First and foremost, I want to say that Sonic 1 Megamix is easily one of the best hacks in Sonic games and even one of the best hacks in overall. I guess I do not need to mention all its advantages and features. What I would like to discuss is that these 3 versions out there - the stable, the newer beta and the newest leaked one - are in my opinion almost all equally good. That being said, aforementioned versions are enjoyable on their own and there is thus no ultimate version for me; I am keeping all these ROMs in my PC. Why? After playing aforementioned versions recently, I have came up with some reflections. Let me explain:
The 'complete' stable 3.0 is the first version I have played. I had such a "wow" experience while playing first acts. So magnificent that it feels like a major hack in terms of GFX, despite having only pallettes changed. Major overhaul of level design as well as nifty control features like Hover attack (alt. Jump Dash) and Light Dash makes this game very replayable. It has some quirks though. Because it is the only version for Genesis while two latter are for Sega CD, it makes the 4th zone a struggle with many slowdowns. Moreover, enemies and spikes are at some places very unfairly placed, leading to occasional frustrations despite the greatness of this hack; whether played with classic or megamix control scheme.
The 4.0b version fixed the unfair placement of badniks and even spikes. We have new gfx for the 1st zone and new, remade boss in the 2nd zone. The level design of the latter zone is entirely changed in exchange for the new, gimmicky platforms. But it is understandable and, like the 3.0 counterpart, equally enjoyable. I also like the audiovisual revamp of Special Stages - each of them have their own BGM and background. Because it is an unstable version, graphical glitches do occur, but all aforementioned advantages overshadow this disadvantage. It creates thus a fair, "jack of all trades" experience among 3 versions. Too bad only that Eggman can be defeated with just one hit during the last fight.
I discovered recently the leaked, so called 5.0 version. I would say we should thank the fate.. or 'coincidence' that this version has been made to the public. I love the choice between FM and CD music. The latter BGMs, included in this ROM, are very enjoyable to listen. Some zones have also new gfx and level design revamps anew. While this hack has the most "wow" factors, it has also the most quirks unfortunatelly. After all, it is a leaked version.
Among those cons, some levels are incomplete - player is forced to play other levels in Time Attack and checkpoints in levels become thus obsolete. While some GFX are really impressive, the "complexity" of another ones creates a messy visuals during the play and is thus not pleasing to the eye. For instance, look at 3nd and 5th zones. And foremost, there is only one Special Stage which even freezes the game whether you succeed or fail. But on other side, it is very original and playable which has the vibe of Sonic CD Special Stages.
In short, all of these versions are good and I keep replaying one after another, in the similar fashion I love to replay vanilla levels of Genesis Sonic series but with different characters like Tails in 1 or Amy in 3&K. If someone asks me which version should he or she play, I would say this:
- if you want complete as well as most vanilla, stable experience, choose 3.0,
- if you want a fair and easygoing experience in terms of gameplay, choose 4.0b,
- if you want just to check how very cool experience may Sonic Megamix offer (once Stealth releases the bugfixed version after he is done with Mania, I sincerely hope) regardless of bugs and glitches, choose the leaked '5.0'.
Maybe too long to read and nothing new or groundbreaking, but I had just a mood to write this little essay. I hope you enjoyed reading my work as much as I had the pleasure writing this. What is your opinion about this, folks?