There used to be a time when a video game compilation was nothing more than a few poorly conceived mini-games that were crammed onto one cartridge. But ever since the invent of disc technology video game compilations have become bigger and better with each passing year. These days game collections are one of the best ways to catch up on all the classic titles you originally missed out on. Some companies see these game compilations as nothing more than a cash cow, but from time to time you run across a collection that sets a high water mark. The Sega Genesis Collection is such a title; it manages to pack in so many great games and cool bonus features that it's hard to say no to this disc. Regardless of whether you grew up playing these games or are too young to remember the 16-bit era, the Sega Genesis Collection should be at the top of your list.
The Sega Genesis Collection offers nearly 30 different 16-bit games for you to choose from, including some of Sega's best (and worst) efforts. What makes this collection worth owning is the variety of games on the disc; you will find everything from action to puzzles to role-playing all at your fingertips. Best of all, many of the games actually hold up really well ten years later. These aren't games that are simply good for being a dozen years old; they are just as much fun today as they were back then.
This collection comes with a lot of the biggest hits of the 16-bit era, such as Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2 (although, Sonic 3 is mysteriously absent), Shinobi III, three different Ecco the Dolphin games, a couple of Vectorman titles and many more. But it's not all about the hits; you also get a few smaller titles that were originally passed over for whatever reason. Games like Comix Zone and Ristar were released at a time when most people were buying 32-bit systems, but thanks to this Sega Genesis Collection you are able to go back and experience these forgotten titles as if they were brand new.
While most of the games are at least entertaining, there are a few standouts that really make this collection worth owning. Shinobi III is easily one of the best 2D ninja games of all time; it's full of amazing boss battles and great graphics. It's also fun to go back through the first two Sonic games, especially when you see the major leaps in depth from the first game to the second. Comix Zone is a fantastic beat-em-up that has a style you've probably never seen before, the things it does with its comic book influence makes it a must play. Also cool are the Ecco the Dolphin games, a couple of titles that actually break away from a lot of 16-bit clichés and offer a compelling adventure to play through. Other standouts include Gain Ground, Sword of Vermillion, and two amazing Vectorman titles.
And then there are the three Phantasy Star games, which has to be the most compelling reason to buy the Sega Genesis Collection. When these three games were released back in the 1990s they collectively retailed for more than $200, which makes this $30 UMD an attractive value. While these three role-playing games don't have amazing 3D effects or hours of spoken dialog, they more than make up for that with a creative sci-fi story, memorable characters and a lot of cool monsters to fight. Phantasy Star III is still a minor disappointment, but the second and fourth installments are still among the best RPGs of all time. Due to their high price tags a lot of people missed out on these titles back in the Genesis era, but thanks to this amazing collection you don't have an excuse not to experience these amazing adventures. I would have gladly paid $30 just for these three games, the fact that this disc comes with 25 other games just makes the deal even sweeter.
But not every Genesis game in this collection is a 16-bit gem. The original Altered Beast is just as lame today as it was when it was a free pack-in. Decap Attack is still a bizarre adventure that isn't nearly as cool as it thinks it is. And the three different Golden Axe games don't hold up nearly as well as you might have hoped. But with 28 games you have to expect a few to be less than stellar, these titles are easy to avoid as you're scrolling down the list to play something good.
There's no question that with 28 games this is one packed collection, but there are a few noteworthy omissions. It would have been nice to be able to play the three Streets of Rage games, a franchise that Sega has kept in the shadows since the last game was released in 1994. I also would have loved to have seen Sonic 3 or Sonic & Knuckles, a couple of games that have been featured on other Sonic collections. And where's Green Dog, Eternal Champions, and Chakan: The Forever Man? And since we're listing off missing classics, it would have been nice for Sega to give us Treasure's amazing 16-bit entries, such as Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy. I can only hope that these titles (and many more) will be included in a Sega Genesis Collection 2 disc.
Along with faithful emulations of 28 games, the Sega Genesis Collection also features some extra features that are well worth exploring. For example, by achieving certain goals in the various games you can unlock interviews with the people that made the game, a cheat sheet and even trailers for upcoming games (such as Virtua Fighter 5 and Phantasy Star Universe). And that's not all, play enough of the games and you can even unlock full arcades games like Super Zaxxon and Congo Bongo. The amount of extras in this game are staggering, and they do an excellent job of incentivizing you to play through all of the 28 Genesis games in this collection.
The Sega Genesis Collection also has a few interesting technical tricks up its sleeve. For one thing you can save your progress at any time, which is a much needed addition to a lot of these old Genesis games. You are also able to bring a friend in at any time for some fun two-player gaming. Like Capcom's recent PSP collections, you don't have to start your games from the beginning to enjoy a multiplayer experience, just as long as you have your Wifi switch turned on a friend can enter whenever he or she feels like it. Also nice is the ability to change the screen, which allows you to view the game in a number of different ways (stretched, original, etc.).
The Sega Genesis collection doesn't have a lot of new game play ideas or amazing 3D graphics, but you don't need that in a collection of 10+ year old games. What we are given are 28 games that are just as fun to play today as they were before Sony and Microsoft entered the fray. Not every game in this collection is worthwhile, but there's enough here to keep you busy for a long, long time go come. Regardless of whether you're already a fan of this era of gaming or you want to see what everybody was playing before the PlayStation and Nintendo 64, the Sega Genesis Collection is an amazing disc full of memorable games. Outside of adding more games, it's hard to think of anything Sega could have done to make this a better deal. If you're the type of person who wants to pack a lot of games on the go then you can't do much better than the Sega Genesis Collection for the PSP.