This should get your retro skills up to scratch before the release of Sonic 4 which is making a return to Sonic’s 2D roots. Put simply this compilation collects the best four Sonic games out there. Pure, 2D, Sonic gold.
These are the best Sonic games to be released on the Mega-drive System in the ‘90s, before it all went wrong with his steps into third dimension adventure platforming. This package contains Sonic 1-3 and Sonic & Knuckles. Unlike past Sonic compilations we’ve seen over the years, this one allows you to play through Sonic 2 and 3 as Knuckles. Which, as anyone that owned the original Mega Drive cartridge of Sonic & Knuckles knows, makes this an unmissable purchase.
Basically, you could plug Sonic 2/3 into the Knuckles cartridge in a tower over your mega-drive. It was more exciting back then than it sounds, but good times were had all around. Knuckles the new guy plays like a cheat version of Sonic as he can glide long distances and also climb walls.
Of course the games are a classic purchase without the Knuckles attachment. Sonic 1 introduced a gaming icon to the world stage and posed the first real threat to Nintendo’s Mario with dazzling use of colour and fast-paced gameplay.
Sonic 2 perfected the blueprint of the original and really starting to get the action moving a lot faster than any other games dared too. Level design also became more complex. It’s still a case of ‘keep going right,’ but routes go up and down more with occasional leftward travel. Sonic gets a new move other than jump too, with a turbo dash from a standing start. Tails the twin-tailed fox is also back as a playable character. An AI version also follows Sonic around with the obvious difference being his ability to fly short distances to support Sonic. It wasn’t until Sonic 3 though that players could fly as Tails. This game also has the 3D-esque bonus levels that were considered mind-blowing at the time. Don’t laugh!
Sonic 3 started to introduce powers instead of standard shield pick-ups. Flame shield lets you pass through fire and dash across the screen in a blaze. An electric orb attracts nearby rings and also allows a double-jump move. The bubble supplies infinite oxygen under water and lets you bounce on enemies.
Sonic & Knuckles is more of the same but with a higher level of graphical detail not seen before in the series. It was all about that awesome cartridge though really allowing you to put old Sonic games into it. Knuckles really adds to the replayability value of the older games as he could take different routes to Sonic and Tails thanks to his climbing and gliding abilities.
For old fans, the games are just as enjoyable as they were all those years ago. And yes, losing your rings after a little scratch is still one of the most heart-breaking things that can happen in gaming. Getting 100 rings earns you an extra life, which makes it all the more unbearable when you lose them at 96. Prepare for a lot of old wounds to re-open people. Dr Robotnik (or Dr. Eggman as he’s known as nowadays) still provides some of the most entertaining boss fights around that display more imagination than most of today’s gaming villains.
For gamers that have only known Sonic in 3D form, forget everything about it and buy this now. They’re a little bit tougher than most modern platformers but at least now you can save at the start of every stage. I honestly don’t know how I completed these games back in the day without this function.
The game’s not exactly pushing the DS hard as the action fits neatly onto one screen with the lower one used for a menu. It’s not like they could put a map on it: ‘Go right, go right, keep going…’ The controls aren’t quite as neat a fit as on the original thanks to the DS’s lack of diagonals on the D-Pad but it’s not a game-breaker.
The presentation’s bit sparse outside of the games with a handful of concept art being the only extra. Still, at least Sonic Spinball is nowhere in sight as an unwanted ‘Bonus.’
- Just the great Sonic games
- Knuckles compatibility is excellent
- A fine port to the DS
- No frills extras
- Tough at times
- Worth buying again just for Knuckles?
The Short Version: Sonic, Tails and most importantly, Knuckles are on fine form once again to tempt fans who own previous compilations. If you can find this at a decent price it’s a nice slice of gaming history for yourself or any young family members that’ll put up with your constant ‘good old days’ moaning.