Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection Review: Still Doing What Nintendon’t

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

Nostalgia is a funny thing, especially when it comes to video games. Some gamers think that retro games are classics, and should be appreciated as such, and others think that the games of the past should be left in the past. Fortunately for both groups, every now and then a compilation of classic titles is released to remind both groups fondly of the old days. The most recent of these compilations is Sega’s “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection” which revitalizes such Genesis classics as “Sonic the Hedgehog,” “Golden Axe,” and “Phantasy Star” games in addition to some 40 other games, and it does it with class.

Maybe you can blame it on the fact that I never had a Genesis when I was a kid (it was Nintendo all the way in my house), or the fact that I’m really bitter that my Sega CDX died over the weekend, but I never really thought that Sega’s games were on the same level as their competitors back in the day. There was something about the quality of games that were released for the Genesis that just never appealed to me. Sure, there were classics that I loved to play at my friend’s houses; the “Sonic” games, “X-Men,” and even “Holyfield’s Boxing” but beyond that I didn’t think I was really missing out on much. “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection” showed me that apparently I was wrong. Even though I still remain a true SNES fan at heart, the “Ulitmate Genesis” collection has finally convinced me that there are some great titles that I’ve missed out on; “Comix Zone,” “Ristar,” and “Streets of Rage” just to name a few, and maybe it’s about time I went back and did some deeper digging into Sega’s back catalog.

Some of the games on the “Ultimate Genesis Collection” are the beginnings of franchises that still remain ongoing in today’s tough games market, and others have faded away long ago. However, whatever way you slice it, there’s still over 40 (mostly) quality titles collected on one disc, released at a discounted price, making it really easy for all to enjoy. Whether you prefer RPG’s to platformers, or arcade games to shooting games, there’s something for everyone in this collection, and it leaves little to be desired … unless you like to nitpick things… which I do (it’s a personality flaw).

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

Sure, the package has a really great assortment of games, a nice presentation, easily attainable and worthwhile unlockables, but I still want more. This is the third Sega collection that has been released in recent memory, the second with a focus on Genesis games, but I think there is one thing that they are forgetting here – that they have other systems with good games on them. I think it’s really great that the “Ultimate Genesis Collection” ventured off to include some arcade and Master System games, but where are the Sega CD and Saturn games? Over the years, I’ve missed out on pretty much every phase of Sega’s hardware market, and I’m perfectly open giving them all my money now to have all the games that I missed in one handy-dandy little package. As it stands now, I have to deal with old consoles that die (again… I’m looking at you CDX), and picking up games one at a time on eBay, just to try them out for a few minutes. It may be a bit too much to ask with such a quality compilation here, but what about the rest? When are we going to see those released?

I actually touched on one of my other problem with the package a bit a second ago… most of these games were released, together, just a few years ago, for the PS2 and PSP, on the “Sega Genesis Collection.” In other words, Sega fans that purchased the last release, may as well upgrade to the newer one since it offers HD enhanced graphics, and more games, leaving only a couple non-unlockables (Ecco Jr. Shadow Dancer, and Sword of Vermillion) behind. The latest compilation is a better value, particularly if you haven’t picked up the previous compilation, and it’s also a significantly better value than picking up the available titles on Nintendo’s Virtual Console, at $8 a pop, you’d only be able to pick up three and a half games for the price of 40 plus.

Now, it’s just going to sound like I’m complaining about a package of games that I really enjoyed, but there is one more thing that would have been a really great addition to the “Ultimate Collection;” maybe Sega could have updated some of the titles. I’m not looking for “updates” like Namco tends to do, but maybe they could have included some online multiplayer for the games that support co-op play. It’s a small suggestion, and it’s definitely not coming from the purist in me, but it would be nice to play some of the games online with my friends.

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

While it would be excessive to go through and review all of the games included on the compilation (most had that done about 15 years ago), it does make sense to take a look at the compilation as a whole, and see what kinds of bells and whistles it’s showing off. The menu system is easy to use, sleek, and styled after the original Genesis, which is a nice touch. In fact, the whole package is filled with nice touches, from the interesting interviews included as unlockables, to the game specific backgrounds to fill widescreen space on 16:9 televisions. There’s also virtually no load time when switching between games, which means you can reinforce you’re A.D.D. by jumping back and forth between which ever games you want. The only other bell and/or whistle I would have liked to see, was a little more Sonic integration, after all, it is his “Ultimate” collection… so where is he?

I love old games. There’s something appealing about their simplicity, as well as the creativity of the developers who had to create believable virtual worlds from almost nothing. Today’s games have the convenience of looking like the real world, but back in the 16-Bit days, that just wasn’t an option. If you could immerse your player in a virtual world made of sprites, that was quite an accomplishment, and most of the games on “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection” do that quite well, and are worth a bit of your time.

For someone that owned a Sega Genesis “Sonic’s Utimate Genesis Collection” could be nothing more than a stroll down memory lane. However, if you never had the pleasure of having the machine that did what Nintendon’t in your home, then now is the time for you to seize the opportunity and pick up just about every classic games for the console on one handy little disc – it’s a more than worthwhile purchase. Plus, it means you wont have to worry about all that dusting and cleaning just to play these classic games in their original form.

Rating: ★★★★½

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