Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection Review
By Damien McFerran - 02 Mar, 2009
In case you hadn’t noticed, retro gaming is big business these days. Companies are quite literally falling over themselves to repackage titles from their back catalogue and shove them onto the marketplace in order to make a little bit of easy money. In addition, the emergence of digital download services like Nintendo’s Virtual Console and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Arcade have become vital distribution channels for classic games.
Out of all of the companies currently ploughing this lucrative furrow, Sega is arguably the most prolific seller of ‘old rope’. Not only have we seen many vintage Sega titles hit the Virtual Console, Playstation Network and XBLA, we’ve also been granted several retro compilations for systems such as the Playstation 2, GameCube and PSP.
Having witnessed the excellent Sega Mega Drive Collection we were pretty stoked when we heard that another compendium was on the way for the 360 and PS3, and now it’s finally in our sweaty palms we decided it was time for a little critical analysis.
Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection contains over 40 classic releases from Sega’s history, most of which are (as the title would suggest) 16-bit Mega Drive games. However, it also contains a few hidden extras (the most notable being the arcade Shinobi, which is practically worth the price of purchase alone).
Here’s the list of games in full, along with links to the relevant Mean Machines reviews, where applicable:
- Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
- Alien Storm
- Alien Syndrome (arcade)
- Altered Beast
- Beyond Oasis (Story of Thor)
- Bonanza Bros.
- Comix Zone
- Congo Bongo (arcade)
- Decap Attack
- Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
- Dynamite Headdy
- ESWAT: City Under Siege
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Ecco: The Tides of Time
- Fantasy Zone (arcade)
- Fatal Labyrinth
- Gain Ground
- Golden Axe
- Golden Axe II
- Golden Axe III
- Golden Axe Warrior (Sega Master System)
- Kid Chameleon
- Phantasy Star (Sega Master System)
- Phantasy Star II
- Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
- Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
- Shining in the Darkness
- Shining Force
- Shining Force II: Ancient Sealing
- Shinobi (arcade)
- Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
- Sonic 3D Blast
- Sonic & Knuckles
- Sonic Spinball
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2
- Sonic the Hedgehog 3
- Space Harrier (arcade)
- Streets of Rage
- Streets of Rage 2
- Streets of Rage 3
- Super Thunder Blade
- Vectorman 2
- Zaxxon (arcade)
Owners of the previous collection will no doubt spot a few familiar faces in there, which is slightly disappointing, but when you consider the new titles that have made the cut (plus the addition of the bonus titles) then it soon become obvious that this is possibly the greatest retro collection yet released by any videogame company.
Not only do you have the complete 8-bit/16-bit Phantasy Star saga (again, I’d gladly pay 25 quid for this privilege alone), there’s also the Golden Axe trilogy, the trio of Mega Drive sonic titles (plus Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D) and the complete Streets of Rage series, including the third title, which will cost you way more than 25 quid were you to purchase it from a site like eBay.
To top it all off, we also have both Mega Drive Shining Force titles (as well as prequel Shining in the Darkness); the second Shining Force game in particular is ranked as one of the finest turn-based strategy titles in existence and again, picking up the original cartridge these days is going to cost you an arm and a leg.
There are some things we’d change about this assortment of titles; there’s no online play, which is a bit of a kick in the teeth when you consider that the XBLA version of Streets of Rage 2 has online co-op, but we’re guessing that incorporating such a feature in every multiplayer game on the disc would take considerable time and effort, so it’s an understandable omission.
While it's hard to argue with the selection of titles available, we can't help but feel that Shadow Dancer would have been a better choice than say, Super Thunder Blade. Revenge of Shinobi is also absent, although this is probably due to the infamous inclusion of Spiderman as an end-of-level boss.
Also, while the visuals have been nicely ‘upscaled’ so they don’t look quite so rough on your massive high-def LCD telly, they still don’t look anywhere near as nice as when they’re running on a good old-fashioned CRT set, complete with the all important scan lines. Again, this is a minor quibble at best.
Considering the modest asking price and the sheer number of AAA titles on this collection, it really shouldn’t be that difficult a choice to make when it comes to picking up a copy. There are even really cool Achievements to unlock (or ‘Trophies’ if you’re unlucky enough to own Sony’s overpriced shitbox), so Achievement whores will find something to like here, too. To be perfectly honest, this should be at the very top of any self-respecting retro gamer’s shopping list.
buzz_clik - 03 Mar 2009, 06:19 GMT
Picked it up yesterday, and had a quick bash at some of the games, ultimately garnering 200-odd points before trotting off to bed. I agree that some of the selections are a bit questionable (Super Thunder Blade? Ugh), but there are certainly enough great games here.
I also did a quick count last night and found I actually have 24 of the 40 games on cart. Ah, but do they give me Achievements? Nope! Colour this Achievement Slut happy, because finally I get points for replaying some of my favourite memories.
Oh, and where's Crack Down?
Dazza - 03 Mar 2009, 11:45 GMT
I picked this up from Tescos last week and just got to playing it last night. It’s a tidy little package with many of my favourite MD games from yesteryear. As Damo says it’s a pisser than Revenge of Shinobi and Shadow Dancer aren’t included, the collection would be perfect in my eyes with those – but Sega were good enough to include the original arcade Shinobi as a unlockable so it’s hard to be too sore. The original is still my favourite by far.
I’m using Madcatz’s SFIV fight pad to play which is sort of like a 6 button Mega Drive controller, the only annoying thing is I have to redefine A-B-C on every bloody game. A master button config option would have been a lifesaver.
Some of the games have aged more badly than others, but there is no question this is a great selection. It gives me a fuzzy warm glow to think I am not just playing teh romz and am able to give Sega a little something back (although I have already bought the best of the bunch on Virtual Console or XBLA!).
The achievements are laughably easy, but I like how it forces you to at least play each game once. In short, if you are a retro fan YOU NEED THIS! Ditch the romz and render unto Sega, you know it makes sense.
The vulture - 04 Mar 2009, 13:07 GMT
Very tempted,but DO have sega MD collection on PS2 And PSP.No revenge of shinobi?Well not surprised given the"cameo" Batman,spiderman,godzilla and terminator Boss battles.
Wish they`d do a Dreamcast one(suppose saturn is a total `mare to emulate)
Mazza - 23 Mar 2009, 20:09 GMT
Its a shame that Castle of Illusion, Outrun, Afterburner, Landstalker, Eternal Champions and Toe Jam and Earl werent in the Collection....still very good though :) anyone else thought Ecco was dull??
J Capeling - 03 Apr 2009, 14:12 GMT
Mazza is right: Castle Of Illusion was fantastic in its day and Afterburner was arguably the Megadrive's finest arcade conversion. Also brilliant were Flashback (WOW! That was amazing back in those days) and to a lesser extent Another World (is that what it was called?). I found Toe-Jam & Earl mind-numbingly tedious, I have to say though, but back in the day I'd paid £35 for it, so I played it regardless. ESWAT and Altered Beast wee utter toss The original Japanese, Magical Flying Hat Turbo Adventure kicked the bottom of the Decap-Attack re-branding too. Shinobi was a bit ropey, Revenge of Shinobi was much better, though I think Ninja Gaiden was better than both. As for Sonic The Hedgehog, I tuned out after the first one, so I have no idea which was the best of these. Golden Axe was great, but the sequels sucked, and what about Strider? Classic (only the first one). Loads of retro-gaming gold has not been included here. They've bogged it down with crappy sequels instead. Devil Crash was a great pinball sim, Chuck Rock was a wicked platformer (my walkthrough was printed in Mean Machines back in the day, when I was a kid), Darius was a solid, tough-as-nails shoot 'em up, as was Hellfire. Dick Tracy was a great two-plained walking shooter, too. Micro Machines, Rambo III, Spiderman. These are the games I'd like to see on these compilation collections. Perhaps the people who put this together don't own the licences to all of these classic games. Surely it would have been worth acquiring them though. Can't be all that expensive. Ah, what do I know. Yes, BTW, Ecco was DULL!
J Capeling - 03 Apr 2009, 14:25 GMT
Rod - 15 Apr 2009, 16:02 GMT
Dynamite Headdy, Zero Tolerance, The Lost Vikings!!
Mazza - 20 Apr 2009, 11:25 GMT
Alright J Capeling- Yeah i just always thought Ecoo was the most pointless game ever made...i remember paying £40 for it..magazines giving it 97%!!! and thinking what a load of crap ha! anyway your right Hellfire was brilliant! as well as Strider!! i think this collection can only contain Sega made games so thats why micro machines wouldnt be on it..made by Codemasters wasnt it? another good point you made there are alot of crappy sequels on here which makes it annoying and dissapointing...Sega also made Monaco GP that should of been on it, ah well...yeah Flashback was superb...remember you would look for jobs? and go on the train? was amazing back in them days :) Altered Beast ARGH!!!! horrible game! have you actually bought this? i might buy it just for the streets of rage trilogy
michael larkin - 09 Aug 2009, 11:52 GMT
awesome compilation!! i refused to sell the ps2 version cause megadrive vf was on it but i pre ordered this and recieved a viynal of megadrive music to go with it. defenitly worth it for the shining series alone. first time i got to play streets3 aswell. unbelievably good
Edd Haddon - 20 Jan 2010, 15:05 GMT
Mazza is bang on about Ecco. So dull. I tried playing both and years later still can't be bothered. Loved most of the other games though but Super Thunder Blade was a bunch of arse. More retro games please! Especially Toejam and Earl, Landstalker, Thunderforce 3 and 4, Syndicate, Road Rash, Desert Strike Series, Micro Machines, Dune II - Battle For Arakis, The Immortal, EA Hockey, Super Probotector, Mortal Kombat 2...
Also some SNES games would be good too such as Shadowrun, Zelda, Super R-Type, Super Mario Kart, Super Probotector/Contra 3, Rock N Roll Racing, Secret of Mana, Earthbound...
I grew up in that special time of 16-bit gaming. I was more Sega than Nintendo back then but love both consoles now to death.
Dan - 03 Mar 2010, 14:18 GMT
Very good compelation, but agree with some of the shouts on here. Where are -
Revenge of Shinobi (again understandable, but still...)
Devil Crash (awesome game!)
The "Strike" series
Forgotten Worlds etc..
There's actually quite a few examples of games in there that started the "dark times" of everyone wanting to push into 3D and aiming for fancy tricks over gameplay (Vectorman, Comix Zone, Sonic 3D blast).
Having said that with all the SOR's, Golden Axe's and both Shining Forces on there it's still a top package.