Developer: Sonic Team
All of the Mega Drive Sonic titles have fabulous artwork filled with parallax scrolling backgrounds, loads of animation, detailed tile work, and memorable settings. Seeing these games with the increased view portal of 16:9 is revelatory. In fact, this reviewer has played the original Sonic probably a thousand times, and found a secret due to the new-found ability to see an additional platform! The smooth-scrolling bonus stages are a nice addition, as are the cartoon openings and closings for each title. The whole thing is wrapped in a pleasant island-themed menu system.
The original Sonic titles have gobs of iconic music, but unfortunately licensing restrictions mean that "Sonic 3 & Knuckles" lacks the songs written by the various Michael Jackson-adjacents. This is a significant loss, as the "replacement songs"-- which also date back to the 90s, incidentally-- are nowhere near as memorable. The rest of the games' audio sounds fine. Sega CD even allows for flipping between the North American and Japanese soundtracks!
The most important thing: how is the input latency? Thankfully it's almost non-existent! The gameplay is fluid and responsive. Like the Saturn's "Sonic Jam", these games have all been re-implemented from scratch
, and there are some small differences in collision and physics which feel odd for those who have the original titles memorized-- nothing persistent, merely occasional. Unlike
"Sonic Jam", there is no way to unlock Sonic 3 from
Knuckles, or to lock Knuckles onto the other
The original Sonic can be played in the "Sega Genesis Classics" collection, but the input latency is unbearable; Sonic 2 can be played with "Switch Online", but "Sonic 3 & Knuckles" and "Sonic CD" heretofore hasn't been accessible at all on the platform, albeit "Sonic Mania" is. Having all of these games playable, in 16:9 to boot, is incredible. One could nit-pick that "Sonic Spinball" and "3D Blast" aren't present, which for the package's full forty USD price almost feels required. But on sale, even without the full set of Sonic 3 music this compilation is a must-have for fans of the original games.