Review: C'mon, who doesn't love speed?!
In the 16-bit wars of the early 1990's most people predicted that the Super Nintendo would easily destroy all the competition when it came out in 1991, like they ruled the game market in 1985 to 1990. In the video game wars Sega was used to being the second banana or runner up in the gaming world, but they were planning a big secret weapon to help them fight off Nintendo's new system. The secret weapon was a 16-bit game called Sonic the Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. The game was so successful that it finally helped Sega to become the # 1 name in video games and it spawned many sequels! In Sonic Mega Collection Plus you get the chance to relive some of these games from Sega's golden age - and all at a low price of 19.99 US.
As soon as you start up the disc, SMCP has the Sonic games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Spinball, Dr. Robitnik's Mean Bean (a.k.a. Puyo Puyo for the Japanese gamers), Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Sonic and Knuckles, and Sonic 3D Blast right off the bat. Sonic Mega Collection Plus not only includes all the games found in the GameCube original, but this edition also has 6 Game Gear titles (an old 8-bit portable from Sega) to sweeten the deal. These ancient Game Gear games look and sound horrible even when compared to the Genesis games, but the more games the better - that's what I always say.
So why were most of these 2D games so popular? The original Sonic the Hedgehog not only pushed the graphical and sound limits of the old 16-bit Genesis, but it also was easy enough to pick up and play for just about anybody. The game play was simple; as long as Sonic or his friends have at least one Ring they can't be killed by their enemies, they only have to worry about falling into certain pitfalls to avoid the instant death. Another thing that made the Sonic games so unique and much more intense than the average platformer is that each character could run incredibly fast. Just imagine ripping across the screen at blazing speeds while you discover new areas or finish a level in no time flat. The concept was fresh and it was just what the game industry needed at the time.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the bigger and better sequel to the award winning original that added 3D bonus rounds, a fun new two player game, and gave Sonic a new side kick called Tails. The game was so good that many consider part 2 to be the best in series as well. Sonic 3 didn't change the game play formula too much but the graphics and sounds were totally redone now, and the levels were even bigger and tougher than the ones found in the last games. Sonic and Knuckles (my personal favourite) featured levels that were supposed to be in Sonic 3, but Sega had the idea to release a special cartridge that would let you combine both Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles so you can play a grand experience in one. You can also combine Sonic and Knuckles with Sonic 2 and 3 on SMCP like you could do on the original cart, but you have to unlock the options first.
Not only do you get these awesome games and more here but SMCP has tons of other cool Easter eggs to find. You can open up secret games (like the underrated Comix Zone) by finishing games, putting in hours of play time, or if you have a Sonic Heroes save file on the hard drive it will instantly give you something. Although getting these extra games are great, sadly I can think of a dozen other great Genesis games that could have been on here too (Gunstar Heroes, Phantasy Star 2, Shining Fore, etc.). If you're done playing the games you can relax and see various demos and Sonic the Hedgehog comic covers in the Extras section.
SMPC also has another welcome feature. Although you couldn't save your data in many of older games before (except for Sonic 3), in SMCP you can record your games any time, anywhere so you can leave your game when you feel like it. Talk about useful!
The graphics in all these titles are just like their originals as well. Although some may see this is a negative since this game doesn't take advantage of the Xbox technology here (especially with those ugly looking Game Gear games), amazingly I still think most of these Sonic games look great after all these years. This is thanks mostly to colourful yet non-cartoon-like environments found in most of the well designed zones.
Like the graphics the sounds are exactly the same as you remember. Both the Genesis and Game Gear weren't known for their stellar music and games like the Ooze and Sonic Drift are unbearably bad, but the other Sonic games like Sonic 3 helped to change that fact with some memorable tracks and sound effects.