the latter half of this review was a bit half-assed admittedly, but i wanted to leave the rest of the games open to re-review and their own reviews.
The reviews are back and even more sporadic than ever. Keep on the lookout.
"Why are you reviewing a collection? Aren't these all games you could review on their own?"
I'm merging them all together into a huge review that should satisfy most. It's to fill in for time until I review the next thing, coming 2035.
Sarcasm aside, last time I reviewed things, I wasn't really interested in playing games. Some might call it gamer's block, which is the term I use to refer to it, but I just wasn't feeling like playing anything, really. I was so incredibly bored of nearly everything at the times that I couldn't bring myself to play games. Not to mention a lack of getting new ones as at the time I was watching a lot of movies, and with those movies, I also didn't have anything on my mind to buy at the time.
Sonic Gems Collection is an enjoyable collection, albeit it's got a few things missing that could have been there but were cut for one reason or another. The Japanese version, or the NTSC-J version is the best version because not only can you play it on more than just a GameCube, but you can also play Bonanza Bros., a Sega arcade game that is quite addictive and kinda short,and all of the Streets Of Rage games.
"Streets of Rage?" You might ask. "Why were those cut? They certainly were popular in the US and Europe."
Sega wasn't going for popularity. They wanted to market it to all ages and make sure everyone could play it. Weirdly, CERO gave this and Shadow The Hedgehog the rating 全年齢(ぜんねんれい), which translates to All Ages for those that do not know Japanese. This rating would later become A when CERO stopped using numbers for their ratings and used letters (oddly, roman characters, romaji were used instead of something else, but Japan does try to teach their youth English in school, so that could account for something) for their ratings. An odd side note is that Namco Museum Encore got a B while Shadow the Hedgehog is still A in Japan, as Rolling Thunder was the game that got it. Why that and not Shadow? I speculate that it's got something to do with how Shadow is a game about cartoon characters going around shooting each other and not a secret agent fighting against an agency of masked men. Maybe I'll do Shadow some day, as it's a lot of fun with an audience.
Besides that tangent, why did Sonic Gems only get released on GC in the US when the PS2 was selling fast?
Better question is why they cancelled the Xbox port. Both are unknown as to why that was how it turned out, but the Xbox port might have been cancelled because the Xbox wasn't very popular in Japan so they thought that it'd be a worthless endeavor. Maybe it was something else. Who knows. I for sure don't.
As an aside though, is that the PS2 version actually detects what language to apply from the system's language selection on an actual console. That isn't really a thing on PCSX2 and the GameCube version didn't have the space. The big change is that there are two different title FMVs, different logos and such in Japanese and English, and the... sigh US Sonic CD soundtrack. It's also got the Japanese one, but because of the way that Sega made it, it applies whenever the language isn't Japanese, so this game was the first time that people in PAL regions got to hear the US soundtrack. I pity em.
This game was also before set to have games like Sonic Eraser, Wonder Boy III and SegaSonic. SegaSonic was cancelled because it used trackball control, and other games were cancelled for unknown reasons. Chaotix is an infamous one, but that one could have had a mass of issues, as the emulation for Mega Drive and Game Gear already is imperfect. Just play Comix Zone on Mega Collection Plus to see what I mean. Constant audio tearing especially. Granted though, with Mega Collection Plus on my PS2, I have definitely clocked in over 120 hours into 3 and Knuckles, so my opinion on that game is as solid as it'll ever be.
With that being said, this game's overall UI museum is pretty decent. I like the theme that they had going, and how the two games are very distinct in how they're styled. The games now no longer have their own SFD videos for each game, but that is probably because they wanted to keep it the same between the two platforms. The two different versions, Mega Collection and Mega Collection Plus are almost two different games with their UI as well. Plus feels very different and I will give it points for that. Something thought that Plus didn't have was multi-lingual support. How do I know that it's got multi-lingual support, and Mega Collection Plus doesn't?
I have different hardware to test it on, and not to mention with how I've extracted the textures using Puyotools (a very good program for sega 6th gen textures and such), I can say as such. The weird part though is that it contains different versions of the roms for different regions and the emulator for the games is actually set to different regions. Weird, ain't it?
Within the "Museum", there are different pieces of art that you can unlock and many different game demos you can unlock that place the very end of the game to face off against the final boss, both with and without chaos emeralds (if it is possible, eg. you can't do the Doomsday Zone without the chaos emeralds), at least as far as the genesis goes. for the Game Gear, it's all emeralds flat out. All sonic games that were included on sonic mega collection plus. No Ooze, Comix Zone, Flicky or Ristar, though.
Something that Mega Collection Plus has over this game though is 480p support. That was quite nice, but I believe that while the game does technically work (Sonic R can be patched to 480p and work on it's own disc), even though it stretches out the picture immensely for no good reason on actual hardware, the one game that completely doesn't like it is Sonic The Fighters, and it might have something to do with how it's rendered and processed. The models might not be actually able to do 480p, or something else at play is messing it up. Emulated though, Sonic R (as it also works on legit hardware), Sonic CD and the museum can handle it.
One last technical thing to talk about is that Sonic R and Sonic the Fighters can run headless. That term I use is because they can run without Gems Collection booting first. Sonic CD can't for some reason I don't fully know, but I do know that the saves are a part of Gems Collection's save, so it's tied into the game somehow. Thanks to CDVDGEN and a few other things, I have been able to test Sonic R and Sonic The Fighters. Sonic R demands a CD as the media type while Sonic The Fighters demands a DVD, and that might be because of where it's placed on the disc. Sonic CD on it's own is just barely over a CD in size because of all of the stuff included.
Granted, you go back the museum, but the game will quit to the browser or just quit that way. Why does this work?
The Sonic CD, Sonic R and Sonic the Fighters all reboot the PS2 with S1.DAT, S2.DAT and S0.DAT, respectively. Those are all ELF files disguised as something else, if you're not following. Renaming them to something like SLPS_000.00 and then keeping a copy of the original on the disc, while keeping the file-structure for the files as it was on Gems Collection is how it's done.
With all of the technical talk aside, what about the games, the thing you came here for?
Sonic CD I covered in an earlier review. This is the 1996 PC port that I can't stand, just moved to the PS2 and GameCube. The soundtrack is also selected by the PS2's internal language, while the GC didn't have space on the disc for that. Just the music that applied to that region. Review linked here: https://www.obscuregamers.com/threads/sonic-cd-review.44/
Sonic R I have actually quite come to enjoy. Being that it was the way that I tested 480p with the PS2, and with how I've just played it for so long to kill time, I just like playing it. Especially with if you know all the shortcuts and have super sonic unlocked, you can be that dick friend that makes playing racing games nearly difficult because you chose the best car/character and know all of the shortcuts. It's not fun to play with if you're not the person that knows all of it, but if you are, you can be an obstinate douche and incredibly smug. Loses friends better than smash bros., guaranteed or your money back.
Graphically, it's not very pretty. Very blocky and very 6th gen, not too different from the N64's aging with the 3D. 'Cept, this I've come to like. It's quite good for the saturn, and if you've watched Game Hut on youtube, with that being a past developer from TT, He explains quite well that it's a lot more technical than it looks. What looks like a lazy, hackneyed game on the outside is a lot for the saturn and especially for the programmers at the time. If you ask me, these should have been the guys to work on Sonic X-treme.
Sound wise, it's a real big guilty pleasure. Lots of people don't like the cheesy eurodance songs included, but personally, they're just... so...
Just so much fun.
I'm not one to usually like intensely happy stuff, and oddly, this just doesn't bother me. It's legitimately fun to play and quite enjoyable. This was the same thing I also liked about Riders, as riders had some really, really cool electronic music. Just too bad everything else about that game sucked more than a black hole could ever pull in with its gravitational field.
Heh, I got that analogy right.
Control wise, it might feel incredibly stiff with the way you turn the characters, always running into the water. Then you realize that you can use the left trigger and right trigger to turn left and right, and the game becomes more enjoyable. There's not much more to say, as it does control well depending what terrain you are on.
The game plays well, and I've enjoyed it. Mastering the shortcuts, each of the ways to get rings and then in turn get the chaos emeralds. There's also extra characters to race to unlock as follows:
Metal Sonic - Resort Island
Tails' Doll - Radical City
Metal Knuckles - Regal Ruin
Egg-Robo - Reactive Factory
(with cheats) Radiant Emerald - Tails.
Two of these characters were added for more characters to race with and against. Metal Knuckles did I think eventually come back for some other outing, and Tails' Doll stayed where he is. Unlocking Tails' Doll doesn't make him come after you. Unlocking him is pitifully easy, and if he was really some sort off demon, the race would be impossibly difficult and the game would be intentionally unbeatable, and TT Games would be in deep if they put some sort of demon monster in their sonic game. Don't listen to some creepypasta for facts. Besides that, the only of those characters you should ever bother to play as is Metal Sonic, and Super Sonic is the best character in-game period. Collecting the coins can be difficult, but just do the race twice to get the emeralds and then the coins.
Overall, Sonic R is enjoyable. One thing of note though is that the PS2 version doesn't have 4 player support because I guess Sega didn't want multitap support.
Maybe it was something else. On a different note, why Amy rides in a car is because she's been shown to be quite slow on her feet, and Eggman's "fast mode" like is seen in SA2, or his speed in Sonic games where he is faster than sonic is actually due to how the game is programmed. The Genesis games is because otherwise it would make it so Sonic could stop eggman from getting in one of his mechs, and as far as SA2, they probably didn't give a shit about his speed and therefore just didn't bother with his footspeed.
This game is the reason Sonic rides in a car. Stop asking that question.
Sonic The Fighters:
An arcade game where if you play as sonic and are mediocrely competent is easy as hell, maybe minus metal sonic.
The visuals aren't too bad, as it's 1996 polygon graphics. It's pretty alright to look at. Not too terrible, though, as there was only so much they could accomplish, and it also looks very cartoony.
The music is pretty cool, and the remixed song that plays in the options menu is a fun track, and that includes the original, on the character select screen. Otherwise, the music is pretty alright as well, and not too shabby. The sound effects are also quite nicely done like with Sonic R and not really low quality like was in Sonic CD.
Gameplay is satisfying if you're playing as Sonic. If you're not, then you're not gonna like the game, and if the opposing player is Sonic or Metal Sonic, you're not in for an enjoyable experience, as Sonic is the name of the game and is therein OP.
Not much to say about this one, but is fun with someone that can laugh with you and is persistent.
To squeeze the rest of the games in here, I'm just going to quickly talk about them, not really say much.
Tails' Adventure is a long game that is playable if you want to play a game that is quite a decent length on the Game Gear, but it's not really something I enjoy too much.
Tails Sky Patrol is hard. It's short difficult, and therefore the difficulty is a wall instead of an ascension.
Sonic Drift 2. Meh.
Sonic 2 Game Gear I will come back to. I have some real stuff to say about this one. Mmm mmm mmm.
8-Bit Sonic Spinball. I have a two word review for this game. Fuck it.
Sonic & Tails 2 (Sonic Triple Trouble). It's just kinda eh. Not too shabby but just eh, really.
Vectorman. Lots of fun and cool music.
Vectorman II. It's also decently fun and got some cool music.
Bonanza Bros. Lots of fun. Enjoyable from the beginning to the end if you play it right and time everything just right. Decently good music included.
Bare Knuckle (Streets Of Rage). Fun beat em up. Music by Yuzo Koshiro, so of course it's good.
Bare Knuckle 2: Same can be said.
BK3: Also enjoyable.
8-bit Sonic 2 is hard because of two words.
It's a long game as well, and it feels like it takes forever. It's just not enjoyable in my opinion. The MS port is the same way, as I've just never been a real fan of sonic games on the GG other than Sonic 1. The boss theme is fun though, as compared to the MS boss theme.
Overall, I like this collection for the games that I enjoy. The unlocking of some games and extras though would make me just tell you to just download a save and put that save on a Memory Card in one way or another. While I would be likely to buy games for an incredibly expensive price tag like this one, I wouldn't really recommend buying the Japanese versions. They're way too expensive. Maybe just settle with the PAL and US versions of the game. Buy the game if you want to, but it's not a must-have. Had it had more games like the ones that were cancelled, then it would have been a must-have.