Introducing level artwork by Ricky Earl! Commissioned for Zone: 0.
Friday, 4th June 2010, 6:02pm (UTC), 6 Comments
Aside from my quest to gather more writers for new game guides, I've also received interest in many other cool new features for the site by some very nice, enthusiastic people. One of whom is a talented artist by the name of Ricky Earl. A long time ago, while mentally designing the page template for the basic level guide, I considered creating some unofficial artwork of the level graphics to help illustrate and personalise each page. That idea got lost along the way at some point, but it was revived when Ricky offered to contribute some specially made art for Zone: 0. Thinking back to my original idea, and how I like my pages to seem like more than just straightforward, uniform templates without personality, I thought it might be rather nice, so we agreed on a new series of commissions!

It's up to him exactly how many he does, but at the moment he's intent on providing an artwork for every level covered, which is a lot! As he's providing them in order, I'm happy to unveil his first three pieces; Green Hill Zone, Marble Zone and Spring Yard Zone, all of which you will now find decorating their respective pages in the Sonic 1 guide!

Green Hill Zone by Ricky Earl

Marble Zone by Ricky Earl

Spring Yard Zone by Ricky Earl

You'll find them tucked just under the general details for each of those levels, and act as a slight background for when you open up the general notes. I hope they make for a nice way of introducing each stage. I think they're fantastic, and can't wait to see more! Go to Ricky's blog for more artwork, updates, and to hire him out for parties and Bar Mitzvahs.

Not really. Although he might. You never know til you ask.
Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by mercury on Saturday, 5th June 2010, 5:12am
Oh, man, this is a really cool idea!

One of the best things about the Nintendo Power Player's Guides I loved in my youth were the great pieces of original art.

I really like the actual art, too - a mix of 2D and 3D like the original game's style.

(And it's nice that Sonic doesn't have green eyes. =P )
#2. Comment posted by Zeupar on Saturday, 5th June 2010, 9:47am
I love them. This site keeps getting better and better. :D
#3. Comment posted by Tricky E on Saturday, 5th June 2010, 10:58am
he doesn't have green eyes...yet! If this sit ever gets as far as Sonic Adventure, then those level art pieces will feature green eyes...
#4. Comment posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, 8th June 2010, 2:29am
That art is fuking dope, just saying
#5. Comment posted by Tailsspain on Saturday, 19th June 2010, 8:04pm
Lol Bar Mitzvahs!
#6. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Sunday, 27th June 2010, 3:11pm
Nice! I think the CGI is alittle too obvious in the Spring Yard one, but besides that, they look great!
Sonic Colours Announced!
Wednesday, 26th May 2010, 4:09pm (UTC), 1 Comment
Sega announce today, completely without warning (normally this sort of thing is preempted by a leak or a sneak around on the patents website to at least reveal the name - maybe everyone's been so involved with Sonic 4 they forget to check!) that they are looking to introduce a new, more secondary title! A completely new one at that, though to me has a slight whiff of the Sonic Rush about it, which is no bad thing! Scoop.

Obviously, there's not much to go on yet. It's a 3D/2D game for the Wii and DS only (Sonic Unleashed-ish for the Wii, I guess, but I'm suspecting it to be more Sonic Rush-like on the DS. It doesn't specify clearly though) that uses these "wisp" alien creatures (wasn't that a Sonic 2 badnik..?) for various unique effects and twists. They emphasise a lot of speed in this press release, and I'm suspecting this to be more boost-based speed rather than Sonic 4's momentum-based speed. I'm fine with that, I like the hectic pace of Rush and Unleashed, and I was hoping it would still continue to exist in some form. And even if you're against it, you can't complain too much, as you're still getting a much more traditional experience with Sonic 4. Keeping it to the Wii and DS suggests it'll take a lot of advantage of their various gesture-based controls and whatnot. Something I'm growing a bit tired of on the Wii if I'm honest, but given the vast difference in Wii and DS hardware, this should almost be like two new Sonic games in one go!

I do really like the visual style to the teaser trailer and the environment it presents, and the general story idea too. Placing it on a nearby small planet is very shades of Sonic CD (something deliberate, perhaps?) for starters, plus it opens the door for a lot of interesting new environments to play in, like this open, alien forest that I would assume to be the first level. All hinges on these new wisp-based twists though. I'm intrigued.

Sonic and Tails teaming up again is a nice choice though. Lets see some screens Sega!
Comments   1 Comment has been posted.
#1. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Thursday, 27th May 2010, 11:11pm
I was somewhat pleased until I heard about point-and-click elements and the possibility of educational content.
Sunday, 16th May 2010, 6:05pm (UTC), 14 Comments
Lets show them the real power of team work!
Update: The search for new guide writers has now ended. Future applications will most likely be ignored I'm afraid. More info here.

About a year ago, I finally decided that if my dream of a massive site in which you could read complete reference guides to every Sonic game in history, each incredibly rich in detail and expressed clearly and colourfully, were to ever become a reality, I would have to get others on board. Sure, I could do it all myself, but it'll take years, and at the expense of exciting new projects. It's not that I've lost interest in this project, on the contrary I want to keep Zone: 0 alive and relevant. So I put out the call for new writers - people who wanted to write guides for the games I've yet to cover, and simply share out the workload for volunteers who want to be part of this massive project, allowing it to live on and ideally grow more quickly too, as more of a community project.

Over the last year, I've had a fairly steady stream of interest from many people, and new guides have been started, which I'm extremely grateful for. Given the length of time it takes to do these things properly and the fact that real lives have a habit of getting in the way, they are all still very much in progress, and I wouldn't expect them to be done quickly. The search has also expanded into other areas in which enthusiastic, lovely people want to help the site grow. Projects on the go at the moment include translation of pages into German and a fantastic new artistic addition to the level pages that I hope will debut fairly soon and will be extremely welcome! If you have any other ideas for things like this that you would like to contribute besides writing, I'm all ears!

But for now I mainly wanted to just refresh this whole search for writers to see who else we can get on board! I've been in contact/tried to get in contact with those who have already signed up to be a writer for a particular game of their choice, to see who still plans on completing their guide and who has decided not to continue, for various reasons. This has freed up new games that were previously taken, and are now available once again.

How to write for this site!

To summarise, what I'm after are volunteers to research and write a guide for a particular Sonic game of their choice, which will sit alongside the guides I have already written and conform to their formatting. It can be anything at all within the series that has not already been covered and not in the list of guides already being written (see below). The small 2D platformers, such as the Game Gear titles or something from the Sonic Advance series are the perfect places to start, as are things like Sonic 3D or Knuckles Chaotix. Any larger, 3D game such as Sonic Adventure, Sonic Heroes, Sonic Unleashed however is also open if you're really adventurous and feel like you can make a great job of it. Similarly any other type of Sonic game that isn't a traditional platformer is open too, such as Sonic Spinball, Sonic Riders, Sonic Battle, Sonic the Fighters, etc. As long as it's Sonic, you can do it! This is perfect for anyone who enjoys writing FAQs or playing and analysing the games to within an inch of their lives! I know a lot of people in the Sonic fanbase are extraordinarily passionate about it, and dream about their ideal Sonic projects. If you're a good writer, a thorough researcher and a devoted worker, this might be the perfect opportunity for you! :)

There are no web design skills necessary, so there's no need to be scared off by terrifying HTML tags and CSS. Simply write out the guide bit by bit and when complete, I have a completely custom built content management system that makes it a piece of cake to publish the guide online, which you can either use yourself, or I can do it for you. If you can take your own screenshots that would be particularly useful, but if not I may be able to take care of it. The availability of maps to reference will depend on the game. You can take as long as you need with it, as I know it's very much just a spare-time thing and I don't necessarily impose any sort of time limit at all on it. All I ask is that you keep me updated on how it's going every now and then, or whenever you've made significant progress.


This is a collaborative project, and while you can take full writing credits for an entire game (the possibility to only do one aspect of a game, such as a chao mode for example, may also exist, please inquire), I need to make sure it's a coherent, well written piece of work that conforms to the standards and continuity of Zone: 0. Without wanting to stamp all over your creativity, there's a certain format that we'll need to agree on. You MUST read the following requirements before jumping the gun and contacting me...

- Above all else you need to make sure you can commit to this project. It's no good to come along and say you'll do something and then never get in touch with me again because you've lost interest. It's understandable if important real life things unexpectedly take over, and if that's the case you need to tell me and cancel or delay the guide if necessary. That's fine, and I don't mind if it takes a while to do, as long as you're pretty sure you can provide what you say you will! Bottom line, do not start something if you can't commit to finishing it!

- In order to ensure high quality throughout, good writing skills are essential. Having your own writing style is one thing, that's perfectly fine in most cases, but it needs to be detailed, clear and accurate. You should have excellent grammar and spelling and be fluent in English. This is very important, as I have had to turn down people who didn't really convince me of their abilities to express themselves clearly. Humour is welcome, I encourage it, though please keep it inoffensive and accessible.

- Its level of depth and detail is, I would say, Zone: 0's real "USP" so to speak. I try and squeeze out as much detail I can out of everything I write about, and I would expect another writer's work here to do likewise really. Make sure you've explained everything from every angle, considered all possibilities. Look at the existing guides and try to match their level of depth and detail wherever possible. This is crucial.

- The guides of Zone: 0 run on a fairly rigid structure, i.e. for each level, sections for appearance, structure, features and obstacles, and then a list of noteworthy points, separated by acts. Things like this can't possibly apply to every single game, but should be suitable for most platformers in the series, albeit with some amendments in many cases. Before you start, we'll discuss these amendments and share ideas for how you could structure your guide in this way, particularly important for non-platformers. You need to be aware of keeping continuity with existing guides where appropriate though. Insisting on an entirely new system where not necessary won't really be appreciated!

- You have to research your game as absolutely thoroughly as you possibly can. For example, don't pick a route through a level and guide the reader on it while ignoring all other significant points on other routes. Give them the choice of where to go and present every possible hazard of significance that you can find. If in doubt, I'm happy to advise.

- I act as editor when you submit writing. Please don't be offended if I ask you to rework certain bits. I'm willing to discuss and compromise any disagreements but I just want to make sure the guide is as good as it possibly can be!

Get in touch!

If this all sounds right up your street and you think you can spare the time, send me an email and explain what game you'd like to do. Be advised that the way you write your initial email will be a pretty good identifier to me as to whether you're a good choice, so try to write as clearly as you would write your guide. I don't want "can i rite 4 sonic 2 battle adventur plz???!!" ;)

Please email with the game you'd like to write a guide for (make sure it's not already in the list below first!) and an alias you'd like to be known by when added to the list and credited. If you seem capable, I will get back to you to begin discussion on how best to organise the guide in question, and ask you to write and send me a draft for part of it, often the first level.

Current Writers

Here is the list of guides that have been reserved already or are in progress. I will be completing the original Mega Drive series myself. You are free to inquire about any other Sonic game not on this list though...

LiQuidShade - Sonic & Knuckles
Monty Eggman - Tails Adventures
Anonycat - Sonic Adventure 2
jennytablina - Sonic R
SuperBragon - Sonic 2 8-bit
Vitiman - Sonic Pocket Adventure
Tailsspain - Sonic 1 8-bit
Crisis - Sonic Adventure
Teletubbism - Sonic Drift
Teletubbism - Sonic Drift 2
Waave - Sonic Battle
Super Volcano - Sonic Spinball

Note that guides for Sonic 3D, Sonic Heroes and Sonic Advance, which appeared on the previous list, have been cancelled, either by the writers or by me in the case that a writer hasn't responded to my requests for confirmation. Therefore, these cancelled games are now available once again!

I'm currently planning a small update to some of Zone: 0's features to coincide with the start of the Sonic & Knuckles guide toward the end of the year. Among other things, these features will do more to incorporate the hunt for new writers within the rest of the site, and offer guidelines to assist writers. Ideally I would also like to accompany this with the start of a guide from another writer too. To any current writers in the above list who happen to be passing by, please let me know if you might be able to complete your guide within this sort of time frame and update me on where you are with it. Or any new writer who thinks they can complete a guide for a small game by the end of 2010, I'd be particularly keen on hearing from!

Thanks for your time, I'm hoping that Zone: 0 can be a truly great community project that those involved can really enjoy. Think of how amazing this resource could be if it covered pretty much every game in the series! It can get there, but it needs your help! If you're up for it, get in touch! :)

Update: The search for new guide writers has now ended. Future applications will most likely be ignored I'm afraid. More info here.
Comments   14 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Eggman123 on Monday, 17th May 2010, 1:42pm
You know what?
I'll give it a try. I try to write a guide for Unleashed (PS3) Apotos act 1&2 Daytime.
Now don't take me granted since I don't trust this motivation I have right now.
Meaning don't put me on the list yet. If it doesn't work well I let you know.
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Monday, 17th May 2010, 2:08pm
Ok, give it a go if you like and we'll see how you get on. However if someone else comes along and puts their name down for the full guide to that version of the game, I'll have to give it to them. I'm fine for you to try in the meantime but can't guarantee its acceptance. Thanks :)
#3. Comment posted by Eggman123 on Monday, 17th May 2010, 3:44pm
That's exactly what I wanted, thanks. :)
#4. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Tuesday, 18th May 2010, 9:08pm
Hello, I'm not sure if I'll even be able to do it (I have a lot on my plate right now), but I was wondering if it'd be a good idea to do a section dedicated to the rules of Sonic in general, level design, points systems, level types, enemies types, ect. As I said, I'm not even sure if I'd be able to do it at all, but I'd like to suggest it, so that if I can't do it, someone else could.
#5. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 19th May 2010, 8:23am
Yeah, I have thought about something like that from time to time, but I'm not sure it's appropriate just yet. Maybe when more game guides have been accumulated, but generally I think it's better to have the specific rules of each game expressed within their own guides, for the time being. Perhaps at a later date there will be room for that kind of expansion.
#6. Comment posted by SpeedingHedgehog on Wednesday, 19th May 2010, 11:50pm
Alright. I was thinking about that too (the part about each game having it's own rules), but I was figuring that this section would have more detail about each feature, and also how some of it was made. But you're right to wait for now.
#7. Comment posted by SONIC,AMY,SHADOW,ROUGE FAN on Thursday, 20th May 2010, 7:33am
#8. Comment posted by TornadoCreator on Sunday, 30th May 2010, 5:28pm
I have an idea for an indepth guide to the characters of the Sonic Mythos. A guide indicating the characters origins, personality, game appearances, storylines (including comic/tv appearences). I'm sure I could write that over the summer.
#9. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 2nd June 2010, 9:46am
Yeah, again, it's a nice thought but I'm not quite prepared to extend the site beyond its current focus of game guides only, really. That opens up a whole other kind of topic, particularly if you're taking stuff from cartoons and comics, and at the moment at least, it'd be more appropriate for another site I think. :)
#10. Comment posted by Teletubbism on Thursday, 24th June 2010, 3:56am
I'll write for Sonic Drift 2. Are 'positions still open?'
#11. Comment posted by Justin-s-h on Saturday, 26th June 2010, 10:50am
Can I maybe write a few stages from sonic tripple trouble?
#12. Comment posted by puddlemonster14 on Thursday, 29th July 2010, 9:20am
i could do sonic riders (PS2). i could tell people stuff like what gear does what and how much they cost, how to unlock maps and gear, talk about what each charters skill is, there arnt any map overlays that i can find right now, but i could make one if i need to.
#13. Comment posted by Dandaman955 on Thursday, 30th September 2010, 5:05pm
When I look at it. It's quite a cool site. I'd be interested in writing the Sonic 3D blast page so I can fill this place up a bit more. :)
#14. Comment posted by Ivo 69 on Wednesday, 22nd December 2010, 2:46am
I would like to add a page on the game gear sonic spinball and a level walkthrough. I have a game gear and know multiple areas and cheats. I've completed the game about 15 times.
Sonic 3 Gameplay added
Tuesday, 27th April 2010, 8:10pm (UTC), 5 Comments
Update: Gameplay page added to the Sonic 3 section
Just a small update to the Sonic 3 section to prove I'm still around, and to make sure you all know what you're doing with regard to.. jumping, and rolling and things like that. Nothing ground breaking in it of course, but one of those things you need to have sooner or later. It should be one of the first pages made really, but I like to have a good bank of screen shots to use, which of course I have, from doing first three levels already. Carnival Night to come within the next couple of months probably. Sorry, I know it takes ages but bear with me, I hope to get on a more regular schedule soon. For what it's worth I do still quite enjoy making these guides.

Having said that though, I'll soon follow this post with an update to the writers wanted operation, which I've recently been having a sort through lately and hope to try and attract more of you to the cause. Stay tuned!
Comments   5 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by MoDaD on Wednesday, 28th April 2010, 2:31am
Great addition. I know they're used elsewhere, but the mouse-over captions are a nice touch.
#2. Comment posted by sonictails1189 on Wednesday, 28th April 2010, 7:21pm
Awesome. Looks good. Glad to see you're still here, though I didn't think you'd actually left. May I suggest you update the Details section of Background Information for Sonic 1-3 to include the Sonic Classic Collection?
#3. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Wednesday, 28th April 2010, 8:12pm
Done! Sorry, I don't know why I'm not quicker to update those, they only take a minute. One of those things I have to remind myself to do. Have also added Sonic 2 for iPhone/iPod Touch, which I will write about in the ports section eventually, and the Sonic 1 one for that matter as well. Not missing any others in the meantime though, am I?
#4. Comment posted by sonictails1189 on Thursday, 29th April 2010, 6:20pm
Not to my knowledge, not recently at least. Though, I'm probably not the best source for information in this subject. ;-)
#5. Comment posted by zoneangel on Sunday, 9th May 2010, 6:55pm
I really liked this site, the feel, the tool tips, everything...
I hope that Sonic 3 and Knuckles section will be completed soon... and I hope SEGA releases Sonic 3 and Knuckles on Iphone too. lol
Marble Madness
Sunday, 14th March 2010, 2:38pm (UTC), 6 Comments
Update: Marble Garden Zone added to the Sonic 3 section
Finally, an update for you all! Angel Island's vast, ruin-filled forests are represented through the regal Marble Garden Zone, a treasure trove of unique, elaborate objects and some fantastic level design. Must apologise once again that it's taking me forever to get through Sonic 3, and as I reach the last three months of my degree, you're probably unlikely to see Carnival Night Zone within that time, but I'll do my best. After that though I have some big plans for the site that are currently cooking away in my brain. I want to get more guides from other writers up and running, a couple of which are looking promising at the moment. Need to catch up with some writers that I haven't heard from in a while. There's room for plenty more though, so see the old writers wanted blog entry for more information on writing for the site.

I might get the Gameplay page for Sonic 3 up next, which you may well see reasonably soon as it's not quite as draining as a whole level page, but then again, not as fun to make! In the meantime, the forum's becoming more active recently with lively Sonic 4 debate as more info trickles in, so feel free to take part.

Until next time!
Comments   6 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by Meph on Sunday, 14th March 2010, 2:50pm
Maybe in the future you could add some HTML5 features to the site. There are many that you can add right now, since most new features are backwards compatible.
#2. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Sunday, 14th March 2010, 2:59pm
You know I haven't really looked into HTML5, been a while since I've really done much web programming now actually, but I'll have to see what can be done with it, and new CSS techniques too. Perhaps something will inspire me.

At the moment I'm considering a smaller update than the big new design that I made last year, primarily nothing particularly visual, mostly centered around integrating my hunt for new writers into the site itself, hopefully coinciding with some of them starting to produce finished works. I also have ideas for the blog system, using some of the entries as part of a larger articles system. Stay tuned!
#3. Comment posted by Speeding Hedgehog on Tuesday, 16th March 2010, 8:26pm
I get the reference! (in the title) great game! also, I love the guide! That zone is huge!
#4. Comment posted by Tailsspain on Friday, 19th March 2010, 2:57pm
I canĀ“t wait till you cover Carnival Night zone. I hope you do an important refference to... THE BARREL!!
#5. Comment posted by LiQuidShade on Friday, 19th March 2010, 6:33pm
The Carnival Night barrel is certainly one of the occasions where this site has a chance to be at its most useful!

You know it's funny though, I originally wrote the whole Sonic 3 guide over four years ago now, and I briefly glanced at the Carnival Night part the other day and although I certainly made the barrel bit into a point, what I've written really doesn't make that big a deal of it. I personally never had an issue with it in my youth, it was explained to me by a friend when I first got there, but in the last four years I've obviously seen a lot of stories of how the legendary barrel seems to have had a rather profound effect on peoples lives in some cases! I'll certainly review the original text, as I always do, and amend to reference this more clearly. Would be a shame if I just ignored its significance to so many people!
#6. Comment posted by Chaos Shadow on Tuesday, 23rd March 2010, 11:02pm
Heh. The barrel. I don't understand people who have such horror stories about the barrel.

I remember, when I was young, that I got stuck on the barrel for a solid four minutes (and wound up timing out the level) before figuring it out. I was also -five- at the time, and had no idea this thing was so scarring until just recently. I knew it was tricky, but -wow-.
Sonic Classic Collection
Saturday, 13th March 2010, 12:18am (UTC), 2 Comments
The new baby brother of the "Sonic Something Collection" series is here, once again offering classic Mega Drive action to yet another platform, in the form of Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles and thankfully the experiments of the cross-breeding of Sonic & Knuckles with Sonic 2 and 3 (though not 1, sadly). Clearly by Sega's reckoning, if you don't have these titles playable on at least five different things then there's something wrong with you. The key thing about Sonic Classic Collection though (and indeed if it weren't for this simple fact I personally would have very little interest in this umpteenth compendium) is that it's on the Nintendo DS, and therefore portable.

Gathering all four of these gems, plus their cross-breeds in any officially portable form has never been easy. Sonic 1 and 2 starred quite successfully in a Sega compilation on the PSP, and I believe S&K appears on a little nostalgic Sega handheld, but this collection promises a much simpler solution. I find myself on a train on a monthly basis throughout most of the year, and quite often I've had a certain itch for vintage Sonic like Momma used to make. Trains are dead boring after all. In particular I wanted to finally have Sonic 3 & Knuckles, in my view the greatest game ever created, in the palms of my hands, which has never been possible until now, so naturally I was anticipating this collection quite eagerly. It arrived on pre-order very early, just in time for my most recent train journey, and I thought I'd share my findings with you all..

Make no mistake about it, this is a real bare-bones compilation. The EasyJet of Sonic compilations, if you like. Its minimal menu system reminds me of compilation cartridges on the Mega Drive, such as Sonic Compilation or that 6-in-1 thing that had Sonic 1 on it. It offers a set of basic character illustrations from the games that it features (which you've seen dozens of times and surely can't be in that high demand as far as viewing anywhere, any time is concerned), but that's it in the extras department. No videos, no unlockables, no music, no comics. The only other thing is a list of credits that are remotely fun to watch only because various sprites have been placed so that, for example, Knuckles is clinging on for dear life off the edge of some guy's name. Oh, you guys. You're such pranksters.

What I found far more interesting is the music that accompanies the whole menu system. Anyone who collected the minimal Sonic titles on the Sega Saturn will receive a blast from the past when they realise they're listening to the theme of "Sonic World" Sonic's first ever fully 3D environment, which served as an explorable hub into various museums of worthwhile extras, found within the first proper compilation title, Sonic Jam. What an obscure, albeit highly relevant thing to bring back. I'd liked to have had the Sonic 3 data select slow remix that also features in those museums as well.

However, we're agile online Sonic fans, any extra trinket that we want, we can get, so who needs em on a little DS cartridge? It's the games that I want. How do they fare? Well enough, I would say. I began with Sonic 3 (at first not realising that S3&K was further on in the menu system and no unlocking is required - I blame the scary and unfamiliar American boxarts that got me all confused). I think I was expecting as perfect an experience as any other emulation of it when I first loaded it up. That's not the case, so you shouldn't expect it either. If I were to describe it with a metaphor, I would say that if you consider a normal PC emulation of these games as the equivalent of Digital radio, then these versions are a bit like FM radio on good reception. They're clear enough, they get the point across and they do the job, it's just not quite a smooth a ride as it would be elsewhere.

Frame rate is the main culprit for this. Unless you have exceptionally high standards (and some of you do), then it's not what I'd call horrendous. It's perfectly playable, and the only real slowdown you get is when you lose a lot of rings, which has always happened really, so it rarely intrudes on your ability to play the game. I played most of Sonic 3 on my train journey and didn't really encounter any technical problems to stop me from playing the game about as well as I would on any other system. That said, the frame rate can get noticeably inconsistent. I know there were some concerns in previews of this problem, and I think those have been adjusted, however despite some reports of the final version, I don't think the problem has been erased entirely. These sudden drops aren't quite as severe as Sonic Adventure DX, which would go from 30 to 60 every few seconds - the margin of difference isn't anywhere near that high, however it is somewhat comparable by frequency and the fact that it's not always obvious things, like a lot happening on screen, that seem to cause it, it can occur at any time. It's not necessarily when running full pelt either, which can often be a perfectly smooth ride. If you're a complete purist then it might bother you, but if you just want a perfectly reasonable, playable rendition of classic Sonic on your handheld then you'll be fine with it, and you can get used to it fairly quickly.

Audio is crucial, it is is surely impossible to get the same amount of fun out of these levels without being able to hear their glorious tunes, and fortunately everything sounds about right. Going back to my radio analogy, this is also particularly reminiscent of FM as opposed to digital, perhaps just down to the hardware of the DS, as it's rather sort of tinny and muffled, even with earphones. Bit of a shame, but at least it's the original versions of the tunes and not recreated ones like the much loathed and ridiculed Sonic 1 GBA port. Again, you get used to them. Like Sonic Jam, this compilation appears to feature music separate from the actual emulation. It's all the right tunes (well, almost - I did notice Sonic 3 mini-boss music in the mini-bosses of S&K - WTF?), and they all play at the right times, but it does mean that when you get an extra life, the tune then restarts where it should have just carried on, ala Sonic Advance. I noticed in a couple of levels like Casino Night and Launch Base, they don't quite loop properly either. However, this does mean, and I haven't yet got far enough to confirm this, that you should be able to play Star Light and Sky Sanctuary without the chimes of rings and other objects completely interrupting the particularly beautiful melody. In theory. That always really bothered me.

The other interesting thing about this interpretation of these games is the fact that the full 320 x 224 screen resolution doesn't quite fit into the resolution of the DS. At first, from screenshots I thought they'd just clipped off the very corners of the full screen, but what they've done is made it so that the actual area of the screen, the window into Sonic's world if you like, is a tad smaller. So when you face a boss that is normally designed to be in a window that perfectly matches the normal 320 x 224 resolution, so that normally the camera won't move, it will nudge over a bit here. There aren't really any problems with this, apart from the fact that in Sonic 2, you can run around behind the score tally bit and actually move all of the results left and right by a few pixels, which is actually more amusing than problematic. Actually shows that the developers might have had a harder time bringing these games to this format than others if they had to go to the trouble of making those kind of changes. In addition, somewhat predictably, there are no 2 player modes. When you start up Sonic 2, the options for character select appear where your player mode or options menu would normally be (which means no 19,65,09,17 level select cheat!), and Competition has been removed from Sonic 3's similar list.

Now the DS has two screens, right? So what have they got on the other screen? Well, not a whole lot, and this is, I think, the biggest shame of it all. You have the ability to save and load your game for Sonic 1, 2 and S&K (Sonic 3 already has this feature anyway of course), and there are touch screen buttons here to do that, except it'll only save your progress from the start of the current act you're in (or level for S&K), and not the actual state. You get a very brief summary of the game's plot and you can bring up a list of controls and moves to pull off, and the pause button has curiously been moved from Start to a button on the touch screen. This is such a missed opportunity though, where else are you going to be able to so easily add a piece of relevant information to one of these games, while you're playing it? I've tweeted about this fairly recently, but wouldn't it be great if they were able to add, in essence, a mini Zone: 0 in that bottom screen? As soon as you enter a level you can bring up info about its badniks and objects. They could finally give a kind of hints system to the games, if it could analyse where you are in the level and bring up a relevant point to guide you if you're near enough to an area that you could get stuck on (the Carnival Night barrel would be the obvious example). Hell, you could even have a map that tracks your location and that you could zoom in and out to see the different routes. It'd all make the games a lot easier admittedly, but perhaps there could be an unlocking system to it, and lets be honest, who hasn't played all of this before anyway?

So in summary, Sonic Classic Collection does what it says on the tin, but little else. That's fair enough I suppose, but as a Sonic fan, it's a great shame that they didn't/couldn't do more creative things with that bottom screen. Just looking down and seeing it with a slightly pathetic little description, not really knowing what to do with itself is a pity. Even just a bit of level specific info (take it from this site, Sega! I'll happily give you what I've written for the unpublished guides too) couldn't have been that taxing on the developers, considering they've messed around with quite a lot of things in the game anyway. It's that kind of effort that wins favour with the fans and makes it worthwhile to buy the same games over and over again.

Whether or not you should buy this depends entirely on your lifestyle. If you don't get out much, then there's probably not a lot here for you except for the sake of owning everything Sonic, ever (an expensive habit, I should know). However, if you do a fair bit of traveling (unless you're the one driving of course) and have often thought how much fun you could be having bouncing off of bumpers in Spring Yard or getting high off of pixelated fungi in Mushroom Hill, instead of staring out the window at cows, this is worth a look. It's a portable collection of reasonably accurate, perfectly playable renditions of four and a bit of the greatest games (scratch that, four of the greatest things - scratch that too, the four greatest things) in the history of creation, and whatever way you look at it, that's a good thing. Even if the overall packaging could be more interesting and unique.
Comments   2 Comments have been posted.
#1. Comment posted by supersonicsmash on Saturday, 13th March 2010, 8:36pm
Oh, yeah I heard of hits on wikipeidia the same day I found out about Sonic 4 being named Sonic 4. But the real name is Sonic 4 episode 1.
#2. Comment posted by GreenBird on Wednesday, 31st March 2010, 6:02pm
I'm a little disappointed with how little extras we got this time around, especially with what we got with Mega Collection, ah well. Still hoping for a portable version of Sonic CD.
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