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Sonic Classic Collection Review

When the words ‘Sonic Classic Collection’ are presented to you, your first reaction has got to be, “Great. Another one.” Then when you realise this collection is on the DS your interest suddenly perks up a bit. “Portable 16 bit Sonic you say? Let’s hope the emulation is good!” SEGA has answered this question with, “It’s alright. It probably could have been better.” I think it’s fair to say, this portable collection of Sonic titles is a bit of a let-down.

So exactly what do you get for your money? Well the box says 4 classics in one game but it’s technically 6. Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are all available to play. In addition to this, you also get Knuckles in Sonic the Hedgehog 2 as well as Sonic 3 & Knuckles which is a great bonus as these were missed from SEGA’s previous collection; SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection.

This all sounds pretty good so far. It’s a shame then that The Creative Assembly Australia has done a very poor job in emulating these games on the DS. First of all, there’s the resolution. The image has been zoomed in a small amount to fit the DS screen better. It’s also been squashed vertically (again, by a very small amount). However, the HUD has been kept in its’ original resolution.

This change in resolution brings us to our first problem; it ruins the in-game camera. Certain parts of the original Sonic titles are framed in one screen so the gameplay can take place without any camera moves. This is important to the gameplay as you can see everything you need to at one time. This is most obvious with Green Hill Zone’s first boss. In Sonic Classic Collection, because of the adjusted resolution, the camera now scrolls a little further to the left and right obscuring some of the gameplay. This has some adverse effects as the game was designed specifically for the Mega Drive’s visual output. You’ll generally find these titles are harder on the DS as enemies and hazards are more difficult to judge now the resolution has been changed. It also makes the game credits harder to read as they don’t completely fit on the screen.

Secondly, the choice to squash the screen vertically causes some noticeable flicker in certain parts of the game. We’ve noticed flicker occurring in Sonic 2 and 3’s special stages as well as the credits. This change also causes some noticeable scan-lines when the screen scrolls vertically. Neither of these are particularly game crippling, but it certainly doesn’t portray an authentic 16 bit Sonic experience.

There are also some graphical errors that occur from time to time. Again, this is most obvious in the special stages of Sonic 2 and 3. Shadows are clearly missing from the characters and items. Some of the level items are layered incorrectly with Robotnik’s drill in the Sonic 3 Marble Garden boss being behind his machine. When Sonic grabs onto the panels of the Wing Fortress in Sonic 2 he also appears behind them. These little things aren’t massive dissapointments but to fans of the original games, they ruin the experience to a certain degree.

The other big issue is the framerate. SEGA is becoming infamous for its’ wildly fluctuating framerates. This title is not helping that reputation. The framerate stutters a lot in Sonic Classic Collection. This is mainly due to a lot of sprites on screen at one time but as noted by other people, bedroom coders have developed a more steady emulator for the DS that doesn’t have these problems. SEGA need to be besting these coders, not falling below the standards they’ve already set.

It’s not all doom and gloom for Sonic Classic Collection. Other then the graphical changes, the games do play almost identical to the originals. The framerate stutters do not slow down the game like Sonic the Hedgehog Genesis on the Gameboy Advance so the pace is completely intact.

The audio is the biggest achievement for Sonic Classic Collection. All sound effects and music are re-captured perfectly on the DS. This collection does not suffer from the crackle that plagued some of the titles on SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection. Unfortunately, there are still some errors. The Speed Shoes do not quicken the tempo of the tune anymore; they raise the pitch for some bizarre reason. Also, Sonic & Knuckles’ mid-level guardians are played to Sonic 3’s tune instead. Again, these are small complaints.

The collection doesn’t feature a lot else other than what’s on offer. A save feature has been added so you can start again from the start of any level (although it would have been nice to save and load from anywhere), a simple and interactive menu is featured with Sonic Jam’s Sonic World tune playing (although all the box artwork is from the North American versions, even on the European versions) and an Illustrations gallery has been included which features the same old classic artwork you’ve seen from previous collections. What happened to the History of Sonic video and Sonic Chronicles trailer that was confirmed in the BBFC rating we saw in November last year? Disappointing.

This collection promised a whole lot more than it could deliver. If you watch the credits you’ll also see sprites and art from Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D which might suggest that they were on the table for inclusion as well at some point. So where are they? We can’t help but feel let down by Sonic Classic Collection. If you need a portable Sonic fix then we’d suggest picking up SEGA Mega Drive Collection on PSP. You’ll only get Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 but both are vastly better emulations then the ones on offer here. I’m sorry SEGA; you can’t fob this incomplete collection off on us. Go back and try again.


Written by Sonic Yoda on 16/03/2010



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