Sonic Classic Collection Review «

Sonic the Hedgehog’s classic 16-bit games have been severely devalued in recent years by Sega’s seeming determination to port the series to every device that has a screen. By that measure, Sonic Classic Collection for DS doesn’t seem like it would be worth much. Taken on its own merits, though, it’s a decent package that fans who (somehow) have missed these Genesis originals in their countless other compilation appearances will want to track down…despite some rough edges.
Let’s talk about those edges for a moment. The DS is a pretty decent little handheld; hardly a powerhouse, but nicely suited for 2D gaming. Unfortunately, it does suffer from a modest issue of resolution, with its screens (each clocking in at 256×192 pixels) considerably smaller than the Genesis’ 320×240. Therefore, each game has been squeezed to fit one screen of the DS as best as possible — which actually turned out OK, if not perfect. The visuals are a little flickery in motion due to the incompatible resolutions, and the colors look a lot darker than you probably remember them looking on Genesis. But these ports do the trick, and any minor graphical distortion is easily overlooked thanks to the fact that the Sonic games have never really been about pixel-precise gameplay.

Click the image above to check out all Sonic Classics Collection screens.
No, Sonic has always been more about maintaining your momentum and acting with confidence, and for the most part this compilation makes it easy enough to keep up the proper pace. Some of the later games (especially Sonic & Knuckles) can display a touch of slowdown from time to time, especially when Sonic barfs up a shower of rings upon colliding with an enemy, but it’s fairly modest and almost never detrimental to play.

The collection also includes a few niceties that, sadly, aren’t necessarily a given when it comes to Sonic ports. For instance, it does support the lock-on features of Sonic & Knuckles, something sorely lacking in last year’s HD console omnibus, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. You can also choose to save your progress at any time and resume your adventure later — not quite as nice as emulator save states, but about as good as it gets for legitimate, licensed releases.

Click the image above to check out all Sonic Classic Collection screens.
With only four games (plus the modified versions of two of them), Sonic Classics Collection does feel rather anemic. No doubt the storage limitations of the DS format are to blame here, but even if something like Sonic CD or Knuckles Chaotix is out of the question, it would have been nice to have been given some decent extras. The Master System versions of Sonic 1 and 2, for example, or even some of the side novelties like Sonic Spinball.

In the end, Sonic Classics is best described as “thoroughly tolerable.” Compared to Sonic’s countless other compilation, it doesn’t surpass any other rendition of the games in any real way. On the other hand, it sure is a lot more enjoyable than the games’ iPhone versions. It is — yes — a thoroughly tolerable way to play some old Sonic platformers on the go… assuming, of course, that you’re not sick of these games already.


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