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Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection Review

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For what Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection lacks in quality, it at least partially makes up for by its sheer quantity of emulated games.

Yep, Shinobi III is up in there. The infinite health and shuriken codes still work.
With individual emulations of old arcade and console games being served up on a somewhat regular basis via the digital distribution networks of each console, you might think that the collections and compilations that we saw during the last console generation would be obsolete. Why sell a pack of 30 or 40 games for $29.99 when you can sell one game for five bucks? On that note, it's kind of cool to see a big collection of 16-bit Sega games, with a handful of other arcade versions and interviews thrown in for good measure. If you're way into old Genesis games and don't currently have any other way to play them, this "ultimate" collection is a pretty solid choice.

But it's not just any "ultimate collection." This is Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, a particularly awful name because it makes you think this is a collection of Sonic the Hedgehog games. It isn't. In fact, despite the inclusion of Sonic & Knuckles along with the previous Sonic games, you can't use the "lock-on" feature that allowed Genesis owners to play as Knuckles in Sonic 3 or Sonic 2. Instead, this is a collection of Sega-published Genesis games with an "extras" section that has some unlockable games from arcades or the Sega Master System.

There are just under 50 games in all and they cover a good, wide set of genres. The classic action stuff is well-represented by a slew of Sonic the Hedgehog games, the complete Streets of Rage trilogy, four Golden Axe games, a few Shinobi games, and a couple of VectorMan games. You'll also find some role-playing and strategy, with four Phantasy Star games and three games from the Shining series. The emulation on the Genesis games is fine, and by default Ultimate Genesis Collection shows you the games in their original 4:3 format, drawing a themed background that will fill the rest of your screen. If you're the type of dope who likes to stretch things out, you can easily ruin the way the games look by making them take up the entire screen. You can also ugly things up with a smoothing filter that is also off by default. With these few, bad options available and the main focus of the collection being its ability to emulate games from 1989-1996, the back-of-box copy that states it has "ENHANCED HD GRAPHICS" is completely stupid and absolutely misleading.

So did Sonic pick these games himself or what? Does he hate Sub-Terrania or something?
The emulation on the arcade games is a bit spotty. The most notable issue is Space Harrier, which plays well enough but has numerous audio issues that make it sound completely different from the way the original game sounds. Considering how great the sound was in the original--and how long Space Harrier has been emulated just fine in other open-source projects--this just makes the whole thing feel a little lazy. Also, there are enough multiplayer games in this pack that the lack of online functionality is a noticeable omission.

You'll find a few extras on the disc, including a few video interviews with people who worked on the original games. So if you're interested in hearing Japanese Sega employees wax nostalgic about the development of Ristar or about... the development of Phantasy Star Universe? Yeah, that doesn't really fit.

For me, Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection had me at Fatal Labyrinth. This sort-of-crappy dungeon crawler was one of my favorites back when it was new, and for whatever reason, I still enjoy it today. Chances are, if you played a lot of Genesis games, there's at least one game in this collection that you feel this way about, and at least one missing game that will seem like a horrible, glaring omission. Either way, it's hard to argue with its relatively cheap price, and 49 games for $30 is a pretty good deal... even if the Space Harrier audio is totally jacked.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
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Posted by Badam

I kind of want to get this game.

Posted by Tirrandir

I actually have really enjoyed this, mostly because I skipped the other Sonic collections and kind of regretted it.  Considering that a ton of these games are being price gouged on Wii VC, I like paying $30 for a bunch of games I missed by backing Nintendo back in the day.  Also, it's a solid and easy bunch of achievements.

Just my two cents. 

Posted by ahoodedfigure

I have a weakspot for these assembled game collections.  Makes me feel better about losing track of where all my old carts were.  With all the Phantasy Star games I'd pretty much be set.  Except when I fell down a pit trap in the first one, then I'd sorta give up.

Streets of Rage, Golden Axe...  yes. 

Funny that Fatal Labyrinth still holds up.  Could you beat that game, or do you never get anywhere?  Nethack...

Posted by ReyGitano

Only makes me want to go out and buy a genesis

Posted by Sinars

I'm only buying this for the limited edition record you get so that I can flog it off on eBay.

Posted by AsKo25

The games look fine when you format them for widescreen.

Posted by DragoonKain1687

Im still buying it. Despite the fact that you can emulate them for nothing in the PC.

Posted by killawogg

i picked it up for the 360 and i  really dig it , i like the playing the old school games from a gamerscore point of view... kinda neat to do something new with old retro games

Posted by DavidSnakes

LOL!!! @ Gnat

Posted by thiago

I think the "Enhanced HD Quality" means that the games will look better on HDTVs than a normal Genesis would. I have heard that the image quality of the Genesis when plugged onto an HDTV is not good. Keep in mind that those games were built to run on an standard tube TV.

I will play this in 4:3, the way it should be. I only hope this is pixel perfect, because I want to see the same pixels I used to see when I played those games in low-res TV.

Posted by JJOR64

I think I will still get this game.  It's only $30.

Posted by RHCPfan24

Well, for $30, I recommend this game hands down. I just got this the other day and have been loving it. It also has easy achievements! I would give this 4, maybe even 5, stars just due to the amount of time that can be put into this game, but I guess Jeff disagrees a bit. Hopefully my opinion will give you a better idea of this game. Just buy it. It is really good.

Posted by LAMP

Sub-Terrania hates you, not the other way around.

Also: FATAL LABRYNTH
Posted by MKO619

i go genesis collection on ps2 but with sonic 3 being in this version i might just have to fork up the 30 bucks

Posted by spiceninja

$30 for most of my favorite Genesis games and 3 Phanasy Star games is a great deal to me. I also get achievements for it. I'm so getting this.

Posted by Googly

I like this collection for the most part, but I would be truly "ultimate" if it had Strider, Gunstar Heroes and Toe Jam & Earl.

Posted by Irishjohn

I think I have to get this.  I miss the Mega Drive.  Yeah.  Mega Drive.  You heard me.

Posted by hyperslug

If this had been on psn i would have got it...

Posted by Stevokenevo

think i'll get this.  Alot better than buying them all individually on the VC on the wii.  Theres also a good few games in the list i havent played and would like to, and being from england it wont be called sonic's.  Which is great.

Posted by JQuizzle

More video reviews would be nice, but idk this game sounds some what fun!

Posted by Treppass

mega drive mega drive

im british toooooo

weeeeeeeeeeee

Posted by lolwot

I kinda disagree about this collection being low in quantity. 50 Sega Genesis games for $30 is a great deal now that the "Virtual Console" has set a precedent for selling such games for $8 each.

Posted by Death_Burnout

Well Shinobi III is in it so that's a win.

But i prefer my Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, a name we can all agree is better, and less misleading.

Posted by Abomstar

If anyone's on the fence about this that hasn't yet played Dynamite Headdy, definitely pick it up.

Posted by Jack_Daniels

Ill get it down the road when I can buy it used for around 10 dollars. I just can't see myself investing that kinda time in old school games anymore.

Posted by YukoAsho

Remember, these are emulated games, not reworked ports like what you see on XBLA, which are designed mainly for online play.  Reworking them all for online play would cost too much, and the alternative - Kaillera-style jury-rigging - would SUCK.

Lolwut - Indeed.  Also, while the arcade Space Harrier is kind of whaked auto-wise, the Genesis and Master System games are SPOT-ON.

thiago - Hell, they look better than they did on SD TVs back in the day.  The Genesis was HELLA grainy, especially when looked at side-to-side versus the SNES.  Even with the filter off, it's clear Sega was using Bilinear filtering at the least (The turned-on filter is clearly 2xSai, which is shit).

Posted by zoozilla

I just picked this up today.  Nobody can argue that this isn't a great deal, especially with the prices of old games on XBL or Virtual Console stupidly high.

Posted by Elk

So you can't play Sonic 3 and Knuckles? Wow, that alone would drop it from four stars to three

Posted by REMOVE_NOZZLE

You can't really beat 49 games for $30 either way you slice it

Posted by virtorio

I wish it has Sonic CD, I've never actually managed to play that game.

Posted by YukoAsho

Elk - Now see, THAT criticism I can agree with.  There's simply no excuse for that.

Posted by punkxblaze

I'll stick with PC emulation, where you can stretch your games to ugly town and put on crappy smoothing filters for free.

Posted by AnthraX

I love this collection! It might be missing some key titles like GUNSTAR HEROES( WTF SEGA), but for the most part I have a retro stiffy  going on. I was one hell of a Sega fan back then. I wish Sega would come back in to the console wars, but I know that ain't happening...Oh wait I'm starting to rant about the Sega from my youth....The Dreamcast.....Genesis..... Master system....Game Gear....OK I'll quit now. I love this collection. I'm going to go cover my head and cry about  the Sega of old!!!

Posted by Kohe321

Hmm I might pick this up.

Posted by CodeTherion

Quite the collection, though I agree that stretched out "HD" graphics are  stupid. Besides with 3 original Phantasy star games the length is going to extend quite a bit.

Posted by Tebbit

It's not just Mega Drive to the Brits, fellas. New Zealand too! And everywhere else but America, I believe. Why they felt the need to tag Sonic to the American title of this game is beyond me. What, are people gonna be thinking - "This Ultimate collection of Genesis games may NOT have a Sonic the Hedgehog game in it!? OH NOOOOOES!!!"

Posted by MjHealy

The lack of Strider makes me sad.

Posted by joshuah82

Man, if this were $10 cheaper I'd definitely impulse buy this.

Posted by TekZero

The lack of Shadowrun makes me cry.  Even though I totally didn't expect it to be on here.

Posted by ec10condemned

Having a Sega collection of their 'best' games seems kind of pointless to me since they didn't include Gunstar Heroes. What's the deal sega?!

Edited by DukeTogo

The original Phantasy Star is unlockable, but it requires you to play a level of Sonic in 2-player mode, that's BULLSHIT!

I paid for all of the games, don't make me have to track someone down to unlock some of them.  In-game achievements are fine for unlocking stuff, but don't put stupid restrictions on them that require something outside you and the game. 

I stopped my gold account a year ago, and I'm a fucking hermit with no friends, don't make my existence any more pathetic by slapping some circle-jerk requirement to unlock something I count as part of the purchase price.

It is the only game that requires a 2nd player to unlock, which is ironic since it's a single player RPG.  If you HAD to use this stupid method to unlock a game, at least make it a 2 player game so the other person can then partake in it.

Posted by Phange

I find it insulting in the highest degree that a basically emulated rendition of Chrono Trigger sold for $40 on DS can get perfect scores or 9's on nearly every website, yet Phantasy Star IV, which is arguably on par (if not better) with Chrono Trigger can't save this 50-game compilation (for thirty dollars!) from a 60%.

I'm sorry Jeff, but that's just bald-faced hypocrisy. Phantasy Star IV is one of the finest RPG's ever made. Shining Force II is arguably THE best 16-bit SRPG, Streets of Rage II -IS- the best brawler ever made, and to top it all off SEGA included the Treasure cult classic Dynamite Headdy.

For thirty dollars, this isn't some chump collection. I'd pay fifty dollars for simply PSIV, Shining Force II, Streets of Rage II, and Dynamite Headdy.

 

 

Posted by thiago

YukoAsho: The Genesis was never grainy.

Posted by JonathanMoore

Eh, I have a Genesis anyway so I guess I could just go out to a flea market and pick these up, plus I have a lot of these.

-- God Bless.

Posted by Kyle

"Eh, I have a Genesis anyway so I guess I could just go out to a flea market and pick these up"

Um.... what?? Are you talking about real life or your dreams? Cause if it's in your dreams, then I understand.

Posted by Kyle

"I'm sorry Jeff, but that's just bald-faced hypocrisy. Phantasy Star IV is one of the finest RPG's ever made"

But Jeff didn't even review Chrono Trigger DS....

Posted by Media_Master

sounds good for people of that age, as for me, I like to stick with whats new !

Posted by Nick8708

I'll probably pick this up once I have a functioning 360 again.  Shinobi III is one of my favorites of all time.  Plus the Sonics will be fun.  $30 for just those games would be a fair price as far as I'm concerned.  Myself and all of my friends are old enough to have played most of these games as kids, so it'll be fun to have a retro game night every once in a while.  Plus there's going to be a lot on there I'm not familiar with so that'll be cool as well.

Posted by Lind_L_Taylor

Not sure why anyone would pay $30 because it has easy achievements. Just rent it, get the achievements, & move on.   With all of the monolithic games out these days, I can't find time for small games such as these. I might pick it up when it hits the bargain bin & I've nothing better to do.

Edited by headcase

Wow, that's pretty good value. But I already bought a couple of these on the VC and have a lot more of them from Sonic Mega Collection, so it'd be kinda wasted on me.


If you're wondering if you should pick this up and you've never played Dynamite Headdy, that's your tie-breaker; go get it.

@ Lind_L_Laylor "Not sure why anyone would pay $30 because it has easy achievements. Just rent it, get the achievements, & move on"

You rent a game just to get acheivement points?

And what's up with the jump from "I can't find time for small games such as these" to "Not sure why anyone would pay $30"?

Edit: Jeff, if Sega owns Sub-Terrania, I'm with you. Fine game. Maybe it'll show up in Sonic Mega-Ultimate-this-is-totally-the-last-one-until-the-next-one Collection.
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