Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection
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7  |  A Great Value, But Has Its Issues
larsoncc , 5/4/2009 7:44:04 AM

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is a bit of a mixed bag.  On one hand, at $30, it’s a “can’t lose” proposition if you like Genesis games, or even mildly interested in the 16-bit era.  On the other hand, there are some issues with the collection that range from the slightly annoying to moderate nuisance.  My overall recommendation is to buy the game, but be mindful of the Collection’s weak points, lest they bite you later.

$30 is a pittance for what you get in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection.  There are 40 games included in this collection, and they are some of the best on the system.   This makes each game less than a buck, and it’s really tough to complain about anything when you’re paying such a low price for each game.  Despite the fact that the Genesis Collection from the PS2 era is both available and cheap (less than $10 last I checked), Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection gets my nod as the set of emulated titles to buy. 

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection compares well to other alternatives, as well.  Most titles on Virtual Console, XBLA, and PSN are $5 to $6 (US), so if you’re interested in the titles on the disc, it makes good financial sense to get this disc rather than purchasing ala carte.  Even if you’re comparing the disc to outright emulation, consider the value of your time.  If you make $15 an hour,  and it takes more than 2 hours to start your PC, load a bittorrent client, search for all 40 ROMs, move the ROMs over to your PS3, load PS3 Linux, load a PS3 Genesis emulator, and load each ROM to remap the controls, etc…  Then you’re better off buying the collection.  Heck, even if you’re just talking emulation on the PC, you’re much more likely to find more value for your time by purchasing Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection.  This disc is a steal, any way you look at it.

Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection is a good deal, but that doesn’t make it perfect.  There are some surprising omissions, for instance, Revenge of Shinobi isn’t on the disc, nor is AfterBurner.  Likewise, the collection doesn’t include any Sega CD or Sega 32X titles.  Never mind the fact that there’s a good 50GB of storage on the Blu Ray.  Never mind that the collection has the word “Ultimate” in the title, suggesting that it’s the be-all-and-end-all of collections.  At this point, I don’t see why damn near EVERY Genesis, Sega CD, and 32X title aren’t on this disc. 

You don’t get access to all of the titles right away.  The original Phantasy Star is in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, as are all of its sequels.  Unlocking the original Phantasy Star is an exercise in stupidity.  To unlock Phantasy Star, you have to play Sonic 2 with two controllers plugged in for the first level.  Presumably, you’re doing this “co-op” but come on, who in 2009 wants to play as Tails in Sonic 2, for one level, so that their buddy can unlock a 20 hour single-player experience? 

The save system kind of sucks.  If you use the in-game save, rather than pressing Select, then picking Save from the emulation menu, you’re at risk of losing your progress.  This happened to me in Phantasy Star, which was a bit disappointing.  To reiterate – do not use the save system in the “cart” itself.

From a technical perspective, it’s hard for me to understand why the in-game saves don’t work.  You’d think that they could “watch” the save game file in the emulator, and when it changes, they could have triggered a full emulation-based save.
Some people are saying that the audio reproduction on Space Harrier is way off.  I’ll give them that, but it seems like a minor complaint, given the depth of the Collection.  Space Harrier is on way too many systems for me to care about that one.

I’m giving Sega’s Ultimate Genesis Collection a 7/10 – it’s worthy of your game-dollar, but isn’t “special” by any means.

Finally, here’s a list of titles that appear on Sega’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, for those interested:

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alien Storm
Altered Beast
Beyond Oasis
Bonanza Bros.
Comix Zone
Decap Attack Starring Chuck D Head
Dr. Robotnick's Mean Bean Machine
Dynamite Headdy
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco: The Tides of Time
Fatal Labyrinth
Golden Axe 1, 2, 3
Kid Chameleon
Phantasy Star 1,2,3,4
Shining Force 1,2
Shining In the Darkness
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic & Knuckles
Sonic Spinball
Sonic The Hedgehog 1,2,3
Streets of Rage 1,2,3
Super Thunder Blade
Vectorman 1,2
Golden Axe Warrior
Alien Syndrome
Altered Beast
Congo Bongo
Fantasy Zone
Space Harrier

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