DISCLAIMER: Roms, Hacking, and Emulation may require legal permission from the copyright or IP holder. Orange Bison cannot be held responsible for any consequences of the inappropriate use of roms, hacks or emulation. Please check your national or local laws before downloading or using.
Have you ever played Sonic Heroes and wondered how well the team mechanic would transfer to the 2D Sonic the Hedgehog games? Neither had I, until I discovered this absolute gem of a romhack!
Sonic Classic Heroes came about when well-known romhackers flamewing and ColinC10 decided to combine two of their original hacks (Sonic 2 Heroes and Sonic 1 and 2 respectively) into one package. The hack was initially released to the public on July 20th 2012 to great acclaim from the hacking community, but does it deserve the praise heaped upon it? Let’s take a look.
The game begins with an awesome classic-style title screen featuring Sonic, Tails and Knuckles. It really brings back the heavy nostalgic feeling of going over to your mate’s house for tea after school and firing up the old Mega Drive. Press start and you’re greeted with the main menu. From here you can choose, amongst other options, which save file to use, which level to start from, and which team you want to play as. So far the choices are Team Sonic or Team Chaotix, but more teams will be added in future updates.
During the single-player campaign, the player can switch between each character at will to take advantage of their signature abilities. You can also plug in a multi-tap for simultaneous 3-player action, but anybody who has ever discovered Sonic 2’s “secret” 2-player mode will tell you how frustrating this can be.
The levels will be familiar to anybody who has played the original games, as they haven’t been changed much. Some power-ups have been added, including the elemental shields from Sonic 3, and there have been some slight tweaks to the layouts, but nothing major. Unfortunately, this does make it easy to use the characters’ abilities to skip massive chunks of certain levels, especially when playing as Charmy the Bee, which ruined some levels for me. However, it is often fun finding new ways through levels using different abilities.
Speaking of character abilities, let’s take a look at some of them:
Team Sonic consists of Sonic the Hedgehog, Miles “Tails” Prowler, and Knuckles the Echidna. Sonic is obviously the fastest character in the game and is the only character who can use the extra abilities of the elemental shields. He also has his insta-shield attack from Sonic 3. Tails has the power to fly through levels for a limited amount of time and is the only character who can swim during the underwater levels, whilst Knuckles can use his signature glide move and has the ability to climb walls.
Team Chaotix features Espio the Chameleon, Charmy the Bee, and Vector the Crocodile. Espio is the fastest of the three and can cling to walls, Charmy has a charge attack similar to Sparkster’s in the Rocket Knight games, and Vector has a mid-air “power boost” move and can also climb walls.
New characters have also been announced for future versions of the hack. These characters include Amy Rose, Cream the Rabbit and Mighty the Armadillo amongst others, and different variations of Sonic including Modern Sonic and Sonic Boom Sonic. It remains to be seen what new abilities these characters will have.
One nice touch is that when you pick up a shield it is distributed to all of your characters. If the character you are controlling gets hit whilst using a shield he will lose the protection, but the other two characters will retain theirs. This adds a slight tactical element to the game as you must then choose between using a character whose abilities are suited to the moment versus being able to take an extra hit.
As mentioned before, the game includes the entire campaigns of both Sonic 1 and 2. This includes the awesome half-pipe bonus stage from Sonic 2, which just looks absolutely awesome with three characters in play at once. You can choose to play through the entire thing as one campaign, just play through Sonic 1 or 2, or even just play individual levels. These options make the hack great for a “quick fix” (or if you’re not as good at classic Sonic as you used to be and need to take screenshots from several levels because you’re writing a review) as well as those looking for a longer challenge.
So, it’s not a perfect hack, it does some things wrong, but the things it does right it does soooo right! For the most part, the gameplay absolutely shines. After all, it’s essentially a remixed version of two of the greatest games of the 16-bit era. The small tweaks to the levels work well when you decide to play properly (ie. Not flying over half the level) and the whole package has been put together with the utmost love and affection for the original game. The hack is still in active development, and as well as the extra characters mentioned above the developers also plan to implement a split-screen race mode.
All-in-all, this is romhacking done right.