There's nothing quite like looking through your older games only to find a game you have no memory of purchasing, playing, or having any sort of valuable time with. Sonic Mega Collection Plus, a game with the most excessive title since Super Mario Bros. Advance 4: Super Mario Bros. 3, is one of those games. While hooking aux cables into my PS3 I found the case trapped within a bunch of other unidentifiable cables all tangled together. I wondered what it had done to deserve such a punishment; an apparent life sentence hidden behind my television. I decided I would pop it in and see what it was like. Above the garish and incoherent cover art sat the title, "PlayStation 2 Greatest Hits!" After this, I knew I was going to be in for quite the ride. As someone who has no partiality to Sonic games whatsoever, it's time to begin.
I booted up the game and after a lot of difficulties with memory card space being dedicated exclusively to Dance Dance Revolution save data, I managed to begin my journey. The very old-timey SEGA intro was the first thing flashed to me, and I must admit it was quite endearing. A somewhat flashy screen advertising all the games at once to me was presented with some pretty snazzy music that kind of made me feel nostalgic for nothing in particular. The menu screen has a few games plopped on it messily with a bunch of question marks where some slots should be. I'm assuming that these are games that can be unlocked when the player completes some of the other games but they were in seemingly random spots. A group of playable games were in a list, then two slots of question marks, a few more games, and then some more question marks. The layout for that was just so astonishingly inept I could barely grasp it, but I suppose it did eerily foreshadow how the next few hours of my life were going to be spent.
Naturally, the first game I tried out was the original Sonic the Hedgehog. It loaded up another endearing SEGA intro screen, and that was probably the best part of this entire experience. The simple endearing nature of how terrible the SEGA screen is on all of these games, and they get increasingly terrible with each game. It's like the diary of a madman expressed entirely through SEGA logo screens. Anyway, the game's description reads, "Defeat enemies, rescue the helpless animals, and stop Dr. Eggman from proceeding with his evil plot" which I admit is quite the intricate plot for a game about a heavily pixelated hedgehog defying gravity with how fast he runs, except going through this entire experience, animals are a primary enemy of the game. I killed lots of birds and other wildlife with swift stomps on their innocent heads. I went to go pause the game by pressing the start button and nothing would happen. I kept frantically searching for a button to pause the game before Sonic ran headlong into his untimely death via a crudely-made bird sprite, but the world wasn't having any of my shenanigans. The second-to-last button I pressed, R1, paused the game. R1. Who decided R1 was going to be the pause button? Start didn't do anything. Why not start? Why am I becoming physically aggravated by Sonic the Hedgehog? I am one game into this monstrosity and I am already triggered. I reached the first boss battle of the game, which was Dr. Eggman flying around trying to kill me with a hilarious 2D pendulum. I stomped on him a few times, and after each stomp he flashed this odd grimace-smile combination, as if his death was painful but he was ready to embrace the void after becoming self-aware in a poorly made Sonic game. Despite his emerging sentience, he killed poor Sonic in a long battle of wits and I was presented with a game over screen. I had no desire to continue with this unique type of suffering, so I moved onto the next game, Sonic the Hedgehog 2.
You know the exact thing I was waiting for when I initially popped in the disc? Tails. Everybody loves Tails. Tails definitely isn't one of the most grating characters ever put to 8-bit glory. I'm so happy he's in this game, and I'm also so happy that nobody is putting a gun to my head and telling me to praise Tails, the almighty overlord. The jarringly garish and saturated user interface which would probably be enough sensory overload to make Stephen Hawking's legs work again aside, this game was pretty much the same, except Tails was following me the whole time. I didn't even pick two-player; you can't escape the wrath of Tails. I spent the entire time trying to find elaborate ways to kill him off; I would trip him up to run off of the platforms and would cause him to plummet to his long-anticipated death, I would run him into spikes, I would trap him in glitched corners of the map and I would take off without him. No matter what I did, though, he would always come back. Like an all-too-poignant metaphor for HIV, no matter what you do to stop him, he's always going to be there to haunt you.
I reached one of the glitched corners I tried to trap Tails in and I ended up being transported to this odd place where I couldn't move but Sonic just kept gliding. After the screen started pixelating and making his awful buzzing noise I hastily reset the game. I went through the motions of trying to remedy my bad case of Tails until I accidentally stumbled across the boss battle, which was identical to the one in the first game but instead of trying to swing at me, Dr. Eggman tried to run me down with this giant vehicle. Several grimace-smiles later, I gave Eggman what he so desperately wanted and won the boss battle. I was instantly moved to the next world, which, with no explanation, was a chemical plant. The levels started getting really convoluted and not nearly as linear as the previous world's. I went to write that note down and I pressed start to pause the game out of habit, but instead of doing nothing the entire game crashed. Dead pixels, light bit-crunched buzzing, and no movement whatsoever. I decided this experience wasn't worth it and moved onto the next game, Sonic & Knuckles.
Before I even booted the game I was already sold by its description. "Destroy the Death Egg and retrieve the Super Emeralds to bring peace back to the island." God, I love retro video games and their LSD-inspired and paper-thin stories. I booted up the game and after an odd SEGA intro screen that seemed like it wasn't ported correctly, I was presented with a title screen I can only describe as explosive. Just take a look:
I mean, look at that masterpiece. Knuckles looks like he just peed all over the new carpeting and feels slightly guilty about it and Sonic looks like he was wagging his finger at him but the camera startled him and he felt compelled to give us surprised voyeurs a wry smile. If I had a latex allergy I would be seizing so hard right now. Sonic and Knuckles look like they are life-sized dolls you'd find at an offbeat fetish store in some seedy area of downtown Chicago.
Oh, right, I forgot I'm supposed to be telling you guys my thoughts on these games. Well, as for the game, it was bad and I didn't spend more than five minutes on it. Three of those minutes were spent staring at this title screen, wondering why we spend our years praising Michelangelo and Bansky when this is in existence.
So, if you thought that image looked garish, terrible and rubbery you have no idea what Sonic 3D Blast has in store for you. The intro screen was a series of incomprehensible shapes that all blended together, and I'm pretty sure one of them was Sonic. I honestly couldn't tell because I could feel the increasingly demonic SEEEEGGGGAAAAAAAAAA intro screen taking my soul. After that sensory barrage, I was given the story description: "Defeat the enemies and rescue Flicklies by bringing them through the Giant Ring!" Before I was even given the opportunity to question was a Flicklie was I noticed I started losing my left leg to diabetes. The main menu had three options: "Start, Control, and Sound Test". I wondered what Sound Test was, so I clicked it. It presented me with two options, "MFX" and "SFX" that didn't toggle, and an awful static noise exploded from my television speakers and into my room. The only way out of that screen was the select button, which took me about a half-minute of ear-bleeding fun to figure out. When I finally did stumble into the game, I saw an unbelievable sin committed against gaming. It was a 3D puzzle game with a perspective that looked like it was trying to be more confusing than the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a camera that really, really didn't want Sonic to succeed. I took a picture of a bunch of assets in one frame so you could see what I'm talking about.
The entire game revolved around jumping onto enemies and collecting things, and you have no idea how frustrating it was to figure out where anything really was. I was jumping in all directions trying to stop on that upside-down ice cream cone on the right and it took me two minutes just for him to kill me because I couldn't figure out where he was. I didn't put up with this for long and I ended up kicking my couch in frustration. I made my toe bleed.
I was dared to put this image in this article, and I know nobody is still reading, so I'm gonna do it.
Sonic Spinball! That's a Sonic pinball game, I guess, and it was part of this MEGA SUPER DELUXE COLLECTOR'S EDITION PLUS! Do I even need to tell you this game was bad? Well, of course I do, because then I wouldn't have any material to fill this paragraph. I went to options and the background music was ear-splitting. It kind of sounded like what a printer would sound like if you tried to put an entire keyboard through a paper-shredder, and the shredder consequently exploding. Also, I'm incredibly gay. As elaborate as that description is, I don't know if I've heard a worse sound in my life, and I have watched a lot of episodes of Tosh.0. I started playing the game and WOW it's horrible. It's pinball, except it's trying to be a platformer at the same time and it really, really doesn't work. The controls weren't even explained to me and I frantically trying to keep Sonic above the nameless water creature at the bottom of the map (yep, that was there) while the top of the screen gives these cryptic hints. "Watch out!" "Don't fall down!" "Try using the left trigger on the return!" When Sonic falls under and dies, the top of the screen says "Too baaaad" with exactly that many A's. I'm not sure what a bad sheep joke is doing in my Sonic pinball game, but it was a good excuse for me to write that sentence and also have it be true.
Sonic the Hedgehog appeared for a second time while going through the game list. I guess they just put it in there twice by mistake. Hooray for polishing!
Sonic Labyrinth is a warcrime of unfathomable proportions. The game has a title screen and no options, and when you start the game it throws you in without an objective. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, just another terrible perspective game. It gives you weird treadmills and other shapeless enemies that walk around, and also a 60-second timer. The game moved like it was an ice level of Mario, but all the time. Five seconds (yes, seconds) into this game I was able to figure out that everything was going to get worse from here and that nothing gets better, and I quit. Or, as my notes so adequately put it:
The last game I'm going to cover because everyone stopped reading this article 9 paragraphs ago is Sonic Drift, a hilarious Mario Kart ripoff. You remember the end of Casino Royale, when Vesper Lynd was drowning in that elevator and she screamed in agony underwater? Yeah, that's exactly how the SEGA intro screen sounded on this one. The game made it a very large point to tell me that "REMEMBER, VERSUS MODE IS AVAILABLE!" and "THIS GAME WAS ONLY RELEASED IN JAPAN!" After bumbling through awkward menu screens I finally got into the main game, which is disgusting. After the countdown, all of the AI zoomed forward. Actually, they just vanished. This game isn't good enough to properly indicate that they're moving. The track lines just moved forward, and that was how the game told me I was moving. The track felt like it was made of quicksand and it's definitely easy to race on quicksand, guys. Steering in this game is nonexistent, and I kept crashing into stuff. After the incredibly precise AI zoomed past me and mastered the turns like this was that really bad fourth Fast and Furious movie, Sonic crashed into one more sign, his kart fell apart, and he died. I immediately dropped my controller in frustration and went to turn my PS2 off. At this moment I'm contemplating putting the disc through my paper shredder.
Well, that was Sonic Mega Collection Plus, a game I don't remember buying or playing. It was just as terrible as I don't remember, and a sad waste of solid PS2 time I could have spent playing... well, anything else. I spent several hours stumbling through these awful games for your amusement, and I hope you are abundantly satisfied by what you have effectively put me through. Sonic games are bad, you guys. They are. And this game which was just a collection of half-hearted and aesthetically torturous experiences that would drive any normal man to madness. Perhaps the increasingly frenetic SEGA intro screens paralleled the mind of the player; as the games go on, the mental state lapses until there's nothing left of it but a mass of pulp and the occasional flash of a poorly made Sonic sprite. Sonic Mega Collection Plus takes no prisoners.