Sega Genesis Collection (2006) by Sega
System:PS2
Game Type: 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. You could only get a better deal from a crackhead who just happened to steal all of these games from one house.
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.
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.
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 GA2 shadows 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 and an immediate order to get to work on a volume 2 with a 'restored graphics' version of Streets of Rage 3.
The art gallery lets you check out on the alternate box art that most U.S. gamers have only seen in blurry JPEGs. Finally, you can see Tyris Flare in all her 80's teased hair glory while trying to avoid scrolling past Ax's netherworld.

Compilation reiview links:
Altered Beast (1988) for the Genesis by Sega
Rise from your grave and punch monsters to death. Why? 'Cuz Zeus says so.Game Type: Side-scroller/PlatformerFor many, Altered Beast was the original introduction to 'the next level' of gaming Sega had in store for gamers. A pretty good arcade conversion, especially for a launch title. With 2-player simul. action, big sprites, great music and quotable voice samples, the game still holds a place in the hearts of many gamers of that time.
Players: 1-2

Gameplay: 6
Graphics: 6
Sound: 6
Control: 6
Overall Score: 6

Full Review Available

Altered Beast © Sega

Gain Ground (1991) for the Genesis by Renovation
This guy with the spear can aim high and hit all of the roof-bound enemies. Guys like him will come in handy for situations like this.Game Type: Shooter/StrategyThis deceptively complex top-down shooter has more strategy than twitch action which gives the game it's own unique feel. In this game, hostages that you guide throught the exit become your extra lives in an army full of unique troops each with their own attacks. Plotting out which characters to use for taking out enemies on different levels is just as important as dodging bullets. The screen is shorter than the arcade version, but I actually prefer the shorter screens here. A highly underrated game that's worth checking out.
Players: 1-2

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 7
Sound: 5
Control: 7
Overall Score: 7

Full Review Available

Gain Ground © Sega

Golden Axe (Sega Classics Collection PS2) (1989) for the Genesis by Sega
While almost everything made it into this conversion, the female characters need cough drops. 2 bags worth. Fisherman's Friend brand, if ya got 'em.Game Type: Side-ScrollerPlay as one of three warriors on a quest to destroy the evil Death Adder and rescue the royal family. The additional stage and Vs. Mode (the Arena) help to make up for the slightly downgraded graphics and missing Death Adder resurrection scene. While most of the sound here fares better than it does in most games on the disc, there's either a bug or mistake that has replaced the female death cry with the male one. That will disturb anyone but the Dr. Girlfriend fans. But the gameplay is pretty spot on and that's what counts.
Players: 1-2

Gameplay: 7
Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Control: 8
Overall Score: 7

Golden Axe, Ax Battler, Tyris Flare, Gilius Thunderhead, Death Adder and all related characters © Sega.

Shadow Dancer (1990) for the Genesis by Sega
You may have lost your lifebar again, but at least you get a cute doggie for compensation.Game Type: PlatformerThis version of Shadow Dancer retains the gameplay of the arcade hit while featuring almost none of the arcades levels or enemies. With the rescue hostages and find the exit/one-hit-by-weapon death gameplay of the original Shinobi, the added hook is Yamato the dog. Not only does he warn you of oncoming enemies, but he can be sicced them to keep them busy and make them easy pickings for your sword or shuriken. Even without the lifebar, the game is kept fair by how easy it is to get 1ups. Not as good as Revenge of Shinobi or Shinobi 3, but a good game nonetheless.
Players: 1

Gameplay: 6
Graphics: 7
Sound: 7
Control: 6
Overall Score: 7

Full Review Available

Revenge of Shinobi, Jo Musashi, Yamato, Hayate Musashi, Union Lizard, Zeed, Neo-Zeed and all related characters © Sega

Overall, this disc is worth the $20 I paid for it. Sure, I have a lot of the games here in their real form, but I'm sure it'd cost over $20 just to get used copies of the titles here that I don't have (not counting the Phantasy Stars). While there are some sound issues (poor Tyris) and excluded games (SoR games and Revenge of Shinobi), this bundle is the decisive win. SEGA! Gameplay 9
Graphics 8
Sound 7
Control 9
Overall 9

Sega Genesis Collection and all it's games © Sega.

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