Nintendo is certainly no stranger when it comes to reintroducing its fans with some of their older classics. Nintendo’s online service continues to trickle out all too familiar games from the NES library on a monthly basis. The Nintendo Classic Mini line meanwhile has been a huge sales success over the last two-plus years with gamers foaming at the mouth they’ll see it continue with the Nintendo 64 or even Game Boy next. Other publishers have too been exploring the world of retro compilations – everyone from Capcom with its bundling of its Mega Man, Mega Man X and Street Fighter series to even Sony who recently released the PlayStation Classic (wonder where that idea came from).
SEGA is another company who’s no stranger to repackaging its old Mega Drive titles be it through devices you can hook up to your TV, its SEGA Forever service and most recently its new SEGA AGES line for Switch. SEGA Mega Drive Classics Review takes a more traditional approach though bundling around 50 games into one cartridge. It’s a rather generous package especially compared to other efforts currently out there but how does the quality measure up?
As the title may suggest, SEGA Mega Drive Classics contains a number of well… classics. Both the original Sonic the Hedgehog and its sequel hold up well with the latter in particular still one of the best platformers of all time. The Streets of Rage trilogy is as satisfying to batter your way through as ever especially with a friend in tow. Comix Zone meanwhile is a wonderfully animated side-scrolling beat ‘em up with a fantastic comic book aesthetic. It’s not just short experiences where you’ll see the end credits within an hour or so either as also included are not one, not two but three great Phantasy Star games.
With such a large roster there was bound to be some stinkers and SEGA Mega Drive Classics contains its fair share. Games like the inferior version of Virtua Fighter 2, the awkward to handle Sonic 3D Blast or the just downright painful Altered Beast might (and I cannot stress enough the word might) be worth a quick five minutes if just to check it off the list but nothing more beyond that.
And of course, there’s a bunch of games that fall somewhere in the middle, best described as neat little distractions but easily forgotten. Overall though, the mix of quality on offer feels weighted more toward the positive direction with a good majority of the Mega Drive’s greatest hits represented in some fashion.
That being said while the fifty games do cover a good range of genres and franchises, there are a few glaring omissions that certainly sting. Being the mascot for the system, it’s really disappointing to find both Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles absent, two games that easily rank as some of the best in their field. The Thunder Force series disappointingly makes no appearance whatsoever – a real shame especially after recently sampling the excellent fourth entry through the SEGA AGES series. The majestic Ecco the Dolphin (another Mega Drive highlight) is also playing truant with a few more examples springing into my head as I type this. Bottom line is you’re never going to please everyone when it comes to creating a compilation of any kind and SEGA Mega Drive Classics, unfortunately, suffers the same fate with some rather frustrating gaps in the console’s lineup. You’d have to imagine that contractual hurdles for some of these games are the reason behind their absence but it doesn’t make it any less disappointing.
The presentation of the game is decent overall the games running without any problems as far as I can tell in both docked and handheld mode. The menu is handled in a distinctive manner, essentially a 3D representation of a gamer’s bedroom. It’s silly but a unique way to display its rather large selection of games and options. Speaking of options, you can expect the usual mix of display filters, save states, leaderboards and local multiplayer along with a few not so expected features. Online multiplayer is a welcome addition but one restricted to a select few titles. In-game achievements are also a nice touch offering small goals for a handful of the games.
Sadly you won’t find any sort of museum feature in SEGA Mega Drive Classics, a real shame especially given a lot of these games’ rich history. Capcom set the bar high with its Mega Man collections and as a fan of SEGA, I would have loved to see the same level of care here with some artwork or early designs included as an extra treat.
Like any compilation, SEGA Mega Drive Classics consists of games ranging in quality from classic to just plain terrible and everything in between. That being said the good definitely outweighs the bad here and while it’s a shame this bundle is missing some key Mega Drive releases there’s still plenty of fun to be had experimenting with its fifty plus catalogue.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by SEGA