Ok, Mr. Dragon, I think our microwave popcorn is done, now.
As gamers witnessed the proliferation of retro titles on the Virtual Console and Xbox Live, many (including us) worried that the end of compilation disks was near. When publishers began offering single games for a five to eight dollar investment, cramming a multitude of tiles into a budget-priced disk no longer seemed economically prudent. Fortunately, this piece-meal approach to classic gaming hasn’t been fully realized, as a large number of consoles haven’t made the jump online. Thank you, casual gamers for preserving the retro anthology.
As the latest example of a compilation disk, the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection doesn’t disappoint in both diversity and value. A great majority of the collection’s titles are available on the Virtual Console- for eight dollars a pop. Gamers thinking about buying a title or three from Nintendo’s store would find a much better value with this assemblage. Additionally, unlike the single game approach, the collection brings the games together via a unified system, which loosely recreates the feeling of playing a system.
Have you met Rayman’s estranged brother, Vectorman?
When players first insert the disk, they are treated to a front-end inspired by the design aesthetics of the original Genesis hardware. Players can sort from the available titles by alphabetically, by release date, or by a customizable user rating; be enjoyed this iTunes-like flexibility. Once a game is chosen, the player is shown a control screen, and the game is instantly playable. The entire collection appears to be stored in internal memory, as there is a noticeable lack of any load times. Additionally, players can unlock additional arcade games and designer interviews, as well as view box and cartridge art.
When images of the Sonic collection first appeared, our chief concern was the integrity of the emulation. Screenshots showed a graphical filter that blurred the delightfully pixilated charm of the older games. Luckily, this filter is completely optional, and for non-purists, adds an interesting Photoshop-like smear to the games. By pressing the back button during gameplay, players can conveniently play the collection’s titles is their original 4×3 mode, or in a widescreen 16×9 mode. Due to the Genesis’ proprietary screen size, most of the games look quite respectable in widescreen mode. Game emulation is handed expertly- from game speed to the recreation of Genesis’ sound chip. We didn’t see or hear any deviance from the gameplay found while playing the same title on Sega hardware; developer Backbone entertainment should be commended.
Just make sure the sheets are clean, Ewok. The last room reeked of wild wookie.
Our criticisms of the compilation are few. When the original Sonic and Knuckles game appeared, it allowed both Sonic 2 and Sonic 3 to be piggy-backed on top of the game, adding content to the previous titles. No such option exists in this collection. Some of the more obscure, but rewarding, Sega titles like Ranger X, Devilish, and Subterrainia are omitted. We would have liked to have seen more of these lesser known titles. Still, with the high number of high-profile games on this collection, this is a minor admonition.
Overall, the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection is a must-own title for any gamer with the slightest interest in retro gaming. The forty titles on this compilation represent one of the best gaming values for contemporary players. Unlike other collections who’ve had spotty emulation (SNK Arcade Classics Vol 1 for PS2 and PSP, we’re looking at you), SUGC offers a near-perfect recreation of our beloved favorites.