By GamesPaper's guest writer Martyn
When SEGA announced that they were to cease production of the Dreamcast, the world mourned the loss of a great console. Having seen another of it's platforms loose out to the competition, the Japanese giants decided to carry on doing what they'd always done best - making great videogames.
So rather than wandering off into the sunset, the door was left wide open for Sony and Nintendo to lay their hands on some of the games which had made SEGA a household name in the 1990's. Sonic Mega Collection brings together some of the jewels in the SEGA crown. A mix of retro gaming that includes the likes of Sonic the hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic 3D, Sonic Spinball and Dr Robotniks Mean Bean Machine.
The plot of the series, although altered slightly between games, remains generally the same - Sonic must defeat the evil Dr Robotnik, a mad scientist hell bent on world domination. Loosely, his main source of power came from the famous Chaos Emeralds, a source of power and good for the people of the land. In the wrong hands, they could provide all the power Robotnik would ever need. Enter our Spikey blue friend, and an array of his chums, to save the day.
The graphics haven't improved from the original games to the Gamecube, and neither has the sound. It's fair to say this is pretty much a straight port, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. You'll still get the occasional bit of slowdown, and given the technical advance of the Cube over the Megadrive, its a shame that this couldn't have been tweaked a little. However, its the little things like this, that help to highlight the improvements in quality, which were possible between the games respective releases. Sonic 3 looks that little bit sharper and more colourful than the original Sonic outing, a game which is nearly 12 years old. The level layouts also remain "as were", with all the hidden areas and bonuses back where you remember them being.
As well as the seven main games which are made available from the start, there are a couple of hidden games, and some interesting "extras" thrown into the disk. Whilst Sonic CD isn't available to play, you can watch the intro and end scenes from the game in all their manga-style glory. You can even have a three dimensional flip through each of the instruction manuals, if that's your thing, and even take a look at a "history of Sonic" movie - although in fairness it's fairly slack in terms of production, consisting largely of cut scenes and some awful scrolling text. The mini games contained within sonic 2, 3 and Sonic and knuckles are all available again, as is the two player game modes found later on in the series.
Whilst some of the greatest Sonic games are here for all to see, its just a shame that some of the others aren't available too. It's puzzling to see Sonic CD, arguably one of the best Sonic games ever, missed off the list.
It's a shame to see Sonic R missing from the list too. Perhaps there's a second collection planned for future release. In any case, Sonic Mega Collection has something to for everyone. So even if you get fed up of the 2d platform action of the first three sonic games, there's always sonic 3d and the highly addictive Robotniks Mean Machine, a hugely entertaining puzzle game.
If you haven't got a Mega Drive stashed up in the loft, or you have one and can't be bothered finding it and dusting it down, then this is the game for you. It certainly answers one of the criticisms levelled at the games industry in recent times, delivering great gaming and value for money at the same time.Overall score: 7 out of 10
Recommended Price: £39.99
Available: NowBuy Sonic Mega Collection for the Gamecube from Amazon