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Sega Genesis Collection (PlayStation 2) artwork

Sega Genesis Collection (PlayStation 2) review


"I especially appreciated the wonderful Ristar, one of my favourite Genesis games, which I was unable to unlock in the Sonic Mega Collection, despite doing what was ostensibly necessary to unlock it. The little star-bodied mascot with the rubber arms is as entertaining as ever, clutching enemies and slam-dancing them to death amidst the most colourful of environs the Genesis ever saw. "



If you loved the Sega Genesis, read on. If you were around for it, but thought it was your duty as a Nintendo fanboy to hate on Sega’s finest machine – read on. There are plenty of goodies for you both to enjoy. But if you’re saying to yourself, “what’s a Genesis? Oh, right, with Noah and them,” then keep passing through.

As a bonafide nostalgia nerd (I like that!), I approach compilations with trepidation, almost expecting to be disappointed by ruined remakes, or mind-boggling exclusions. Fortunately, Genesis Collection has none of the former, and manages to limit the latter. There are a ton of classics here, but in my negative spirit of nitpicking, I’ll do my bellyaching about what’s missing right from the start.

Right then, so why is it we’re provided with the relatively obscure Shadow Dancer, thought of simultaneously as a Shinobi spin-off of sorts, and the real arcade sequel to Shinobi – packaged along with the spectacular Shinobi III, when Revenge of Shinobi (my personal favourite, whine) is inexplicably absent? Isn’t it bad enough that Sega dragged Revenge’s name through manure with the execrable GBA release of the same name?

Furthermore, we’ve got Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel, which is admittedly the fastest and most fun of the Genesis bunch, but that doesn’t explain the absence of Sonic 3. And I almost didn’t notice the lack of any Streets of Rage presence in this assemblage, until I played some Final Fight on my Capcom Classics Collection and wanted some more variation in my beatdowns – it was not to be.

Notwithstanding my gripes with respect to the exclusions, what’s actually here really is more than enough. I especially appreciated the wonderful Ristar, one of my favourite Genesis games, which I was unable to unlock in the Sonic Mega Collection, despite doing what was ostensibly necessary to unlock it. The little star-bodied mascot with the rubber arms is as entertaining as ever, clutching enemies and slam-dancing them to death amidst the most colourful of environs the Genesis ever saw.

Columns is also time well spent. While it’s not on a Tetris level of engaging complexity, it’s simple to learn and takes a bit of work to master. Sega’s puzzler offers a colourful spin on the ever popular ‘clear the well concept’; you’ll need to match at least three colours in a row using fast falling three-segmented rectangles – whether by vertical, horizontal or diagonal means – in order to make matches and clean house. Predictably, things get hairy in a hurry when the blocks start dropping faster.

I followed Columns by turning my attention to the three Golden Axe games next, pleased that all of them are present and accounted for, in all their, well… glory. What I didn’t anticipate was how poorly these three games in particular have aged. Repetitive and languid hacking and slashing against often overwhelming odds, marked by pleasing but decidedly depressing music did not make for good fun even with a friend along. Golden Axe 3 is the least trying of the trilogy, but it is also the ugliest and least inviting by far.

Amazingly, Altered Beast plays just as sluggishly as the Axe trio, but it manages to retain much of its old school charm. Rounding out the highlights, Ecco fans will be excited to find their favourite dolphin here twice, as will fans of the once-heralded ellipsoid innovation, Vectorman, which, while overrated, is still a decent shoot-em-up diversion.

Everything is reproduced in its original 16-bit splendour – if you’re looking for ‘upgraded’ presentation, look to Sega’s other PS2 compilation, Sega Classics Collection. (Actually, that compilation is a pile, so my advice would be to give up on playing these games with upgraded presentation altogether.)

Despite my lack of interest in the genre, I would be remiss not to mention Sega’s strong line-up of RPG’s jammed on this disc: from Sword of the Vermillion to the entire, seminal Phantasy Star collection. If you don’t know about Phantasy Star, its influence on die-hard Sega gamers is analogous to the hold Final Fantasy has had on the Nintendo camp.

Quite frankly, my recommendation is based on how many of the titles on the Genesis Collection game list you remember fondly. In retrospect, the disc is not an absolute must have for me because I already have the Sonic Mega Collection, Revenge of Shinobi is missing, I don’t much play RPG’s, and the Axe games did not live up to my warm fuzzy memories. Your experience will likely be different.

What is almost certain, is that there will be the odd, never-been-played surprise here for everyone (the simple, addicting puzzle game, Flicky, for me), the odd oldie which somehow excites more now than it did before (Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle), and maybe even a ‘killer app’ or two worth enduring any and all disappointments (Ristar). If you do a better job than I did at filtering your nostalgia with a modicum of discretion (your heart can’t always be trusted), you won’t be disappointed with Sega’s oldies compilation – it’s one of the best available, and it’s worth a look at thrice the price.

Rating: 8/10

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Staff review by Marc Golding (January 25, 2008)

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