Three dimensional graphics and a solid orchestral score may be the staple of current gen consoles, but deep down, the basic mechanics of a successful game haven’t really changed. The Sega Megadrive Collection (trivia: known as The Sonic Collection in America) aims to fill that empty void in the hearts of nostalgic gamers in search of a break from modern franchises. But in a virtual world of powerful graphics and online multiplayer focus, is there still a market for the classics of yesteryear?
Transporting back to an era when Sega and Nintendo were the two big boys of videogaming and artistic cover sleeve illustrations closely resembled the in-game graphics (you wished) is something that younger gamers – myself included – narrowly missed out on. Introducing a new generation to the titles that inspired modern day gaming is no bad thing. With a collection of over 40 hits, the MD Collection is by no means comprehensive but with the likes of the Golden Axe trilogy, extensive Sonic collection and Phantasy Star series, there’s something for everyone.
If the Sega-inspired menu and distinctive jingle of 16-bit melodies doesn’t catch your breath then surely the choppy retro graphics (in HD) and vintage Sega logo will. Each game has been lovingly emulated utilising the Xbox controller to mimic the MD pad (with a few obvious design limitations). Generally speaking, the control system works without flaw, though at times it feels admittedly wrong to be controlling Sonic with a joystick. Unfortunately, the D-pad tends to force the fingers into uncomfortable angles, rendering this option defunct.
Suffice to say that it is difficult to fault the software itself; one cannot possibly bad-mouth a classic Alex Kidd janken match or dismiss the epic button-bashing of Streets Of Rage. Besides, the back catalogue of Sega titles covers a myriad of genres, so RPG lovers (Shining In The Darkness), platform fanatics (Vectorman) and even puzzle enthusiasts (Columns) are all catered for.
For inquisitive minds seeking the history behind the hit, a handy guide consisting of release details is available. Quirky trivia snippets add to the charm and the included box and cartridge art viewer is the icing on the cake for retro nuts. Sega have even added a ratings system for each game which can be altered by the player. So if you fancy playing your top three favourites, it’s simply a case of ordering the list by rating…unless you’re like me and rate practically everything five stars.
Like any decent title there are also bonuses to unlock. There are developer interviews and additional games to uncover by meeting criteria in selected games. This encourages the player to explore each title (as if you need extra encouragement!). Multiplayer is also available to settle those age old disputes of who rules the roost.
Last of all, I’m sure there are achievement players out there wondering exactly how the 1000 gamer points have been dispersed. With so many games to get through, each has a limit of around 20 – 25 gamerpoints, with one achievement for each title. I personally found some far too easy (a great example of this is Alex Kidd – I got 25GP for collecting coins during the first level) while some may take you that little bit longer to reach. Thankfully, an autosave feature is present to help you on the way, unlike the good old days where no such luxury existed. One thing is for sure, it certainly beats coming face to face with that tricky final boss, only to be greeted by a harsh GAME OVER then transported all the way back to level one. We all remember that scenario, usually followed by a distressed cry, more often than not culminating in one dead control pad (it was always the control pad’s fault).
Needless to say the Megadrive Collection is a must have addition to your Xbox library. Whether you’re a retro lover craving one more chance to play Shinobi or a modern gamer curious about the hype of classic arcade originals, you can’t go wrong with the Megadrive Collection. Now, if only Nintendo and Microsoft would talk…yeah, I can dream.