This title was reviewed on PS4, but is also available on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch.
It seems that in today’s day and age, Retro is coming back in style. Whether it be the tons of remakes/remasters of classics like Crash Bandicoot, Spyro, and the upcoming MediEvil, to the re-releases of classic consoles like the NES, SNES,and PlayStation Mini, it’s never been a better time to be a retro collector like myself. One company who has long been in the retro re-release game is Sega, who’ve had third-parties create new Mega Drive consoles for years now, as well as releasing tons of collections of their classics for newer systems such as the Sonic Mega Collection and the Ultimate Mega Drive Collection. Now though, Sega’s classics are finally on PS4. To tackle such a collection, I have to look at two things: the emulation and the actual games within. How does this new collection fare? Let’s find out.
One thing that’s always been a problem with the Mega Drive is its emulation, so it is very important that this new collection got its emulation right. Thankfully, from what I played, all the emulation feels solid here. Numerous issues I expected to happen from other emulated Sega games didn’t happen. A good example being Comix Zone, where some older emulators had problems rendering the comic page borders and their effects, the Mega Drive Classics version lacks these problems. All games run like they should, and I even dug out some of my old Mega Drive games on original hardware to compare, and everything runs and looks as it should, albeit up scaled somewhat so they actually look better, which I can appreciate. Sometimes though the emulation is a little TOO good, as slowdowns that occur on original hardware still occurs, although nothing happens that is a result of poor emulation.
One of the hardest things to emulate on the Mega Drive though is the sound chip, and many have tried and failed at emulating it correctly. Even those third-party modern Mega Drives I mentioned earlier have really poor sound emulation, so you can see how hard that is to get right. Thankfully though, the sound emulation here is solid, with Sonic 2’s iconic main title theme being perfectly intact whether I blasted it through my TV speakers or my headset, which I have to commend. There’s even a few neat extras here too, such as being able to play online with a buddy taking control of the second controller. This online mode is done very well and works just as well as actually plugging two controllers in, so that’s a nice touch.
So the emulation is pretty much perfect, but that don’t mean squat if the games that are being emulated aren’t up to snuff. Luckily Mega Drive Classics ain’t no slouch. There’s 50 games to choose from and for the most part they’re some of the best the Mega Drive had to offer. You have Alex Kidd, Vectorman 1 and 2, the Golden Axe and Streets of Rage trilogies, Comix Zone, Phantasy Star, Altered Beast, three Shinobi, titles and four Sonic games.
You definitely have your pick of the litter here, but the library is lacking in some areas. For starters, two of those four Sonic titles are questionable at best, and I feel that Sonic Spinball and 3D Blast aren’t the best games to represent the blue blur and his console. Plus, this collection is missing four of the best Mega Drive games ever: Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Ecco the Dolphin and its sequel. What makes this worse is that these titles were included in the Ultimate Mega Drive Collection on PS3 a few years back. Their omission here is felt pretty badly, and I wish these titles were included in the pack. Despite this, this is definitely the biggest library of titles on a console Sega collection, which is something to commend. The aforementioned Ultimate collection came close with 49, but that number is padded out with a few arcade ports, making Sega Mega Drive Classics the largest PURE Mega Drive collection, and it’s solid overall.
If you’re hankering for some nostalgia or wanting to check some of your favourite franchises’ *cough* Sonic *cough* roots, then you can do no wrong with the Mega Drive Classics compilation. 50 of some of the best titles the console has to offer is certainly a bargain, especially when you consider how expensive games like Streets of Rage 3 can go for. Price tag aside, the emulation is pretty much perfect here, even the sound, and the games look much better upscaled on a modern TV. Admittedly, the absence of some of the best games on the system like Sonic 3 is a bummer, but there’s more than enough here to make up for it, and the addition of online play is a welcome touch.