Like many of the readers of this review, you probably grew up with the Sega Genesis – like I did. Most of my childhood memories are off the original Sonic games (back when it was still good) and Golden Axe, slowly eating away at my social life and it was the console which pulled me into gaming. And when Sega originally brought some of my favourite childhood games to the Xbox Live Arcade, I jumped for joy. But then reading the announcement that they were bringing almost every game I played as a child on a retail disc, words could not explain how much I crave this.
With any game that is essentially a collection of previously released titles (which this is) you can’t exactly review it as any normal game on things such as graphics, audio and story line. So instead, it’ll be reviewed on a bunch of things such as; quality and content – which makes this as fair review as possible.
When booting the game for the first time, you’re greeted by a menu system which looks extremely familiar, yes; it is the Mega Drive menu system – Nostalgia kicking yet? Well, don’t worry; it’ll be hitting you very soon. After taking in the menu, you can’t help but wonder what the weird little red squares are next to each one of the 49 games – there is a 5 star rating system for every game which can be used by simply moving the stick left or right on each one; like the original Sonic game? Give it 5 stars, dislike Alex Kidd? Give it 1. It’s up to you.
Another feature of the game which can be launched from the games main menu (other then the games) is called museum – which is available on every title from the main menu. Through this feature you’re able to see the history of every one of the 49 games, such as; the artwork for the cartridges and facts about the game – which is always interesting (no sarcasm intended). This is a feature in the game I loved, it’s something I personally haven’t seen been done in a game before.
From unlocking the achievements on the Xbox 360 version, you also unlock a bunch of extra content which is found via the ‘extra’ option on the main menu. Within this screen you’ll be able to watch interviews with the original developers of a bunch of different games like Phantasy Star and Sonic Adventures. As well as the interviews, there are also a few arcade titles that Sega released during the Mega Drive era such as Altered Beast Arcade and Golden Axe Warrior.
Anyway, onto the most important feature of the ultimate collection – the huge amount of games which come on the disk (a list of titles can be found below this paragraph). What I must get of my chest first; I forgot how hard games used to be, Ninja Gaiden Black’s difficulty has nothin’ on E-Swat and Shinobi 3’s difficulty even after setting them to there apparent easy setting – I still had my ass handed to me on every level against every boss.
All of the games on the disk still come in there original pixelated state to remind you off the good ol’ days of playing Sonic Adventures on your 20” CRT TV. And they surprisingly don’t look that bad while playing them on a screen double the size of what you used to play on while you were 7 years old. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the audio of almost every single game on the ultimate collection – they sounded crap back then through your TV speaker and it sound even crappier now through a 5.1 system. The only exception to the audio statement is the Sonic Adventure series, how warm and tingly you feel inside when you hear the song for the first zone – you can’t help but put a smile on your face while trying to beat Dr. Robotnick, the bastard.
It’s very rare that a game can be described as a bargain, and I’m already putting money on that this is the best for your money this year. The amount of nostalgia you’ll receive from playing this game is priceless, but if you’re too young for this generation of games and missed it – you owe it to yourselves to buy this and check the games which kick started the many fantastic franchises that you love today.