A nice piece of nostalgia for Sega fans
Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is a compilation of 49 first-party games released for the Sega Genesis console in the 1980s and ‘90s. The major selling point, as the title suggests, is that the collection contains emulations of all of the Sonic The Hedgehog games released on the system, including Spinball and 3D Blast.
On top of the must-have Sonic games, the collection also contains almost all of the Sega-developed Genesis titles you could wish for. These include classics like Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Ecco The Dolphin and Vektorman. Your enjoyment of the overall package will be determined purely by personal preferences, for instance, I really don’t enjoy Super Thunder Blade, but I know plenty of people that do. On the other hand the package does a really great job of giving you incentives to play every game on the disk. There is a PSN Trophy to unlock in each game and you can unlock interviews with key developers of the original versions.
Unfortunately, having all of these great first-party classics means that you don’t get any of the fantastic third-party Genesis games, such as Earthworm Jim. Another problem with the choice of games is that 3 of Sega’s truly classic franchises have been overlooked in favour of some much less memorable titles. You won’t find OutRun, Super Hang On or Toejam & Earl in this “ultimate collection.”
The other major issue with the choice of games won’t apply to everybody, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. The vast majority of the games on this collection have already been made available in other ways, so chances are that you own them on current-gen systems already. Many of the titles are available on Xbox Live Arcade, or as part of Sega Genesis Collection for the PSP and PS2, a year-old game that you’ll be able to find in the pre-owned section for much cheaper than this one. There is also a more comprehensive collection of Sonic games available in Sonic Mega Collection +. Of course, if you had a Genesis system back in the day, chances are that you own original cartridges for most of these games in their original form. People who already own the products mentioned above will get a lot less out of owning this collection on top of everything else.
The emulations have been developed by Backbone Entertainment, who has a great reputation in this field thanks to producing huge numbers of arcade and retro console emulations for Xbox Live Arcade. Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is definitely some of their greatest work and is best demonstrated by the consistency of the framerate and animations when playing the games in full-screen HD. There are some strange sound glitches from time to time, but for the most part the only glitches in the games are the same ones that were present in the original versions.
If you’re a big Sega fan you’ll probably react one of two ways to this game. Most fans will love the sense of nostalgia and the chance to replay old favourites in glorious High Definition. It’s also very convenient to be able to play the games without digging your retro console out from the bottom of whatever cupboard you dumped it in 15 years ago. On the other hand, the most hardcore Sega fans out there will probably already have picked these titles up in other collections and emulations which have been available on other systems for some time. The even more insane hardcore fans might even have their Genesis still hooked up to the TV!
If you were more of a Super Nintendo player in the ‘90s, or if you’re a little too young to remember these games and are checking them out for the first time, then you’ll have a great time. However, if you don’t enter into these games open-minded as a Nintendo fan then you’ll probably have the same hate for the games that you had years ago. Young gamers might also have a hard time getting used to the 16-bit graphics if they’ve been brought up on today’s significantly better looking games.
Overall, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is a wonderful exercise in nostalgia and ought to provide a great little museum of retro games for the young gamers of today, who missed out on these games first time around. However, if you’re a hardcore fan who has already downloaded some of these games on XBLA or bought other retro Sega collections in the last few years, be aware that you will find significantly less value-for-money in this package compared to most other players.