Sonic Gems Collection
|Sonic Gems Collection|
North American GameCube cover art
|Series||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Platform(s)||GameCube, PlayStation 2|
Sonic Gems Collection is a 2005 compilation of video games, primarily in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, from the publisher Sega. The emulated games span multiple genres and consoles—from the Sega Genesis to the Sega Saturn—and retain the features and errors of their initial releases with minimal edits. Player progress is rewarded with demos of other Sonic games, videos, and promotional artwork spanning the history of the Sonic franchise.
Developer Sonic Team conceived the compilation to introduce younger players to older Sonic games. While its 2002 predecessor, Sonic Mega Collection, comprised the more popular Sonic games, Sonic Gems Collection focuses on more obscure games, such as Sonic CD and Sonic the Fighters. One game Sonic Team wished to include, SegaSonic the Hedgehog, was excluded due to emulation difficulties.
Sonic Gems Collection was released for the GameCube and PlayStation 2 in August 2005. Its reviews were mixed or average; reviewers were divided over whether the package would satisfy players. Reviewers preferred Sonic CD and Vectorman, but found Sonic the Fighters and Sonic R mediocre, and disliked the Game Gear games. Some were disappointed by the absence of the three Streets of Rage games in the North American version and other Sonic games like Knuckles' Chaotix and Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure. The GameCube version was branded a Player's Choice game in 2006.
Sonic Gems Collection is a compilation of obscure video games published by Sega for various consoles. Its featured games are three installments in the Sonic the Hedgehog series: the Sega CD game Sonic CD (1993), a platformer with time travel elements; the arcade game Sonic the Fighters (1996), a fighting game similar in gameplay and style to Virtua Fighter; and the Sega Saturn game Sonic R (1997), a racing video game with platforming elements. Each game is generally identical to its initial release, with minimal edits.
The compilation also includes six of the twelve Sonic games released for the Game Gear: the platformers Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992) and Sonic the Hedgehog Triple Trouble (1994); the pinball game Sonic Spinball (1993); the racing game Sonic Drift 2; and two 1995 games starring Tails: the action-puzzle game Tails' Skypatrol and the slow-paced 2D game Tails Adventure. Players can also unlock several Sega Genesis games, including BlueSky Software's two Vectorman games (1995 and 1996), which are run-and-gun platformers; the three Streets of Rage fighting games (1991, 1992, and 1994); and the shooter game Bonanza Bros. (1990). The Streets of Rage games and Bonanza Bros. were not included in the North American version.
The compilation features an extensive museum section in which players can view content unlocked after obtaining achievements, such as promotional artwork and videos, screenshots, and music. Time-limited demos of the original Genesis Sonic games and the other six Game Gear games[a] can also be unlocked. The player begins in the selected game's final level; they can continue to play until the time is up.
Sonic Gems Collection was developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega for Nintendo's GameCube and Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 2. According to Sonic Team director Yojiro Ogawa, the compilation (and its 2002 predecessor Sonic Mega Collection) was conceived to introduce young players to older games in the Sonic franchise. While Sonic Mega Collection focused on the original Genesis games to showcase what made the franchise a success, Sonic Gems Collection focused on games Sega considered rare and obscure. Although Sonic Team was responsible for Sonic Gems Collection's creation, they had limited involvement in the development of the games included on the compilation; for example, Sega AM2 made Sonic the Fighters, and Traveller's Tales was responsible for Sonic R. Most of the games included are emulated, but Sonic the Fighters is a port.
At the beginning of development, Sonic Team made a list of the most desired games for the compilation. The team took into consideration the games they felt were high quality in graphics, gameplay, and overall nature; the Game Gear games, for example, were those Sonic Team found best. Sonic CD was the one of the few main Sonic games Sonic Team did not include in Sonic Mega Collection, while Vectorman had been considered but was deferred to Sonic Gems Collection. Sonic Team desired to include Sega AM3's SegaSonic the Hedgehog (1993), but could not due to problems with properly emulating its trackball controls. AM2 assisted in porting Sonic the Fighters, and its appearance in the compilation marked its first appearance on a home console. The Microsoft Windows versions of Sonic CD and Sonic R were used in Sonic Gems Collection. Both games received visual upgrades: Sonic CD's opening sequence is presented in fullscreen and Sonic R has higher resolution textures.:40
During development, Sonic Team hoped that each region's version of Sonic Gems Collection would be identical in content. However, the Streets of Rage games and Bonanza Bros. had to be omitted from the North American release, due to fears of a "Teen" rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). The team also wished to include both the Japanese and North American Sonic CD soundtracks, but storage and licensing problems resulted in Japan only receiving its respective soundtrack and all other regions using the North American version. Sonic Gems Collection was announced in May 2005, and was playable at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3). It was released on August 11, 2005 in Japan, August 16, 2005 in North America, and September 30, 2005 in Europe. The PlayStation 2 version was not released in North America. Those who ordered the game through Sega's online store Sega Direct received an exclusive Sonic-themed yo-yo.
According to the review aggregator Metacritic, Sonic Gems Collection received "mixed or average" reviews from professional critics. The GameCube version was branded as a Player's Choice game in 2006, indicating strong sales.
Reviewers considered Sonic CD the compilation's strongest feature, so much that Nintendo Power's Steve T. and Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) said it was worth buying for Sonic CD alone.:85 Juan Castro (IGN) found that Sonic CD "still holds its own against modern platformers", praising its unique, time-travel oriented gameplay, level design, visuals, and sound. Castro called it one of the best games in the Sonic series and was no less fun than its original release. Ryan Davis (GameSpot) found Sonic CD superior to the other games in the compilation, and Tom Bramwell (Eurogamer) declared "rejoice for Sonic CD... Just don't rejoice for anything else, because it's mostly rubbish". Many reviewers were also pleased by the inclusion of the Vectorman games. Castro called it "the pinnacle of 16-bit gaming", praising its melding of boss fights, action, and platforming and saying it aged well. Bramwell and Phil Theobald (GameSpy) agreed.
Reviewers generally felt Sonic R and Sonic the Fighters were mediocre. Castro and Theobald described Sonic the Fighters as essentially a simplified version of Virtua Fighter, and Davis considered it a stripped-down version of Virtua Fighter 2 and called it dated and simplistic. Jeuxvideo.com's Superpanda argued Sonic R was on par with Sonic CD in terms of quality. Castro was less positive: he found its ideas clever and considered it an interesting departure from normal racing games, but thought the ideas were poorly implemented and the controls were awkward. However, he still thought the game was enjoyable and that its soundtrack was unique. Theobald voiced a similar opinion, considering it "a concept that works better in theory than in practice". On the other hand, Davis said Sonic R's "laughably bad soundtrack" was its "only redeeming quality". Bramwell considered it too odd and short to be worth the player's time.
The six Game Gear Sonic games were criticized for their uneven quality and poor emulation. Theobald liked that the games were available from the start, but was puzzled why the other six games were left out. He also considered the selection random ("why Sonic 2, but no Sonic?"). Castro was intrigued that they were all on one disc, but thought their screen displays were bad and said "you'd probably be better off dusting your old [Game Gear] and finding those old games" rather than playing them on Sonic Gems Collection. Of the Game Gear games, Davis preferred Sonic 2, Sonic Triple Trouble, and Tails Skypatrol, but disliked the rest. He heavily criticized their emulation quality, noting their frequent frame rate drops. Bramwell joked they were present on the disc for "educational" purposes. He lambasted their resolutions and encouraged readers to ignore them entirely.
Some reviewers found the compilation incomplete. Davis and Theobald both criticized the exclusion of the Streets of Rage games in the North American version. Davis stated he preferred them over Vectorman and Theobald said Sega should have just let the compilation get a Teen rating from the ESRB. Theobald was also disappointed that the compilation lacked SegaSonic the Hedgehog, Knuckles' Chaotix, and the other Game Gear games. Jeremy Parish (1UP.com) said even combining Sonic Mega Collection and Sonic Gems Collection would provide players an incomplete Sonic collection, lambasting the exclusion of Knuckles' Chaotix and Sonic the Hedgehog Pocket Adventure and feeling the Master System Sonic games should have been included, not the Game Gear ones. Superpanda said he would have preferred Knuckles' Chaotix over the Game Gear games and also considered its exclusion of the Saturn version of Sonic 3D Blast a disappointment.
Reviewers were generally divided over whether Sonic Gems Collection would leave players satisfied. EGM summed it up as a "woefully uneven mix", but one Sonic fans should check out if they wanted Sonic CD. Castro said the compilation was "decent" and worth its price tag, but was not as solid as Sonic Mega Collection. Theobald found it weak and that only Sonic CD and Vectorman would appeal to casual gamers. Bramwell was sarcastic: "if this sort of thing matters to you, if you still can't bear to unplug your Dreamcast, and you do own Virtua Fighter 4 and all the others and think they're brilliant, this is for you". When Famitsu named the best games of 2005, Sonic Gems Collection was ranked 287 out of 464 and 27 out of 47 for the PlayStation 2 and GameCube, respectively.
- Castro, Juan (August 19, 2005). "Sonic Gems Collection". IGN. Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Theobald, Phil (August 15, 2005). "Sonic Gems Collection". GameSpy. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Davis, Ryan. "Sonic Gems Collection Review". GameSpot. Archived from the original on August 17, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- kombo (May 4, 2012). "Mario Kart 64, Contra III, Comix Zone, Bonanza Bros". GameZone. Archived from the original on February 25, 2018. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Sonic Team (August 11, 2005). Sonic Gems Collection. Sega.
- "Now Playing in Japan". IGN. August 15, 2004. Archived from the original on February 24, 2018. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- "Yojiro Ogawa Interview". GameSpy. July 22, 2005. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved February 21, 2018.
- "Hands-on: Sonic Mega Collection". IGN. August 23, 2002. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
- Bramwell, Tom (March 19, 2003). "Sonic Mega Collection". Eurogamer. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
- "Sega's Yuji Naka Talks!". GameSpy. September 30, 2005. Archived from the original on February 23, 2017. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
- Szczepaniak, John (October 22, 2009). "Blog: I like burning hedgehogs". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- "Sonic Gems Collection". Nintendo Power. Future plc (195). September 2005.
- Gibson, Ellie (July 4, 2005). "Sonic Gems line-up in doubt". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Theobald, Phil (May 20, 2005). "Sonic Gems Collection". GameSpy. Archived from the original on March 26, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Torres, Ricardo (May 19, 2005). "E3 2005: Sonic Gems Collection Hands-On". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 19, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- "Sonic Gems Collection". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- Parish, Jeremy (August 16, 2005). "Sonic Gems Collection". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on February 19, 2013. Retrieved February 17, 2017.
- "セガダイレクトには話題のグッズが満載!!". Famitsu (in Japanese). June 24, 2005. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- "Sonic Gems Collection for GameCube Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- "Sonic Gems Collection". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (195): 115. September 2005.
- Bramwell, Tom (October 10, 2005). "Sonic Gems Collection". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on August 16, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- "Sonic Gems Collection (Player's Choice) (US, 2006)". GameRankings. Archived from the original on February 25, 2018. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Superpanda (September 26, 2005). "Test : Sonic Gems Collection". Jeuxvideo.com (in French). Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- "ファミ通アワード2005 ～ ノミネートタイトル一覧". Famitsu (in Japanese). December 21, 2005. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- Official website (in Japanese)