As often as we lambast Sega for sullying the image of its prized asset in this post-Dreamcast era, it’s difficult to forget the excitement and quality that the Sonic franchise once offered. Here, on a Nintendo platform of all things, the four most prized titles in the series’ back-catalogue are brought together in a single package, providing a glimmer of hope that the upcoming Sonic 4 would do well to acknowledge.
Sonic Classic Collection is a no-frills retro compilation, containing basic, emulated versions of Sonic 1,2 and 3, along with Sonic & Knuckles. Screen resolution is slightly squashed to fit the DS, but besides the odd frame drop here and there, you’d do well to notice the differences between these and their MegaDrive(Genesis) counterparts.
On the downside, all of the 2-player elements have been removed, and there is no additional material or history of the series to wade through. Outside of the somewhat-useful mid-game save feature, the focus is purely on the titles themselves. Confidence or laziness? You decide.
But the quality of videogame design is definitely no grey area. Sonic 1 and 2 are undoubted classics, their colourful visuals and carefully-tailored platforming not quite as timeless as an early Mario, but about as close as humanly possible. Sonic 3 is a little less accomplished but still pleasurable, whilst Sonic & Knuckles rounds out the group as the weakest of the bunch, although ostensibly carved from the same mould as its immediate predecessor.
In many ways, that’s a portentious slide in quality that only bottomed-out recently on the Wii, but it’s also a good reminder of what the series should stand for. As for whether Sonic Classic Collection is worth purchasing, the real answer will lie in your own collection. If you own any of the re-released versions, there is little point to taking the plunge here, but if you don’t – or if this is your introduction to the series – it’s a slice of gaming nostalgia worth delving into, no matter how sparse the trimmings.