Review: Sega Genesis Collection (Sony PSP)


Sega Genesis Collection
Publisher: Sega
Genre: Classics Collection
Release Date: 11/16/2006

While the Sega of 2006 is a company that produces mostly subpar next generation software, it was once king of the gaming universe — if only in the eyes of Genesis fans. Sega’s greatest system and biggest achievement produced some of the best games in history, and they have prepared a volume (hopefully the first of many) of classics.

I have long waited for 16-bit games to become en vogue for mainstream retro gaming, and that day appears to be here. Between the classics available on the Wii Store plus compilations like Sega Genesis Collection and EA Replay, some of the best of the 16-bit generation is back in the spotlight.

The only question is — how are the ports?

1. Story/Modes
Sega Genesis Collection contains a whopping 28 games in full. For only $29.99 (and even cheaper at $19.99 for PS2), it adds up to about $1 per game, and less than that if the hidden unlockable games are considered. These are not simple or short games either — the Phantasy Star series is 100s of hours of gameplay alone.

The full listing of games on the UMD is:

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle – sequel to popular Sega Master system franchise, appeared early in the Genesis lifecycle. Graphics have not worn well, but the gameplay is still fun and Alex Kidd is a forgotten mascot.

Altered Beast – game that originally shipped with the Genesis, has some charm with its “Rise from Your grave” voice, but tends to be on the easy side.

Bonanza Bros. – early Sega Genesis game, not one of my favorites on the collection.

Columns – Sega’s answer to Tetris, a fun and addicting puzzle game that stands up very well.

Comix Zone – side scrolling action title that has a unique comic-book look and feel.

Decap Attack starring Chuck D. Head – one of some of the weird platformers on this collection.

Ecco the Dolphin – classic adventure game where the player is a dolphin. The graphics are beautiful and the animation is among the best of the generation.

Ecco II: The Tides of Time – sequel, didn’t seem to do quite as well as the original but still a good adventure game.

Ecco Jr. – use of the ecco character in an easier game geared for kids.

Kid Chameleon – unique platformer that allowed you as Kid Chameleon to change into a variety of animals to solve platforming puzzles. Graphics are a bit dated but the gameplay still works well.

Flicky – don’t let the simple graphics fool you, Flicky is one of the most fun games on the compilation

Gain Ground – the only strategy game on the collection

Golden Axe I – port of the arcade game, Golden Axe was side scrolling mayhem at its best. This type of game seems out of fashion now, but this represented one of the best in the genre until SoR.

Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III

Phantasy Star II – sequel to the classic SMS RPG, one of the three games on Genesis in the series.

Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium

Ristar – Underrated platformer from Sonic Team, features bright vibrant graphics and unique gameplay where Ristar has stretching arms to move and attack.

Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi – an early Genesis Shinobi game that will always have a place in my heart.

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master – decent Shinobi sequel

Sonic the Hedgehog – the one that started it all. Much shorter than you’d remember, but the later levels still pose a nice challenge

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – one of the best sequels ever, Sonic 2 added Tails as a sidekick and upped the speed and graphic quality.

Super Thunder Blade – an early Genesis game, it’s a pseudo 3D port of the arcade game.

Sword of Vermilion
Vectorman – released in the mid 90s admist Nintendo’s rendered DKC craze, Genesis’s answer was Vectorman, which had slick graphics and some tight 2D platform shooting.

Vectorman 2 – sequel that was largely more of the same, not that that’s a bad thing.

Virtua Fighter 2 – not the 3D classic that launched with Sega Saturn, rather a late generation 2D fighter using the same characters as the 3D cousin. Underrated a bit, but still not a great game.

Yowsa. There are some clunkers in there, but for the most part, Sega chose many of the top games of the generation.

Story Rating: 10/10

Graphics
Obviously in compilations, graphics from game to game vary, but in terms of how they are recreated from the original cartridges, all things seem to be great. The graphics have ported over nicely, with no notable change in performance from the originals. The Sonic games still speed by, while Ecco remains as smooth as ever. The PSP version contains an option to stretch the games to fill the widescreen, but this usually makes the games look worse than just adjusting to the bars on the sides.

Some of the games hold up better than others. I was surprised to see how colorful and vibrant Ristar still appeared over a decade later. Sonic 2 also still looks excellent. Kid Chameleon didn’t hold up as well as I remembered, but its still a fun game. The Vectorman games were released later in the Genesis life cycle, and represent some of the best graphics seen on the system. The style of Comix Zone is very original and well done as well. The list goes on and on.

Graphics Rating: 8/10

3. Sound
One area that Super Nintendo always had the Genesis beat was in the sound department. The sound on Genesis games was a bit muffled in general, and it didn’t seem to have as many channels of sound. The sound in Genesis Collection is ported well from the original titles, meaning it’s a mixed bag, but at least an appropriately converted mixed bag.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control and Gameplay
With so many games, it’s tough to pinpoint just one for gameplay discussion, but there are a number of classic 16-bit genres represented.

The Sonic series on Genesis is one of the premiere 2D action platformers ever, and with Sonic and Sonic 2, there is a nice showing of Sega’s mascot. Ristar, Kid Chameloen also bring some intriguing platforming gameplay to the table.

Although Streets of Rage is not represented, the Golden Axe series is a solid 2D side scrolling hack n slash, with all three games of the series on board. Each of the Phantasy Star games on Genesis was a multiple-dozen hour epic, and all together provide more than 100 hours of gameplay alone.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 10/10

5. Replayability
28 games! There is a ton to play through on this collection, and at least half are near classics worthy of your time. Some of them seem shorter than I remember (like Sonic 1), but even super diehard Genesis fans will find a game or few that was somehow missed the first go around.

Replayability rating: 10/10

6. Balance
Some collections of classic titles concentrate on a certain genre, such as Midway Collection 3 that featured all racing titles. Sega Genesis Collection takes the “broad spectrum” route and has a lineup of games from varying different genres. There is a lack of sports titles on this collection, as well as no racing titles. The focus is on action, platforming and RPGs, and that is probably the best path for the initial target audience of this collection. However it would have been nice to see some other genres or niche genres represented. Perhaps in a second volume!

Balance Rating: 5/10

7. Originality.
Some of the games on Sega Genesis Collection represent something that the game industry needs more of — original games and a focus on new gameplay over tried and true concepts.

There are tons of compilations every year on every system, but this is the first substantial Sega collection outside of the Sonic series. There are just so many games that brought new, original concepts to video games, and some that stand up as satisfying gameplay experiences today.

Originality Rating: 10/10

8. Addictiveness
Even if you picked up Genesis Collection and played 1 game per game session, you’d go back to the game over 25 times. Those that grew up on Sega Genesis will be overwhelmed by the amount of games in this collection and come back for more.

Addictiveness Rating: 8/10

9. Appeal Factor
Coming from a generation that grew up on 8 and 16 bit games and their progression, there is a huge appeal for a collection of Genesis titles. Younger gamers weened on Sony’s 3D games might scoff at the low-fi graphics and 2D gaming on this collection, but would be foolish to pass it up.

Appeal Factor: 5/10

10. Miscellaneous
It should be noted that many of the games on this collection are featured on the Wii Online store. For $8 each! For only $ $30, over two dozen of the games can be had and played on the go.

The box art is fairly basic and expected, focusing on some of the franchises included in the package. It should be noted that it does not have a color manual (nor do nearly any Sega games, cheap bastards).

For the record, my wishlist for a second collection would be Streets of Rage 1-3, Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Heady, Eternal Champions, Wonder Boy 4, Greendog, and of course both Toe Jam and Earls.

And while we’re at it, how about a Sega CD collection with Sonic CD, Wonderdog, Silpheed and Night Trap (why not?).

Miscellaneous Rating: 9/10

The Scores
Story: 10/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Control & Gameplay: 10/10
Replayability: 10/10
Balance: 5/10
Originality: 10/10
Addictiveness: 8/10
Appeal Factor: 5/10
Miscellaneous: 9/10
Total Score 82/100
Final Score: 8.0 (Above Average)

Short Attention Span Summary
There are always classic compilations coming out proclaiming to have tons of classics at a bargain price. Some of them have a couple great games and bunch of clunkers, but Sega Genesis Collection is not one of those. With over 2 dozen games, most of which are worth playing, and all of them are faithfully and effectively reproduced for the PSP.