Reviewed: February 23, 2009
Released: February 10, 2009
Retro gaming is as much of a part of the gaming world as say the upcoming Halo Wars. While some of the gaming community shrug off retro game releases as pure moments of nostalgia and companies wanting to cash in a cash buck, there is without a doubt a market for such titles. A few phone calls and a trip or two to Wal-Mart can attest to that.
So what game had me making said phone calls and trips? Well look no further than Sonicís Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360. This title features 49 of the best Genesis titles out there. The complete list of SEGA Genesis, Master System and arcade titles include.
Players or owners of the SEGA Genesis will remember the classic ABC controllers that had the NES controllers beat until its big sister the SNES arrived on the scene with more buttons than I ever thought Iíd need. The reason I bring up the controls first instead of say how each game plays first is because no matter what game you are playing in this collection you will be using the same 3-4 colored buttons all the time.
Players can choose to play with the default control configuration, usually A X Y (or B instead of Y), which worked pretty flawlessly for me or they can go the slightly more awkward Genesis ABC mode way. The ABC way works okay but it suffers from one small problem. The default setup up for ABC mode is X A B which if you look at your controller you realize what Iím taking about. Theyíre not in a straight line, which makes hitting the correct button a little awkward.
The one thing that I have to wonder and sadly did not have the opportunity at the time of this review was to see if the new Street Fighter gamepad would or could function as a replacement Genesis controller as they share the same layout.
As this a collection of full games instead of just one it makes Sonic's UGC a difficult title to review. So instead of meandering through all the above listed titles I will go over a few of my favorites. Of the 49 titles, the following are my favorites, and trust me it was a hard choice to narrow it down to my Top 10.
The 10th spot goes to "Altered Beast". This title is probably one of the reasons that I first got into horror related media. There also happens to be a 360 achievement involving this beauty of a beast.
The 9th spot is all fins as "Ecco the Dolphin" claims its place on my list. Ecco was one of my favorites back when the Genesis was still in its prime. Ecco was and still is a unique adventure and they really need to make a Next Gen version.
The 8th title on my list is a treasure known as Ristar. No really itís made by none other than Treasure, the company known for flashy titles such as Gunstar Heroes. You once again take control of the star shaped hero with a grabbing addiction.
"Comix Zone" busts its way onto my list in 7th place as it one of the few cool "superhero" titles for the Genesis. The thing I really like about Comix Zone is the comic book panel presentation style. A must play for those into comic books and beat'em ups.
The 6th spot features "Streets of Rage" another beat'em where 3 ex-cops clean up the streets the hard way. This is probably my favorite beat'em next to Battle Toads.
The halfway marks the beginning of my all-time favorites as "Golden Axe" chops its way into the 5th spot. Golden Axe has spawned 3 Genesis sequels and even a 360 title. The Genesis versions are all awesome but I love the first the best.
Appearing from behind a tree is "Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master" as it seals it place with several well thrown shurikens in the number 4 spot. Of all the ninja titles Shinobi is still my favorite even beating out Ninja Gaiden.
The Blue Blur and his Two Tailed Wonder speed into 3rd place with "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." Of all the Sonic titles, this is the one that I practically played to death when I was younger. Sonic is definitely back in style.
Coming in 2nd place we have can see the light at the end of the tunnel with "Shining Force." when it comes to RPGs on the Genesis Shining Force is almost the best, almost.
And finally my #1 favorite title in Sonic's UGC, which is the light at the end of the tunnel, is Phantasy Star. The Phantasy Star series one of the first RPGs I was ever exposed to along with the early Final Fantasy title so naturally this title is my first choice.
One of the greatest things about Phantasy Star is the fact that that you can find a Clone Soldier in itÖexplain yourself Mr. Lucas. But seriously as an avid RPG player Phantasy Star is just awesome.
With those choices said, I want to say that SEGA did everything right with this release. The options are plentiful, be it saving, control and video layouts, to the selection of games. Sure we all wish our ultimate favorites were in it like Gunstar Heroes, but I didnít put this compilation together, SEGA did.
Sonicís Ultimate Genesis Collection is full of titles that came out years before we even dreamed about HD content. Now all those classics are back and presented in 1080p. First off I want to say that the transition went well.
Players are treated to a windowed version of each title with some sort of artwork pertaining to that title surrounding the game screen itself. Players can opt via the select menu to manually make the window bigger proportionately. You are also able to switch the game back and forth between 16:9 and 4:3 ratios. Being able to do this is a nice feature however I rarely played any of the titles in the widescreen format due to stretching or squashing of the characters and environments.
Another feature available is the "smoothing" option, which allows players to smooth out the graphics but this option kind of falls in the same boat as the ratio changing. While is works nicely for some titles more than others it still has its drawbacks; most noticeable being the blurring of text. For games heavily laden with text, like Phantasy Star, you will want to play with the smoothing turned off. It even removes the stars on the Phantasyís menu screen with it turned on.
The sound department of Sonicís Ultimate Genesis Collection is about as varied as the number of titles that it contains. So all I will say is that every beep, swirl, whistle and 16 bit music is just as clear as it was back when I played with actual cartridges. There didnít seem to be on hint of audio loss or distortion in any of the titles. The little tune that plays when you first load up the game is just as awesome as hearing the Sonic theme again as if you are just for the first time.
No matter how you do the math, 49 games for $30 Dollars on 1 disc is just awesome. But wait thereís more. Throw in unlockables such as interviews with the people behind some of our favorite Genesis title, as well as ďDid You Know FactsĒ about each of the 40 main titles.
The one thing that I really liked about Sonicís Ultimate Genesis Collection is that to get to some of the good stuff, you have to earn that right. So not only do you have 40 titles to start with you have to complete certain requirements to unlock other games or bonus content. A perfect example is that you have to defeat the first boss of Sonic 2 with two players to unlock the original Phantasy Star.
Simply put Sonicís Ultimate Genesis Collection may not be the ultimate or perfect collection but its damn near close. This collection brought back so many memories of my childhood to the point that I couldnít put the controller down. I even took it over to a fellow gamerís house and letís just say that we lost way too many hours that day. This is absolutely a must buy! If youíre a fan of the SEGA Genesis or are at lest old enough to even remember it and you own an Xbox 360 there is just no excuse for you to not pick up this title as soon as you can.