Monday, 10 January 2011

Sonic Mega Mix DVD Provides an Uneven Animation Sampling

While SEGA Memories hasn't written about a Sonic cartoon DVD in quite a while, mainly because everything has already been released to DVD, an interesting single disc release of Sonic cartoons caught my attention. Single disc releases of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) and Sonic Underground are nothing new. The studio which owns the English language Sonic cartoons have been making an number of these budget releases, either giving a random selection of SatAM episodes or collecting story arcs into a single disc set, such as AoStH's time travel story arc (well worth the $6 in my opinion) and Sonic Underground Secrets of the Chaos Emerald (collecting all the Knuckles episodes).

Unlike those releases however, which stick to a single series, the Sonic Mega Mix DVD collects episodes from all three DIC Entertainment shows. Since the set arrives on Sonic's 20th anniversary and features all three series, I thought I'd look into it and see just what exactly makes up a "Mega Mix" of Sonic cartoons. The disc kicks off with Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, featuring three episodes from the series: Spaceman Sonic, The Little Merhog and Fast and Easy. While these may appear to be a random sampling of episodes, after a little thinking I realized that all three episodes have a connection. Spaceman Sonic features Sonic and Tails chasing Scratch and Grounder through the Starlight Zone, The Little Merhog features Sonic saving an underground city located within the Labyrinth Zone and Fast and Easy features Robotnik going after the Chaos Emerald Ring in the Secret Zone of Mobius (think Special Stage). A collection of episodes featuring connections to the games, nice!

Edit: I realized that I confused The Little Merhog with the episode Submerged Sonic. Submerged Sonic has Sonic and a merman saving an underground city located within the Labyrinth Zone, while The Little Merhog has Sonic helping a merhog named Merna save her underwater city. It's almost the same plot! So you can see why I'd get confused.

Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) is represented by two episodes: Ultra Sonic and Super Sonic. While both are good episodes, I can't help but think that those charged with selecting the episodes simply chose them due to their similar sounding names. Unlike the selected AoStH episodes, Ultra Sonic and Super Sonic do not dip into the game universe for inspiration. Instead, Ultra Sonic features Sonic discovering that his Uncle Chuck is alive and is a robot while the episode Super Sonic has Sonic stripped of his speed ability while having to race Robotnik to a magic crystal.

As I said, these are good episodes but I found them to be poor choices for the collection. Why not have the SatAM episodes Heads or Tails (the series pilot which Sonic and Tails ward off an invasion of Buzzbombers) and Game Guy (Sonic is lured into a deadly game of pinball by Robotnik).

Believe it or not, this is a Sonic cartoon!
Two episodes of Sonic Underground round out the set with Underground Masquerade and Sonic Tonic. Underground Masquerade is an odd choice, as it focuses on Sonic's brother Manic joining a gang of theives. Meanwhile Scratch and Grounder Sleet and Dingo attempt to steal taxes from Robotnik. Sonic plays a part in the episode, but this is hardly a good representation of the series. Sonic Tonic is a better choice as the focus is on Sonic's speed ability. Robotnik develops a potion which allows his henchmen to run at speeds rivaling Sonic. Once Sonic and his siblings get a hold of the potion, Sonia and Manic resist the temptation of taking the potion themselves. Why resist? Just drink the stuff!

Like the SatAM selections, the Underground episodes could have been better. Friend or Foe would have been an excellent choice, as it introduced Knuckles and the floating island. Another good choice would have been Virtual Danger, the final episode of the series. Despite not being a finale, the episode has Sonic, Sonia and Manic getting sucked into a video game of Robotnik's invention.

So is the Sonic Mega Mix DVD really the Mega Mix that the 90's Sonic cartoons deserved? No. If you're looking to relive the best that the three series has to offer, I suggest picking up the season sets of your favorites or getting the single disc story arc releases. The Mega Mix disc would have been much better had the creators decided on a theme, such as Sonic Team game inspired episodes. As it is, Sonic the Hedgehog Mega Mix is best left for the casuals and the future Sonic fans who spot this in the bargain section and decide to give it a look.

Until next time, I'm up over and gone!


The GagaMan(n) said...

Lol they really need to get better graphic designers on these DiC DVDs. Not only do they keep colouring Sonic's arms blue (something that even the painters of the cartoons did my mistake a few times) but they keep using artwork from SATAM for the Adventures DVDs! If that box art you've posted is the actual final design...ouch.

As for this collection, man are those some stinkers. The Merhog episode was probably one of the worst in Adventures, and pretty much anything from Underground excluding the Knuckles episodes is rubbish.

Barry the Nomad said...

Yeah, sadly that was the final design. I had to laugh at the blue arms when I first saw it. I don't see why they can't make proper box art for SatAM or AoStH, It seems that Underground at least gets the correct designs. Perhaps I should offer to design their covers for free? :)

Merhog was pretty bad, I just realized I confused it with the better Underwater episode "Submerged Sonic", which was much better. Sonic getting busy with a hedgehog mermaid?!?

The GagaMan(n) said...

Just saw some of the Adventures DVDs from the US though and some do actually have some nice original artwork: look up volmues called Let's Race, Sonic Who?, Robotnik Family Values, Robots Attack and Sonic the Hero. Would of loved these as the covers to the box set I've got. Some of the SATAM separate episode sets have nice covers too.

Barry the Nomad said...

Ha! I love Robotnik's pose on Robotnik Family Values. It's like he's trying to grab at the logo. Robots Attack looks the best, I always liked the giant gold statue attached to Robotnik's fortress.

The US AoStH volumes had a cool spread inside the DVD cases featuring a group shot of all the characters, probably a piece of concept art. I just ordered the third and final DVD volume of AoStH so I'll hopefully do an "InsideOut" video showing off all the DVDs. :)

The GagaMan(n) said...

Yeah the US set for SATAM is much nicer than the abomination we got in the UK: the same badly traced art on every case in the box and a terrible choice of background colours.