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Posted by Jeff
Last week was probably the most action-packed week of Xbox Live Arcade releases since the launch of the Xbox 360... well, at least from a pure numbers perspective. Sega released six different games, each for five bucks, and each is a part of the "Sega Vintage Collection." That's really just a fancy way of saying "we gave Backbone some money and they emulated some more of our old stuff." At first, my reaction to these releases was pretty negative. But I warmed up to the whole idea pretty quickly... even if this isn't the most economical way to play these games.

More Phantasy Stars like this, please!
So, just so we're all clear, here's the full list of what was made available last week:

Though I stand by my argument that Sonic 3 was where the whole series started to go rotten, I'll account for all viewpoints and say that these are, at least, six very memorable Sega releases.

Now, you might remember that Sega released a disc back in February called Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection. This collection retailed for $29.99 and contained close to 50 games... including most of the releases Sega just put out for $5 each on Xbox Live Arcade. Even the two arcade games were in there as unlockables. In fact, the only game that wasn't on that disc is Gunstar Heroes.

So that's the end of the story, right? If you're in the market for these games, go out and buy Ultimate Genesis Collection. Then buy Gunstar Heroes separately to "complete the set," as it were. Well, not quite. There are some differences--minor ones. For starters, each one of the XBLA games comes with a full 200 achievement points. Probably not a big deal--or at least not a big enough deal to make these worth purchasing in bulk. The other catch is that while Sonic's UGC contained all of the Sonic games (including Sonic & Knuckles), you couldn't perform the whole lock-on cartridge thing that let you play as Knuckles in Sonic 3. Sonic & Knuckles is due to come to Xbox Live Arcade in the near future. And when it does, you'll be able to perform that lock-on stuff... provided you've purchased the other Sonic games on Xbox Live Arcade, of course. Again, that's probably not a huge deal, but considering there's really no great technical reason that this stuff couldn't have been included in Ultimate Genesis Collection, I couldn't help but get a little sore.

That said, the five dollars you'll need to pony up per game on the Xbox 360 is cheaper than the eight they're asking over on the Wii Virtual Console. But there's a copy of Phantasy Star II sitting on eBay right now with a going price of 99 cents (OK, yeah, it'll end up going for more than that).

And that's when I sort of unclenched my jaw. It's easy to feel like these releases are double-dipping and sort of insidious. It felt like my childhood was being sold back to me by people who couldn't possibly understand the number of hours I spent playing through Phantasy Star II when it was new. Those are the same people who neglected to put any sort of real manual or map or anything in this Xbox Live Arcade release. And they're clearly bad people.

But ultimately, it's all about customer choice, right? There's just too much back and forth between the different releases to determine which price is the right one. How much, really, is a downloadable version of a 16-bit game really worth? After thinking about it all day, I have absolutely no idea. Five bones seems about right. Heck, if you sat me down in front of an Altered Beast machine, I'd probably put more than five bucks in it just to finish it.

Actually, this is really about me buying all six of those games for achievements, feeling really awful about it, and writing an article about the whole thing to feel somehow justified. But don't be like me. You should probably buy Gunstar Heroes. It's still awesome. And the thought of having Phantasy Star II on a console, and having it a couple of button presses away at all times, is somehow way more inviting than having to go find the disc with the collection of it, and somehow more fulfilling than bootlegging a copy and emulating it on a PC. So I don't feel bad at all about owning that one in as many different formats as possible.
Posted by SmasheControllers

I got all but PS II and AB.

Posted by JJOR64

It's only a good deal if you are looking into the points.

Posted by hellknight8619

i firmly believe comix zone is physically impossible without the invincibility cheat.

Posted by JJWeatherman

I was thinking about getting Phantasy Star II. I don't like the way the menus and such are handled in the emulation though.

Posted by Deathawk

How can you say Sonic 3 is when the series started to go downhill? To me it was the pinnacle of Sonic related goodness.

Posted by Rhaknar

i was going to get Gunstar Heroes at least, just because its fucking Gunstar Heroes, but ive finished that game so many times, and there are so many XBLA games coming out soon that i want (sam and max this week, and the summer of arcade stuff should start soon) that i ended up passing on it. None of the rest interest me tho, as most of them didnt age well in my opinion

Posted by MrChlorophyll

My love for Gunstar Heroes and Comix Zone is unexplainable and unhealthy. But those two being released at the same time makes this the best XBox Live release week ever.

Posted by FLStyle

Sonic 3 and Knuckles was my favourite Sonic experience by a long way.

Posted by RHCPfan24

I played the trial for Gunstar Heroes and, yep, its still Gunstar Heroes! I actually may buy it because I just love the game and achievements are a good draw. The whole move Sega is pulling here doesn't really bother me because I already have the Ultimate Genesis Collection and love the hell out of it. So, Gunstar will probably be the only game I get. $5 is a good deal.

Posted by BradBrains

ill get gunstar prolly maybe sonic 3 for easy achievements and they game still hols up. and like jeff says. so convienant being able to just start up those games at any time. also online

Posted by Ouroboros

They're not all apart of the Sega collection - Gunstar was not apart of the release which would make that a solid buy at 5 dollars.

Posted by galerian

The ability to write for a gaming website is awesome! :)

Posted by NMC2008

I still have my Genesis carts for Phantasy Star 2 and Toejam & Earl, I am hesitant to buy any of these games because I am hearing about the crazy bugs in them and that is unacceptable to me, to have bugs in the digital releases that weren't in the original carts, that's stupid, ah well, more Rock Band songs for me! lol.

Good stuff Jeff, but you don't have to justify anything, do what you want and feel good about it, you want points then dammit buy them games and get yo points! lol.

Posted by m_rum

Sonic 3 + Knuckles together = best 2d platformer ever. Well SMB3 comes close.

Edited by stinky

i have already  paid a couple of hundred to replay these old genesis games, so to me its a fantastic deal.

though a little too late.

PS, phantasy star 2 was the best of the series, though i'd hate not to have the hint book.
Posted by HallwayGiant

My Sonic 3 purchase stems mostly from that fact that:

  1. I had 400 MS Points left over.
  2. It's the only game out of the six I actually have any memories of.
  3. I just don't have the will power to spend $30 on 50 random Genesis games.
Posted by Scarabus

In before Sonic fanboys. Oh shi- too late.

Posted by HatKing

I have some pretty fond memories of Comix Zone.  I thought about throwing the five bucks down when I saw that on there but realized it is probably far worse than I remember, as most game are.

Edited by Demo

Sonic 3 is miles ahead of Sonic 2.

And achievements are rotting the game community.

Posted by sloppyjoe

Oh god, retro games with achievements.  I think we've found the solution to the recession!  lol

Posted by agentboolen

waste of money.  I like classic games but I have always felt like $5 and more is waaaaay to much unless there adding something new to them.  If there the same game I played 15 years ago I could care less.  There just double dipping dumb gamers that think playing the game for achievement points is worth $5.  Anyone that buys all of these games day 1 is out of there freaking mind and should just invest the money into something worth it.  Sure I have bought my share of games over the net, but when your double dipping i'm just walking away. 

Posted by FlamingHobo

I bought Comix Zone and Sonic 3, since I wasn't around at the time that these games were hugely popular.

I played through the original Sonic and Sonic 2 through XBLA and thought I should get Sonic 3 to feel "complete."
Comix Zone has a nostalgia factor to it, I was only small when I played it and even though I couldn't even get past the damn second page, I loved the hell out of it.
Posted by FCKSNAP
@stinky said:
PS, phantasy star 2 was the best of the series, though i'd hate not to have the hint book.
I personally liked IV better, but I guess II had more memorable characters/scenes for everyone.
Posted by Tirrandir

Gunstar Heroes for $5 is a pretty awesome deal.  What are they charging on the Wii?  Six?  I don't remember the going rate for genesis games, but ... achievements.  Woo.  Already have 200/200 on it.  Friday night was a good night.

Posted by SunKing

It is totally nuts. These titles represent pretty bad value for money in my eyes, and so I won't be buying them. The fact is, others will, and so Sega will keep doing what they're doing. I'm not exactly over the moon about it, but what can I do? I'll vote with my wallet in the hope that others do the same.

Edited by m_rum

C'mon it's five bucks for crying out loud. For some of the best games ever made. In my country you can barely get a decent burger from McDonald's with that money.
Posted by HT101
@m_rum said:
" Sonic 3 + Knuckles together = best 2d platformer ever. "
I completely agree.  A friend of mine gave me that collection of Sonic 3, S & K and Sonic 3 and Knuckles for a birthday one year.  Loved it.
Posted by SunKing
@m_rum said:
" @SunKing: C'mon it's five bucks for crying out loud. For some of the best games ever made. In my country you can barely get a decent burger from McDonald's with that money. "
But five bucks relative to what? Compared to the Ultimate Collection the pricing is way off. And it's not like anything's been done to vastly improve these games, either – in terms of updating the graphics or adding bonus features, etc. I'm not saying you can't release a barebones conversion of a game, but it must cost them very very little to do this. It's just feels like a bad deal, for me. If you feel otherwise, though, then you're absolutely more than welcome to buy it.
Posted by TracedVelocity

Once they fix the online in Gunstar Heroes for PSN, I'll be all over it.

Posted by m_rum

I see your point. I personally couldn't care less about most of the games on Ultimate Collection so having S3K accessible straight from my hard drive with achievements is worth the money. And it my Mega Drive isn't working anyways. :(

So I probably wont be feeling that guilty when I'm bending over for Sega sometime soon.
Posted by TripMasterMunky

Whew. I thought I was gonna have to lay the smackdown on Jeff for down-talking Turtles in Time again after reading the headline.

Posted by AgentJ

Considering these games are being sold for a small fraction of the original asking price, i frankly have no qualms with them charging 5 bucks for each. Doesnt mean i'll buy them all right away (not all that rich) but acting like they should be much cheaper seems a little cheap to me. 

Posted by Razz17


Posted by Origina1Penguin

I actually was pissed that I couldn't do the Sonic & Knuckles crossover thing with the Ultimate Genesis Collection.

Posted by Death_Burnout

It is about choice, and you made a bad one!

But then i'd totally pay for Comix Zone again. But, when i have it on my Ultimate MegaDrive Collection, Why bother? i aint doing that for points.

I do think the whole Sonic & Knuckes lock on thing is a little annoying in this situation, but i still prefer Sonic & Knuckles seperately...fond memories.

Posted by Video_Game_King

You dare insult Sonic 3? You have made a very powerful enemy. *taps crown a bit*

People don't really read manuals (come on), but I can see where your complaint comes from. I've played games that required I read the manual, and I'M THE KING. Imagine what it'd be like for my aunt or whatever.

Posted by TekZero

Still no Shadowrun.

Posted by StarFoxA

Yeah, I picked up Gunstar Heroes and finished it last night. Love that game.

Posted by LeadNinja

I'd offer you about a pound for Ristar or Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but I'd give you a lot more to travel back in time to when those games were new.

Posted by Terra1909

I want Phantasy Star IV--the best of the series, and one of my favorite RPGs of all time.

Edited by TwoOneFive

SONIC 3 Kicked ass Jeff! 

That game is a lot of fun!!
And it had awesome music!!
Posted by zityz

Gunstar heros I already got off the VC long while back and I find it wierd with the whole "no lock on" idea because they had that option last gen with Sonic Ultimate collection 1 with those 7 sonic games.

Also I hope either XBLA or VC releases Phantasy star III, I dunno if they have, but man that was a good game back in the day.

Posted by Magnus_Bulla

I feel like no matter how many times they re-release Gunstar Heroes I'll buy it every time, just because it's goddamn Gunstar Heroes.

Posted by Godzilla_Sushi

All this time the only Genesis game that was a must have I never played was Gunstar Heroes. It was so hard to come by for so long. Now that it is out on the service, I picked it up and enjoyed it quite a bit. At the time it came out, I could definitely imagine freaking out.


Posted by musdy

I'll probably pick up Gunstar Heroes.

Posted by FalcomAdol

I've already got UGC, and I'll probably wait to see if there is a UGC2 before I buy Gunstar Heroes (which I know is a classic, but I've not played it yet, so I can wait a while longer).  I've bought Sonic 1 and 2 on XBLA previously, so if Sonic & Knuckles does come out with lock-on (and Jeff says it, so it must be true), then I'll buy both of those, because Sonic 3 & Knuckles is clearly the best Sonic game ever.

Posted by vidiot

I picked up Comix Zone and Phantasy Star II, but yeah, I did have the thoughts of why don't I just purchase the big collection set.

The problem is that I already bought both Sonic and Sonic 2 on XBLA. That, and I really don't feel like buying a big collection of games, that most I won't play. I wanted to play both Comix Zone and Phantasy Star II specifically. The added achievements for both of these games will give me greater incentive on actually completeing them.

Posted by whatisdelicious


That is all.
Posted by LordelX

Sonic 3 was were the series started to turn bad. But $5.00 for Gunstar Heroes isn't all that bad. I mean, what really is the difference between that and paying $10 for Megaman 9? I know Megaman 9 is a new game, but isn't it technically less proficient than Gunstar Heroes? Anyway, don't get me wrong. I love both games and am happy I have the opprotunity to play them so easily for such a low price. In fact, I would have paid $60 for Megaman 9.

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