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Sonic Mega Collection Plus
  PS2Action_VarietyNA  
  opened by paleface at 03:44:19 12/06/05  
  last modified by paleface at 03:32:50 12/08/05  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Action_Variety; loc=NA]
           
I can't stand Sonic games, so why in heck do I have so many Sonic compilations now? Let's see... First I got Sonic Mega Collection for GC (see entry 254) to see what the whole Sonic thing was about, and because I thought Sonic Spinball would rule. It didn't.
 
I've since heard that the Japanese version of the Mega Collection for GC had Comix Zone on it. But I didn't know anything about that at the time.
 
So next I got Sonic Gems Collection, the Japanese GC version (see entry 866)--not for the included Sonic games, but for the unlockable Streets of Rage series within. Ooh yeah. This collection included a nifty save state feature, where you could save the ROM state of almost all of the games at any point. Very nice. Unlocking stuff was kind of a pain, though, as it involved letting various games run for x hours, and/or loading/exiting x games x times. Dumb.
 
So, then we come to Sonic Mega Collection Plus. This one has the games from the GC Mega Collection, I guess...plus some more. Basically, I got it for Comix Zone. Might as well list the other games to get them out of the way, though. The default Genesis games:
 
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic Spinball
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
 
The Game Gear games:
 
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic Labyrinth
Sonic Drift
Sonic Chaos
Sonic Blast
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
 
The unlockable games (or whatnot):
 
Sonic series:
 
Blue Sphere
Knuckles in Sonic 2
Sonic 3 & Knuckles
 
Others:
 
Comix Zone
Flicky
Ristar
The Ooze
 
And then there are artwork galleries and stuff, if you just can't get enough of Sonic's sneer.
 
So yeah, I got this for Comix Zone, a Genesis game (see entry 980) by Sega's apparently short-lived Western dev team, "Sega Technical Institute." This port suffers slightly from a few sound glitches (some sounds just come out a little funny), a palette problem in the intro (see screenshot--this must be what the first page of the manual meant by "gameplay maybe [sic] interrupted by screen distortions and graphical errors"), and then the slightly blurry filtering that overlays all the games in this collection. Still, it plays very well. Darn fine game.
 
Flicky, an old arcade platformer, rules. You take your bird, Flicky, around the wrapping screen, jumping up on platforms to collect little "Chirp" birds, and then lead them to the exit elevator door. Don't let the "Tiger" cats catch you or the birdies! Very fast, challenging, and charming. Sega would reuse these sprites/characters in many later games, including I think more than one of the standard Sonic series, and then recently, in an homage level in Gunstar Super Heroes, which they published (see entry 982).
 
"The Ooze" is another entry by Sega Technical Institute. It isn't quite as impressive as Comix Zone from an artistic point of view, but it's a rather unique game (also a Genesis port), in which you control this oozing blob from a top-down view. Your blob can extend oozy pseudopods to strike things, or he can spit a gob of his goo. Spitting uses up some of his substance, but you can do stuff like break explosive barrels with your goo spit without getting hurt, whereas punching them could have scorched you. There is no UI during gameplay, which I like. As you get scorched/scratched/poked/whatever, your blob loses ooze, shrinking down smaller and smaller. On the other hand, you can collect ooze from creatures you kill, and from ooze powerups, to grow bigger. The bigger you are, though, the easier you are to hit, or the harder it is to evade environmental hazards (of which there are plenty in the little radioactive swamp where you start). The only solid part of you is a round head, and if that gets hit, you have to restart at the last checkpoint. Very creative gameplay here, but it is hard since your body starts to spread all over, and you get shot at, or threatened by the environment, from all directions--oh, and you can't really dodge or anything, aside from flowing out of the way at medium-ish speed. Also, having to press Start over and over to get into the game at the beginning is annoying. I haven't got past stage 1 yet, but still, cool game.
 
Ristar I haven't played; seen it before though, and looks like a fairly standard, if well done, platformer. I'd have unlocked it, but unlocking things is a bitch.
 
Let's talk about that. Sega took the "load and quit game x times" things from the GC version to new heights, or rather depths, here, as you have to pop in and out of multiple games dozens of times each to unlock anything. Not only that, but the damn thing autosaves, slooooowly, each time you go back to the game selection menu, so loading up a game and then quitting back to the game select menu takes about ten seconds. Ten seconds doesn't sound like much, but consider that, for instance, unlocking Ristar requires (according to gamefaqs) that you load and exit Blue Sphere, Knuckles in Sonic 2 (which has to be unlocked first, by loading and exiting Sonic 2 and Sonic Spinball 20 times each), Sonic 3 & Knuckles (which has to be unlocked first, by loading and exiting Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles 20 times each), and Flicky (which has to be unlocked first, by loading and exiting Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine 30 times) 20 times each. Let's do the math on that:
 
20 x Blue Sphere
20 x Knuckles in Sonic 2
20 x Sonic 2
20 x Sonic Spinball
20 x Sonic 3 and Knuckles
20 x Sonic 3
20 x Sonic & Knuckles
20 x Flicky
30 x Dr Robotnik
---
190 x 10 seconds = 1900 seconds, or about 32 minutes
 
So it would take over half an hour, assuming you didn't screw up any menu navigation, of pure, mind-numbing, game loading and menu selecting, to unlock good ol' Ristar. But that's cool, right? I mean, Sega knows everyone loves Ristar, and would willingly go through 32 minutes Plus of pure torture just to unlock it, right?
 
And then there's Comix Zone, which is the only damn game here that I really wanted to play. How does that unlock? According to gamefaqs.com, all you gotta do is exit "all sega games 50 times." And that's 50 times EACH. I don't even want to do the math on that. Screw that.
 
Oh, and this is funny. You can remove your memory card, and then the collection can't autosave, so flipping through games takes only about half the time, but there's no manual save option, so while you can unlock games this way, there's no longer any way to save your "progress," and you've simply wasted your time. Yeah, I did that for a while.
 
Fortunately, Sega left a loophole for Comix Zone (and The Ooze): if you have a save of Sonic Heroes (see entry 983) on your memory card, Comix Zone and The Ooze unlock right away. Well, sweet! Except that Sonic Heroes sucks, bigtime. Sooo...I rented it. $20 Mega Collection Plus (Greatest Hits) and $8 Sonic Heroes rental later, I finally have my emulated Comix Zone.
 
This is, frankly, just sad. Sega didn't even list the unlockable games on the packaging, so they can't count on significant sales based on the included unlockables--nobody is going to run out and buy Sonic Heroes to do it--so basically, they're just punishing the few diehards who really wanted to get those locked games. 'Cause face it, Sega: even the most rabid Sonic fan is not going to load/exit all those games that many times in the normal course of playing. It's just not going to happen. Some asshole producer did this just to torture people. Screw you, whoever you were.
 
While I'm on a bad mood roll, here, I might as well talk about some hardware-related problems here. First, the collection simply does not recognize my ASCII arcade stick. Well, brilliant. 'Cause those games originally required analog controllers, didn't they? Oh wait, no, they didn't! And you can't remap the buttons at all.
 
You could argue that this lack of support is because they put the screen zoom function, which I think zooms from original rez up to a resolution that fills the PS2 screen, on R3, but not only was this a dumb place to put it, the whole zooming thing is lame anyway because it just further distorts the graphics. As I already mentioned, they all have blurry filtering on, and zooming just exacerbates the problem. There should be an option to turn filtering off, but guess what, there isn't. It's nice that they included progressive scan support, but filtering all the games pretty much negates the benefit.
 
Oh, and Circle button acts as confirm along with X in the menus. This goes straight against established North American PlayStation menu standards, where Circle is almost always the "Back" button. So I keep pushing Circle to back out of a game menu, only to end up having to sit through loading, quitting, and auto-saving the game. Swell.
 
So, anyway. Comix Zone (and Flicky, and to a lesser extent, The Ooze) is good, even with the slight sound and graphic problems, and I'm glad I have it. But whoever made the controller, graphic, and unlocking decisions for this collection needs a good hard wet noodling, at the least.
    
downloads:
· comix_aliens.gif
· comix_paused.gif
· comix_whatthe.gif
· comix_zone.mpg
· flicky.gif
· flicky.mpg
· flicky_title.gif
· ooze_burn.gif
· ooze_intro.gif
· ooze_punch.gif
· pause_menu.gif
· the_ooze.mpg
 
references:
· Comix Zone (MD)
· Gunstar Super Heroes (GBA)
· Sonic Gems Collection (GC)
· Sonic Heroes (PS2)
· Sonic Mega Collection (GC)

 
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