One day, I had a nagging desire to play Sonic the Hedgehog.
These days, such a craving is easy to satisfy. With some version of the spunky, blue rodent available to purchase on all of the gaming consoles, the issue is not “I want to play Sonic” – rather, it is “which Sonic game should I play?”
While I could have downloaded an old Sonic game on Wii Virtual Console, or shell out some dollars for a copy of SEGA Ultimate Genesis Collection, I decided that my trusted DSi has been deprived of my love and affection, and forked out the cash for a copy of Sonic Classic Collection.
This is the point where I go into the tirade that is my experience of retro gaming. Firstly, I grew up in the generation where gaming fandom involved hideous fanart of the plumber and the blue spiky thing causing grievous bodily harm to each other. The console wars were a brutal binary opposition that destroyed friendships, increased console sales, and created a horribly defiant culture of video game fans.
So, to have Sonic the Hedgehog – the mascot that personified SEGA for so many years – on the family of Nintendo consoles? That must be quite a kick in the teeth for the darling console company that now makes third-party games for all of the gaming consoles on the market.
Some of the previous Nintendo incarnations of the little blue rodent have been the underside of horrible. However, this is the first time that Nintendo can say, with pride, “Just because we are dealing with a Sonic game on a Nintendo console, doesn’t mean it is automatically shocking.”
The publishers have gone to great lengths to make sure that this is not just another failed handheld port like the mockery that was the GBA version. This is a complete, faithful collection ready for play by Sonic enthusiasts. This set contains the first four Sonic titles available for the SEGA Genesis/Mega Drive, as well as the “lock on” variations made possible by the Sonic & Knuckles game. Already we can hear the joyful cheering from the Sonic purists, who were bitterly disappointed when this content was left out of the PS3 & Xbox collections. Sure, the visuals have been squished a little bit vertically to make all of the pixels fit, but it is still somehow a good fit.
Similarly, I was expecting the gameplay to take my memories of Sonic on the Mega Drive and throw them in the blender, but I have to admit that Sonic the Hedgehog on a handheld device is an experience that is eerily reminiscent of the Mega Drive. The DS controls are far more user-friendly and responsive than even their Wii Virtual Console counterparts.
There are only two downfalls that I can see with this particular port, and these are probably only major issues for those who require a fanatically accurate representation of Sonic’s glory days. The first is that there is a little bit of lag from time to time, but most noticeably in the bonus stages. This is quite a downfall for a game that seemed to base its mission statement purely on fast-paced action in. But for people who would take the game slow, this is most likely not a problem.
Another sad departure from the originals is the lack of multiplayer options, or even the lack of any options, in the game. With Nintendo marketing the DSi as a wireless titan in comparison to its predecessors, it is quite odd that a developer would not spend more time to examine even some of these options. The Start button is also a lost component – if you want to pause the game, you have to use the stylus and touch the bottom right “Pause” icon. Yes, we can acknowledge that SEGA tried to make the stylus a part of the gameplay, but I have to give them zero points for effort.
A Sonic fan has to look at this compilation for what it is: an emulation of the original product. So far, no compilation has been complete, or without fault. And maybe this compilation has some of the magic that you admired back in the day. It really depends how you as a fan wish to remember and play Sonic the Hedgehog. Some people are willing to give a handheld version a go, others are not. Some focus on speed, others focus on collecting rings for bonus stages, and others just wish to play a level every now and again for fun.
Sonic Classic Collection still rates next to its predecessors: the graphics and sound are completely up to par on the DS version, and some people are willing to turn a blind eye to some of the idiosyncrasies that have been used to tie it to the DSi’s hardware. For this reason it is a worthy addition, and a sturdy competitor, to the various compilations that have graced the store shelves in the last few years.
Published on GamingAngels – 29 April 2010