Monday, October 05, 2009

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection

9.5- Incredible

[Note: Since Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is a compilation with a lot of different games, it's not possible to assign ratings for the various categories. You'll just have to leave it at 9.5 and take my word for it.]

Publisher: Sega
Developer: Backbone
Multiplayer: Offline co-op, offline versus
Console(s): Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Reviewed on: Xbox 360
ESRB rating: E10+ (Animated Blood, Violence)
BMR rating: I can't say, since I haven't played all of the games yet

Good Points:

49 games included, many of them excellent classics - Nice extras - Incredible bang for your buck - Well-designed save system - "Wise from your gwave!"

Not So Good Points

Some games aren't so fun - If you wanted online play, you're out of luck - It's not quite a complete collection, but it's pretty darn close

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is pure gold. With 40 classic Genesis games and an additional 9 arcade ports, this compilation is essentially a giant treasure chest brimming with nostalgic Sega goodness. All four of the Sonic sidescrollers are here, along with Golden Axe I-III, Phantasy Star II-IV, Streets of Rage 1-3, and a ton of other games. Not all of the titles are top-notch-- for example, Columns puts me to sleep and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle is just bizarre-- but you're bound to find a bunch that you really enjoy, and the vast majority are at the very least passable. Some favorites of mine that I have not yet mentioned include Shinobi III, Bonanza Bros., and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, all of which are a blast to play. The games are emulated well and ready for the HDTV. They can be switched to a wide-screen view as opposed to the original aspect ratio if that's your choice, and, if you wish, graphically modified using a smoothing feature. I find it more satisfying to rough it out with the good old-fashioned pixels of yesteryear, but the smoothing is an interesting little addition if not altogether helpful. Each game features a healthy number of save slots, which is nice if you'd rather not rough it out in terms of old school difficulty.

The whole aesthetic design has a neat retro feel to it since the menu makes it appear as if you're looking at actual Genesis cartridges. You can sort your catalog of games alphabetically, by release date, by genre, or by rating (which is a five star grading system that allows you to pick favorites), all of which help to get a handle on the long list of games. You can also unlock interviews with the creative minds behind the games and check out each game's trivia facts, story information, and cover art. The art gallery really lets you zoom in too, which allowed me to move the camera so far into Dr. Robotnik's nose that I could only see one solid block of reddish color. It took a while to do it, but at least I spent my time in a constructive manner. So needless to say, you'll have plenty to do in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, whether you want to play some RPGs, enjoy some ninja action, read up on your gaming history, or get a closer look at Dr. Robotnik's strange nose.

Ah, memories. And there's more where this came from! 48 more, in fact.

Are there any faults to Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection? Technically, yes, but nothing major. It's kind of unnecessary to put Sonic's name in the title, and there's no online multiplayer for starters. The Xbox 360 doesn't exactly have the best D-pad in existence, but it's hardly a problem, and you can always buy the PS3 version instead. It would have been nice if Backbone had managed to include a few notable missing aspects, such as the lock-on technology for the Sonic games and the cult classic Toe Jam & Earl, but it's easily forgivable considering what incredible value the game offers. Just to add some perspective, a Genesis game off the Wii's Virtual Console costs $8. That means that to purchase the 40 games included (and that's not even counting the 9 arcade titles), it would come out to about $320. You can currently pick up Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for as low as $10.

Buying Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection is a no-brainier for almost any gamer. If you own, like, every Genesis game in the world, this is still a great way to have them (or at least a lot of them) all in one place. If you never got a chance to play the classics of the Genesis age, then this is fantastic place to see what it's all about. Unless you hate Genesis games or video games in general, definitely give this game a shot. The hours of fun you'll spend with the gems of a bygone era will be well worth the money.

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