Long ago there was a console named the SEGA Mega Drive. I know this because I was lucky enough to have one as a kid. It was my pride and joy, something I gravitated to the second I was home from school and a place for me and my friends to play a seemingly endless number of classics that I still hold in the highest regard to this day.
We’re all very much aware of the impact of the Mega Drive. The historic games the console held, the almighty battle of the 90’s with Nintendo’s SNES. It holds a dear place in the heart of the lifelong gamer, and there’s always a reason to jump back into these games.
Fortunately, SEGA Mega Drive Classics is now a thing, and whilst it’s more or less a rejig of the collection released on Steam a couple of years ago, it’s always nice to play these classic games again on our shiny new TV’s and jump straight back in as if there hasn’t been over twenty years of gaming since their initial releases.
SEGA Mega Drive Classics then brings together over fifty games from the Mega Drive era into a single collection, and there’s no doubt it houses some truly remarkable games that amazingly, still hold up today as well as they ever have. There’s a huge variety in the games selected, allowing for a multitude of genres to collide across different titles, and if you’re looking to replay a classic from your childhood, you can’t really go wrong here with what’s being offered.
Yet, there’s a fair few games omitted which rubs me up the wrong way a tad. Super Hang-On, Ecco the Dolphin, Eternal Champions, Global Gladiators, even Sonic 3 (and Sonic & Knuckles) haven’t made the cut, which is as bizarre as it is disappointing. Given there are games in this collection I genuinely had never heard of before and needed to go online to learn anything about (Shining In The Darkness? Where have *you* been all my life?), it seems very odd that they wouldn’t make the cut in this collection that SEGA seem to believe is the finite master works of the system.
Still, with over fifty games here there are still some genuine classics included in a collection for the first time such as the glorious Gunstar Heroes along with the likes of the mighty ToeJam & Earl and Space Harrier II. Damn near every genre represented on the Mega Drive has at least one game in this collection, so there’s a great variety – Ristar sitting pretty next to Phantasy Star 2, 3, and 4 makes me inner kid very happy -, though there are some strange choices that will make you wonder if this collection could have been narrowed down a tad. Tightened up to make it look like more of an essential collection.
As it stands, the most important part of this collection are the games chosen, and whilst the Greatest Game in the History of Anything™ is included (hey there, Sonic 2), it’s almost baffling how straight up poorly they’re running. It’s not the end of the world, the endless argument in collections like these are whether or not they should literally just be straight ports of the original titles or refreshed for new audiences but for me the occasional stuttering, freezing and poor audio is less a nostalgic ‘oh remember how things used to be?’ and instead a ‘wait, they couldn’t have just fixed that before they dropped this?’. There are modern additions such as Trophies and Leaderboards, and you can mess with the settings on the emulator to add a little flexibility to the presentation and you can add scanlines and such. Why you would want to is a mystery to me, though.
And that’s the crux of collection. Yes there are online multiplayer options (but it’s horrendously shit, just ask this guy), leaderboards for various different statistics in games is a neat addition, they’ve added game saves and you can rewind and fast forward your gameplay if you want to have another crack at a mistake, deconstructing the challenge of these games for the players that didn’t grow up with no other option but to complete a game in single sitting. If you are one of those gamers and fancy an extra challenge the mirror mode which works on all games has your back. The screen is flipped, allowing you to play the game backwards and show off if you can really complete Streets of Rage in one sitting this way.
There’s naturally a nostalgia factor here but the fact is, while it’s subjective, the chances are the games you really want to play in this collection are already available elsewhere. The Streets of Rage Collection that was recently available on Xbox Live Gold showcases a far superior emulation, and you’re better off picking that up if you fancy playing through them again. Naturally on PS4 you’re limited with SEGA classics, so this may be your only option if you’re tied to one console. They’re not unplayable, but it’s disappointing how rough these emulations are. The aforementioned omissions leaves this Collection short of the absolute greatest the Mega Drive had to offer, and instead throws in some deep cuts that I’d imagine the majority of the audience would happily swap out for Ecco, Hang-On etc. I know I would.
For £25 though you are getting your moneys worth. There’s a hefty amount of classic gaming here and if you can look past the somewhat iffy versions of your childhood titles and you aren’t too bothered amount what’s missing, the added extras and the included challenges may this your go-to collection if you’re playing on PS4.
Anywhere else? You’ll find superior standalone versions of these games on the Xbox Store and Steam. Spend your money on those instead.
SEGA Mega Drive Classics is available now on Xbox One, PS4 (reviewed on PS4 Pro) and PC.
Developer / Publisher: SEGA
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. For our full review policy please go here.