So I had intended to go through every game included in SEGA Mega Drive Classics and talk about which ones are worth checking out and which aren’t, but then I realised how massive the collection is (there’re over fifty games here) and figured it’d be too much. Seriously, there are SO many Mega Drive games here that it’ll take you a hell of a long time to see what each one has to offer. Besides, if you want a sneak peek at all of the games you can just check out Chris Scullion’s video which goes through them all right here…
Still, there’s still plenty to talk about regardless of whether or not I’m covering every game or not. One thing I can tell you to begin with though is this: SEGA Mega Drive Classics is worth owning even if you weren’t around to appreciate the 16-bit era of the Mega Drive to begin with.
There are fifty-one games included in the collection so there are a heck of a lot to play through across a wide variety of genres. Those who like their platformers will be right at home with the original Sonic the Hedghehog, with SEGA’s most famous superstar’s original adventure still holding up today. Sure, you don’t have the spin-dash, but when you have classic showdowns against Dr. Robotnik (I refuse to call him Eggman) you can’t complain.
Those who prefer a good old fashioned side-scrolling beat ‘em up will be glad to see that the Streets of Rage and Golden Axe series are present too. I’ve got a lot of love for both titles, though I think Streets of Rage is the one I have the fondest memories with – betraying my co-op player to side with Mr. X and then getting sent back a couple of levels was one of my favourite moments of the game in the past and I had to do it again for nostalgia sake. Want a piece of advice though? Stay away from Golden Axe III… it doesn’t show the series in a good light.
Fans of RPGs are in for a treat too, with titles in the Phantasy Star and Shining Force series available to play. My personal favourites had to be Beyond Oasis and Landstalker though – I’d never played either of these in the past and they’re both thoroughly enjoyable action-RPG experiences that hooked me in completely. There’s definitely a good RPG fix included in the collection and they’re pretty meaty too, with each offering a ton of hours of old-school gameplay.
Then there are quality titles like Columns and Revenge of Shinobi which I’ll always remember from the Mega Drive compilations when I was younger, and releases like Gunstar Heroes and Comix Zone which have actually appeared more recently in the Xbox Live Arcade. Sure, these aren’t necessarily mainstream games that everyone would’ve heard of, but they still offer entertaining gameplay experiences that’ll be nostalgic for lots of players. Oh, and I’ve got to mention Vector Man too, just because I loved the whole aesthetic of the games back in the day.
Unfortunately, whilst there’s an abundance of top quality titles available on SEGA Mega Drive Classics, there are some bad ones too. In my opinion the worst offenders are Virtua Fighter 2, Sonic 3D Blast and Galaxy Force 2 – Virtua Fighter 2 is just a boring and ugly representation of the series, Sonic 3D Blast was the first example of a bad 3D Sonic game, whilst Galaxy Force 2 just feels like a crap Star Fox. Sure, a lot of it is down to opinion (some people hate Altered Beast for example but I’ll always enjoy it), but there’re bound to be more than a few titles to be found that you simply won’t want to spend any time with.
Then there’s the fact that some big names seem to be omitted from the collection. Whilst I can appreciate not every game would make the cut, seeing titles like Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, OutRun and even Ecco the Dolphin missing is just a big shame. Given that SEGA own the licences for these games, the fact that they don’t appear just feels a bit absurd – especially since they’re iconic titles. Some other notable omissions are Aladdin, The Lion King and Mortal Kombat, though these are more understandable given the licencing issues involved with them. Still, they were big releases on the Mega Drive (especially Mortal Kombat with its inclusion of blood), so having them missing here is a bit of a shame.
Besides the abundance of quality games on offer, there are also a bunch of great features included that make SEGA Mega Drive Classics so worthwhile. Some of the ones which stand out the most are the quick saving and loading (easily done by holding the right stick up or down) and the rewind function which allows you to quickly go back in the game to fix any mistakes you made. Sure, it might be a little cheap, but it’s a good way to rectify errors without having to play through whole sections of a game again.
Then there’s online play to either compete with or against other players, online leaderboards to compare your scores with others, and even special achievements to unlock that challenge you in specific ways across each game. Whilst these sort of features are fairly standard in modern games, they weren’t around when a lot of these classic releases initially came out – seeing them modernised to include them just makes the experience all the more rewarding. I mean, we all want to compare our Columns scores, right?
SEGA Mega Drive Classics lives up to its name thanks to the abundance of genuinely ‘classic’ titles available in the package, with the majority of the fifty-one games included offering thoroughly entertaining experiences. Besides the well-known releases that are included, there are also a ton of titles that I hadn’t played before that I ended up loving, so it’s even opened up my eyes to some top quality 16-bit releases that I’d never even heard of before now… it’s great.
Add to that the inclusion of all of the neat features and the fact that you can play each game on the go with the Nintendo Switch, and it’s easy to see that SEGA Mega Drive Classics is an essential addition to anyone’s game collection – even if you weren’t there to enjoy them in their 16-bit heyday.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One