheless, and easily one of the best (if not the best) Sonic game with bright, colorful graphics, catchy music, and a challenge that is unmatched by today's platformers.
The most drastic changes made were here, though they didn't affect the core qualities that make a Sonic game what it is. It was the first in the series to have a save system in place (thankfully) and a character select. Players can either take Sonic and Tails, or opt for a solo adventure with either one - a big plus for those times where you don't have a friend to play along and don't care for a computer controlled dummy. Sonic 3 also stands out as the largest game of them all, and when combined with Sonic and Knuckles could possibly be the biggest platformer ever.
Sonic and Knuckles
On its own, Sonic and Knuckles didn't do as much for the series as previous games had. However, it was the first (and only) game with Lock-on Technology, which meant players could hook on their copy of Sonic 2 or 3 and play as Sonic's rival, Knuckles. You wouldn't believe this could be more than a gimmick but it is; Sonic 2 has some areas that just cannot be reached unless by Knuckles' gliding and climbing, and Sonic 3 actually combines itself with Sonic and Knuckles, meaning you play one straight into the other, making for the largest Sonic experience ever.
Sonic 3D Blast
By far the worst Sonic game conceived, but not all that bad in its own right. Essentially 3D Blast is a take on the blue blur's side-scrolling antics, but in an isometric 3D perspective. This means there's a lot more surface area to explore, but it's always confined to a flat plane. Not to mention Sonic gets lost behind scenery a lot. Oh, and the enemies are too easy to beat. Well, there are worse games out there...
Imagine any of the casino stages that populate Sonic games. Now try to create a whole game around the pinball aspect in those stages. That's Spinball in a nutshell: play pinball with Sonic as the ball. Different levels involve different objectives, hidden objectives, and non-critical objectives. Oh, and it's pinball - really fun pinball. If you can get past the graphics and music, which are quite bad compared to the main Sonic series, you'll find a great game.
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Back when puzzle games were still fashionable, Sega released this wonder. The goal is simple; connect four or more beans in whichever way you choose to have them disappear. The larger the line, the higher the score, and you can also chain together a set of connections for ever-higher scoring. Take these skills to the single-player, scenario, or versus mode and see how far you can go. Now if only the developers didn't decide on using those ugly designs from the old Sonic cartoon.
If that isn't enough to sell you on Mega Collection, then nothing will. For anyone already interested, there's also a set of bonus material ranging from artwork, covers from the American Sonic comic, hi-res sets of instruction books for all the games, hidden games, and even the opening and ending to Sonic CD all packed in. With seven games, and all this on the side, you should be buying Mega Collection for pure bargain-value alone.
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