Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jack Red reviews Sonic Games Collection (Part 1 of Sonic 25th Anniversary Blog Series)

Hi everyone I'm Jack Red, I owned an couple of Sonic compilations over the years. Officially I played over fifty Sonic games in my life. As an kid Sonic was one of those game series I always held dare. Even now it's very hard for me to not play Sonic nonstop with so many great games. Yes I know many lost interest due to several Sonic games. Yet I felt they are getting more on track than Mario series. Which is clearly moving away further from what old fans loved.

I am here to officially kick off the first of many parts tribute blogs to such an amazing series for it's time. What better way to go about it then reviewing the games themselves. Very recently thanks to an great limited time price reduction deal. I bought all the Sonic games on Steam in mid March of this year. Honestly this is my dream Sonic collection I always wanted. It's so good that even Sonic Mega Collection can't compete with it.

All games included in Sonic Games Collection on Steam as they follow down below...
1. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)
2. Sonic the Hedgehog 2
3. Sonic 3 & Knuckles (lock-on version of both games combined into one)
4. Sonic CD
5. Sonic Adventure DX
6. Sonic Adventure 2
7. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1
8. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2
9. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode Metal (free game because it requires having both Sonic 4 games)
10. Sonic Generations
11. Sonic Lost World
12. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing
13. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed
14. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
15. Sonic Spinball
16. Sonic 3D Blast

DLCs included to help give you the true Sonic experience
1. Sonic Adventure 2 Battle
2. Metal Sonic Pack (Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed)
3. Casino Nights (Sonic Generations)
4. Metal Sonic Armor (Spiral Knights)

Now I thought of an more difficult yet interesting way to go about reviewing each Sonic game. I will review my least favorite leading up to the one I love the most. I will take my time fully explaining my reasons as I review each one. No body said it would be easy but Sonic prefers danger than an safe route. So why not do that angle for fellow Sonic fans and Sega employees that do read my blog.

1. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode Metal

At the bottom of the barrel is the only free Sonic game in this collection. You must own both Sonic 4 games in order to play this lock-on game. After getting an save in Sonic 4 Episode 1, go into Sonic 4 Episode 2. For some reason requires you to do the first level of it before Sonic 4 Episode Metal is unlocked. Now think back at Sonic & Knuckles with it's lock-on technology. Most were surprised by having Sonic 1, 2 & 3 on top of Sonic & Knuckles. Allows you to play one of three lock-on games. Which I recommend Knuckles in Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Sadly I can't say the same about Sonic 4 Episode Metal. This game is really short of only four levels. There are no boss fights or anything we haven't seen. You play as Metal Sonic, one of the most popular villains in the series. This was meant to tie CD's events to Sonic 4 games on how he returned. All the levels aren't that different from Sonic 4 levels. Now you could say that about Knuckles in Sonic 2 but at least there's clear differences with an twist that actually works. Yes Metal Sonic does move faster than Sonic but that's about it. Also there aren't any achievements in this game at all. None of it's hype went further than throwing an baseball at your neighbor's windows. In Blue Sphere's case, it can be boring & repetitive fast. But you can switch between two characters with plenty of passwords. There is no excuse for this why did Sega do this to Metal Sonic of all people.

2. Sonic 3D Blast

One of the first spin off Sonic games that got a lot of bad reviews over the years. Honestly I do agree with some points. I still played worse Sonic games that could make an room full of grown men crying. I like some sound effects from the earlier games are still present. I don't think the controls are the reason why it gets so much hate. Some camera angle especially those you have to jump are difficult to judge. Sonic 3D Blast doesn't add anything we haven't seen before. The bosses are okay but felt they could've been done a little better. Special stages are way too easy that it makes getting every chaos emerald not worth attempting. This game has an strong similarities to an early Sega game called Flicky because in both games you rescue birds. Sonic 3D Blast actually was created to replace an canned Sonic game. An particular Christmas special for the first cartoon had an deal related to this. At the last minute Sonic 3D Blast despite being an spin off took Sonic Extreme's place. They made an Sega Saturn port in shorter amount of time while making Genesis version. Yet Saturn version is considered to be the best version of Sonic 3D Blast. Most hated Sega attempted early 3D on Sega Genesis. Honestly removing collecting birds would've helped the game a lot. I do enjoy Sonic 3D Blast to some degree. But I can't recommend it until you're an Sonic fan.

3. Sonic Spinball

Another early spin off Sonic game from my child hood. The only Sonic game entirely made in the United States. In this game Sonic must get through Dr. Robotnik's fortress pinball style. This also was the first licensed Sonic game as it took elements of the first two cartoons. Surprisingly there's only four levels but all of them are very large in size. All the boss fights are easier than Sonic 3D Blast. In every level your goal is collect all the chaos emerald & beat the boss. Your controls are somewhat limited that's hard to get use to at first. I do like the soundtrack but terrible sound effects. This Sonic game requires a lot of luck. Most cartoon references are actually in all the special stages. Unlike most Sonic games, the only way to die is fall to your death. You can play this for hours with no real penalty of any kind. Some levels will take an while to figure out where to go. I do like the intro & ending of this game. In later ports changed Dr. Robotnik from Genesis era to that of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoon. Again I can't recommend it until you're an Sonic fan or that of pinball action.

4. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 1

Shortly after Capcom released Mega Man 9 on many platforms. Sega decided to do their take with Sonic series. A lot of questionable decisions occur that ultimately led to it getting ignored by many fans. Such as Sega refused to change the character's appearances to their classic selves. They decided in advance to break Sonic 4 up in several games. Personally The Walking Dead games by Telltale are worth playing over this. I do agree the physics of Sonic 4 Episode 1 are horribly off. They got Dimps the same team behind Sonic Advance trilogy on GBA to make this game. I felt going too classic in design did hurt the game. It's okay to have some clever references but paying close attention to every zone. We're basically replaying zones we played before from Sonic 1 and 2 with some changes. This decision also affected all the bosses who were from those games. Can I be honest does E.G.G. Station seem familiar to an rom hack called Robotnik's Revenge. Virtually identical in many ways I wonder if they stole that idea. By having the jump attack automatic does ruin several areas. As an whole I do enjoy a lot of these levels. I felt other levels mostly some Act 3 & 4 were either rushed or forced. I also like they broke the record of lives with 99 to 999. Honestly Casino Street Zone came off the most official & fun zone of the entire game. You can become Super Sonic but only in boss levels. If you collect all of them, you also get an hint of whose coming back in Sonic 4 Episode 2. I don't care for the special stages as they look out of place & too similar to those of Sonic 1. This would be on borders of recommending it or not. Only an Sonic fan would play this.

5. Sonic the Hedgehog 4 Episode 2

Most fans agreed Sonic 4 Episode 2 was better than Sonic 4 Episode 1. I like how it told the story similar to Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The physics were closer with better controls. Tails comes back playing similar to Sonic 2 & 3. Except they added some areas you need to use team moves. Which I do like but I felt they should've worked on it a little more. Why is this such an major issue you're wondering? It's no secret Sonic series gets ridiculous speed runs. It's very difficult to attempt Sonic 4 Episode 2 on your own. It's even worse playing with someone else due to how broken the coop system. I mean if one of you keeps moving fast, very quickly the other player loses footing. You can go an entire level with your partner stuck in the air most of the time. What's worse is by playing coop it's the only way to play as Tails. Are you kidding me until now this never was an issue. So why Sonic 4 do we have to do this just to play as Tails. I do enjoy most levels over those of Sonic 4 Episode 1. I enjoy most bosses especially the final boss. What's weird is in both Sonic 4 games, Super Sonic gets limited. Everything stays the same but in Sonic 4 Episode 1 only in boss levels play as him. But in Sonic 4 Episode 2 they did fix that. I do prefer the special stages inspired by Sonic 2 with some changes. An huge improvement over Sonic 4 Episode 1's special stages. You can collect red star rings which in this game is way too easy to do. Metal Sonic appears a lot in this game with most of it being good. The only time I minded him being there was during Sky Fortress Zone. I will say this for both Sonic 4 games at least Dr. Robotnik has the most boss fights like the first couple games. I do prefer zones in this game over those of Sonic 4 Episode 1. In conclusion I'm more likely to recommend this game.

6. Sonic Lost World

I never played this before buying Sonic Games Collection. I took my sweet time playing as much of it as I can. I do like a lot of level designs with some I hated. Most of the bosses are easy & very obvious what to do. Let's get the elephant in the room out of the way right now. As soon as you start playing right now you'll notice Sonic is noticeably slower. This is mixed to me because the game does an great job of going fast when it needs to. In some areas however spin dash won't work much. Sometimes it's difficult to stop when you need to. Either going too fast or slow you could die a lot from this. I do like items are placed at random on your map screen. I also like you can use items during levels to help you out which was carried over from Sonic Generations. It will take some time getting use to the controls but they're far from the worst. I do like this story but I felt they tried making it funny too often. I did like the addition of the Deadly Six. Hidden Zone is unlocked after beating the game. It's weird all four levels in that zone are more different than the last one. I can understand the third act of Desert Ruins being Dessert Ruins. Simply an clever reference to Sonic Colors. They all suck in their own not worth playing unless you need birds. My big problem actually cause confusion with many people who bought it on Steam. For an while even after beating Hidden Zone. I still didn't get any achievements until I looked it up online. You need to talk to Omochao first to start those challenges. What an fatal flaw that ruins the entire process of doing achievements. Basically the best way to fix this problem is start an new game. But it took an few hours to get it where I'm at right now. It's stupid Sega decided to do that with this game's achievement system. Especially the other Sonic games with achievements doesn't do that. I do like Sonic Lost World more than I thought I would. Easily the single best part has to be it's soundtrack hands down. The second best part was Nightmare Zone which originally was an dlc for Wii U version. In this level you're going through several parts of Nights Into Dreams. An interesting fact an very rare Saturn game called Christmas Nights. You can unlock an mini game based one level from the actual game with an twist. You play as Sonic in Nights' world to face Dr. Robotnik as the boss. Basically an totally reversal just happened with Sonic Lost World. I am not sure if I could recommend it unless to another Sonic fan.

7. Sonic Adventure 2

Now we're getting to the good Sonic games. Sonic Adventure 2 was one of the last Dreamcast games in US released. It built on some things introduced from Sonic Adventure. For example Team Hero & Team Dark has three playable characters with each having their own game play style. Tails & Dr. Robotnik's portions are successors to E-102 Gamma's from Sonic Adventure. Knuckles & Rouge's portions are continuing off Knuckles' story in Sonic Adventure. Sonic & Shadow kept Sonic Adventure platformer style alive. In my opinion Sonic Adventure 2 has one of the best soundtracks. A lot of great boss fights with many upgrades for every character. You may lose walking around the real world. In place of that is Chao World that has several areas to work on them. Originally an few distant areas being hidden in Sonic Adventure. One of my favorite stories of the entire series. Also included with kart racing and multiplayer of an few game play styles. After getting Battle dlc, it adds more in it's multiplayer including more characters. I really enjoy most of these levels with an select few I don't like. Sonic Adventure 2 was good that it was recreated in Sonic X both an good & bad thing. Damn you 4Kids for ruining that final battle from that game on the anime. If you get all the emblems, you'll unlock an 3D version of Green Hill Zone. Honestly this is an very good Sonic game more people need to play.

8. Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

Sonic 1 was one of the first Sonic games I played as an kid. I have a lot of great memories playing this game. Some of my favorite Sonic songs originated in this game. Such as Green Hill Zone & Sonic 1 theme. It had great boss fights for it's time with the final boss to keep your senses up. I do enjoy playing the special stages but I really can't get enough of it's song. Most zones are in three parts usually ending with an boss fight. Some parts of it, you'll need to take your time especially late in the game. Sonic 1 had great sound effects for an early Genesis game. Originally chaos emeralds were six before with Sonic 2, Sega made it seven. Some spikes can kill you shortly after you get hit by them right afterwards. I really can't stand Labyrinth Zone it's an nightmare. Most of it is underwater, filled with traps & enemies. You have to go slow most of the way but fast when you need to. Honestly everything including it's boss fight was the worst part of Sonic 1. I wasn't happy with Scrap Brain Zone Act 3 being another Labyrinth Zone level. But hey no boss until the final level. Sonic 1 is an Genesis classic that even to my knowledge not a lot of people still haven't play it yet. Keep on guys you want to see why so many of us love Sonic go play games like this one.

9. Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine

Oh hell yeah I love playing this game. Originally Puyo Puyo in Japan, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine marked an few things. First an Puyo Puyo game gets release in the United States. Second an licensed game based directly on Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog. Surprisingly better than the actual show which wasn't common at the time. Every character you face appeared in the original aired episode. Everything about this puzzle game is so good for it's time. It's SNES counterpart is Kirby's Avalanche which was based on Super Puyo Puyo. People in Japan didn't get to play this until Sonic Mega Collection in 2002. It's not clear who you're playing as in the main game. I love it's sound effect with the soundtrack even more. Easily the only spin off game on Genesis with an good enough soundtrack to be compared to Sonic 1-3's. You get passwords for all difficulties from level 2 to level 13. One weird fact actually an mistake Dr. Robotnik's eyes & mustache are the wrong color. In the cartoon he had an orange mustache with red pupils which is also present on this game's cover. However in the game itself Dr. Robotnik has white eyes with an yellow mustache. The entire goal of the game is beat all thirteen opponents including Dr. Robotnik to stop his evil plans of world domination. There is no sign of Sonic anywhere in the game. It's an very addicting puzzle game that will constantly challenge you especially on hardest difficulty. I highly recommend checking this game out.

10. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed

An follow up to one of my favorite racing games. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed kept a lot of game play features. But changed a lot of the key stuff to push the limits of gamers in an good way. Instead of unlocking everything with miles. You have to play world tour & grand prix to unlock levels as well as characters. Honestly I prefer this game's roster pc version included over the original racing game's. They changed all your weapons with some being similar to those of the previous games. You can play as your avatar or mii after winning half the total grand prix cups. Which their versions an huge improvement over the original's. One weird thing is half your levels are mirrored version of those you have on top. Usually in Mario Kart, after beating every grand prix cups. You unlock mirror mode that affects every level. So I felt keeping it an option instead of adding mirror versions as their own levels a bit out of place. Don't get wrong some mirror tracks are better than their normal counterparts especially Race of Ages. Unless you have this on Steam, good luck with the controls. They aren't bad but I could see some struggling with them. Plus in most versions it doesn't let you change the controls the way you want. Thank god you can in the pc version. I do enjoy this game a lot but some flaws does make it hard to come back to play more.

11. Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing

Personally I always enjoyed Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing. You can keep on driving to earn Sega Miles to buy everything. A lot of great tracks based on several Sega franchises. I do prefer most vehicles over Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed's. You can select your songs on every track adding more replay value. Some of the best racing game controls with plenty of fun achievements. I also prefer weapons in this over Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. In Wii version you can drive as Mii & in Xbox 360 version it's your avatar. What's also interesting is in Xbox 360 version Banjo & Kazooie are guest characters. I always enjoy playing every single mission more so than World Tour of it's successor. Not only it nails everything together so well but an great level of challenge & creativity. I honestly can't get enough of this amazing game. In comparison to Mario Kart series, this fixes some issues that Mario Kart surprisingly haven't yet. Such as if you fall off the track, you're back on it in seconds instead of minutes in Mario Kart. Every character has an all star move that helps get them as close to first place as possible. Each one perfectly fits with every character more so than in Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed. I can't help I simply like this more than it's successor. You really can't go wrong with both these awesome racing games.

12. Sonic Adventure DX

I remember as an kid how impressive these graphics for their time. The very game that made me get an Sega Dreamcast. Sonic Adventure is still one of the greatest Sonic games ever made. Technically Sonic 5, you get six playable characters with each having their own game play style. Sonic obviously platformer, Tails racing, Knuckles treasure hunting, E-102 Gamma's shooting, Big's fishing & Amy's chases. If you beat all their stories, you'll unlock the final story under Super Sonic. Some of my favorite boss fights & levels are in this game. So is some of my favorite Sonic songs including it's theme song. Again 4Kids ruined such an epic moment in Sonic X simply because that song wasn't there. You can unlock mini games that does help if you're attempting to collect every emblems. In later ports in Sonic Adventure DX. You can unlock Metal Sonic in Sonic's levels for trial. There is mission mode which is okay compared to Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing's. They improved the graphics with in Xbox 360 & PS3 version having achievements/trophies. Sadly in the newer pc's release, for some reason. You can't see anything after starting up the game. I clearly had the sounds & did confirm if everything else was working. From what I'm aware it's an graphic issue that Sega never fixed. Do I need to say the single worst thing about this Dreamcast classic? Big the Cat sucks all he does even in his boss fight is fishing. Are they high to think this might work? Sega Bass Fishing is an great Dreamcast fishing with better controls. It just seems like an waste of space as well as your time. Sonic Adventure DX is an amazing 3D game. I highly recommend this to anyone trying to get into the Sonic series.

13. Sonic Generations

One of my favorite Sonic games ever made. Sonic Generations like Sonic 06 & Sonic Adventure 2 was created to tie in an anniversary. You get to play as both classic & modern Sonic as you fix time by revising classic levels. Easily one of the best boss roster in the entire series. Hands down one of the absolute best Sonic soundtracks. You get plenty for just Sonic Generations but having so many classic ones. Just makes having this an treasure to keep to yourself with an huge smile on your faces. Also one of the best level rosters most done both 2D & 3D. Easily my favorite Sonic game when it comes to achievements. I really enjoy going the distance getting as many as I can. Among collecting chaos emeralds by defeating bosses. You can play as Super Sonic both classic & modern anywhere in the game. If you keep collecting Red Star Rings, you'll unlock everything Sonic fans would love. There exists an secret room to input an long list of codes to complete your private museum. Everything about Sonic Generations just work. You can even unlock Sonic 1 to play it through Sonic Generations.

14. Sonic CD

Oh hell yeah Sonic CD could've got over looked an few times by many people. Sonic CD is an main console Sonic game that blew so many away by it's sheer awesomeness. You can go into the past, present & future in most levels. Some of the best special stages with impressive graphics. Even stated by the team behind it, Sonic CD took the best of Sonic 1 & 2. In order to deliver one of the absolute greatest Sonic games. Yes I do like it's US soundtrack but like most fans stick with the original Japanese version. I really can game for hours just by listening to it's songs in comparison to what we originally got. Sonic CD has great sound effects with some of my favorite levels. Even the bosses were very well designed especially Metal Sonic's. In later versions since Xbox 360 & PS3 version. After beating the game, you can play it again as Tails. Which is strikingly similar to Tails in Sonic 3 & Knuckles. Here's an fact most Sonic fans wouldn't know. There exist not including Steam version, two different original pc ports. The original pc port were on simple computers you use to see at school. Probably the rarest version of Sonic CD in existence. As an kid briefly in school I did play that version. The later pc port was directly based on Sega CD version with slight differences. Sonic CD is an very good Sonic game in it's own right. Instead of chaos emeralds, you collect time stones being one of the few expectations. Where you don't collect chaos emeralds in the series. This game marks the debut of both Amy Rose & Metal Sonic. Another interesting fact is Spiral Knights an free game on Steam. If you bought Sonic CD, after downloading & starting Spiral Knights up. You should receive in your mail, an Metal Sonic armor. Now isn't that awesome, if you still haven't played Sonic CD. What the hell is wrong with you this game is cheap, well worth your money and impressive. You couldn't ask for an Sega game this original & being really good at the same time.

15. Sonic 3 & Knuckles

Officially this lock-on game is combining both halves of Sonic 3. Sonic 3 & Knuckles as widely stated all over the internet. Originally going to be one big Sonic game. But due to time, pressure of release and Michael Jackson backing out. This left to Sonic 3 getting delayed an year in two releases. In it's place was Sonic Spinball as the team split into two at this point. The American side worked on Sonic Spinball while the Japanese side worked on Sonic 3. Everything about this is really good even better than Sonic CD at it's best. You get plenty of great levels, bosses & three playable characters. They did alter how to input codes a little bit. You can collect chaos emeralds but true fans collect every super emeralds. After collecting every chaos emerald, Sonic & Knuckles gets super forms. After collecting every super emerald, Tails gets an super form while Sonic & Knuckles goes hyper. Both their hyper forms are mind blowing awesomeness. If you selected one of many slots, after beating an zone. Your game automatically saves your process just like Sonic CD currently does more recently. Honestly I'm not much for it's multiplayer. I am not an big fan of Death Egg Zone unless it's Sonic 2's. Sega confirmed with some fans shown every level maps to further prove this. Most levels are roughly three times better than those of the first two Sonic games. You can do more bonus games after hitting your check points. Sometimes it helps out when you need more rings or an particular power up. I love how this game tells it's story & without any words of any kind. Sonic 3 & Knuckles is an very unique Sonic game that so many people need to play. There is so much you can do in this you'll be busy for hours I'm not kidding. Also Sonic 3 was the first Sonic game to save your game & on an cartridge. Another interesting fact I discovered an few years ago. No one has ever attempted Sega's lock-on technology concept. Which makes Sonic 3 & Knuckles an rather interesting rare case. The more reason you need to buy & play this game as soon as you can.

Update: Sega added mod support for their Genesis games on Steam. You now can get the complete Sonic 3 experience.

16. Sonic the Hedgehog 2

Not only my favorite Sonic game in this collection, but the entire series as well. As an kid I had such great memories of Sonic 2. My passion for it led to me becoming the Sonic fan I am today. It improved on Sonic 1 in every possible way just like Mortal Kombat II did to Mortal Kombat 1. Some of my favorite levels with great boss fights. Easily my favorite soundtrack on Genesis & possibly the series. You can play as Sonic & Tails or both of them separately. I love this game's codes as you input them in your options under audio categories. Which was common in some games at the time. Most Sonic games you cheat enter do an trick or input an code or two to get what you want. Sonic 2 introduces the spin dash, Tails & multiplayer. OMG I love Sonic 2's multiplayer as it still one of the best in the series. I am not kidding it's so addicting taking three particular levels with special stages. It works so well that it brings my mind how good it actually is. Most fans can get every chaos emeralds in most games. Even they would tell you, Sonic 2 has the hardest special stages. Yet they are also some of the best you ever experience. Personally I don't like Metropolis Zone for many reasons. Sonic 2 is such an amazing Genesis game. At the time Sonic 2 was the highest selling Genesis game. Which did affected Nintendo's sells for an short period being the only Sonic game to do that. If it didn't do that most of my reasons still stand on their own. I really like the sound effects especially those from enemies. To me as surprising this may be for people. This so happens to be my favorite game of all time for all these reasons. Yes Sonic 3 & Knuckles, Sonic CD, Generations & Adventure DX are very good games. But Sonic 2 was so good that many people bought an Genesis game just to play it. For an while Sega bundled it with Genesis to get those numbers I hinted at being 7 million copies sold. Sonic 2 sold the most, still addicting to play, built very well on Sonic's concept with many other things. I could go about how much I love Sonic 2. There really isn't an Sonic game as good in my opinion. If you had to randomly choose an Sonic game but you never played any of them. Chances are Sonic 2 is the most likely to get pick.

I hope you like part 1 of 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog series. I will be making an few more Sonic blogs all connecting together just like their main comic book series. I am so honored to make something like this about one of my favorite things. Please wait patiently as I start working on the next few. But Sonic should get more fans than he has right now. So I'm Jack Red & I'll see all of you later.

Update: Every five Sonic games added since my review of this bundle will get their own blog reviews.

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