Sega Genesis Collection
Release year - USA:2006
Company: Sega
System: ps2
Genre: Compilation
Players: 1-2

Review by: PrimeOp

Sega's Genesis system (known as the Mega Drive in most other regions) remains one of the most beloved classic consoles ever made. It's home to some of the best franchises in gaming history: Sonic, Shinobi, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage. A lot of fans (myself included) had always hoped Sega would bundle their Genesis games into a classics disc for the current systems. This is one of those instances where hopes pay off and the company listens.

The game list reads like half the list of a Sega classics. The hits are: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Altered Beast, Bonanza Bros., Columns, Comix Zone, Decap Attack, Ecco (1, 2 and Jr.), Flicky, Gain Ground, the Golden Axe trilogy, Kid Chameleon, Phantasy Star (II, III, IV), Ristar, Shadow Dancer, Shinobi III, Sonic (1 and 2), Super Thunder Blade, Sword of Vermillion, Vectorman (1 and 2), and Virtua Fighter 2. Yeah, that's a lot of good gaming. The games that I've played seem to have their gameplay fully intact. Tricks that worked in the carts can be used here for happy-fun-time success. The only difference is adjusting to using the PS2 controller when your eyes tell you is a Genesis game. That may sound like a complaint, but it's really a compliment to how much these games look and feel like the real thing. The main interface has a nice, slick presentation to it's menu screens. The problem is how the small, white fonts are displayed over a dark to light blue gradient background with white graphics scooting around underneath. Sometimes, you have to squint to read the text.
Math time: this is 29 Genesis and 5 arcade classics for less than the price of one used copy of Phantasy Star IV. Certain games in the collection cost more than the collection itself!

Since the instruction book doesn't have space to give you full directions, check out the tips section of any game to learn the nuances of the game's mechanics and objectives.
The graphics look great and unblurred even on my cheap TV. Some people prefer their old games to be blurred into pixel puddles in some sad attempt to look new, but we don't roll like that. Digital Eclipse made the right call on that front. So, for the most part, this is a victory of emulation. The sound, however, has a few flaws here and there. It seems as though many of the high-pitched sounds come off as more tinny and screeching than I remember. Probably just a weird emulation glitch. However, the deeper sounds have that booming depth that made the Genesis sound so beautiful through old TV speakers and stereo systems. The drums in Golden Axe have just the right thump to 'em. There are also a few issues with certain sounds either being missing, different or replaced. Certain sounds are odd in Altered Beast and I've had the BGM drop out completely in Shinobi III during round 1's cave area. Golden Axe has an unsettling bug where the female death scream sample was replace by that of the male one. I've never seen anyone else mention that, so maybe that's just my disc. Still, I'd rather have minor sound problems than mistakes that ruin gameplay. Luckily, I've found none in this compilation so far.

Any decent console compilation has extras to make the heart sing and this one lives up to the task. Like Capcom Classics Collection vol.1, each of the Genesis games has tabs about the title's history, some tips and the box art. Then there's the main section of extras that includes unlockable treats. This includes unlockable interviews with veteran Sega creators (the translations feature that tiny, white font, though), trailers for Virtua Fighters 5 and Phantasy Star Universe plus five arcade games. Titles like Zaxxon and Tac-Scan were nice surprises, the biggest shock was the arcade Altered Beast. It'd have been nice to see a game that was radically different than the home version like Shadow Dancer or Golden Axe 2. Then again, even MAME hasn't sorted out that issue with the shadows in Return of Death Adder yet. Emulation isn't some simple, magic process, so there's bound to be problems. We've seen very poor attempts at emulating in other compilations, so I think that everyone who worked on this project deserve a pat on the back.
The art gallery lets you check out on the alternate box art that most U.S. gamers have only seen in blurry JPEGs. Behold the glory of Tyris Flare's 80's music video hair!

Overall, this disc is worth the $20 I paid for it. Sure, I have a lot of the carts emulated here, but I'm sure it'd cost over $20 just to get used copies of the titles here that I don't have (not even counting the Phantasy Stars). While there are some sound issues (poor Tyris) and excluded games (SoR games and Revenge of Shinobi).

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