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Sega Mega Drive Collection

For: PSP

Remember when parallax scrolling, raster graphics and Blast Processing were all the rage?

Product: Sega Mega Drive Collection | Developer: Backbone Entertainment | Publisher: Sega | Format: PSP | Genre: Action, Conversion, Fighting, Platform | Players: 1-2 | Networking: wireless (adhoc) | Version: Europe
Sega Mega Drive Collection PSP, thumbnail 1
Quantity and quality are as rare and special a double act as, say, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, Lennon and McCartney, or Ant and Dec. That is partly why so many retro game compilations tend to emerge a bit more like Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

Thankfully, Sega Mega Drive Collection is a far more enticing proposition. Offering 27 of the more popular titles to have appeared on Sega's late '80s/early '90s 16-bit console (expertly converted to play identically to the originals), the range covers an impressive array of gaming experiences.

True, there are a number of members from the same family, such as three Phantasy Star titles, two Sonic The Hedgehogs, a couple of appearances for Vector Man, as well as the Golden Axe and Ecco the Dolphin trilogies. Yet these shouldn't be considered fillers – each iteration stands on its own pixellated feet.

Indeed, the Collection distinguishes itself not through the number of games it includes, but rather the number of poor games it does not.

No, unlike certain PSP compilations, Sega's collection screams value. Even personally disappointing insertions such as dreary beat-'em-up Altered Beast and poorly executed helicopter-based shooter Super Thunder Blade probably still have strong fan bases, and are likely to find affection from some of you. And while RPGs such as the much-loved Phantasy Star III included here seem awfully clunky by today's standards, they're still capable of engrossing players for many, many hours.

Those who linger too long on such fare would be missing valuable play time with some of the UMD's strongest entries, however, such as the two Sonic games, the infuriatingly addictive puzzler Columns, the ninja-based platformer Shinobi III, and the pleasingly playable, non-polygonal Mega Drive version of Virtua Fighter 2.

Again, they're personal choices. For many, this list would definitely extend to include Alex Kidd, together with one or more of the Ecco and Golden Axe games – strong titles, inarguably. But then even simpler experiences such as the delightfully colourful platformers Bonanza Bros and Flicky deliver generous and consistent levels of fun.

Tempting you to at least try all of the games is the promise of unlockable bonus and extra material, such as substantial interview footage of the developers of some of the games, trailers, and five additional games from Sega's huge arcade vault (see PG Tips below). The latter is of interest to both retro gamers and those looking to catch up on history they may have been too young to witness first time around, of course, although these individuals are unlikely to be as impressed by the limited number of other additional elements from the game's Museum section, which restricts itself to a brief description of each game, three tips and the box artwork.

Still, looking into the future, where modern concessions have been made they are there to better the experience. Hence opening sequences can be skipped or curtailed, the action viewed in three display modes (stretched and filled offer a larger, though lower resolution image while original keeps things razor sharp) and saved at any point, while a two-player ad-hoc mode enables co-op or competitive play on most games (only one game, side-scrolling platformer Kid Chameleon, allows alternate play for two).

But the crucial aspect of Sega Mega Drive Collection is that it will always be able to fall back on the quality of its games. For veterans, it's a great opportunity to relive some old favourites while perhaps discover the odd title that may have escaped them. But ultimately, it's something that all can enjoy – there's some excellent games on offer, many of them packed with utterly wonderful (and still unique) touches meaning they absolutely stand up to modern scrutiny. Graphics may age, after all, but solid game mechanics rarely do – and here, there's certainly an abundance of that.

Quality and quantity, indeed.

Sega Mega Drive Collection is released on February 2nd.
Sega Mega Drive Collection
Reviewer photo
Joao Diniz Sanches | 26 January 2007
Uncommonly strong retro compilation heartily recommended to those with fond memories of their days of Mega Drive ownership or, indeed, any fans of solid gaming experiences
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