Sega Saturn owners the world over were looking for a reason why they parted with their Mega Drives and Sonic games, and got a Saturn instead. Well, Sega listened to them, and gave them.... a compilation CD. But not just any CD. This gave the post-Mega Drive owners a chance to play their fave Sonic games again. That's probably why Sonic Jam meant so much to Saturn owners during the big black box's life.
The Mega Drive games available to you are Sonic 1, Sonic 2, Sonic 3, and Sonic & Knuckles. You can play these as normal, with no changes made to the games at all, or you can opt for a more challenging difficulty setting to the original game. Hell, you can even do the S&K linkup between the other three games. There are special secrets that become unlocked when you complete the games though, giving you a reason to play them, such as being able to Spin Dash in Sonic 1. Tops!
Of course, not even the secrets after completing the regular games are good enough to sell the game in truckloads, so Sega created a lovely 3D world, starring Sonic, just for the Saturn owners out there. Players controlled Sonic as he ran around the world, collecting rings, and looking at monitors for cheats on the old Sonic games! There are challenges to take part in too, including hitting blue posts in a certain time limit. The hardest of all though is the final challenge, where you have to collect all 100 rings in the world in under 1 minute. Best get running!
There's plenty to do in the 3D world, not just collect rings. There are many houses you can enter and view lots of certain stuff. In the Character House, for instance, there's biographies of all the good guys - Sonic, Tails, Knuckles etc, and on the other side, there's info on the evil dudes such as the Big Egg himself, and badniks.
There's also the Music Shop, but it's not really a Shop of sorts, more like... ummm... hmmm. Anyway, in here, you can listen to the glorious Sonic music from the games of old, and there's even Sonic Jam specific 'choons' that you can listen to as well. Doesn't really hold your attention for long, but hey, it's a novelty in itself - a little sound test thing's always nice.
My favourite place in the 3D World, the Movie Theater, lets you watch movies of Japanese Sonic adverts, clips from Sonic the Movie (both JPN ones), and a ton more animations to boot. My fave movie must be the one where Robotnik dresses as Sonic and makes him look a fool, that is pure class. Especially when he's laughing at the end and falls off the building.
The Hall of Fame is basically a history timeline from when Sonic was first unleashed into the world, until the 'present day' (the time Sonic Jam was made). It has lots of facts about the games that was released, merchandise, movies etc. So it's great for some tidbits of Sonic common knowledge.
An Art Gallery shows you lots - no, make that tons - of official Sonic pictures. It'll even show you box cover artwork etc. And last but not least, if you put your Sonic Jam CD into your PC, you can grab some rather nice wallpaper to spread around on your desktop.
To sum up, this game is... good, if you happen to have shied yourself away from the early days of Sonic, of course. If you've already got the games there's Sonic World which, while entertaining with its media houses, doesn't pose much in the way of gameplay other than the challenges. Still, this is a title to get for the media alone! If you happen to already own all the major Sonic Mega Drive titles and completed them, knock off about three marks off of that score down there. Not a game for gameplay, but more a game for Sonic nostalgia, which is always nice.
NOTE: This was given a score of 8/10 at time of original publication. We have converted its score to the below 5-star rating based on this score, and adjusted to best represent the original intent and sentiment of the overall article. This is not a re-scoring of this review.