Rom Mod: Sonic Classic Heroes

Time for another rom mod! On this trip we are dipping into the archives of our dusty Megadrive (Genesis to some) to go back in time to when the Hedgehog was still cool and before everything went horribly wrong. Your future self is fine Marty, it’s your kids!

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Sonic Classic Heroes is a modification of Sonic 1 that lets you relive those heady days (or daze, depending on what you were doing in the 90s), as a kind of ‘Best Hits’ of the classic Sonic franchise. Shoehorning Tails and Knuckles into the first two as part of a playable team, it works surprisingly well.

The big gimmick of Heroes is the team action – Sonic, Tails and Knuckles are all on screen at the same time and operate similarly to your partner in Sonic 2; obediently following along, getting stuck on objects and frequently dying then magically respawning like the immortal gods they are (seriously, Tails was creepy), while you do the actual work. Unlike previous games however, you can actively switch control between them at any time with the A button. Want to play Sonic 2 mainly as Knuckles, or fly through most of Sonic 1’s more annoying levels as Tails? Sure, why not. Or perhaps you want to play Sonic 1&2 back to back as it was meant to be – with just Sonic and none of that sidekick crap? You can do that too, and more, thanks to some solid customisation options.

In addition to the team feature, the game is now saved (you can do a ‘no save’ run through too) as in Sonic 3 onwards, and you can also start from any level at any time if you so want, and choose whether to play Sonic 1, 2, or both.The powerups from Sonic 3 also make an appearance – so you now have the fire, electric and water shields in addition to the standard shield, complete with their secondary abilities and attacks (usable by Sonic only). Finding a water shield in the Labyrinth zone has never felt more relieving.

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The special stages from Sonic 2 (accessed by having 50 rings when activating a checkpoint) and from Sonic 1 (accessed by having 50 rings at the end of the stage) both make their appearance here, and to compensate for the increased game length, you now have to collect a full set of emeralds from each: “sol” emeralds from the Sonic 2 special stages and the usual chaos emeralds from the motion-sickness inducing Sonic 1 special stages. Personally, I’m not sure why they didn’t call the new set “order” emeralds or something, but then admittedly there’s also plenty of good reasons why I’m writing about games and not designing them.

Apparently (I couldn’t figure out how), you can also play as “Team Chaotix” as well as Team Sonic, which utilises characters and gameplay from the Sega 32X Knuckles Chaotix game which I never played. The key feature of this is the ‘band’ that connects the characters, which restricts freedom-of-movement but enables some new moves like ‘slingshotting’ to gain speed. I still prefer the straightforward classic Sonic gameplay, but it’s impressive that the option is there for the more masochistic crowd. The game also threatens you with “featuring Amy Rose” in the title, but thankfully she is merely the pilot in the plane levels and there is none of that hammer/chao/chibi/anime nonsense here.

Aside from these additions the game plays pretty much as normal, but the added power does feel like it unbalances the game at times. There’s little to stop you from gliding over most levels as Knuckles or Tails, really, and whenever you get a shield, all three characters get one each. If you get hit by an enemy, only the active character’s shield is lost – which means every shield effectively takes 3 hits – which means you can spend an inordinate amount of time being basically invincible. Sonic 1’s boss encounters were laughably easy even in the original, but now with 3 characters on screen and 2 of them always being immortal, Robotnik (or Eggman if you must) might as well have just given up by the Green Hill Zone and retired to become a second-rate mechanic or something.

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Having said that though, after some messing around ignoring most of the level content, I did find myself returning to play through the game properly, mostly as intended, trying to collect rings to get to the special stages. This is in part because its the only way to get those all-dooming emeralds which seem to be scattered carelessly about on every island in the world, but also because, well, it’s just fun. When a game is fun, people will play it. This seems to be the main thing SEGA forgot about when making the ‘next-gen’ Sonic games, and Sonic Classic Heroes serves as an undeniable reminder of this fact.

Sonic Classic Heroes | Download

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About J.C

I grew up in the dark dingy arcades of the 1980s, blasting heads with Robocop 2, but grew up in an era that spanned the introduction of the x86 home computer, through to the 16-bit revolution, into the polygon age and beyond. I write about food, travel and of course, New Retro Games. I started newretrogames.wordpress.com and contribute to www.thecitylane.com. I am also a freelance business researcher, writer, and editor having published academic and corporate articles on innovation and intellectual property.

Posted on January 29, 2016, in Platformer and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I don’t know if it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing issues with your website.

    It seems like some of the written text on your posts are running
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    Cheers

    Like

    • Sorry to hear that! I’m not sure what the cause of that problem might be – nobody I know personally has any issues

      Are you viewing it via PC desktop or mobile phone? currently the layout doesn’t support mobile browsing. We will hopefully be upgrading to a custom template soon, which will be both mobile and desktop compatible!

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  1. Pingback: New Retro News: Like it was 1995 | New Retro Games

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