blazehedgehog's Sonic Classic Collection (Nintendo DS) review

Possibly the worst Sonic retro compilation

You know, let's face it - if you don't own the Sega Genesis Sonic games by now, you need to have your gaming license revoked simply due to the sheer volume of times they've been re-released. We've had Sonic Compilation on the Genesis itself, followed by Sonic Jam for the Saturn, Jam Pak for the Dreamcast and PC, Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Gems Collection for the PC, PS2, Gamecube and Xbox, re-releases on WiiWare, Xbox Live Arcade, and PSN, not to mention Ultimate Genesis Collection for the 360 and PS3. The only thing separating Sonic Classic Collection from this ridiculous unstoppable tide of Sonic re-releases is the fact that it's instead for the Nintendo DS, offering a chance to play the Genesis Sonic games on the go.

 Squashed vertical resolution makes these games difficult to look at
Sonic Classic Collection offers up the four major Genesis games: Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. As should be expected by this point, you can also play Sonic & Knuckles "locked on" to both Sonic 2 and Sonic 3, adding Knuckles the Echidna to the roster of playable characters in both games, allowing you to access new areas and alternate routes. If for some reason you've been living under a rock and don't know what these games are about, the most memorable elements of classic Sonic games often involve the game's incredible speed, pinball-style physics, and multiple pathways leading towards the end of the level. For their time, the games were quite revered - and together with an onslaught of merchandising and marketing, Sonic the Hedgehog became a household name in the early 90's.

What these collections always come down to is the quality of the ports themselves, and this is, unfortunately, something Sonic Classic Collection gets very, very wrong. Rather than do what should have been done originally and get the original source code and then port it to the Nintendo DS, Sonic Classic Collection opts instead to go the quick-and-dirty route by simply providing an emulator to run Sega Genesis Cartridge Data. This introduces a host of problems, many of which Classic Collection simply never bothers to really deal with in any meaningful way. For starters, screen resolution is noticeably squashed, as the Nintendo DS doesn't have enough space to display the full Sega Genesis screen output. Sound, a frequent problem area in other Sonic collections, is at its worst here with scratchy, tinny music. Rounding out these problems is the fact that clearly, the Nintendo DS lacks sufficient horsepower to accurately emulate a Sega Genesis, as all four games are plagued not only by choppy framerates, but even occasional bouts of slowdown. For somebody who has played a lot of Sonic in his day, the issues with screen space and game speed are enough to significantly throw me off and make the games significantly more difficult and frustrating than they were originally.  Whereas other Sonic compilations usually added new features, Sonic Classic Collection opts to removes some instead: the co-op and multiplayer modes from Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 have been completely disabled - a missed opportunity to be sure. It's all rounded out by the most pitiful "Bonus Features" I've ever seen in any retro collection: the exact same gallery of dopey Sonic clipart that has appeared in every Sonic compilation since 1997, shrunken down to the size of a postage stamp.

This is the best you can do for bonus features?
If you own a Nintendo DSi, some of the above complaints does not apply to you - seeing as Sonic Classic Collection is secretly a DSi-enhanced cartridge. Though it doesn't use the camera or any of the other new Nintendo DSi features, Sonic Classic Collection can tap in to the DSi's additional CPU horsepower to make the games in question run noticeably smoother. And though this is definitely a bad retro collection, it could be worse: 2006 saw a port of Sonic 1 to the Gameboy Advance that felt like a bad flash game more than anything else. Though sub-par in quality, the games in Sonic Classic Collection at least function more or less as they did originally, which is more than can be said for the Gameboy Advance "port". Still, in comparison to other, previous compilations like Sonic Jam, Sonic Classic Collection is well below standard. It implements the absolute bare minimum of features, creating what ultimately feels like a poor, sloppy product. Unless you're absolutely starving for these games in a portable format and own a Nintendo DSi, I probably wouldn't recommend this collection.
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