First Look: Grabbing us by the Gems

Well, with all the rumours being banded about well in advance of E3 2005, the announcement of Sonic Gems Collection was no real surprise, although it was a pleasing addition to the roster of upcoming Sonic titles. ‘Gems’ was first fired up for rumour when SEGA filed a patent for the name of the game, along with a logotype. Many suspected, due to hints being dropped by Yuji Naka and the similar namesake to Mega Collection, Gems would be a compilation of the hard-to-seek Sonic games. One of the bugbears of SMC was the omission of Sonic CD, which Sonic Team would seem want to address.

The demo pod for Sonic Gems Collection was discovered at Nintendo’s E3 booth, which added fuel to the rumours of Gamecube exclusivity. We have a feeling that the game is headed for the PlayStation 2, according to our sources. No word on XBOX, but assuming Mega Collection got the multi-format treatment, it would seem odd that Microsoft would be left out of the Sonic love.

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So, WHAT are we getting? Well, first of all, as hinted in the first paragraph, you will be getting Sonic CD and Sonic the Fighters in the compilation, and what journo’s will be playing at the demo pod. This morning, Sonic Team launched an official Gems Collection website, and confirmed a (potentially tentative) game list, below:

  1. Sonic CD
  2. Sonic the Fighters
  3. Sonic R
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (GG)
  5. Sonic Spinball (GG)
  6. Sonic & Tails 2 (GG)
  7. Sonic Drift 2 (GG)
  8. Tails Sky Patrol (GG)
  9. Tails Adventure (GG)

Some may think that Sonic CD, Sonic the Fighters and Sonic R is enough for the compilation, regardless of the conservative choice of adding some Game Gear games. And that’s fair enough. We can clearly see why Sonic Team chose this selection of GG games too – these were the titles that were mercilessly missing from Sonic Mega Collection + on XBOX and PS2 – furthering the idea that this could be heading for consoles other than Gamecube. All the Game Gear games were present in Sonic Adventure: DX however, which makes the selection here rather dubious on Nintendo’s platform.

Despite the appeal of Sonic CD and ‘Fighters, we hope there’s room for some unlockables, akin to the original Mega Collection. Our “Sonic Collectioning” would be complete with at least Chaotix and SEGASonic the Hedgehog in the mix. As mentioned before, it would be slightly odd to have half the offering on a new Gamecube collection being something you could just get elsewhere (SA:DX). The screenshots and common elements seen in Sonic CD and Sonic R show PC versions – which means Gems must be using some kind of PC emulation to run these versions of games. Which is fine by us, as long as we don’t get Windows XP runtime errors booting up Sonic CD.

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The extra offerings are what makes a retro compilation from Sonic Team so good. Sonic Jam still remains the ultimate king, with a 3D explorable world full of Sonic history, artwork and exclusive Japanese movies up the wazoo. Sonic Mega Collection managed a timid smattering of Archie cover scans, a yawnsome full scan of their tiresome “Firsts”, and some movies of little interest. Sonic Mega Collection + took things better (or worse) when the only movies they had involved Sonic Heroes in-development scenes (of which half were just the finished movies anyway). Special extras have turned out to be nothing but a crock as of late.

Let’s hope this changes somewhat – the images above, taken from the official website, shows a new section called “Sonic Museum”. According to the Japanese site, there will be many secrets including movies, character profiles and artwork. So far, so good, Sonic Team. So far, so good.

Now we’re all up to scratch on what Sonic Gems Collection is all about, it’s only a matter of time before we get more details. Hopefully, if we can get extras on the scale of Sonic Jam-style quality (even if we can’t have many of the quality Japanese adverts or movies, just having some will suffice) and squeeze SEGASonic the Hedgehog and Chaotix in there, this collection will surely live up to its name.