In a market saturated with compilation games, the SEGA Genesis Collection stands out as a solid package – and at a budget price to boot.
Compilation games are like most bands’ CD releases, there are a few hits in the offering but the rest is just filler. The SEGA Genesis Collection has more hits with less filler – and it tastes great. It’s an excellent assortment of games from the 80s and 90s all faithfully recreated for the PS2. The games were originally designed for the Genesis system which was the precursor to the excellent but short-lived Dreamcast console (I’m ignoring the Sega CD, 32X and Saturn). These games look, play, sound, feel and taste just like the original versions. There are even a few unlockable arcade games available that were previously unavailable for the home market. Do you want me to spoil the surprise and tell you what they are? You do? Okay, the rest of you move down to the next paragraph if you don’t want to know. This collection includes both the console and arcade version of Altered Beast. I don’t know about you but the arcade version is definitely my favorite.
There are some 30 games in this collection. A full disclosure of all games can be found at the end of this review. There are plenty of unlockables including new games, art and interviews with some of the developers. It’s a comprehensive collection of games with a good mix of genres. Many of the games still stand up today, such as the original Sonic which is an undeniable platforming classic. Other genres include RPG, shooting, fighting, action adventure and puzzles such as Columns – one of numerous Tetris-inspired games.
RPG fans will delight to know that Phantasy Star II, III, and IV are included. Just one of these games can take you a week or two to complete. The Phantasy Star series features maze-like dungeon crawling levels with interplanetary travel and interactive monsters that can turn out to be friend or foe. These are classic RPGs and if you haven’t played them before you’ll notice that not a lot has changed as far as core gameplay is concerned. Golden Axe is a button mashing adventure game that starts out strong with the first version and gets progressively more diluted with each subsequent sequel. You can’t fault SEGA for attempting to recapture the magic of the original but like some bands that try to recreate their hit songs, the results can be painful.
Like Sonic, Ristar is a platformer that features a cutesy-looking star with attitude. He may be a little annoying but the gameplay is anything but. Compelled to save the world of Neer from an evil space pirate, Ristar is the only answer to their prayers. His main gimmick is being able to grab things and hold on to them. By jumping high in the air, Ristar can grab in any of eight directions. He can grab enemies and ultimately destroy them but he can also grab hold of objects to pull himself up to reach higher areas. Another fun platformer is Bonanza Brothers and despite the names of the brothers, Mobo and Robo, this is not a Mario Bros. rip off. The Bonanza Brothers are a pair of burglars. The premise is to enter into a house, bank, casino or art gallery and try to rob the place blind without getting caught. Guards patrol these premises and if you get shot, you drop all your loot and lose a life. This game can also be played co-operatively with a split screen.
The bizarre but hilarious De Cap Attack features Chuck, a headless zombie that has his face transplanted on his chest. By extending his face outward he can attack his enemies. He also has a skull which he can throw which will return to him regardless of what he hits, but if Chuck gets hit, he loses the skull. This side-scrolling adventure takes place on an island shaped like a giant skeleton. When he’s not battling the evil underground army, Chuck will have to collect items for his creator, Frank N Stein. Potions may also be collected as they are source of power-ups.
Some compilation games run into problems with the control system since many of the games featured in these collections are arcade games that may use uniquely shaped control devices such as a rolling ball, large dial or gun. Since the overwhelming majority of these games were designed for the Genesis controller there is no problem adapting them to the PS2’s controller. The games are listed alphabetically and are easy to access via the menu system. Load times are decent and I did not detect any problems with the game mechanics in terms of slowdown, freezing or clipping. If there are any changes made to the graphics or sounds, I didn’t notice. The game supports two-player action as well as progressive scan.
With such faithful recreations of classic SEGA Genesis games, and a few not-so-classic ones, I can finally take my Genesis out of the closet and get some use out of it as a doorstop.