RELEASE DATE (NA): November 7, 2006 GENRE: Compilation
// review by SoyBomb

Let's all sit back and remember Sega's grander days.

I received this game as a birthday present many years ago, and at the time, I didn't really know anything about the Sega Genesis Collection besides the fact that it presumably was chock-full of cool games. Now that I do have it and have explored it, I can say that it is definitely worth whatever price I didn't pay for it.

The Sega Genesis Collection covers a lot of first-party ground in the console's history. Many, though not all, of the system's hits are now readily available. Highlights include the first two Sonic the Hedgehog games (though not the third, surprisingly); the Golden Axe trilogy; both Vectorman games; Phantasy Star II, III, and IV; and all three Ecco games. Yes, even the child-friendly Ecco Jr. is here, because there was clearly a demand for it. CLEARLY. And with it come a few titles I'd like to forget ever existed, Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle being the key offender of the eyes, ears, and brain, alongside other lesser-desired titles such as Bonanza Bros. and Super Thunder Blade. It's a shame certain games are missing from here, though: the absence of Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and any Streets of Rage game is truly a crime against nature.

By completing certain tasks in these various games, you can unlock cool things such as interviews with Genesis game developers, bonus games (like the great Zaktor with its creepy robot voice that talks to you, and the original arcade version of Altered Beast), and trailers for upcoming games (which may be out by now). The interviews provide good insight into the minds of the development teams back in the '90s, although they sometimes talk too much about modern gaming. The menu system here serves its purpose; it's not particularly flashy, but as long as I can easily access all the features needed, that's good enough. Each game has its own special bonus area for box art, a historical perspective of the game and nifty tidbits about each game, plus tips on how to succeed... well, okay, the tips stink, but it's nice to have included them.

Featured here: Golden Axe II and Vectorman 2

The emulation of each game has been done with relative finesse. Not every game is perfect — both Sonic the Hedgehog games have (or STILL have) unpleasant split-second glitches when jumping around at a certain level below the surface of any water-filled area. Water is also an unpleasant issue in a specific part of a stage in Ristar as well, although this could have been due to lack of decent effect production in the original Genesis version. That Sega Genesis machine could only do so much, after all. But I do have to comment on the sound: sometimes it seems good and true to the original games, but sometimes I have to wonder why certain things sound absolutely grating on the ears. Again, I use Ristar as an example — the "vocal" samples here just sound like utter trash. Whether this was so on the original Genesis, I have yet to discover. Still, it's a nuisance to the ears. That's when you mute the TV and just jam to your favourite Armin Van Buuren song instead. The controls in this game are solid too, by the way — doesn't take long to get used to the PS2 controller — and you are shown what buttons perform what functions during each game's minimal loading time! Great!

But the best part about this is that because the games are EMULATED, there's more freedom to save. I would never get through a single game in this collection without the added ability to save anywhere, anytime (which the manual wasn't too clear about, and I discovered about a month later), and then load again if you falter. For tough-as-nails games like Shinobi III and Comix Zone, this may be a boon to all! It's certainly another reason why I return to this collection more often. I'm a bad player, I know it. I have the skills of a video game playing raisin. So any save function is a good function... especially this one! Sadly, no other compilations that I know of have this function (except for Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, which is oddly similar to this...), so SGC gets extra points for that. Way to go!

To summarize this lengthy review, I'll just say that the Sega Genesis Collection is definitely worth your pretty pennies. You're not going to find this kind of value anywhere else, folks. And it's packed with some of the best (and a few of the worst) Sega Genesis games ever to grace this Earth! And you'll definitely get plenty of playtime out of this — the Phantasy Star trilogy alone will cost you over 100 hours of your life. Unfortunately, those who wanted some of the other greats, such as a Streets of Rage game or Gunstar Heroes, will be disappointed, but for the rest of us, we can sit back and enjoy games as they were back in the day — good 16-bit fun. The only downside is that, for the most part, this compilation has been overshadowed by the overall superior Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which boasts a wider ranger of games, including the complete Shining Force and Streets of Rage series on Genesis. Your call, though...