Review: Sega Genesis Collection (PS2)

Sega Genesis Collection
Publisher: Sega
Developer: Sega
Release Date: 11/8/2006
Genre: Retro Compilation

The Sega Genesis is in my top three systems of all time, along with the Sega Saturn and the Neo Geo Pocket Colour. I spent so many hours on that thing. Sonic, three different Shining games, Streets of Rage, Eternal Champions, Mutant League Football, Joe Montana Football, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Lakers vs. Celtics and the NBA Playoffs, Shadowrun, Street Fighter games with a six button pad. I can keep going and going. The Genesis was my 16 bit system of choice, followed by the Turbo-Grafx and finally the SNES. Like it or not Nintendo apologists, software and hardware sales show the Genesis dominated most of the 16 Bit wars. The SNES had first party NES games, Final Fantasy, and that’s about it. Meanwhile the Genesis was the system of choice for RPG’s, Fighting Games, Strategy Games, Shooters and more. For nearly a decade, Sega really did do what Nintendon’t.

The problem is this was Sega’s peak. The 32X, the Sega-CD, the Sega Saturn and the Sega Dreamcast. All were systems that I loved, but they were commercial failures. And Sega has constantly milked the Genesis era as much as they can. I’ve lost track of how many Genesis compilations there have been over the years. I’ve seen Golden Axe, Kid Chameleon, Flicky, Sonic, and so many others re-released on everything from the Dreamcast to the GBA. Although everyone was quite happy to get a nice 16 Bit compilations, the complaints were always the same. Where’s Shining Force 2? The first one was released on the Smash Pack and that’s it. Where’s Streets of Rage? Where’s Eternal Champions? Where’s Toe Jan and Earl? Where’s the Phantasy Star Games?

Then, lo and behold, we were told of the Sega Genesis Collection for the PS2. We were told it would have Streets of Rage, Eternal Champions, and other games people really had been begging Sega to include in a compilation. No one was surprised that the Shining Games weren’t included as the reborn Sammy-Sega seems to want to bury these games and never mention them again except to create amazingly subpar games using the brand name. This annoyed fans, but who cares! Phantasy Star IV! Then they got rid of the Streets of Rage games for Comix Zone, Flicky and a 2D version of Virtua Fighter 2 that was considered the worst in the series. Again, more resentment from the fans. Finally, without any reason, Sega pulled Eternal Champions, which was up there with Phantasy Star 4 as the most wanted game on the collection, and they replaced it with Kid Chameleon. Like many others, I saw red here and I found myself looking at only half a dozen titles on this compilation I really wanted.

So that’s really the question here. 28 games for $19.99 is indubitably a great deal, especially as some of us would happily pay that for just the PS games and Sword of Vermillion. But how good is the compilation? Has Sega’s bait and switch tactics since the first mention of this title taken down the quality of this compilation a few notches, or does the collection still manage to shine?

Let’s Review

1. Titles

As there are 28 games here, I’m going to list each title and give it a yay or a boo.

1. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle. Alex Kidd is a must have for this collection. He was Sega’s mascot before Sonic. I have to admit though, this is probably my least favorite of the AK games as the Sega Master System games were more fun, but this was Kidd’s last hurrah and it deserves to be here. 1 for 1

2. Altered Beast. I remember in the before Sonic days, this game was packaged with the Genesis. It was graphically amazing for its day and was pretty freaky for little kids. The various were-animals you could become were fabulous and “RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!” is still part of the video game lexicon. This is one of the titles I’m glad survived to be on the final compilation 2 for 2.

3. Bonanza Bros. Stealing and petty larceny is fun! That’s the theme of this game. It was cute when I was 13, but it really hasn’t aged well in my opinion. A very repetitive and blase platformer We have this instead of oh say, Space Harrier II? Boo to that. 2 for 3.

4. Columns. This is one of those games I was talking about that has been re-released so many times it loses any WOW factor with me. It’s as if it has never been out of print. Still, it’s one of the best puzzle games ever made and a true Sega Classic. I can understand why this was put on here and it’s a definite classic. 3 for 4.

5. Comix Zone. Ugh. Someone PLEASE explain to me why Sega keeps putting this title on compilations. It was considered mediocre to above average at best back in the mid 1990’s and a decade later, it hasn’t improved with age. Another blah platformer. 3 for 5.

6. Decap Attack. Another game that was considered a slightly above platformer when it originally came out in 1991, it still manages to be merely average even here. A lot of better games could have been included on this collection instead of this. Trust me, this game will get played more than a lot of the platformers on here, but that’s not saying much. 3 for 6.

7. Ecco the Dolphin. Sweet Jesus, it’s Ecco! This is one of the most original and innovative titles of all time! If you’ve never played it, you need to buy this comp just to finally get the chance. It’s amazing and this was again one of the big MUST BUY games on this collection. 4 for 7.

8. Ecco 2: The Tides of Time. Another great game. I originally owned this only on the Sega CD, but it was still an amazing game. Ecco: ToT is still better than a lot of the Action/Platformer games that are released today. Another winner. 5 for 8.

9. Ecco Jr. Cute version of the Ecco games designed for kids. Although it’s not as good as the first two or Ecco CD, it’s still a cute romp. 6 for 9.

10. Flicky Okay, the amount of people that have EVER said “OMG! SWEET! FLICKY!” corresponds with the amount of people who enjoy eating their own fecal waste. This game is neither fun nor interesting and it did very poorly in the US back in 1991. Why would Sega keep releasing it? Oh, because god forbid anyone would prefer oh say, Rent-a-Hero. 6 for 10.

11. Gain Ground. Must own game #3 right here. Gain Ground is one of the best shooters ever. You run around collecting new playable characters, each with their own unique attacks. It is addicting and easily one of the best games ever released on the Genesis. 7 for 11.

12. Golden Axe My God Sega, stop putting this title on nearly everything you release! You’re making me hate the game by shoving it down everyone’s throat for the past 17 years. That being said it is a classic beat ’em up and I do love those little Dino creatures. The problem is that this really isn’t a Sega Genesis title. It’s a Sega MASTER SYSTEM title that Sega ported to the Genesis just like they’ve been porting it on to every system since. Classic game, but I have to give it a boo simply because it would be like having a Sega CD or 32X game on here even though those technically used the Genesis as well. 7 for 12.

13. Golden Axe II Golden Axe II is a quality sequel, but there’s almost nothing about the game that separates it from the original. It plays exactly the same and you even have the same characters. It’s enjoyable for what it is, but it’s too close of a carbon copy of the original for me to give it a thumbs up. 7 for 13.

14. Golden Axe III. Add two new characters and change some gameplay aspects, and GA3 is the sequel GA2 should have been. There’s a lot of new moves and combos you can do. You can also pick your path ala Dungeon and Dragons Arcade and there are different endings. Definitely the best of the series. 8 for 14.

15. Kid Chameleon. This is a good platformer and a lot of people consider it really hard, but I find it pretty average in terms of platformer difficulty. And I hate platformers. HOWEVER, as they forced this game in and got rid of Eternal Champions for it, AUTOMATIC BOO. 8 for 15.

16. Phantasy Star 2. One of the darkest RPG’s of all time, this game is still emulated by damn near every RPG maker in the past two decades. The ending is still a holy crap moment to all who play it, and the big emotional climactic moment from FFVII was plagiarized from this game and was really a third rate version of poor little Nei. This is the fourth OMG YOU NEED THIS game on the compilation. One of the greatest RPG’s ever made. 9 for 16.

17. Phantasy Star III This is considered the black sheep of the PS series, but it’s actually a pretty good title. It looks and feels more like Sword of Vermillion than the previous PS games, but there’s some great story moments here and it’s the first major release where characters have sex and pop out babies. 10 for 17.

18. Phantasy Star IV. Again, this is considered to be one of the greatest RPG’s ever made. There is no excuse for you not to play through this game now that it has FINALLY been re-released. Most people who have even HEARD of this game would happily pay 19.99 for PS4 all by itself. The game got 70-80 bucks when it was first released, so shut your whining about the five to ten dollar increase for your Xbox 360 games. It’s Phantasy Star IV people and it had the same effect on 16 bit gamers that FF7 had on 32 bit gamers. PS4 however still stands up where more and more people are going ew to Cloud Strife. 11 for 18.

19. Ristar. This game is considered one of the best platformers ever. To be honest, I never played it when it first came out. In 1995 I believe I was playing a lot of Sega CD. This is a cute game but to be honest, I don’t see it deserving the massive amount of fan worship it has. It’s a good platformer, but not great. 11 for 19.

20. Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shnobi. The Shinobi game everyone loves because he has a dog. Actually, I’m shocked they didn’t put Revenge of Shnobi on this compilation. Still, Shadow Dancer is a great side scrolling kill things game. I have to admit I prefer Ryu Hayabusa over Joe Mushashi though. Secret was a big hit when it first came out, and it may have lost some luster over the years, but it’s still a game that needed to be on here in order to highlight the best of the Genesis games. 12 for 20.

21. Shinobi III. Another very enjoyable game. There’s a definite divide amongst fans as to whether or not Shadow Dancer or S3 is the best in the series, but the fact remains all of the games are well done. Another thumbs up here. 13 for 21.

22. Sonic the Hedgehog. I’m not a platformer fan, but this is a game you can’t help but love. The first two Sonics were works of art and Sonic quickly became the main event character for Sega after this game was released. 14 for 22.

23. Sonic the Hedgehog 2. My personal favorite Sonic game. I really liked the world designs and tails was a great addition. Another winner here. 15 for 23.

24. Super Thunder Blade. One of the very first Genesis games. I’d have rather had Space Harrier II, but this is still a fun little retro shooter. Blowing stuff up rules. 16 for 24.

25. Sword of Vermilion. One of my favorite RPG’s of all time. Sword had a great plot and FOUR different play modes. You had overhead perspective town wanderings, first person dungeon crawling, action RPG normal battles, and side scrolling boss battles. This game is simply amazing and I am ecstatic it is on this collection. Sword of Vermilion may not be remembered so much these days, but in 1990 it created a minor “hey, RPG’s are neat” phase for gamers. My sixth and final must have on this collection. 17 for 25.

26. Vectorman This was a very popular game towards the end of the Genesis’ life span. It’s actually a very fun and original platformer that offered some very unique gameplay. 18 for 26.

27. Vectorman 2. I don’t know why, but I really disliked Vectorman 2. It was probably because it was too damn similar to the original for me. We all know I need innovation in my sequels and it just wasn’t here. Another title that didn’t need to be on here. 18 for 27.

28. Virtua Fighter 2. The REAL Virtua Fighter 2 on the Sega Saturn is great. This is a pile of horse manure and I’ve yet to find anyone that doesn’t loathe this game. The only reason I can fathom Sega putting it on here was so they could put Akira on the cover and sucker people into thinking this is the good version. It is not. This is a truly awful fighter and the fact this is on here instead of Eternal Champions makes me ill. 18 for 28.

18 for 28. The good to bad ration is 64.2% or 6.5 in IP terms. An above average compilation that could have been a lot better. Here’s just a list of titles that should have been on here rather than a half dozen pieces of bleck that made it:

Eternal Champions, Rent a Hero, Space Harrier 2, Last Battle, Herzog Zwei, Mystic Defender, Forgotten Worlds, Truxton, Sorcearian, Shining in the Darkness, Shining Force, Shining Force 2, Valis 3, Wrestle War, Streets of Rage, SoR 2, SoR3, Toe Jam and Earl, Toe Jam and Earl 2, Alisa Dragoon, Gunstar Heroes (Sega published it), Shadowrun (ditto), Revenge of Shinobi, Warriors of the Eternal Sun, and it would have been nice to have an old Sega sports game as a comparison to modern games. I highly doubt there will be a Sega Genesis Collection 2, which sucks, as that’s two dozen games right there that need to be re-released.

I’m going to be nice and kick up the score to a 7 because Phantasy Star 2, PS4, Sword of Vermillion and Gain Ground are that fantastic. This is a good collection, but it could have been so much better.

Games Rating: 7/10

2. Graphics

It’s really not fair to rate this compilation by PS2 standards as it’s two generations behind. Some of these games like PS3 and Ecco still look great by today’s standards. Others, like Virtua Fighter 2 and Flicky still look like ass even as they did int he days of yore. Overall though, these games are a great selection of what 16 bit gaming looked like. Altered Beast still has some pretty nice cut scenes for when you become a werecreature.

In all, the games look good for the most part and even newer or more modern gamers should be happy with the visuals of some, if not most of these games.

Graphics Rating: 7/10

3. Sound

Like all compilations, this is a mixed bag. I’d be lying if I said i didn’t get goosebumps when the opening to Phantasy Star IV game on and that familar music played. Same with Sword of Vermilion. The Sonic games have great music as well. Some games of course have pretty awful music. This was the age of MIDI’s after all. It’s a mixed bag. There’s no voice acting either unless you want to count Altered Beast, and for its day, this was pretty stellar from Pluto’s laugher to Zeus’ aforementioned line of awesomeness.

Overall, it’s a decent collection of music and all the tracks work for the games. Some are timeless classic, while others are forgettable but still enjoyable.

Sound Rating: 6/10

4. Control and Gameplay

Maybe it’s just because my mind and hands instinctively went for the three button and/or six button lay out of the joystick, but I found that the PS2 joystick just doesn’t cut it for some games. I found the button positioning awkward for games like Altered Beast and the Ecco games. I put AB in my Genesis and played it with the six button joystick and found a definite difference in terms of control as well as controller response. Yes, the Genesis controller was better. I will chalk this up just to the different in button layout and the fact I’ve been playing Altered Beast with the horizontal button layout instead of a diamond layout for a decade. I also really didn’t like the layout of Virtua Fighter 2, as it uses the shoulder pads and I’ve always felt the PS joysticks are massively inferior for fighting games. But I plugged in my big honking Street Fighter anniversary stick and it worked great.

Comix Zone really suffers the most and it highlights just why the old Sega six button bad was superior in layout and control to the PSX style joysticks. It’s really annoying to play this game on the Dual Shock, and one has to wonder why they included it as it’s obvious from the button arrangement that the emulators were just as annoyed with the Sony button layout as gamers are inevitably going to be.

The rest of the games work just fine with the Sony pad. The RPG’s are the best of the lot, but they’re all turn based for the most part. Most of the action games work just great, and if you ever wondered why older gamers talk about how much better the control aspect of gaming was before 3-D and those awful camera angles so many seem to have, the SGC is a great example of gaming done right. Even games I don’t like in this collection have excellent controls and decent gameplay. There’re only a few obvious problems I found in the conversion and that’s mainly just that long time gamers will have to adjust their mindset from the superior Sega style joysticks and bring themselves to the present with the weirdness of the Sony Dual Shock.

Control and Gameplay: 7/10

5. Replyability

You have 28 classic games along with 5 unlockables including the Arcade version of Altered Beast which is a wonderful treat! It would take you months to play through all these games, and at $20, it’s a better buy than a lot of the games coming out at the tail end of this generation of gaming. If you only buy a few games a year, you might as well snag this for some awesome retrogaming and the variety on the disc.

Replayability Rating: 10/10

6. Balance

There’s a decent mix of all genres on here, although I would have like more shooters than just Thunder Blade. No matter what your preferred genre is, there a lot of quality here. A lot of the games are tough, but not impossible. PS4 is probably the hardest game out of the set and there you can always just level up repeatedly and come back to beat things dead.

The great thing about the 16 bit era is that games really were accessible to all ages. Games had a decent learning curve so that all ages had a bit of a challenge. It didn’t matter if you were 6 or 66, it was possible for you to beat Sonic, and you could be proud of your accomplishment.

Now, if Eternal Champions was on here I’d have to include a rant about the fact Dark Water admitted they made it so the CPU characters could cheat by having an unlimited special gauge and that the game was crazy hard anyway. God I love that game.

Balance Rating: 8/10

7. Originality

Let’s see, we have the first ever 16 bit RPG, we have the most emulated RPG of all time as well as the original Sonic and Ecco. These are games that defined innovation and originality. At the same time there are a ton of sequels on here, and some of those sequels like Golden Axe 2 are so cookie cutter that it’s painful. Ten of the games on here are sequels to previous titles. That’s over a third and a bit disappointing as again, they had a lot of first run titles that were high quality not included on here.

It’s amazing how much gaming evolved in the 16 and 32 bit eras and how so much of today’s modern games are still emulating what we did in the past to the point where you really have to respect the older game designers for their designs and imagination. Either that or scorn today’s for being copycats with better graphics.

Originality Rating: 7/10

8. Addictiveness

Simple controls, yet amazing gameplay, sound and visuals that were geared to hook gamers and keep them in front of their console for hours on end. That was 16 Bit Sega. There is so much quality here, especially in the RPG’s and columns that it’ll be hard to put your joystick down. I dare anyone to play through gain ground without hitting continue at least once. Get 2 players doing Golden Axe III on co-op and you’ve just lost yourselves a couple hours of productivity. Sonic 2’s vs. mode is equally compelling and enjoyable.

These games are designed to be fun first and eye candy second. The marketing was “You will have fun with these games,” not, “BOOBIES N BLOOD!.” The only people that won’t be hooked by these titles are graphics whores, and I say let them have their CGI, because I like to play games, not sit through 20 minute cut scenes.

Addictiveness Rating: 7/10

9. Appeal Factor

It boggles my mind that anyone could not fall in love with several of the games on this compilation, but there’s always the graphics whores, the people who don’t want kiddie games as they’ll call Sonic or Ecco, and Alex Kidd. At the same time the hardcore Eternal Champions and Street of Rage fans will no doubt be pissed off by these games being excluded from the compilation. Still, the vast majority of gamers need to own this so they can remember the golden years of gaming. The three way dance between NEC, Nintendo, and Sega was greatness as the games had a higher rate of quality and the infighting between fans was respectful and often tongue in cheek. There was no “STFU SONY FAN BOY! XBOX RULZ!” as there is today. You could stick me and my Sega collection with a Nintendo zealot and a fan of Bonk and Splatterhouse and instead of dickery, you’d see everyone actually discussing and enjoying games rather than assuming that one system is better than another simply because you own it. Good times for all.

Appeal Factor: 8/10

10. Miscellaneous

There’s those five unlockable games I mentioned earlier, although only Altered Beast Arcade is worth playing. There’s also a ton of interviews and extras to unlock which is enjoyable for fans who are curious about the developer mindset.
This is a very good collection, but it’s also indicative of the current Sega business outlook. Instead of being greatness, which it easily could have been, Sega made some dubious choices as what to put into this collection and thus it misses out on being the best compilation of this generation of gaming. Instead it’s not even the best compilation this year, with Street Fighter Alpha Anthology edging this one out as ALL the games on that are amazing, where this had what, a 64% quality ratio. That’s not to say this collection isn’t a must buy. It’s just missing some of the best Sega had to offer and instead including some B and even C level titles.

Make a second collection Sega. Either that or give us a Sega CD or more importantly, a Sega Saturn collection containing all three Panzer Dragoons and all three Shining Force 3 variants. Oh, and Dragon Force. DO IT NOW!

Miscellaneous Rating: 8/10

The Scores
Story: 7/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 6/10
Control & Gameplay: 7/10
Replayability: 10/10
Balance: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Addictiveness: 7/10
Appeal Factor: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 8/10
Total Score 75/100
Final Score:7.5 ( VERY Good)

Short Attention Span Summary
Retrogamers, track this down. it’s a nice piece of history from when Sega had the most popular console of its day. Unlike now when they have well…none. Take in the greatness of so many of these games, and ignore the ones you wish had stayed buried. It’s nice to be reminded of when Sega was at its best. Let’s just hope they’ll get back up there again some day. SEGA!