Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection

sonic box

(XBox 360 & Playstation 3 – Reviewed on XBox 360) – by ‘Tiger’ Oliver

Pros:
The biggest collection of Genesis games to date
Flawless controls

Cons:
Not as advertised – can’t play in HD
Lack of
Sonic & Knuckles lock-on feature
It’s essentially the same package sold a million times before

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m a HUGE Sonic fan. Not a fanboy, mind you, but a fan.

With that out of the way, when I saw Sonic’s Ulitmate Genesis Collection, I figured it was yet another collection of Genesis-era games…

…and I was right.

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection brings together 40 of the most popular Sega Genesis games with an additional nine that you can unlock. These include all the Sonic games (which I will discuss later), Columns, Altered Beast, Phantasy Stars II-IV (with I being unlockable), Vectorman I-II and the first two Ecco games, just to name a few. This game also includes unlockable interviews with the designers of the original games.

How does SUGC stack up in the end?

Gameplay – 3/5

My only complaint about the gameplay is the lack of the lock-on feature with Sonic & Knuckles to Sonic 1-3. According to Ethan Einhorn on a Feb. 10 statement on SEGA America’s blog, “Tight development timelines are a production reality, and in this instance, we had to choose between allotting engineering hours, localization, test resources, and front-end (menu) adjustment to support ‘Lock-On’, or dropping several titles from the collection altogether. Specifically, we would have had to drop all of the bonus games from the disc, as they all required unique emulation solutions. Faced with an either/or scenario, we chose to retain our title lineup in its entirety.”

In layman’s terms: they were too lazy to do it.

This almost makes me want to reinburse Hastings the money it spent on the copy of the game I rented, shoot the disk with a shotgun and buy Sonic & Knuckles on XBox Live Arcade so I can have the lock-on feature.

Save that small problem, the gameplay is varied, classic and timeless. Nothing new, as it should be. It’s the same old-same old that we’ve played for nearly the last twenty years. This (barely) saves the collection from getting a two rating in this category.

Graphics – 3/5

Don’t be confused with what the box says, these games are not in HD. The graphics are, however, in crystal-clear 16-bit. Yes, in the age of HD-gaming, they didn’t have the courtesy of updating the graphics, and they even lied to us that these games were able to be played in HD! It’s like comparing grape juice to grape drink: grape drink is delicious and crisp in its own right, but it’s NOT grape juice.

Not to say that some of these games aren’t beautiful in their own right. Sonic the Hedgehog and Vectorman were some of the most gorgeous video games ever made in terms of animation and background pixilization. However, they updated Street Fighter II‘s graphics, they could have here.

When you first start up each game, it’s shown in 4:3 screen size (translation: non-widescreen television size). However, you DO have the option to change it to fit your screen manually with the left analog stick or send it directly into 16:9 (widescreen) mode, although any adjustments distorts the graphics a tiny bit. Besides using the LB and RB buttons to go from widescreen to regular screen size, this menu functions no different than the one available on XBox Arcade versions.

The one thing that annoys me is the smoothing feature. First, it bastardizes the graphics of the game, making them actually worse than being blatently pixilated. Second, they ripped off XBox Arcade by adding this feature, let alone many of the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive emulators that have this feature, except with more and better filters than the one used here.

Overall, with the exception of the blatent ripoffs and whatnot, the graphics are preserved perfectly.

Sound – 4/5

C’mon, it’s Genesis-era music. Mostly cheesy, completely timeless.

Controls – 4/5

There’s a saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Well, with SUGC, you can, even though there’s no possible way they could have even come close to screwing up the controls, even if they tried.

There are three control modes. The first one is the default one set up to “optimize” the controller with the game. If you’re a purist, there’s the second method: the good ol’ ABC control scheme, where the X, A, & B buttons on the controller act as the Genesis A, B, & C, respectively. Or, if you’re anal retentive about which buttons do what, you can customize the control scheme yourself.

Replay Value – 3/5

Whether you’re a seasoned Genesis veteran, checking some – if not all – of these games out for the first time, or a nostalgic picking up a piece of your past, you’ll at least find a few of these games will keep bringing you back for more.

Unfortunately, we’ve played most of these half a million times already, if not all of them. If we haven’t played them on consoles, then we’ve done so on emulators – which is where collections like these should stay.

Overall Score – 3.5/5

Buy? – Ain’t Worth it

If you don’t have a internet connection: First off, shame on you. Secondly, only buy this when the price goes down OR if you can get it at a discount price, like at a pawn shop or used at GameStop.

If you have an internet connection: Don’t go buy this game. Seriously. Although it’ll cost more, you’re better off buying all of the classic Sega games on XBox Live Arcade. With the recent addition of Sonic & Knuckles, you’ll be able to emulate the lock-on feature so you can play Sonic 2 & Knuckles & Sonic 3 & Knuckles, as well as the rest of the available games without toting around a disc that has less functionality than a paperweight or a coaster.

Rent? – Luxury Item

If you honestly NEED to get your Genesis fix, it’s worth the price of renting. If you’re like me and played these things over 9000 times, do something more useful with the money like renting something else, like an actual XBox 360 game.

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