Let's be straight from the beginning. This is hardly the first collection of old Sega Genesis games. And it's even hardlier the first title to collect older Sonic games. In fact, when we first heard about this collection our reaction was, "Really, they're milking out another one of these things?" And here we are months later feeling a little foolish for our prejudice towards this title, because if not the first, Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is one of the best such anthologies we've seen yet.
Starting with the basics, this collection wins on numbers alone. You start with 40 Genesis originals, all emulated pretty well. Though you can choose to add a fuzzy layer of sheen to the screen with an optional filter, we preferred leaving the graphics as is, with crisp, pixelated looks to remind us of times past. And for better or worse - though normally better - the games play just like you remember.
Because of the high number of titles on the disc, the first collection of its type on current-gen consoles, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection also has real variety. Not sick of old Sonic games yet? Then enjoy Sonics 1, 2, 3, Knuckles, Spinball, and the lamentable 3D Blast. But almost all releases from the other major Sega franchises are included as well: Streets of Rage, Phantasy Star, Golden Axe, Ecco, Shinobi. And there are deeper cuts too, like the early Shining games, Bonanza Bros., Alex Kidd and Vectorman.
While not everything could be included (no Toe Jam and Earl?) we were pretty satisfied with what there was. Here’s the full list:
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alien Syndrome (arcade)
Altered Beast (arcade)
Congo Bongo (arcade)
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
ESWAT: City Under Siege
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco: The Tides of Time
Fantasy Zone (arcade)
Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III
Golden Axe Warrior (Master System)
Phantasy Star (Master System)
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Shining in the Darkness
Shining Force II: Ancient Sealing
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
Space Harrier (arcade)
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage 2
Streets of Rage 3
Super Thunder Blade
Some may have noticed that the above list features some Master System and Arcade games. That's because, on top of the 40 games you start with, there are 9 more to unlock. And even if they technically don't fit on a "Genesis Collection," we won't look a gift horse in the mouth. Plus, unlike some retro game compilations, unlocking these extras, which also include interviews with developers behind many of the games, is pretty simple and spelled out very clearly.
If you remember the 16-bit wars fondly, there's no reason to pass up this treasure trove, especially at a price that works out to around 60 cents a game. Perhaps some don't want this set because they already bought some of the included games on older sets or as DLC. We can't blame you for being hesitant, but the odds are pretty low that you have even half of these that will play on a current system. While every game isn't a winner, Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is the best you can do, outside of Japan anyway. At least until the next, even more Ultimate Collection.
Feb 11, 2009