Review: Sonic Gems Collection


The Sonic Team really must love Nintendo; this is the fifth outing of the blue guy on the GameCube to date. Then again, who can blame them; all of the previous games have sold incredibly well so come forth the second "Collection" game, dubbed the Gems Collection. Gems Collection contains nine games, three major ones: Sonic R; a speedy on foot racer from the ill-fated Sega Saturn. Sonic the Fighters: a surprise, surprise arcade beat'em up, and Sonic CD: possibly the best 2D Sonic platformer from the Mega CD. The other 6 games are all from the game gear: Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog: Triple Trouble, Sonic Drift 2, Tails Skypatrol and Tails Adventures... all of which actually appeared as unlockables in Sonic Adventure DX: Directors Cut.

Sonic Gems Collection boasts a rather simple menu; although slightly nicer looking and sounding than the Mega Collection, it really doesn't touch the finesse that Sonic Jam had back on the Sega Saturn, a similar styled compilation. Although if you remember, Sonic Mega Collection had a number of videos and trailers including the 'History of Sonic', however Sonic Gems Collection has a few pages of concept and source art, along with a few videos and remixed music. None of which is that exciting.

The main game that everyone wanted to play is Sonic CD. Don't let Sega fool you, it is in fact the PC version, not the Mega CD version. This means the game loads slightly faster and has a much better frame rate than the original version did. The controls work very well on the GameCube's pad also. One very nice feature is the "emulator style" save states. This means that you can do a quick save during a level so that if you die or do something you didn't want, you can simply reload the state. Very nice Sega. However, one thing that Sonic fans will most defiantly hate is the soundtrack; by god it's horrible... even for a Sonic game. Yes, they've put in the American one. The boring styling of Spencer Nilsen mean that the great "Sonic" feeling we know and love is lost. The graphics however are spot on, Sega used a modified Sonic 1 sprite set for this game and don't worry, it fits perfectly. The environments change as you swap between past, present and future and they all have a good feel to them.

Sonic R was the first proper racer containing Sonic made by past 2nd Party developers of Sega known as the "Travellers Tales". In this game, Sonic and his friends race through five circuits with generic Sonic themed zones. Sonic R from start to finish really isn't all that great. The controls are pretty bad, the music is stupid and out of place its untrue and you can finish and unlock everything in the game in less than 2 hours. Considering this was Sega's "A class" Sonic game on the Saturn, you can see why it failed rather badly. The graphics are rather blocky even for a 32bit game and some of the sound effects are also pretty bad. However, it's quite a bit fun to play once you get past all the imperfections and problems. All the characters have unique abilities and two of them are on vehicles, Amy and Robotnik. It's not bad for a couple of hours and at least it has a four player!

Sonic the Fighters (known as Sonic Championship elsewhere in the world) is the true gem of the collection. It is really quite satisfying and has some great touches. However it is similar to Sonic R in that it's very short and it has the same amount of depth as a paddling pool, but it was originally an arcade game so you have to cut it a bit of slack. The graphics engine is the same used as the Virtua Fighter engine. Characters body parts expand when used in an attack or when hit against. You can be hit against the side of the arena, into the air or flattened into a pancake on the floor. It really is quite funny. Your character even drops rings every time you're hit and you'll hear that very familiar ping sound too.

Considering the other six games in the compilation, some of them are a lot of fun it's a shame many players just won't touch them half the time. Probably due to how stretched they look on your TV screen, they look so distorted at times it's hard to tell what's actually going on. Shame really, since as Nintendo have proven the Gameboy Player was capable of pulling off good handheld graphics on a TV.

Sonic Gems Collection also contains two "bonus" games. One of which is unlocked instantly if you own Sonic Heroes. This is Vectorman, its sequel Vectorman 2 is also in there. Again however, just like with Sonic Mega Collection, we Europeans have been given a raw deal compared to our Japanese friends. They got Streets of Rage and Bonanza Brothers also; they were removed from the EU and NTSC versions to keep the age rating down. Our rather limp European versions really can't compete, but that's what you get I suppose. Vectorman really isn't a bad game though, it's a side scrolling shooter with quite a bit of challenge and it was one of the last Megadrive games coming out in '95. Although all this stuff is packed in, I can see another one coming. There are still other games Sega could put into another collection. My personal favourite, Knuckles Chaotix could well be in the next one, along with the other two arcade titles. That would make me happy that's for sure.

Gems Collection is fun for a few hours here and there, but it lacks a lot these days. However, if you're looking for a blast from the past or if you're a keen Sonic player, you can't go wrong with this one. Beware if you really are going to buy it to be advised to pick up the Japanese version. Not only does it have full English language support, but it has better music in Sonic CD and has 2 extra better bonus games.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Not bad for £20, but Sega really could have done a bit more to make this a true gem.

  • Gameplay2
  • Playability3
  • Visuals3
  • Audio2
  • Lifespan3
Final Score



Good fun for a few hours
Sonic the Fighters!


The Sonic CD music
Cut down from the Japanese version

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