The Sega Genesis is a console right at the heart of my childhood. The first console I had where I could actually hold the controller, I have many fond memories playing through the Genesis' classic library. I still own one and get it out to play through my favorites at least once a year. So how does Sega's newest collection Sega Genesis Classics compare to owning the original?
The most important thing about any game compilation is the games. Sega Genesis Classics boasts over 50 games from the Genesis' wide library of games. It includes most of the games from the physical editions of Volumes 1-5 of the PC game also called Sega Genesis Classics, including many fan-favorites like the Streets of Rage games, the Golden Axe trilogy, the Phantasy Star games (save the original), as well as Sonic and Sonic 2.
Overall it adds 17 games to last generation's Genesis compilation titled Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, including Wonder Boy III, Revenge of Shinobi, Toe Jam and Earl and the much requested Gunstar Heroes. However, this is at the cost of 11 games from this collection. These are mostly the extra unlockable games such as Fantasy Zone, the original Phantasy Star, and Space Harrier. Most disappointingly you will find this library void of the Ecco the Dolphin games, Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. This is despite these four being included in the original PC release.
There are a lot of games here which people will be excited to see. I know that a lot of people have "that game" on their wish list for the anthology. I think Sega has answered a lot of people's hopes here with some of the new games added to the list. There are a lot of really great games here which will satisfy a lot of players childhood favorites. However, you are never going to have it all, and the Disney games are obviously absent, as well as a lot of others people were keen to see such as Chiki Chiki Boys or Rocket Knight Adventures.
There are of course some filler games here too such as Crack Down, Shadow Dancer and Super Thunder Blade which I don't think many people will be excited about, but they add something all the same. My main complaint would be the balancing issues as platformers, brawlers and RPGs dominate this library. However, this is largely due to the inclusion of a few popular franchises in their entirety.
Fans of the Genesis were, of course, expecting to see the final 2 Sonic games released on the console included on any of its compilations. My hope was that they would be unlockable, much how there were unlockable games on the previous collection. However, I completed quite a few of the challenges and trophies without unlocking any extra content. Unlike Sonic's collection, not every game has a trophy attached and as such we don't have the interesting interviews to watch from the archives. The original box art is missing here too.
Speaking of these challenges while some are still moderate most are pretty difficult. For example, Streets of Rage requires you to reach the end without using a continue. Even a seasoned player like myself doesn't achieve that every run and I've finished it dozens of times. Reasonable challenges would encourage players to play games they are not so familiar with and try something new. The difficulty of these will make most players stick to their tried and tested favorites. Some people will still enjoy being challenged on their old gaming skills.
Sega Genesis Classics does come with a few extra perks. There is online multiplayer, so you will no longer have to have your friends in your house in order to play your favorite Genesis games together. While you're online, you can surf the leaderboards to compare your scores with others. As far as emulation goes, each game has four save states and a fast forward and rewind button for cutscenes. Before launching a game, you can fiddle around with a lot of options to suit your style.
The overall gameplay emulation is really smooth. A lot of ports particularly of Sonic games are known for having problematic controls that don't match the feel of the Genesis. However, I noticed no difference between playing this collection and playing the games I own on an original console, so they have done a perfect job here. The graphics were mostly smooth. I did notice some flicker on Sonic 2's water effects, but this was a rare issue. The sound emulation, on the other hand, was a completely different situation. Some of the music sounded very different to the original and some of the tones they used were so jarring were even quite painful to listen to.
While there were a lot of games I really enjoyed revisiting while playing the Sega Genesis Classics I can't say I wasn't a little disappointed in the package as a whole. There are many great games here, and even a few fantastic ones I discovered for the first time. However, the loss of Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles does not go by unnoticed. My only hope is there is a way to unlock these games that I simply didn't discover. The emulation is a lot smoother than last generation's collection and yet I cannot recommend it as a replacement.
While you shouldn't always compare a collection of games to another I cannot help but do so here. The original artwork, accurate sound emulation, interviews with developers and unlockable games included with Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection just fell like more of a complete package. The realistic goals set by the trophies encouraged me to try a good chunk of each game in the collection. The extra games and documentary style videos are a splendid reward. With its much more difficult challenges, I often passed on the opportunity in Sega Genesis Classics. Especially knowing there was no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Sega Genesis Classics Review | Final Thoughts
Fans of the Genesis that can't play their beloved childhood games will find a lot of joy in this compilation. There are a large variety of old classics that play extremely smoothly. However, owners of the original hardware or a previous collection may want to pass this one up. Or at least wait for the lineup announcement for the Genesis Mini.
Sega Genesis Classics was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a code provided by the publisher. It is also available on PC via Steam and Xbox One.
- Some Great New Additions
- Really Accurate Gameplay Emulation
- Online Multiplayer
- Missing Some Key Titles
- Sound Emulation is Poor
- No Extras