The console version of the Sega Genesis Classics Collection released back in late May. Had I reviewed the game back then, it likely would have scored a 1.5 or 2. It had so many issues that genuinely affected the enjoyment of those classic games that I believed it was completely inexcusable of Sega to have released a game in that state. Here we are now, a few patches later and things have changed significantly. While it still isn’t perfect–especially the online component of the game–the basic emulation issues have been resolved.
What Is It?
As the name suggests, Sega Genesis Classics is a collection of 50 Sega Genesis and Mega Drive game wrapped up in a neat little package. I won’t list the games here, instead I’ll link over to the official site which has the full list. You’ll find most of the game you’d expect in a Genesis collection. You’ll also find that Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are missing due to licensing rights of the original soundtrack. The Golden Axe series, Toejam & Earl, Streets of Rage, and Shinobi games are represented well though. They’re all safe choices, and that’s one of the problems with this collection. It doesn’t have any third-party titles which helped define the Genesis. Had a bit more effort been made to reach out to license holders, this collection could have been much better. What you do get, though, isn’t anything to sneeze at, and does justify its asking price.
Why Should I Care?
It wouldn’t be fair of me to review this game and not mention how bad the emulation performance was in the initial release. The audio stuttered and crackled, the games would randomly skip frames, and the online mode was a complete disaster that didn’t really allow you to pick what you wanted to play so much as choose what you didn’t want to play. If you buy a physical release of this game and install it on a console that has no internet connection, you can experience these issues for yourself. That is the state in which the game shipped. For a collection of retro games, there was no good reason that it came out so poorly. The PC version of this collection doesn’t suffer these issues. Thankfully, Sega didn’t leave the game in that state, rather they addressed the majority of the problems.
The sound has improved dramatically, and the stuttering is all but gone. I have had the games stutter on me every so often, but this was with the PS4 continuing to run the game in the background, going into standby and coming out of it several days in a row. Most people don’t leave a game running for days at a time.
The online mode is another matter. There have been some improvements to it, but connectivity and sync are still issues that crop up far too often for me to be able to say that playing these games online is a recommended experience. As a value-add feature, it really doesn’t bring much to the table. It’s nice when it works, but the long wait times to get a game going and then the uncertainty of the connection randomly dropping out make it something that becomes more of a frustration than anything else.
Finally, there is the recently added Virtual Reality mode. The game’s UI puts you in the middle of a 90’s teenager’s bedroom. It’s the sort of room that many of us remember. It was our world for those few years between middle-school and high-school. The PlayStation VR mode lets you look around the room and interact with the menus in a fully 3D environment. This is a pretty cool effect when you have the headset on, but it does have a few issues. The biggest one is that you can look over at the game shelf to select the game you want to play. What you point at will slide forward indicating that you’re selecting it. It’s hard to read the text on the game boxes. That’s why normally there is an overlay just to the right of the box that says what game it is and gives you options related to it. That overlay is still there, but is more often than not out of your field of view. You actually have to look to the right to be able to see it.
Despite the issues, there’s actually something fairly compelling about sitting there in front of a virtual TV in a room that has actual depth. With some refinement, they could really make this mode shine.
What Makes It Worth My Time And Money?
If you have a PS4, Xbox One, or PC, this collection is worth your money. There are several titles on this collection that now sell for upwards of $100 on their own. It’s also a good look back at what made the Genesis great. It had a wide variety of game genres, some of which you just don’t see anymore today. I do wish that Sega would consider expanding on this collection. There’s still a good bit of room on that bottom shelf. Let’s fill it! I also wish they’d consider branching off and doing other collections, like a Master System/Game Gear, Saturn, or Dreamcast collection.
It’s also important to realize that collections like this offer up legal ways of getting emulators and roms. If you’re someone who’s been downloading roms, then maybe you might consider picking this collection up to show that these games still have value to us retro-enthusiasts.