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Adam Ghiggino
13 Mar, 2009

SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection Review

PS3 Review | All together now: "Saaaay-ga!"
Whether you pronounced it "Say-ga" like in the title screens of so many of their games, or "See-ga" like the Australian commercials which dominated television and VHS rental tapes alike in the early 90's, there's no denying that Sega used to be one of the most influential forces in video gaming. Now the company now is somewhat of a shadow of its former glory, with no current-gen console to its name and a mascot struggling to find his place these days. But the late 80's/early 90's? Sega was the bomb. The Sega Mega Drive did what Nintendidn't (although that pun worked a little better when it was contemporary), boasting arcade quality ports, blast-processing-powered graphics and fun original titles like Comix Zone, Vectorman and of course, Sonic the Hedgehog. These days, Sega seems intent on making endless collections of these games for today's gaming audience, but with this, the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, have Sega finally created a cornucopia to end all others?

The Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection's list of games is certainly formidable, with the following games available from the outset: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Alien Storm, Altered Beast, Bonanza Bros., Columns, Comix Zone, Decap Attack, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Dynamite Headdy, ESWAT: City Under Siege, Ecco the Dolphin, Ecco: The Tides of Time, Fatal Labyrinth, Flicky, Gain Ground, Golden Axe, Golden Axe II, Golden Axe III, Kid Chameleon, Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom, Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, Ristar, Shining in the Darkness, Shining Force, Shining Force II: Ancient Sealing, Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master, Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, Streets of Rage, Streets of Rage 2, Streets of Rage 3, Super Thunder Blade, The Story of Thor, Vectorman and Vectorman 2.

Wow. That's a pretty big list of gaming goodness, and on top of these games there are also several unlockable Sega Master System games and Arcade titles (although this list is hardly as voluminous): Alien Storm, Congo Bongo, Fantasy Zone, Golden Axe Warrior, Phantasy Star, Shinobi, Space Harrier and Zaxxon. Unfortunately, the titles using lock-on technology from the Sonic franchise have not made their way into this collection, so that means no Knuckles in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles or Blue Sphere.

So the line-up is impressive, although there is a fair amount recycled here. Put your hand up if you've purchased a collection over the last few years, or downloaded from Virtual Console or XBLA Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco the Dolphin, Comix Zone or Kid Chameleon. However, if you're looking a comprehensive sampling of what many people found great about the old console, you've come to the right place.

Sonic the Hedgehog, he's the one and only, da da da da.

Sonic the Hedgehog, he's the one and only, da da da da.
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It's probably a little presumptuous to say that there is something for everyone in the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection, although several major genres are covered. For the platforming fans, the excellent Sonic the Hedgehog 1, 2, 3 and Sonic and Knuckles are all present and accounted for. These games have lost none of their sense of speed or charm, and hold up remarkably well. There are also some less well-known attempts such as Dynamite Headdy and Decap Attack, both of which fit into an interesting niche between the enjoyable and the simply bizarre. Action fans are catered for with a plethora of games such as Streets of Rage, Altered Beast, the Golden Axe games and Shinobi III, which all follow the simple formula of walk around, kill stuff till dead, and repeat. There are also plenty of classic RPG titles to enjoy, including the Phantasy Star series and the more cartoony Shining Force titles, the third game of which even had an interesting take on a first-person perspective. Puzzle-players have Columns and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. Finally, there are the completely original games, such as the weird tranquility of the Ecco the Dolphin games and the awesome comic-styled beat 'em up Comix Zone that should not be missed.

So, being branded as the definitive Mega Drive collection for the high definition generation, how good do these games look? Well, to be honest, they look pretty much the same. The games look exactly the same as their Mega Drive counterparts, even down to the occasional slow down and glitches that the originals had. When you first start a game, they'll appear in their original 4:3 aspect ratio, with a game-specific border around them. You're able to stretch the image to fill 16:9 widescreen, or any other size much like how retro games are presented on XBLA. There is also a 'graphic smoothing' option which pretty much does what it says on the box, smoothing out the pixellated graphics so they appear a little more natural. This option does unfortunately, sometimes mean smoothing out some detail, for instance in Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine graphic smoothing takes out the pupils of the Mean Beans' eyes.

I'm looking forward to killing you, very soon!

I'm looking forward to killing you, very soon!
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While not necessarily one of the main draws of this collection, one of its smartest design decisions is the implementation of Achievements/Trophies in the game. Everybody likes collecting Achievements, right? Well to collect them in Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection you're actually going to have to give every game in it a chance. The Achievements range from simply collecting a Chaos Emerald in Sonic the Hedgehog to reaching 20,000 points on Columns. They're fantastic incentive to actually get you to play all the games in the collection in-depth, rather than just sticking to the more famous titles or the ones within your preferred genre. They might even get you to try the lesser Sonic Spinball and Sonic 3D titles, although you don't have to play them for too long.

As for further extras in the collection, every game comes equipped with a 'Museum' with box art and 'Did You Know?' facts if you're after further information. There are also unlockable interviews with several creators of the original games, in addition to the aforementioned unlockable Master System and Arcade titles. It appears that many of these interviews appeared in the original Sega Mega Drive Collection on PS2 & PSP, which also shared several of the same games, unfortunately even retaining their poor encoding, which is a shame in regards to the rest of the Ultimate Collection's slick presentation. Nevertheless, they are interesting and insightful, and can take a bit of work to unlock if we do say so ourselves.

What a big cavern. I guess there would be an... Ecco... in there?

What a big cavern. I guess there would be an... Ecco... in there?
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Obviously, there are other titles we wish had made it into the collection. In fact, anyone who used to own a Mega Drive probably has at least one or two titles they wish made it in as well. As for us, we think that if you're going to introduce Master System and Arcade unlockables why not bring in some fan favourites like Wonder Boy, or rarities like SegaSonic the Arcade? But we suppose that this isn't an Ultimate Master System collection, nor is it an Ultimate Arcade collection. It's once again the Mega Drive's show, and considering the quality and variety on display, it's a fine send-off for the console if it is indeed the 'Ultimate Collection' it claims to be.

At the budget price that Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection's been released at, it offers tremendous value for money. There are over forty classic Sega games presented just as they were back in their heyday, with interesting incentives included to keep you playing through all of the titles included in the collection. There's a lot of retro-goodness to find, whether you're a Sega fan looking for a nostalgia trip, or you missed the Sega/Nintendo console wars and want to see the company's golden age. From the serene to the silly, the fast to the furious, and the deep to the devious, the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection is possibly the company's best retro work so far.
The Score
A terrific sampling of the Mega Drive's greatest hits, with excellent achievements that egg you on to play them all. 8
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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25 Comments
5 years ago
This looks like a great package to add to the collection and I look for to reminiscing as I play these old games. What I would really love to see is a Ultimate Commodore 64 collection, this is where my gaming obsession really began, Impossible Mission, Pitstop II, Sacred Armour of Antraid, Barbarian,Raid over Moscow, Paradroid, International Karate, Bubble Bobble, Last Ninja to name but a few, I know there's lots of fan sites with emulators and such but the added bonus of Trophies/Achievements and unlockable content(video history docs. etc) would be great for us veteran gamers and for newer gamers to experience such a momentous period in gaming history
5 years ago
What can I say... SOLD!

Golden Axe, Shinobi and, of course, Sonic. That's all I need to show off the power of my PS3.

I think that most of these games show why gaming is so big now. When *new* gamers go on about their really cool games I just refer them to these (and other) classics. The building blocks of games as we know them today.
5 years ago
If I can find this at a bargain price I'll pick it up, still have my old copies of Shinobi, Golden Axe and Streets of Rage.
5 years ago
Here's an old school question for ya:

*SUPER OLD SPOILER POSSIBLE LIKE 18 YEARS OLD OR SOMETHING*

How come in Streets of Rage 3 i only could get to the stage 5 ending? I know there is 8 levels but I would only ever get to the stage 5 ending where you fought Mr X and he was a robot?
5 years ago
skrob73 wrote
Ultimate Commodore 64 collection, this is where my gaming obsession really began, Impossible Mission, Pitstop II, Sacred Armour of Antraid, Barbarian,Raid over Moscow, Paradroid, International Karate, Bubble Bobble, Last Ninja to name but a fewy
My kingdom for a new version of paradroid !!
5 years ago
It's Nintendon't icon_razz.gif
5 years ago
Ahh I love this collection, it's like my early childhood on one disc =D

my only gripes are:
-no online multiplayer;
-no Sonic & Knuckles lock-on functionality (you know, S3&K, etc..); and
-that awful video smoothing option (but at least it's optional).
5 years ago
legend166 wrote
It's Nintendon't icon_razz.gif
Yes I remember seeing a few games listed as being on the Wii's online store, does this mean they have exclusive rights to the Commodore brand?
5 years ago
its seeeeeega! not saaaaayga!

I don't care what SEGA claim its called, its obvious they don't have a clue about their company! Just look at Sonic & the Black Knight for proof they don't have a f**king clue!
5 years ago
This collection is great value and I would recommend it to anyone with even a minor interest in the older Seeega games. At less than $2 a game how can you go wrong?
5 years ago
Miss the Sega / Nintendo fanboy wars - a true bloodbath
5 years ago
RXWAG wrote
Here's an old school question for ya:

*SUPER OLD SPOILER POSSIBLE LIKE 18 YEARS OLD OR SOMETHING*

How come in Streets of Rage 3 i only could get to the stage 5 ending? I know there is 8 levels but I would only ever get to the stage 5 ending where you fought Mr X and he was a robot?
You need to play on at least Normal difficulty to advance past the 5th stage. It can be pretty challenging but if you play co-op and collect all the 1-ups scattered throughout the levels, it becomes much easier. I’d say hit me up some time but yeah, no online co-op and all that...

Anyway, I would have paid full price for this. Streets of Rage 3 and Shinobi from the Master System are 2 of my favourite games of all time. The achievements, however, are a huge letdown and do absolutely nothing in adding motivation, as getting most require 10 minutes and no skill whatsoever. I was so psyched about the possibilities – things like beat Streets 3 on Hard or without continues or something, or hitting certain scores in games like Shinobi which would require you to finish it without dying/continuing, but none of them seem to be actual achievements other than “You played this game – well done!”. Getting 1k for this game would give me absolutely no satisfaction, but at least the games rock.

Oh, and smoothing is absolute poo. Personally speaking, the games look way better without it, and they could have done a whole lot more in making them “HD”.

Overall though, this is one of my favourite games on the 360. And yes, The Dragons Trap would have made this collection infinitely better, but oh well.
5 years ago
Vectorman and Comix zone on it's old had me sold, the rest is just gravey.

Will probbably pick it up this weekend.
5 years ago
@Gutsman, you have no idea do you? We are talking HOTD, Madworld and Conduit over the next 6 months. Sonic is a stupid example to make and come to think of it so are many of the PS360 Sega games like Golden Axe HD.

Sega still have it, of course they do, because they are still in business despite all the crap from Sony and M$ over the last decade.

Shinobi alone makes them gods, and long before any new guys turned up.
5 years ago
Streets of Rage 3 was from the Megadrive actually mate...
5 years ago
waz79 wrote
@Gutsman, you have no idea do you? We are talking HOTD, Madworld and Conduit over the next 6 months.
Madworld and Conduit are both being published by Sega not Developed by them, not sure about HOTD but probbably the same.
5 years ago
What the hell happened to Sonic 3 & Knuckles??? If they can manage to do it on the GameCube (Sonic Mega Collection), then why can't they do it here? They shouldn't be played as seperate games, they need, yearn even to be played as one!

If/when I get a HD console, this is definately going to be one of my purchases, even with a disappointing lack of S3&K.

Also, why only Fantasy Zone? Why not Fantasy Zone 2 as well, and the marvelous Alex Kidd in Miracle World? Two master system classics...
5 years ago
waz79 wrote
@Gutsman, you have no idea do you? We are talking HOTD, Madworld and Conduit over the next 6 months.
Well done mate, so how about games SEGA made eh? Like Benza said, SEGA didn't develop them. HOTD is very awesome, also made by a non-sega studio. The best games to come from SEGA in along time aren't even made by them, seems like they don't have it anymore...
5 years ago
Phreakuency wrote
Streets of Rage 3 was from the Megadrive actually mate...
You’re talking to me, right? I think you misunderstood my words... I only specified Shinobi because Streets 3 goes without saying – its part of the Mega Drive collection. Shinobi III is also in the game and is arguably more popular than Shinobi MS, but I prefer the MS version, by a long shot. But I can see how what I said could be misinterpreted.

tootie_kicks wrote
Also, why only Fantasy Zone? Why not Fantasy Zone 2 as well, and the marvelous Alex Kidd in Miracle World? Two master system classics...
I’d definitely replace Miracle World with Enchanted Castle, and reckon EC is the worst in the series. Even High Tech World is... scratch that, but EC is still crap.
5 years ago
My only disapointment with this is the lack of Wonderboy.
5 years ago
Been playing this today and the games I wanted it for are great although Vector Man is a lot harder then I remember. Comix Zone is still fucking awesome though.

But the best bit is some of the games I've never heard of, That story of Thor game? Thats fucking awesome, it's like Zelda meets Alladin meets Terranigma.
5 years ago
It's a good collection of Sega games, but there's too many great titles missing from the line up! Lemmings the Sega MD version is one definite title that should be here,an addictive puzzle game with a thumping sonic The Hedgehog disco soundtrack! And what about Jewel Master? A medieval action game with 5 really challenging levels that see you battling the evil demon king! Jewel Master also has a great soundtrack,this is one of Sega's forgotten titles.The Revenge Of Shinobi and Shadow Dancer should be included alongside Shinobi III.And in my personal opinion Sonic The Hedgehog titles should not be in this collection because they have already been released dozens of times on Gamecube,X Box,Playstation 2 and Sega Saturn.Sega should focus on titles that are not as popular as Sonic and Ristar to give other games a chance to be played again.In fairness it is a good collection of 16 bit games if only it wasn't so repetitive!
5 years ago
A megadrive collection without sonic is like a best of Vanila Ice CD with Ice Ice Baby.
5 years ago
Quote
Unfortunately, the titles using lock-on technology from the Sonic franchise have not made their way into this collection, so that means no Knuckles in Sonic 2, Sonic 3 & Knuckles
Despite this being an awesome collection, this still fills me with old-school fanboy rage. If the Sega Saturn can do it...
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  26/02/2009 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  SEGA Australia
Genre:
  Arcade
Year Made:
  2008

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