"Easily one of the most deceiving titles ever, Sega Classics Collection does include an array of old-school Sega games, sure, but, besides an exception, the games featured are not the original versions. The titles in this compilation were first released individually in Japan as part of the Sega Ages budget line for the PlayStation 2, which lasted for five years and had a total of 33 volumes, though, at the time of this collection's launch, only 17 were available."
Easily one of the most deceiving titles ever, Sega Classics Collection does include an array of old-school Sega games, sure, but the games featured are not the original versions. The titles in this compilation were first released individually in Japan as part of the Sega Ages budget line for the PlayStation 2, which lasted for five years and had a total of 33 volumes, though, at the time of this collection's launch, only 17 were available. Most volumes had some sort of additions or enhancements thrown in, whether it's new modes, extra play mechanics, or a graphical makeover, however, the quality of each volume differs because of the changes. It was definitely a smart move on Sega's behalf to release this as a compilation outside Japan, since I have a hard time believing certain games selling well on their own in places like America.
Is that to say the games in Sega Ages Col... er, Sega Classics Collection range from average to bad? Surprisingly no, the overall quality of this library of ten, featuring the likes of Space Harrier, Bonanza Brothers, and Virtua Racing, is quite good, and that's mainly because the core mechanics that make them lovable classics are kept intact. If you've played the originals, you won't have trouble feeling at home here with the gameplay: destroying bases and buying upgrades in the shoot-em-up Fantasy Zone is still second nature, you'll still speed by beautiful scenery and listen to Splash Wave in Outrun, and hastily rescue hostages while a gauntlet of monstrous scum chase you down in the action-oriented Alien Syndrome. This is the compilation's saving grace, because if the core mechanics were tampered with, this easily would have been a dreadful release.
So what about those changes that detract from the remakes? Well, I wouldn't consider most of them awful, since they don't take a large sum away from the games, but they are noticeable. The Arrange Mode in Outrun, for example, is based around outrunning an amount of rivals before you finish the entire race. Unfortunately, the AI rivals are apparently programmed to never have any problems while driving, always moving at the exact speeds through turns and traffic. This means, no matter how many you pass, if you crash or significantly lose speed, nearly every car passes you. Sucks if you're at the last stage. Then there's the graphical overhaul for Space Harrier; some say graphics aren't everything, but for me in this game's case, it is. The original has this colorful, otherworldly vibe to it, convincing me that I was in a Fantasy Zone. The "enhancements" in this update makes almost everything brown and depressing. Woo. Still a very playable title, but lacking the visual ka-pow.
Those are nitpicks, though, and I probably wouldn't mind as much if they had included the originals along side them. However, there is one title in this collection I think has been horribly remade, the hack'n slash Golden Axe. I didn't think the 1989 arcade game was too hot to begin with, so imagine my shock when the Sega Ages version managed to be worse. The developers took something already simple and transformed it into an unending repetitive feast. You're always on this flat plain with nasty, washed out graphics, and every couple seconds are the same: two goons enter one side, and another on the opposite side, ad infinite nauseam. There's virtually no variation in patterns or attacks, and even more horrific, the skeletons are no longer a speedy threat and riding creatures cause less damage! Gwah??? Sega easily could've picked another, better game in its stead, like Gain Ground or After Burner II. Why were we denied those possibly better titles for... this?
But don't let nitpicks and one abysmal game turn you away from this good, not-great compilation, there's still lots of good in it! Along with the traditional three courses in Virtua Racing, there's a grand prix mode that has even more tracks, as well as a variety of vehicles to race in. And while Bonanza Bros. offers a strictly straight port, it's packed with another title, Tant R, a puzzler that requires the completion of oddball mini-games (like scaring a chicken with popped balloons) on a small time limit. It's never been released outside its native country before this collection and supports up to 4 players. Sweet! Then there's Monaco GP's new modes that allow you to race on closed courses where stars can be collected, power-ups grabbed, and your race car can jump around to avoid crazy vehicles constantly ramming into one another and spinning wildly to their destruction, like, every two seconds. The combination of the simplistic gameplay and new features make it surprisingly addicting.
I understand the hate this compilation gets from some people, as it kinda takes away the nostalgic value for a more modernized approach. But the thing is, they're not trying to replace the classics, they're just different takes on some old games, like how singers have their own covers of beloved songs, or a director doing a fresh take with a remake of a movie that came out two decades ago; the versions they grew up with are still there if they want to go back and play them. I still think including the originals as bonuses would've been nice, to reduce the moaning and groaning, but oh well. As a collective of low budget remakes, I see Sega Classics Collection as a good deal, especially since most are still enjoyable. Except for Golden Axe, that game can choke on a magic potion and die for all I care.
Community review by pickhut (February 10, 2012)
Alternative tagline: Hit the Road, Jack.
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