Game Review

Sonic Classic Collection Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by James Newton

Hog roast

In a perfect world, there’s surely only one score we could give the first fully portable collection of the hedgehog’s finest outings: a well-deserved 10/10. SEGA’s handheld equivalent of Super Mario All-Stars, Sonic Classic Collection features the first four Sonic titles along with Knuckles’s appearance in Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, making a beefy portfolio of six games in total. But the world isn't perfect, and neither is this compilation.

Having already attempted to convert the original Sonic to a Nintendo platform with 2006’s woeful Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis on GBA, you’d have thought SEGA would have pulled out all the stops to make sure this was 100% accurate to the original. Although the vibrant graphics, sounds and classic level design all survive the transport intact, there are still one too many irritating issues.

Entering a Special Stage in Sonic 3 introduces one such problem: the animation of the ball stutters around, making tackling the stages needed to finish the game properly an exercise in nausea control. Once you start tackling the more fiendish stages and having to reverse in some areas, the issue is irritating enough to make you actively not seek out special stage rings.

At least that issue is avoidable: the slowdown that occurs in the main games is not. Even something as simple as running past a Chomper in Green Hill Zone has a noticeable effect on the framerate, and losing rings slows things down too. Getting hit in one of the underwater zones amplifies this problem, and although the game never slows down to the extent of Sonic’s infamous GBA outing, it’s a fact that the DS shouldn’t be struggling with these games.

Elsewhere a few niggles persist: the ability to “save anywhere” actually only restarts you at the beginning of the Act, and although the addition of any kind of save feature to Sonics 1 and 2 makes them even easier than before a proper resume feature would still have been better. The inability to pause the game using the Start button is mystifying too, asking you to tap on the bottom screen to save; it’s not a huge issue, just hard to understand why the Start button would be neglected.

In terms of fidelity to the originals, Sonic Classic Collection emulates the same screen ratio as the Mega Drive, meaning there is some unavoidable flickering and compression, particularly noticeable on text and some background objects such as palm trees. It’s not a huge problem, and probably still preferable to keeping sprites the same size and reducing the viewing area, but it can cause some minor annoyance for purists.

Some games do sadly lose content: there’s no multiplayer mode in any of the titles, not even by local wireless play, and although they were never big draws in the first place it’s a shame to see them omitted here. The screenshot of Mushroom Hill Zone showing Sonic and Knuckles in the same screen must be for illustrative purposes only, as that scene never occurs in the game itself. Want a friend to play as Tails and help Sonic out in Sonic 3? Not going to happen, sadly. The originals were never big options-fests anyway so it seems a shame to gripe, but it's still disappointing when content is removed.

All these issues, taken individually, do little to diminish the games’ appeal: you still have a fantastic library of some of Sonic’s finest appearances and the ability to play them anywhere you want. It’s only when they add up that you start to get disappointed: lose your rings and enter a special stage in Sonic 3, for example, and you’re jerked out of your comfort zone.

Conclusion

Sonic Classic Collection could have been a true must-have for DS-owning Sonic fans, but sadly it’s marred by enough small issues to put you off playing for too long. The games themselves still shine, just not as brightly as they should.

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User Comments (57)

CorbsAdmin

#1

Corbs said:

That's a shame. I'm surprised they couldn't get these games running smoothly on the DS hardware. Maybe it needed a bit more work.

KnucklesSonic8

#2

KnucklesSonic8 said:

Good review. Not worth it for me even though I'm a huge fan. Removing multiplayer was a seriously dumb move. Then again, so is the fact that it's almost like they didn't try to increase the value of this package.

Xkhaoz

#3

Xkhaoz said:

Ah well. I'm still gonna get it along the line. But one question, does it have Blue Sphere?

pixelman

#4

pixelman said:

Yeah, from what I've seen this looks like a quick, cheap cash-in on the old games. I'll just D/L S&K on the VC some time.

CrazyOtto

#5

CrazyOtto said:

If this had multiplayer, and codes for all the games then I would give it a perfect.

Chozo85

#6

Chozo85 said:

Very good review. I can't help but feel this was a quick cash-in. If Sega had put some more games on then this may have been tempting, but the four sonic games isn't enough to warrant a purchase in my opinion. For those who don't already own the games then it may be worth a look but there can't be many of those people around.

DK_vs_KK

#7

DK_vs_KK said:

I was kind of excited for this. :( I have fond memories of playing Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 at my cousin's house when we were kids. Guess I'll just stick with the VC versions. "sigh"

Jazzem

#8

Jazzem said:

I'm quite happy with it, as it's a fairly decent way of playing the classic MD games on the go. It certainly could have been better (not being able to play Sonic 3's competition mode in single player is silly), but it's a nice little collection of four legendary games :)

Starwolf_UK

#9

Starwolf_UK said:

From all the impressions I read it comes off as a lack of effort in places like they didn't actually care/summer intern project (no level select for some but full level select for others; let's play the Sonic 3 miniboss tune in Sonic and knuckles...though this bug isn't in the locked on versions; oh speed boots they make the music higher pitched yeah).

@Corbie. Alledegy they run a bit better on the DSi since the game is DSi enhanced though but you still have some areas with massive slowdown.

miketh2005

#10

miketh2005 said:

And they wonder why people emulate their games instead. If they made this game a little more interesting, maybe people would buy this retail game instead of emulating it on flashcarts, but the only reason anyone would want to buy this if they have a flashcart is to see the illustrations. Is that a good enough pull-in? I don't think so...

motang

#11

motang said:

See Sega these are fine examples of how a Sonic games should be made! Sonic 2 and Sonic & Knuckles were my favorite ones.

AUnkownFuture

#12

AUnkownFuture said:

Good review i agree with the score but they should have added more games in it.Im not going to buy it anyway.

Morpheel

#14

Morpheel said:

i guess the two sonic games i have in sega genesis collection for the psp are enough portable retro sonicness for me.

DaBargainHunta

#15

DaBargainHunta said:

@Starwolf_UK: The game is DSi-enhanced? Where did you hear that? Not saying I don't believe you, just wondering where you saw that bit of info because this is the first I've heard of it.

Anyway, good review. I have the game and like it a lot, but I'd agree with the comments and score.

irken004

#17

irken004 said:

7/10 isn't that bad :)

I'll still plan to get this sometime, maybe a price drop sooner or later?

Kriedler

#19

Kriedler said:

Not sure if anyone's mentioned this, but the game is actually built on a Genesis emulator. That explains all the issues (especially the slowdown). Sega was lazy, and that's all there is to it :P
Hell, at least they thanked the original emulator's author in the credits :P

Crunc

#20

Crunc said:

Very disappointing review. Looks like I'll be skipping this one. They haven't even been able to get their ports to the iPhone to play without slowdown, so it's no wonder that the slower processor in the DS can't handle it. Which just means they are pretty lousy emu writers.

RaylaxStaff

#21

Raylax said:

7/10 seems a tad too high, as excellent as the original games were (I'd've given it 6 or even 5). This is a really, really lazy port and considering you can get the titles in much better quality on virtual console for not much more (I believe the RRP for this is £19.99), this just isn't worth getting. Stick to the Rush and Advance series for your handheld Sonic fix.

Sylverstone

#23

Sylverstone said:

22. Dragoon United States 22 Mar 2010, 16:42 EDT
I'll wait till it goes on discount price.

This.

Ristar42

#25

Ristar42 said:

The use of the 'Sonic Jam' music on the menus reminds me of when SEGA used to put more effort and pride into their games. Sadly, that's not evident here. It's as if they knew it would sell anyway so they cut corners, even the credits for the games are cut off in the emulation, which is a poor show for a commercial release.
Still playable, but should have been great.

HipsterDashie

#26

HipsterDashie said:

Whilst I agree with this score, people seem to be making the game seem a lot worse that it truly is. By no stretch is this game unplayable, and as long as you can look past the fact that there are essentially only four classic Sonic games here, you can have some real fun with this.

Whilst playig the game, I have made the following observations:

> This game is REGION LOCKED when played on a DSi.
> The game runs with less judder and a higher framerate on a DSi.
> The game experiences less slowdown on a DSi.
> The flicker mentioned in the Sonic 3 special stages occur when playing on a DSi - on a DS Lite, they run much more smoothly.
> I would believe that the reason Sega removed the use of the start button beyond the title screen is to prevent the player from taking advantage of any cheats. Obviously since most cheats can be accessed from Sonic 1's title screen, this is one of the few games with accessible cheats.

To this end, I'd actually say that this is a DSi enhanced game. Sega just aren't making it obvious,

I disagree with the people who are advising others to stay away from this collection and play the Advance/Rush series instead. There's a hell of a lot of fun to be had here.

Ristar42

#28

Ristar42 said:

I'm kinda with you there SoulSilver, in that they still are classic games - you can also still do the debug code on Sonic 1, but you cant access the sound test on Sonic 2 so no way to get the codes working (unless you have action replay).
You do get used to the frame rate once you play for a while (just like in All Star Racing). Worth a 7 I think.

RowdyRodimus

#29

RowdyRodimus said:

@SoulsSilverIV Why do they care if people take advantage of cheats? They bought the game, if they want to make it easier on themselves why not let them? (I'm not saying you're wrong, I just don't get these companies sometime. They seem to forget once you buy the item it's yours and other than making copies you can pretty much do what you want with them.)

HipsterDashie

#30

HipsterDashie said:

@RowdyRodimus

Yeah, whilst it was just an observation, I really wouldn't know why they took the decision to do this. But then again, had I been in charge of this project, I would have implemented local wifi multiplayer, either coded the games in the native DS format or write a more efficient emulator, and chucked in Spinball/Blue Sphere/Mean Bean Machine on the side.

Token_Girl

#34

Token_Girl said:

Lame. Guess I'll stick with my good ol' Genesis. Luckily, that was made back when Sega didn't just churn out crap, so it still works perfectly.

Mange

#35

Mange said:

Slowdown on known console hardware is not acceptable. By buying such crap you are telling devs that the quality is ok. I wish NintendoLife asked Sega why they release games apparently not yet ready.

BlueFlameBat

#36

BlueFlameBat said:

That's too bad...
Okay, now I'm distracted by Token Girl's avatar and I can't remember what else I was going to type.
How do you sleep at night, Token Girl?!!

SmaMan

#38

SmaMan said:

Man why can't they do it like Sonic Jam where the games weren't emulators but elaborate ports to the Saturn.

Or at least they should try to remember how they did it on Sonic Mega/Gems Collection. Those emulated copies were perfect!

darklinkinfinite

#39

darklinkinfinite said:

I haven't played this myself but it seems far from an "avoid at all costs" type of situation. Still, its queer that the games would have such problems considering that these games have been ported ad nauseum to just about every platform imaginable, not the least of all, Nintendo's own Virtual Console service, which, as far as I can tell, is about as perfect an emulation as you can get, going so far as including the Lock-On enhancements for Sonic & Knuckles.

StarDust4Ever

#41

StarDust4Ever said:

Compare this to allstars. When Nintendo remakes a game, they do it right.

Super Mario All Stars, Mario Advance, Mario 64 DS.One of the problems with Sega is that now that they are out of the console business, they have gotten lazy with their ports, as well as newer games too. :(

Here's hoping that Sonic4 will somehow match sonic123&Knuckles

HipsterDashie

#43

HipsterDashie said:

@42

A quick look at the credits shows that Dittrich is indeed credited as the lead programmer.

...wow, Sega really IS lazy. =/

EDIT: After poking around the internet researching this jEnesisDS emulator, it seems I have discovered why multiplayer was removed. Apparently, jEnesisDS can't cope with the multiplayer - people trying to emulate these games using flash carts have had to manually remove the multiplayer data to get the game to work. Still, it baffles me as to why Sega couldn't have fixed this...

sonic_brawler95

#44

sonic_brawler95 said:

Actually, I'm having more fun with this than Sonic Rush Adventure (But Sonic Rush 1 is just so awesome). But the is a couple things I noticed:
1.) The chime that plays when you lose your rings was changed, its very noticable, but for some reason it is only in Sonic 1 and 2, Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles have the original chime.
2.) In Sonic 1 and Ithink also in two, when you complete a level, the sound that plays when you run through the sign is different.
3.) The ONLY slowdown I have experienced so far is usually when I have a lot of rings, then get hit by an enemy.
4.) I never have had any flickering in the special stages thus far. Theres a little flicker in Sonic 1, but its more noticable in Sonic 2.
5.) Also in Sonic 2, when you are standing on a high platform, there is just one blue pixel on Sonic's face that isn't with all the other blue pixels, and is just right in the middle of the tan part of his face (ok, I know, not a big deal, but it still bothered me a bit).

Overall, the game is actually very fun, and is worth a look for a sonic fan, or someone who has never played the originals. The presentation could be a little better (games, pictures, options are the only things on the main menu, plus there so so very little pictures), but overall its a fun collection of the originals. Plus, unlike mega collection, its portable. But it might be better to wait for a price drop for some people.

This is a great way to prepare for Sonic 4! And thats my little review. :D

retro_player_22

#45

retro_player_22 said:

At least not all of the games end up like Sonic Genesis for GBA. I'm loving me some portable Sonic and Hedgehog 3 and Knuckles.

NapalmHornet

#46

NapalmHornet said:

For some reason the least deataild sonic 1 seems to run the worst. I still really like this game though and its more fun that playing it on a soulless PSP

Natendo64

#48

Natendo64 said:

I think this collection is alright. But it needs A LOT of work. It needs more games, more features, and better menu music.

J_K

#49

J_K said:

I know I'm late to the game here but for anyone who later checks back on this. This package is entirely an emulator, and it's called jenesis. Sega licensed a public domain project that was to be released for Java using systems that was moved to the DS a few years back for some online compo. Sega bought the rights to the project and then repaired the glitches listed for the emulator towards the sonic titles and published the games as-is for release. Unlike much else going way back that has come out like that turd on the GBA these are the original ROM images wrapped up in an emulator by Sega.

suburban_sensei

#51

suburban_sensei said:

I saw the price of this has gone down to $20, I wonder if it's worth getting now that it's a bit cheaper. I am a huge Sonic fan, but I already own Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection on PS3, which has all 4 Sonic games. However, playing them portably sounds great...just flawed in this case.

sonic_brawler95

#52

sonic_brawler95 said:

My friend has been borrowing this from me for about 3 months, and I wanna play it so baaaaaaaad. Maybe I'll get him to bring it back when school starts.

GamerZack87

#54

GamerZack87 said:

Clearly it's only the most dedicated Sonic fans who really like this compilation. I already have all four games on my Wii, but sometimes I just get an urge to play one of them when I'm out and about. Maybe I'll look into obtaining this :)

xPOTATOx

#55

xPOTATOx said:

I got this and didn't really like it at all. I was looking forward to it, and when I first popped it in, every button I clicked, all I could hear was that annoying: "Seeeegaaaaaaaaa"! & holy cow, does that drive you crazy. & half of the games you don't even have to play them, you could just let go of your DS and it will play for you automatically. Theres no multiplayer, there are so many frame issues and bugs, and the game runs so terribly. This is not worth its price, just get Sonic Colors for a few dollars more!

TylerBH

#57

TylerBH said:

Good review! It's too bad this game sucks, I was looking forward to it (I guess that explains why this game sells at stores like Old Navy for 20 bucks). What I'm wondering is how come the PSP gets a good collection and we don't? I makes no sense. Oh well, I guess I'll stick with Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for my PS3.

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