When I first heard about Sonics Ultimate Genesis Collection, it wasn’t exactly on my radar. I just figured it would be just another compilation of games that time forgot, and then I realized what was on the disc. As I heard the names, I grew excited and knew I had to have the game. I mean who couldn’t pick up a game that had the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, Vectorman, and Ecco the Dolphin? Those games (and quite a few of the other 40+ titles) were a huge part of my childhood; and after playing a lot of current gen stuff, I thought it would be nice to go back to my gaming roots and play the games that got me into gaming in the first place.
After popping the game in, I felt a twinge of excitement just looking at the menu screen. The list of games was not only huge, but they were listed inside a Genesis console. Wanting to know what the Collection came with, I started to scroll down and look at all the titles, most of which I knew, and quite a few I had no idea what they were. As you can imagine there were those games that I had no interest in (mainly the RPGs) but I still had to try them just to see how far games have come in all genres.
In all there are forty Genesis games and nine Master System/Arcade games in which you can unlock. There’s a lot of extra stuff on the disc as well. For instance, you can sort all the games by alphabetical order, by year, or by genre. You can also put the ones you love most in a favorite’s category. There are also quite a few interviews with the developers of some of the games. Some of which you have to unlock. Finally there’s a museum where you can view facts about each game and view the original artwork that appeared on the cartridge and on the box.
The controls are as simple as they were back in the ’90s. The majority of the time, there are only two buttons to use and you move with either the D-pad or the thumbstick. Before the start of each game, the controls are displayed so you don’t have to worry about searching for them in the options menu. Of course, if you want to customize them, you can go to the options menu and change them to suite your taste. If you have played any of these games before, you will notice that the controls work just as well now as they did back then. So you should feel right at home.
Speaking of feeling right at home, the graphics of every game in the collection have been cleaned up to support high-definition. It still maintains that ’90s feel but looks pretty impressive, especially when you stretch the picture so it will fit the entire TV screen and use the option to smooth out the original visuals, though I prefer to keep my picture at default. That’s the way I played when I was a kid, and that’s the way I will play this game.
Outside of the games themselves, there is one feature that is very appealing to all gamers, and makes this game stand out. Say you are in an epic battle with one of the bosses from Streets of Rage when al of a sudden your phone rings. It’s your boss and he’s not happy due to you being three hours late to work. So, wanting to keep your job, you can’t finish the fight. No big deal. Instead of turning the game off and having to replay the entire level again, all you have to do is go to the Select Button screen and save your game. This really would have been a nice thing to have growing up with these games. I can’t even remember how many times I was yelled at for “playing those stupid games when I should be cleaning my room.” Thanks mom.
This also helps for when you know that you have a tough fight ahead and don’t want to go back to the beginning of the game when you die-and you will die, a lot. I have never played such a humbling game before. The Genesis Collection makes today’s games seem like a proverbial walk in the park. We, as gamers today, are spoiled with infinite lives, checkpoints and the like, but the Genesis Collection will quickly get you back to your roots. Or if you are playing these classics for the first time, will make you throw a few controllers (I should know, I mean its some of these games that taught me how to throw controllers in anger). Have no fear 16-bit virgins, keep on trucking through these games and believe me you will be a better gamer for it. The only major drawback this game has is, even though that it supports local co-op, no online co-op is offered. This is a disappointment because some of these games appear on the Xbox Live Arcade and offer online support.
Aside from that disappointing fact, this game shines. You will be hard pressed to find a better (legal) collection of Sega games in one place. With forty games already unlocked and nine more to unlock (and if you don’t know how, the game tells you) and a museum that has a lot of cool information on some of your favorite games, Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection should not be overlooked by anyone who remembers the glory days of Sega.