Sega Genesis Collection
Review by Matt Paprocki
|Budget compilations have slowly become the "in" thing for the
industry. Sega's second attempt will be received far better than their weak remake
collection that butchered a lot of memorable titles. By focusing on Sega's first party
Genesis lineup and keeping it intact while still adding a plethora of extras, the Sega
Genesis Collection is a blueprint for how these should be done.
There's little logic in including some less-than-well-received titles in any release like this, and Sega has picked a better roster than any before it. The duds are here more for nostalgia or history purposes, while the extras reveal a few more surprises. The default roster of games is as follows:
Alex Kid in the Enchanted Castle
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco: The Tides of Time
Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III
Phantasy Star IV
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Super Thunder Blade
Sword of Vermilion
Virtua Fighter 2
That's nothing short of an astounding line up of Genesis titles. Things pick up when you delve into the extras section and find interviews, cheats and artwork, plus another round games. The arcade versions of Altered Beast, Zaxxon, Tac/Scan and Zektor are unlocked when you complete certain tasks in the Genesis games. Goals are clearly displayed when you're browsing the extras section.
As the title states, with the exception of the hidden ones, all games mentioned are the Genesis version. Virtua Fighter 2 is not the 3-D fighter most people are familiar with. It's a surprisingly accurate 2-D port that retains quite a bit of the arcade game.
Surprises include Golden Axe III, famously destroyed by gaming magazine EGM over a decade ago by claiming it wasn't good enough for a stateside release. It stayed in Japan, and this is the first time a US audience can play any kind of official release. Not only is the inclusion unexpected, but also the game itself is a superb hack 'n slash.
The few less than high quality games here include Altered Beast, Flicky and Super Thunder Blade. In their time, they might have been successful. In today's gaming climate, their selling points prove hard to swallow. Super Thunder Blade is borderline unplayable. As for missing games that should have been included, the Streets of Rage trilogy is the immediate deletion that jumps out. Columns 3, the final two Sonic platformers, and Chakan are definite must haves should Sega give this another run.
While those are disappointments, titles like Shinobi III make the price more than reasonable. Ristar is a lost classic, Gain Ground is one far too many people skipped and the three Phantasy Star titles mark their first release since they appeared on a cart. The addition of a few arcade games (especially Zaxxon) make this set an absolute purchase for the 16-bit fan.
Emulation proves solid. The audio is perfectly captured by the emulation studio Digital Eclipse. Load times are brief and in a surprise bonus, the entire package runs in progressive scan. Aside from being one of a handful of people who have modded a Genesis to accept an RGB output, this is the best these games have ever looked.
If the games still are not enough to sell this set, the wealth of interviews, artwork and soundtracks will be. The well-produced interviews ask some surprisingly deep questions to the developers of the games included. While they discuss their experience and ideas, they also speak at length on the gaming medium and the changes since they first began developing games.
Even if you're a mild retro fan or have a faint interest in playing titles you've missed, this is the new standard for compilations. The games choices are nearly flawless, the extras are worth unlocking and the games look stunning. It's hard to imagine a run of games on a single disc beating out this roster.
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