Sega Genesis Collection Review
Sega has been making their old-school presence felt these past few years, jumping on board with the next-gen consoles in providing arcade classics online, and releasing compilations like the Sega Genesis Collection. This latest installment goes along with the Sega Classics Collection released some time ago, so if you weren't around for the "golden age" of gaming, Sega's got ya covered. For the most part, any hardcore Sega fan should be able to find at least a few of their old favorites in either of their compilations.
We do have to address the graphics (this be an official review, after all), but obviously, there's not much to talk about. Clearly, these won't hold up in comparison to anything past the 16-bit era, but of course, we're not supposed to make that comparison, anyway. Let's just say this is the old Genesis titles as you remember them, in all their old-school glory. Rumors abounded about whether or not Sega would "touch up" or "revamp" these classics to shine a bit brighter on the PS2, but if they did, it's not significant and hardly noticeable. All in all, you can feel free to ignore the visual score; this isn't God of War, and it's not supposed to be.
Sometimes, the sound is one of the more difficult aspects of these old games to faithfully recreate on later consoles. And here and there, we get the small drops in the soundtrack to favor the effects, and the entire sound presentation does seem a little off in certain spots. But as we didn't have a Genesis sitting nearby with all these games available for an accurate compare-and-contrast session, we really can't remember if those minor sound issues were evident in the originals. But either way, much like the graphics, the sound is exactly what you'd expect: Sega Genesis game sound. And there ain't a darn thing wrong with that.
When Sega first announced this Genesis collection; they claimed they'd provide "over 30" classic titles. And while they didn't quite match that number - this collection features 28 Genesis games - they got darn close, and there are even a few more unlockable arcade titles hidden somewhere inside... And you know what, Sega fans? This list is exactly what you'd expect from a solid assembly of Genesis games, complete with wildly popular titles like Sonic the Hedgehog and even a few cult classics like Comix Zone and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle.
Here's what you'll find in the Sega Genesis Collection:
- Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
- Altered Beast
- Bonanza Bros.
- Comix Zone
- Decap Attack starring Chuck D. Head
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Ecco II: The Tides of Time
- Ecco Jr.
- Kid Chameleon
- Gain Ground
- Golden Axe
- Golden Axe II
- Golden Axe III
- Phantasy Star II
- Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
- Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium
- Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
- Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- uper Thunder Blade
- Sword of Vermilion
- Vectorman 2
- Virtua Fighter 2
As you can see, Sega didn't focus on any one particular kind of game, as they've included everything from Columns to the venerable Phantasy Star series. So regardless of what kind of old-school games you enjoy, you've got a heck of a collection to sample from.
One of the first things you might notice is how the controls adapt to the Dual Shock controller; we all remember the Genesis controller, which was significantly different. Because it's all about the gameplay here, our biggest concern revolved around how Mr. Sonic would control with the DS, and how we'd maneuver through the bizarre baddies with Vectorman. But thankfully, it was abundantly clear right off the bat: we could tackle these tough-as-nails classics in much the same fashion we did 15 years ago. In fact, in some ways, it even seemed a touch easier.
The button layout on the DS is preferable, and surprisingly enough, the very different d-pad works quite well. There is some question as to whether or not the control in the individual games themselves was altered, simply because there were a few times when one would wonder to themselves, "hmm...that seems a bit clunky. Was it like that way back when?" Our guess? Yeah, it probably was. It might just seem amplified in this collection simply because the way those old games controlled was very different than what we're currently used to.
There was one gameplay glitch that confused us somewhat; beyond the expected slowdown, certain fast-moving hectic games would inexplicably freeze at bizarre moments. But it was so quick, if you blinked, you might miss it. It certainly didn't impact the overall enjoyment factor, but it's something worth mentioning. While a variety of slowdown issues would plague those old-school games from time to time, freezing usually wasn't in the cards.
Provided you're a big ol' Sega fan, and have a special love of many classic titles from the 16-bit era, there's a nearly endless amount of replay capability in the Sega Genesis Collection. However, nostalgia plays a major role here, so if you're a younger gamer, you may grow tired of these titles relatively quickly. While many of them are timeless, the difference in technology is - of course - massive, and if one is already acclimated to the most recent game offerings, and never lived through the 16-bit era, they may not play for very long.
Furthermore, the length of these games will barely run you a few hours, unless you take a serious chunk of time to play the Phantasy Stars. All of us veteran gamers can easily recall the days of side-scrolling action titles that, theoretically, would only take an hour or two to complete. However, we also remember (with grim clarity) the difficulty level, which far outpaces just about any game created today. Shinobi III may be a touch easier than the original and Sonic the Hedgehog is easy in comparison to Contra, but for the most part, these games will allow you to relive the unbelievable challenge reminiscent of yesteryear.
All in all, the Sega Genesis Collection is exactly what it should be: a fun-filled romp down memory lane for the old-schoolers, and an entertaining glimpse into the past for the younger gaming class. Besides, one of the best new features is something we can all identify with- you can save. Yes, that's right, you can save your progress in any game you select, which is a luxury we certainly never had with the Genesis. And for the budget price of $20, you can bring home 28 games that are displayed in all their initial glory. It's nothing groundbreaking or breathtaking or mouth-on-the-floor fantastic, but as we said from the start, it's not supposed to be. You'll have plenty of fun, and that's what counts.
11/15/2006 Ben Dutka