Sonic Gems Collection PS2 Review

After the success of their first compilation, Sonic Mega Collection +, Sega have decided to try their luck again, with a brand new (old) compilation of games featuring their spiky blue mascot. This time around, we have Sega Gems Collection featuring 11 games altogether, plus the usual assortment of Extras. The main draw of this game is the fact that Sega have finally included Sonic CD, a game that a lot of fans were disappointed at not being in the previous compilation, Sonic Mega Collection +. Apart from Sonic CD, the other two games that appeal most are Sonic The Fighters, originally an arcade game, and Sonic R, originally a Sega Saturn game, the other games that make up the compilation are two Vectorman games, and six Game Gear games.

The games included are:

Sonic The Fighters (Arcade Game)
Sonic CD (Sega Mega CD)
Sonic R (Sega Saturn)
Sonic The Hedgehog 2 (Game Gear)
Sonic Spinball (Game Gear)
Sonic The Hedgehog Triple Trouble (GameGear)
Sonic Drift Racing 2 (Game Gear)
Tails’ Skypatrol (Game Gear)
Tails Adventures (Game Gear)
Vectorman (Sega Megadrive)
Vectorman 2 (Sega Megadrive (Unlockable)

Graphics

Like the previous compilation, this is not going to win any awards for its graphics; these games are very old and are not intended to match the efforts of modern times. However Sega CD is a very good-looking game, way ahead of previous Sonic games, like Sonic & knuckles, is includes a very impressive opening scene in which Sonic darts about the screen doing his thing. The emulation used for games is again spot on; it is very hard to find faults in any of the games. As expected, the Game Gear games are an ugly sight on a big screen; there are two options in which to view them though. You can shrink down the size of the viewable screen or you can blow it up to full screen. I urge you all that even bother to play the Game Gear games to use the smaller screen, using the full-blown one is just wrong, it really is an ugly sight. Sonic The Fighters looks surprisingly good, with all the characters nicely detailed and their animations looking smooth, not that each character has a lot of moves, but the ones they do posses are quality to watch all the same. Sonic R is also a pleasant graphical experience, with lots of nice colours and bright scenery. The Vectorman games are also very good, they are the peak of 16 bit gaming, so do hold some credibility in the graphics department.

Gameplay

The controls in Sonic Gems Collection are similar to the previous compilation, it uses the left analogue stick for movement and the majority of the face buttons for jumping, Sonic The Fighters is slightly different in that it uses the face buttons for a combination of blocking at punching and kicking. Sonic CD deviates slightly from other Sonic games, it still looks the same and is still about speed, but it has one very interesting gameplay mechanic. In this game, Sonic has the ability to time travel. Sonic could travel to the future and to the past to see different variations of the same level, in fact, the good ending to the game could only be achieved if Sonic travelled back in time to complete objectives, cooler still though, any things Sonic did in the past would affect the look of future levels. It certainly made a big change to Sonic games, instead of just finding the quickest route through a level, it encouraged players learn all about levels.

Sonic R was a racing game that first appeared on the Sega Saturn, it was a racing game with a difference though. Most racing games involve the use of cars, Sonic R didn’t (to a certain extent) featuring Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, to name a few, all characters raced on foot, along the way collecting various objects to get points, the main objective was to finish first of course, but to do this you had to find and take all sorts of shortcuts and paths. One of the problems with Sonic R though is the fact that it controls a little too much like a normal racing game. Being that the game contains an original concept it would be nice to have seen the control method match this. This compilation will perhaps mark the first time people will play Sonic The Fighters. Originally released as an Arcade Game, the game does what it says on the box, it is a fighting game featuring Sonic. The character list features the likes of Sonic and Knuckles and a few that most people will never have heard of, such as Fang and Bark. This is a very simple fighting game, each character contains only a few moves such as blocking and kicking, there is also a Hyper Mode that strengthens attacks. One small criticism of this game is that it is perhaps too easy to win, with it only taking a few moves to defeat your opponent. It is nice to see Sega try something different for a change and this is an enjoyable if a little shallow game.

The rest of the compilation mostly contains Game Gear games. The game Gear games include a couple of Tails games and sequel to Sonic Drift, none of them are particularly good, but it is cool to have them all on the one disc. The other games included on the disc are the Vectorman titles. These games were very good back in the mid 90s and they still are today. Perhaps the peak of 16 bit gaming, Vectorman combined boss battles with some platforming and action elements, certainly worth a play through. Although the Vectorman titles are by no means disappointing, some people were miffed that Streets of Rage was not included instead, it is thought Sega included Vectorman instead to gain a lower age rating for the game. As in the previous compilation, there are a host of unlockables included, with a section called “Museum” dedicated to all your unlocked items, also included are original game manuals.

Sound

As like any other Sonic game, Sonic Gems Collection contains a mix of MIDI tunes, which are just as catchy as ever, the soundtrack on Sonic The Fighters is especially good with some very memorable songs. Some people were a bit annoyed that the European version of this game did not feature the superior Japanese soundtrack, instead including the US version, this is not something especially bothered me as although good music adds to the experience, it would have to be very bad to sway me off a game.

Lifespan

This is a game that is not going to last you a long time. Once you played the three main attractions, Sega CD, Sonic The Fighters and Sonic R you really won’t have too much left to do, the Vectorman games are worth a play though at least, and there are a host of things to unlock. Sadly, the unlockables are not impressive at all; the only thing worth spending the time on is the only unlockable game – Vectorman 2. I would be very surprised if people bothered with the Game Gear games; they are nice to have but are not much to play.

Overall

This compilation is definantly more aimed at the Sonic fan than the average gamer. Where as Mega Collection contained the original Sonic Adventures, Gems Collection has no way near the depth that Mega Collection has. It does not include nearly as many games and unfortunately over half of the games are Game Gear ones. The three big games are good fun, especially Sonic CD, perhaps the best Sonic adventure of them all. I do believe that Sega could have done a little more to this collection to make it a worthy purchase, a little more extras like the previous compilation should have been included and perhaps a little more games with depth, as all the Game Gear games are incredibly short. At the moment you can pick up Sonic Gems Collection for £15.99, if you are a big Sonic fan then there is no doubt you will pick this up, if you are looking to play Sonic for the first time then I would recommend Sonic Mega Collection +, a game with more depth and more enjoyment.

7.1 out of 10

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