Sunday, 29 May 2022

Virtua Sonic #4: The Cube is the Game is the Cube

You do not know how strong your favorite game series is until you've played a collection that you truly fall in love with. Sonic the Hedgehog has survived through the years through imagination and a strong foundation of great games. Even the bad games are fun to play and will be worth the charge of just a few compilations, Sonic the Fighters is proof of that. The Gamecube brought about a quiet dignity to the gamers of the mid-2000's that was unappreciated in its time. Since then, a great community of fans have kept this system among the mainstream gamers for generations. The Sonic Gems and Sonic Mega collections were a Hedgehead's best way to cash in on some of the most legendary titles. 

Of course, this means that they had the first three games in the Mega Collection. In fact, a lot of his best titles. Though if I may be subjective for a moment, I have to say Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D blasts are memories that aged about as well as a banana in the refrigerator that everyone’s seemed to have forgotten about. Sonic Spinball is a little more challenging and unfair than I remember. Maybe I had a better fix on the game as a child, because I remember seeing more levels in my youth. Maybe I just had more time and patience as a child but that doesn’t sound like a child I remember being. 

And Sonic 3D Blast is still just as slow as I remember it. There are a decent about of tiny speed ramps here and there but the game overall is far too slow to be a Sonic game. And let’s face it, chasing animals and collecting them for a pile is just boring. 

That being said, Sonic’s original three titles including the Knuckles editions of two and three bring this collection to new heights of replayability. Whoever skips out on these titles for any system cannot consider themselves Sonic fans. Your opinion is duly noted but Sega would not be in the place it was were it not for these exclusive titles in the first place. How wonderful it is that Nintendo grinned, kidnapping our dear Hedgehog and laughing maniacally as they start piledriving titles to rub it in Sega’s face. This is so apparent that there was even a port of Sonic Adventure and Sonic Adventure 2. They sure didn’t wait long to start attacking those Dreamcast titles. 

However, even the Saturn graced it with its presence. Yes, the Gems collection had Sonic 3D Blast, but I will not stop being subjective in this review, just because I’ve always loved to see that more and more people are coming out to praise Sonic R. This version is even updated with some polished graphics here and there and it’s great to see so many people come out and show love to this title. There have been a few famous reviews that called it out on its ineptitudes but really it only needed a bit of practice. Even if you call it nostalgia goggles, those are things I will wear until my dying days. Unlocking Super Sonic is well worth it for those who can appreciate the effort to bring him about. Yes, some of those levels can get a little overbearing but they are not impossible. 

There is also a serious look back at the other collection from a much more obscure console. The Sega Gamegear gets a closer look in the Sonic Gems collection. Even Tails gets two titles, acting as a single main character in his own platformer game. Is it as good as the original three? No, not even close. In fact, they would be strained to go under the title of “good” but then again, they were born on the Sega Gamegear, so we do need to give them a little bit of credit. That’s like making fun of water for being wet. These games can’t help but be awful!

Tails Skypatrol is a game that couldn’t handle any real movement from the bad guys, nor could it afford any control of any kind. Even when you’re flying, the controls are so bad, the game has to compensate by making you hook onto random moving objects to see that you control just a little better. Don’t hit those little moving things, then expect to run into some random wall that will kill you immediately! One wrong move and you’re toast. These walls and platforms come out of seemingly nowhere because they look so generic that they’re in the background. They don’t seem to pop out as an obstacle or a threat. Was it really so much to ask for for just a simple moving ladybug robot or maybe a ball with spikes? Something that looked the least bit like a danger of any kind would be really nice.

Sonic Drifts 2 is just awful. You drive at high speeds down a road which you have no view on. Your control is sluggish to say the least. This is an asinine design for a racing game. You could make a case for some of these other platformers, but you can’t render a racing game on something that couldn’t produce a proper framerate to save its life! It’s bad enough to control the Gamegear Sonic 2 or Sonic The Hedgehog Triple Trouble. Those two games are made easier for the sake of making up for its lack of “BLAST PROCESSING” or any semblance of the proper graphics to handle any speed. The problem is you run to the other end of the screen and it has to catch up. Hopefully, there’s nothing in front of you to knock some rings out of you. 

This title had tons of samey Sonic slamfests (I ran out of nouns, bite me) but if I keep getting into them, this article will go way too long. Just trust that you can assume their gameplay and control pretty much blows tremendous amounts of chunks. It also has Vectorman games, but this isn’t called Virtua Vectorman! Moving on!

Sonic Advneture DX and Sonic Adventure 2: Battle were both ported to the Gamecube as upgraded and cleaned up Sega Dreamcast games! In fact, as nostalgia goggles go, this was probably the best they’ve looked in a while. They also had extra levels and extra modes to play! Everyone loves raising chao babies and now everyone can shoot their least favorite Sonic characters in the FACE! Not only were they made better, but Sonic Adventure 2 deleted almost ALL of the Big the Cat cameos! That’s a part of Sonic Adventure we’d prefer to forget, of course.

The Gamecube brought about quite the library for our favorite blue speedrunner, in fact, I’ve barely scraped the surface of this collection. Sonic was actually treated better on the Gamecube than he was his own systems from before. Even Sonic R was treated with respect. Though, it would have been amazing if we got a port of Sonix X-treme, but that may have been expecting a bit too much. Not only did the Gamecube polish up old games, but it released titles such as Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic Heroes. Even counting Sonic Riders, at least they were trying new things. 

There are many reasons I personally consider the Gamecube a spiritual sequel to the Sega Dreamcast. It's funny how things turn out, isn't it? No one back then would think Nintendo could make such a good Sega System. Underappreciated in its time but still a timeless none the less. Give it a try and play some rockin' Sonic titles! Remember to get that Robotnik jerk and drink plenty of water!

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