A whole bunch of Sonic stuff for a not-so-popular game console.

User Rating: 8.1 | Sonic Jam SAT
Sonic the Hedgehog has had a rough ride since 1994's Sonic & Knuckles. His popularity was slowing waning. Sonic 3D Blast opened to mixed reviews and Sonic X-Treme was cancelled. Sonic Team decided to make a real Sonic game for the still-new Saturn game console. And they decided to make it a game compilation.

Sonic Jam is a game that contains most of the Genesis Sonic games: The original, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, 3 and Sonic & Knuckles. As well as those games, players can do what they did with Sonic & Knuckles: Lock-on one of the other three games to make them games of their own (Knuckles the Echidna in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and the Blue Spheres special stages). So you have 7 games in this collection.

The games themselves are recoded to work with the Saturn's hardware, which means they have the chance to modify the original game. Also included are the game's instruction manuals in digital form, from Japan and the US. It's nice to see how the Japanese manuals looked. All the games feature a chance to modify the game, such as disable the "Time Out" (Sonic would die if the timer hit past 10 minutes) option. The original Sonic the Hedgehog can also have the spindash, which was introduced in the second game. However, they didn't modify Tails in Sonic the Hedgehog 2, which means he cannot fly or swim like he does in Sonic the Hedgehog 3.

In addition, the game also has three "skill levels": Normal, Easy and Original. Original is the complete game as it was, unmodified. Normal makes certain things easier for Sonic players, and Easy shortens the game considerably, which is great for the novice Sonic player.

Each of the games are ported faithfully and all the codes that were featured in the respective games still work. So that means you can still access Debug Mode or use any other cheat.

However, there are a few faults of the games slowing down, which happens often and is quite noticeable. Sound is also an issue, where several sounds are louder than they really should be, and sounds are sometimes inaccurate (such as the death sound and loss of rings sound playing simultaneously when one loses rings) as well as the game's music having a small pause when switching from one track to another, something that didn't happen in the Genesis versions.

You can also play through all the stages in a Time Attack mode, which shows how fast you can breeze through those zones. However, the levels you go through are by the "Normal" skill level, so you can't do Time Attack in the original, untouched levels. Plus, you can only do Time Attack to levels you've already conquered, and you can only do them on the games that aren't locked on. You can also play through each game's Special Stages, trying to see how many emeralds you can get.

Now, if you get bored with playing the games, you can also access the "Sonic World". The Sonic World is a small 3D area with starposts, bridges, water and rings. You can even see Tails flying around. There's no objectives, unless you press the red and white striped button and do a task, such as getting 20 rings or hitting three red signposts within a time limit. The Sonic World itself looks pretty decent for the Saturn's hardware, with a nice mix of sprites and 3D graphics.

Inside the Sonic World are monitors each with cheat codes for the respective games, and small buildings with character biographies, art of Sonic and Co., a Sound Test for all the games, a history of Sonic (up to 1997) and the coolest part: The "Movie Theater". Inside, you can view small animated films, including the original Sonic CD opening and closing (with the Japanese music), as well as Japanese commercials for the Sonic games. The commercials are nice to look at, and are an interesting look into how the game was advertised in Japan.

All in all, this game compilation is really good, with enough stuff for the hardcore Sonic fan. But one problem is that it feels like it's missing a game or two that should be put in, like Sonic Spinball or Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, or some other Genesis game. But that should not annoy you that much. There's still a lot of stuff in it, and should be in every Saturn owner's collection. I mean, it's better than dusting off your Genesis and looking for your copy of Sonic 2 inside your brother's closet.

Pros: Seven classic games, tweaking some of the games are nice, Time Attack and Special Stage modes are good extras, Sonic World is a fine addition, lots of cool bonus stuff.
Cons: Games themselves have a few minor glitches, audio problems, occasional game slowdown.