For less than fifteen quid, you can get 40 classic games from Sega's golden era in the Mega Drive Collection. This has got to suck for anyone who handed over points for any of the games using the Live Arcade!
This is a pretty nifty price, as the next cheapest is on Amazon at £22.39 and as this deal is from Play.com, postage is included. It's heaps of fun dipping into the collection and basking in the warm glow of video game nostalgia. I still have my original MegaDrive but I have to admit it's nice to be able to turn on a game without five minutes of blowing on cartridges beforehand!
Plenty of classics are here, with the real major players from the Sonic the Hedgehog series (but boo to the inability to play Sonic 3 with Knuckles), Ecco the Dolphin 1 and 2, Streets of Rage and Phantasy Star 1-4 amongst the legends jostling for your attention. I was delighted to find Comix Zone on the disc; there's still no other game quite like it and, with the ability to save whenever I like, I might finally be able to complete it.
It's great to look back on the "Incredible", "State of the Art" and "Eyepopping" 3D of Vectorman and even better to find that it actually still plays very well. Happily, while some are very disappointing, this can be said for most of the games. While they are obviously very dated now, particularly in terms of audio and visuals, they remain good fun to play and that is what really counts.
My personal favourite is Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine because a) it's a great puzzler and, more importantly, b) it features beans with faces.
Everything has been ported well and I certainly haven't noticed any flaws but the HD falls rather flat in my opinion. The option to add a graphics filter adds a nice touch, making scenes look almost like they are painted on canvas, but it's a far cry from super sharp visuals.
It's nice that achievement points have been scattered throughout the games like Chaos Emeralds, tempting collectors into each title. However, it would have been better if the majority were not so easy to come by. I personally would have liked to see online play and leaderboards for at least some of the games, to really make the collection stand out. Additionally, it's a shame that UK players are "rewarded" with unlockable artwork from the US, rather than British versions of the games.
The new ability to be able to save at any point is a double edged sword; it's great that you can potentially reach levels you never made it to before, but it definitely removes a good deal of the challenge from many of the games and can make them seem shorter as a result.
There's plenty of enjoyment to be had here, especially for anyone who played these games in their youth and are now returning to them for the first time. There are a few duds but overall it's a good mix, with games from many different genres and plenty of gems. However, calling it the Ultimate Collection does feel a bit cheeky as some obvious classics have been omitted (Earthworm Jim anyone?). Frankly, I was never going to be completely happy with a collection that does not include my beloved Toejam & Earl.