Game Title: Sega Classics Collection
System: PS2
by Sega/3DAGES/Renderware
Game Type: Various
Players: 1-2

While the name may lead you to believe that this is a Collection of Sega's Classics, this is really a collection of 3-D remakes of those classics. Those in the know have heard of the Sega Ages PS2 games that were released separately in Japan. Various reviews that could found around the 'net either praised or slammed these import games. It was long thought that we'd never get them over here until it was announced that some of the games would be bundled into one title. Well, that'd be this title here. How do these games stack up to the originals? I'll try to examine them in a case-by-case basis while concentrating on the action titles.

Golden Axe
If you're going to remake a classic game, the most important thing is the gameplay. This game is almost a complete failure in that regard. Most reviewers bag on the graphics, but I'd have let that pass if the gameplay had been there. Unfortunately, the main characters move and attack too slowly to properly fight enemies that suffer none of the sluggishness that you have to put up with. Throw in the glitches and you have a recipe for a bad remake. At least the music is good.
For a full review, check out Review: Sega Ages - Golden Axe (PS2)

Space Harrier
Let's face it... if there's one classic Sega game that begged to be translated into 3-D, it's Space Harrier. In fact, if there's one game that you shouldn't be able to mess up while translating it to 3-D, it's Space Harrier. Well, they didn't screw it up. At least, I don't think they did. I'm not as deep into S.H. as I am in Golden Axe, so who am I to say? Still, I like how this one came out, although it'd have been nice to give the poor Harrier a lifebar like Ricky and Marie got in the update to Alien Syndrome. The one gripe that I have about this game is the same one that I have about the original: the ease with which you can run into something and just die. Luckily, that doesn't get too insane until stage 4. Instant death may add to the panic rush you get from playing the game, but it eventually wore thin with me. I don't remember the music from the original game, so I don't know how the remake's tunes compare. I just know that they sound pretty good. Despite the flaws that I mentioned, it still manages to be fun at break-neck speed. They did a great job with this remake, but it seems to lack some of the fun extras that some of the other titles have.
Are these balls of flesh-searing flame or delicious kernels of caramel popcorn? If you move slowly enough, you'll find out. By dying. So it's probably fire.

Alien Syndrome
One of the biggest surprises in this bundle is that I actually enjoy Alien Syndrome. I used to hate the game with a passion, but the remake has quite a few things going for it. There are some simple on-the-fly cutscenes that tell the story of the game in a way that'll remind you of the original's inspiration: the Alien film series. VERY nice touch there. I wish I could say the same for the redesigns of Ricky and Mary/Marie who now look like cliche armored action heroes. Luckily, they're so small in the game that you can barely make out how they look. Plus, the armor may be what gives them a life bar now instead of the 'one hit = death' from the original. Yeah, I like that much better. What really makes this game better is its new Robotron-like control style where the left analog stick moves the character while the right one fires in a direction independant of where you're moving. The ability to strafe elevates this game from being a quarter-muncher to a truly solid game. Finally, the game takes on the look of a sci-fi/horror movie. I think this remake really does improve on the original and helps to make this bundle worth buying.
They plump when you cook 'em. Seriously, that's the only line I could think of for this one. I'm sorry.

Fantasy Zone
This game is quite easily the 2nd pleasant surprise for me. I'm not a huge fan of shooters anymore (if you've seen one 'Board Full of Bullets' you've seen 'em all, I sez), but this one is my favorite of the whole disc. I think they've done a nice job of updating this one. Things look just as they should, but with cel-shaded 3-D graphics. The controls are pretty repsonsive, too. There are even multiple play modes, including the brilliant 'Challenge' mode. It's a bit like 'World Tour' mode in Street Fighter Alpha 3. In that mode, you choose a stage to tackle, but only get one ship to do it with. However, after the stage is over, you keep all of your gold coins which can be used to either upgrade your ship while playing a stage or to buy special things from the special options store that's full of unlockable goodies. Be sure to pick up any red coins dropped by the enemy, since completing a stage with the coins in your inventory allow you to view those enemies in the gallery mode. It's a very addictive addition to the mix.
In challenge mode, I just played the early levels until I saved up enough gold to unlock Auto-Fire mode. Hey, I should be able to fill the screen with bullets just like they do. So there.

The Rest:

Columns: is just as nice as ever, but now has a mode where you play through this really strange storyline that I won't go into here. This is the game that I play when the others have worn out my fingers. Where's the rest of the music though? I'm pretty sure there was enough room for that.

Outrun: The gameplay doesn't appear to be messed up in any way, but I've only played enough to see if I liked it or not... and I like it. No, it doesn't look as good as Gran Tourismo... but that's not the point.

Bonanza Bros./Tant-D: This was my first time playing the puzzle game of Tant-R, but I liked the strange mindtesting mini-games. I only played a lil' bit of Bonanza Bros., which I only find slightly interesting.

Virtua Racing: fun, smooth and enjoyable. This is another game that I found myself going back to every once in a while to wash the taste of Golden Axe out of my mouth.

Super Monoco GP: haven't even played it yet.

Final verdict? Golden Axe may not live up to it's legend, but other games like Fantasy Zone, Alien Syndrome, Outrun, and Space Harrier make up for it. The disc is only $20 and that's a pretty good price to get a few nice games that don't feature irritating, angst-ridden anti-heroes and stupid one-liner-spitting 'toons. I may have given it an overall score of 6, but I still recommend it to Sega fans as well as those who enjoyed Fantasy Zone. These games weren't made to blow anyone's mind, but to try and recapture a bit of the past. In that sense, it's a pretty decent effort. Gameplay 5
Graphics 5
Sound 7
Control 6
Overall 6

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