Sonic Classic Collection Review

Sonic Classic Collection (Only available on Nintendo DS)
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Compilation
Publisher: SEGA
Developer: SEGA
Release Date: March 2, 2010

Parent Talk: Sonic Classic Collection prides itself on containing four games in one Nintendo DS cart: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. Two additional “lock-on” games are also available, essentially alternate/expanded versions of Sonic 2 and 3. These Sega Genesis Classics are considered among the best 2D platformers of all time. As with most classic compilations, the goal is to preserve and maintain the nostalgia, though that doesn’t mean they feel old and archaic. The younger generation can definitely enjoy them without problem.  In fact, the 2D Sonic games are known to be far better and less complicated than the modern 3D installments. As a parent, do not let “nostalgia” and “classic” scare you away. Gameplay and controls couldn’t be simpler despite the raised learning curve because of the fast nature of Sonic. The instructions are even conveniently explained in the bottom screen and can be accessed any time. As for violence, this is Sonic the Hedgehog for crying out loud! It’s perfectly suitable for kids, especially since most, if not all the enemies are robots.

I know what you’re thinking: another Sonic the Hedgehog compilation? When will it stop?! To be frank, it won’t. Sega will milk the past until they perfect the present. The Genesis Sonic anthology are timeless classics that haven’t been replicated by any subsequent sequel to date. The 2D Sonic Rush series came close, but no cigar. Now that Sonic the Hedgehog 4 (the “true” sequel) is coming to all download services soon, it’s the perfect time to release another collection so people can catch up with the best of the best…not to mention Sega wants to fill their pockets with some Rings and Emeralds. After all, they’ve been in a rut, despite releasing and publishing quality content as of late. Is this release worth 30$? The previous Sonic compilations are easy to find for cheap in today’s market, not to mention widespread digital availability on Xbox Live Arcade and Wii’s Virtual Console. So what does this DS version offer compared to its cousins?

The Great:

It’s awesome to play all four Genesis Sonic games, plus the lock-ons via handheld.  Playing old games on the go revitalizes that retro passion. You don’t have to deal with pixelated graphics since the resolution of the DS screens wipes the antiquated look off these Genesis classics. It’s also convenient to have timeless gameplay in the palm of your hand. SEGA hasn’t tampered with the physics or controls, unlike what happened with the hideous 15th anniversary version of Sonic the Hedgehog for the GBA. Moreover, this is the only modern compilation that offers Sonic & Knuckles’ infamous lock-on technology with no strings attached (try to find Sega Saturn’s Sonic Jam compilation in retail today). I hated the previous collections because of the hurdles to access my favorite game in the series: Sonic the Hedgehog 3 & Knuckles. Play Sonic 3 15 times? Seriously? Even the digital versions played around with lock-on functionality. It was already good to begin with…why change it?

The Good:

+ The ability to save in Sonic, S2, and Sonic & Knuckles is long overdue. While it’s not a save state-like functionality that we wanted, it’s good enough for handheld play. I don’t mind restarting Act 2 of Chemical Plant Zone, despite saving towards the end of it. Sonic 3 and its lock-on counterpart retain the same slot system of the Genesis originals…so take that, crappy XBLA ports!

+ Good value compared to the Wii Virtual Console emulations. Just do the math. You’re saving a couple bucks by going with the former.

The Bad:

– Bare-bones ports: don’t expect any bells and whistles with this collection. The extras include some art…and that’s about it. No enhanced graphics, remixed music, or anything of that sort. To add fuel to the fire, the multiplayer has been completely removed.  It would’ve been great to see added Wi-Fi or local co-op. I really miss the good ol’ days when companies put more effort into their retro collections (remember Mega Man Anniversary Collection for the PS2 and GameCube?).

– Could’ve been better priced.  20$ would’ve been more acceptable, despite its default tag being cheaper than the Virtual Console counterparts. Retro re-releases are already overpriced to begin with, especially since this one doesn’t include significant bonuses.

– A small nitpick with the lock-on function.  The combo games are emulated separately from the standalone versions, thus lacking a few perks from physical lock-on (which still exists in the downloadable versions if I’m not mistaken). That is to say, you can’t access the secret top-down bonus stages that appear when locking StH onto Sonic & Knuckles since that option isn’t available to begin with. In addition, your save slots in Sonic 3 standalone don’t carry over to its lock-on counterpart, Sonic 3 & Knuckles.

The Ugly:

The emulation isn’t perfect. While the artifacting isn’t deal-breaking, it’s downright insulting that SEGA didn’t polish the package for release.  The DS is more than capable of handling Genesis games, so why the additional slowdown in Sonic and S2? Also, what’s with the occasional inconsistent, echoic sound effects? These issues are thankfully uncommon and the emulation is perfectly playable, yet perfectionists may prefer the Virtual Console versions as long as there are no additional bugs. Though I completely understand the cropping and resizing of these games to accommodate the smaller screens.  This is strictly a hardware limitation. The result is a mildly annoying look for hardcore fans, but it’s honestly unnoticeable when these games are in motion. It isn’t as significant as the NES Classics’ resizing for the GBA, if you know what I mean.

The Lowdown: Gamers who are new to or curious about our blue hedgehog should buy the Nintendo DS compilation since it’s the most convenient of them all.  For fans who’ve been yearning for the Anthology on handheld, this is a definite must-buy, despite the infrequent glitches and lack of extras.  I can understand the concern about its steep price, however.  To the rest of you Sonic nuts, I’d pass on this and invest in the Virtual Console emulations instead since they’re the most faithful. Besides, I’m sure most of you already own the previous compilations.  I’d only consider this one if the price is halved.


5 thoughts on “Sonic Classic Collection Review”

  1. Guys another thing about the changes in your reviews section, i like all the changes, but…and is not the medals again….. how about some nice pictures like the old days of yore, i like all the changes like i stated before, but please at least give a thought in order to add some pictures… that….. and the medals……sorry i have to say it again for the million time

    1. I’ve looked around for screenshots for this game in particular, and sadly the ones I’ve found do not do the game justice whatsoever. They’re really small in size and one actually has an error.

      Don’t worry, we’re keeping the screenshots. As for the medals, check my reply in the other post.

  2. I’ve wanted to pick this up just for the sake of having classic Sonic on the go (Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis for GBA was just….bad), but the price is a bit of a turn-off for me still. If this were $20, I’d be sold right away, but at $30, I feel like I’d rather hold off.

    1. Yep, Tim. You’ll definitely love playing these classics on the DS. I’ve been having a lot of fun. That price is still a problem, especially if you already invested on previous Sonic collections. Sega should lower it soon though.

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