Boo, Sonic! I just don’t care much for that blue hedgehog. Why couldn’t it have been called Tails’ Ultimate Genesis Collection? Or Opa-Opa’s Ultimate Genesis Collection? Flicky’s Ultimate Genesis Collection? What about Ulala’s Ultimate Genesis Collection? Those Sega characters are way better than Sonic, I think. Yeah, I know why they named it after Sonic, for marketing reasons (and wisely so). Anyway, if you want to know why I’m not Sonic’s biggest fan, and learn about all the classic goodness in his Ultimate Genesis Collection, just keep on reading!
You’ll hear me rag about Sonic and Sega all through this list, I’m sure, but I don’t TOTALLY hate Sonic. Sonic and his games and cartoons have brought so much joy to my little brothers, that I just can’t HATE Sonic outright. Plus, there’s actually a handful of Sonic games that I really LIKE! And if given the chance, I’d definitely give a fair try to some of Sonic’s newest games, like the DS RPG or the upcoming Sonic and the Black Knight.
My memories of these 16-bit Sega Genesis classics may not be so rosy sometimes either, because I didn’t have a chance to enjoy most of these games back in the day. You see, back then, I was a SNES man, myself. Most kids only had ONE game system. None of this Wii360 stuff back then. We just couldn’t afford it. While I will admit the Sega Genesis had its fair share of great games, I think I made the best decision back then considering my preference of games at the time. (Square’s 16-bit RPGs, mostly). So when I go through this list, my memories may not sound as sweet as yours. So let’s go through the games:
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
I may not be a big Sonic fan, but I will say this much: he’s a better mascot than Alex Kidd was! Before Sonic, Alex Kidd was one of Sega’s mascots. This game is horrible. It’s a clumsy 2-D platformer with loose controls, poor hit detection with your gigantic fist attack, amateurish graphics and sound, and annoying one-hit-and-you-die gameplay. I don’t think I’ve ever played a good Alex Kidd game. But I did think it was neat when he was a secret character in Sega SuperStar Tennis. That was a good game.
I had never heard of Alien Storm. I was pleasantly surprised to find out it was a 2-D side scrolling beat-em-up. Back then, those kinds of games were a dime a dozen so it probably wasn’t that special. But now there aren’t so many, so they seem a little bit more special again. I mean, look at Castle Crashers. This one has some shooting mini-games and in one of them, you run down the street real fast as you mow down aliens. But MAN, your fighter must be a superhero or something because he or she runs down that street super fast and leaps over canyon sized chasms! They must’ve ate their Cheerios that morning before going out to fight aliens!
You can unlock this arcade game by playing Alien Storm and getting the achievement. I never really liked Alien Syndrome in the arcade. But I did like the 3-D update they had on the Sega Ages/Sega Classics Collection. Never played the other remake for the Wii and PSP. I heard it’s not very good, though.
Altered Beast (Genesis and arcade)
Unlock the arcade version by getting the achievement on the Genesis one. Before Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast was the launch pack-in title for the Genesis. I never liked it much because of the slow paced and clunky gameplay, but I do admit it does have its charms. Like “Wise from your gwave” and power-ups that make your guy overly muscular before turning into beast form.
I was pleasantly surprised by this one, as I had never seen or heard of it before. It has top down adventuring aspects like a Zelda or Secret of Mana, but with gameplay like a 2-D side-scrolling beat ‘em up. I wish the gameplay was a little smoother and the animation a little less choppy, though. I can see myself coming back to this one later.
Now THIS game, I like! Two player split screen game where you rob houses and museums and sneak past silly police and guards. I like the simple graphic style, gives it an early computer animation look. I prefer the arcade version, but the Genesis version is decent enough, too.
It’s a falling block puzzle game that came out during the Tetris craze. I never liked it much.
It’s a 2-D brawler that looks like you’re fighting inside the pages of a comic book. It came out near the end of the Genesis life cycle in the US, and you can tell, as it appears very advanced. It was way ahead of its time, I think, as it draws a lot of similarities to Viewtiful Joe. Only problem is that Comix Zone is brutally hard! Getting past the first level is even an achievement (literally).
It’s an old arcade game you can unlock. It’s like an isometric Donkey Kong. I’m surprised Nintendo didn’t sue. I never saw this game much in arcades. The first I learned of this game was through the old arcade game show Starcade. Anyone remember that show? I loved it when I was little.
Decap Attack Starring Chuck D. Head
This 2-D platformer was originally on the Sega Master System as Psycho Fox, then on the NES as Kid Kool. In Japan, the 16-bit version starred a cute wizard with a magic hat. But for the US, they changed the graphics and themes to be a cartoony, horror, gross out style. It’s not a very good game, though, because of poor play control. I only played it so I can unlock Zaxxon.
Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
It’s Puyo Puyo. I prefer the SNES Kirby’s Avalanche more.
It’s a Treasure game! But…I’m not a big Treasure fan, though. Most of their games have a lot of good ideas, but not enough substance, I think. And their games are also frustratingly hard! Such is the case with Dynamite Headdy. I do like the puppet show themes and, like Gunstar Heroes, the game really does push the limits of what the Genesis could do. There is one Treasure game that I REALLY like, though. And that’s Astro Boy: Omega Factor. That was one of the best GBA games ever!
Ecco the Dolphin and Ecco 2: The Tides of Time
I have to admit that playing a game as a dolphin back then was an original idea, but I could never get into these games. Not even the 3-D one on the Dreamcast. It was just too hard to figure out what the heck you were supposed to be doing. But you know what was the best Ecco game? Surprisingly, I thought the kids’ game Ecco Jr. was actually pretty good. It was like the other games but had fun facts about dolphins and sea life, plus kid friendly gameplay. Too bad Ecco Jr.’s not on here.
It’s like a cross between Robocop and Rolling Thunder. It’s really hard, though. And not too interesting. The game says it’s based on the arcade game, but I’ve never heard of that, either.
You can unlock this arcade game. I love it. It’s a cutesy shooter with pastel graphics and catchy music. But it’s SUPER HARD! The main character Opa-Opa, the living winged spaceship, was one of Sega’s mascots for a while, too. He showed up in other games like Zillion and Space Harrier. My favorite is Fantasy Zone: The Maze. It’s a Master System Pac-Man clone with shooter elements.
It’s a ‘Roguelike” randomly generated dungeon explorer game like the Mystery Dungeon titles. As soon as you press start, they just kind of drop you into the game without a premise or anything. Just, “Here you go, have fun, good luck, and go nuts.” I played it for about three minutes and decided I had enough of it.
I really like this game, too! It was an old arcade game, and this is the Genesis version of it. It’s kind of like bits of Mappy and City Connection. You are a bird and have to collect your chicks and lead them to the door, but watch out for cats. Flicky was another pre-Sonic Sega mascot as well, and appeared in some puzzle games. Now they’re mostly in Sonic games, waiting to be rescued from Dr. Robotnik/Eggman.
Even though I could never get into this game, you have to admire the uniqueness of this 2-D shooter. Every level is just one screen long and you just have to make it to the top. You can rescue people along the way, and each person you save counts as a ‘life.’ But each person has different shots and powers, so you want to use the best ones at the right time. And if they get hit, you lose them for good (but I think you might be able to rescue them again later on, I’m not sure).
Golden Axe 1, 2, and 3
Even though I do like old school 2-D side scrolling brawlers, I don’t like the Golden Axe games as much as others do. The medieval/fantasy theme was a nice departure from fighting thugs in the streets, but gameplay was pretty slow and clunky and riding on the beasts didn’t help you much. Luckily, things improved slightly with the sequels, and I do have to admit the Golden Axe games had their charms. My favorite characters to use were Tyris Flare because of her cool dragon magic, and Gillius Thunderhead because he was a little dwarf guy. I liked that they put him in Sega SuperStar Tennis, too. One thing I didn’t realize until now was that the purple chicken monsters you could ride on were also in the cave level on Altered Beast! I wanted to try the new Golden Axe: Beast Rider game, but didn’t want to pay full price for it. I heard it was really bad, but I wanted to try it anyway. I found it for 20 bucks online, so I’ve got it ordered. When it comes in the mail and I play it, maybe I’ll talk about it in a later blog.
Golden Axe Warrior
This is a Master System game you can unlock. It’s definitely a Zelda clone. Seems like it could be fun, though. I haven’t gotten too far in it because I have no idea what to do or where to go. It’s not the game’s fault, though. That’s just the nature of games back then, and I don’t have time to wander around aimlessly in games anymore like I used to could do when I was a kid.
This is a pretty dopey hop and bop platformer like Mario. You can tell the game stems from the 90′s: the game’s premise is Virtual Reality, and the hero is a kid with a flattop and sunglasses. In the game you get hats that grant you special powers and attacks. It’s not a horrible game, but it’s not the best either.
Phantasy Star 1, 2, 3, and 4
The first one was on the Master System, and you can unlock it here. Compared to other 8-bit RPGs at the time (namely NES Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior), Phantasy Star was definitely ahead of its time, especially in the graphics department. The only reason why I didn’t care much for Phantasy Star was I didn’t like the first person view dungeons. They were too hard to navigate.
I wasn’t really impressed with Phantasy Star 2 and 3, but 4 was a different story. I played it in college on my roommate’s old Genesis that he bought, and was really impressed. It was on par with Square’s 16-bit RPG offerings. If I were in high school and had a Genesis, I’d probably be really into Phantasy Star 4.
This 2-D platformer is probably one of my favorite games on this collection. It came out late in the Genesis life, and Sonic was high on the hedge…hog. When Ristar came out, Sonic fans were worried that Ristar would replace Sonic as Sega’s mascot. I knew that would never happen. Ristar is kind of based on what Sonic was originally going to be, a rabbit who could pick up stuff with his ears. Ristar is a star with long arms and he can grab things and ram into them. Like Klonoa, Ristar uses this simple move to beat enemies and solve puzzles in ingenious ways. And the graphics and sound are very impressive, even on the Genesis. I think Ristar is even a better game than the Sonic titles. I wish Sega would revisit the Ristar franchise someday. As long as they don’t mess it up, anyway!
Shining in the Darkness
This is a first person dungeon crawler that reminds me of the dungeons in Phantasy Star. Actually, someone told me that people who made the dungeon parts in Phantasy Star worked on this game, too. Needless to say, I didn’t like it much.
Shining Force 1 and 2
These are early strategy RPGs. I’m not too big on strategy RPGs, so I didn’t like these much either. I have a PS2 game called Shining Tears that I haven’t opened yet, but I hear it’s an action RPG, so I’ll need to try it sometime when I’m bored and don’t have anything else to play. So I probably won’t play it for a while!
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
It’s a 2-D platformer…with ninjas. Not too shabby. Too bad they don’t have that other Shinobi game with music by Yuzo Koshiro.
If you make it through the first level without continuing in Shinobi III, you unlock the arcade version of the original Shinobi. It’s a lot like Rolling Thunder, really. Or maybe Namco copied Shinobi when they made Rolling Thunder? I wouldn’t put it past them. I like Namco a lot, but they did copy Sega quite a bit in the early arcade days. And vice versa. Shinobi arcade is pretty tough because one hit and you die!
Sonic the Hedgehog
OK I guess it’s time to explain why I don’t like Sonic that much. First of all, he’s a cocky blue turd. I hate characters who act like they’re too cool. Second, most of Sonic’s games haven’t been very good. There’s only a handful of them that I actually like. And finally, when Sonic became popular, every other game company had to have an animal with attitude mascot in a crappy 2-D sidescroller. I didn’t play a GOOD character based 2-D platformer after that until Klonoa came out on the PSOne (well, there were a few good Mario titles in between, but that doesn’t count). So I feel that Sonic helped set back 2-D platformers by a few years.
Anyway, I never understood why anyone liked the first Sonic game. In the commercials, they would compare it as being superior to Super Mario World, which always baffled me (guess what I liked better?). And for a game about speed, they sure do penalize you when you go fast as you’re sure to run into an enemy or spikes, or a pit without even seeing it. I expect to be flamed by all sorts of Sonic fans, now.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
I didn’t like Sonic 2 much either, but it did have a couple of good things in it. One, it had Tails. My favorite Sonic character. Tails is cool both personality wise and gameplay wise. While Sonic is all full of himself, Tails is modest and smart and innocent. And he’s more fun to play as because he can fly and swim. I’ll admit that the Sonic games’ level design is pretty spiffy, but you never get to see much of it as Sonic because you’re speeding by so fast. But as Tails, you can have fun flying around finding all the secrets. The other thing I liked about Sonic 2 was the pinball stage. When I first played that stage back in the day, my first thought was how neat it would be to have a whole game of Sonic pinball.
And lo and behold, they did do it! And it’s on this collection. It’s a video pinball sim with a Sonic twist. And it’s one of the few Sonic games I actually really like! It’s also a game that a lot of Sonic fans DON’T like. Which I don’t understand why. It works perfectly well as a Sonic pinball spinoff. I guess they were expecting a full fledged game.
Sonic the Hedgehog 3
This was actually the first 2-D Sonic game that really impressed me. I loved the graphics and music, and the level design was better so you’re not just running and holding down right on the D-pat the whole time. And it had save files and Tails. I also really liked the spherical bonus stages because it reminded me of Pac-Man.
Sonic and Knuckles
This was an add on cartridge that you could stick on one of your other Sonic games so you can play as Knuckles in Sonic 2 or 3. While you can’t do that on this collection, you can still play the new stages on the cartridge. I thought it was a pretty good idea back then, even though it was all originally supposed to be in Sonic 3 in the first place. But it’s still a fun Sonic game, so I won’t knock it.
Sonic 3D Blast
This is another Sonic game that I really like, but everyone else hates. I really enjoy it, though because it is like a combination of Flicky and Marble Madness. You have to save Flicky birds in the same fashion as the arcade game, but the playfield is isometric like Marble Madness. I wish this collection had the Saturn version on it, though. I like that one better.
You can unlock this arcade game. This was super popular in arcades when I was little, but I didn’t get to play it much because all the bigger kids hogged it. I liked the Space Harrier mini-game in Sega SuperStar Tennis, though.
Streets of Rage 1, 2, and 3
YES! This is what I’m talking about. Now I can delete these from my Wii Virtual Console. Sure the Streets of Rage games are Final Fight rip-offs, but they’re still a lot of fun. It’s funny how I don’t like fighting games but I do like 2-D side scrolling brawlers. And Yuzo Koshiro’s music in these games is great. I always pick Blaze because she’s one of the only ones who doesn’t control like molasses.
Super Thunder Blade
Oh YUCK! Sega was trying to do early 3-D with this helicopter shooter and failed. The graphics are so bad it’s hard to tell if you’re going to get it. Just TRY and go under the rock formations in stage 2. I only played this game long enough to get the achievement and unlock another game.
Vectorman 1 and 2
I never understood the big deal about the Vectorman games. They’re run and gun 2-D platformers that reminded me of Earthworm Jim. Except Earthworm Jim was funnier and had better graphics, animation, personality, and gameplay. One of the gimmicks was the game used rendered graphics. Sega was trying to one up Donkey Kong Country, but it just paled in comparison. Sure, things were rendered, but your character was just a bunch of jointed green balls. Big whoop.
I’m glad this arcade game is unlockable on here. I loved it as a kid. I had a version of it on my Apple computer that was pretty arcade accurate. I remember how proud I was as a kid when I first got to the robot boss. Remember the dopey dragon boss in Super Zaxxon? You know which Sega arcade game I wish was on this collection? Pengo. I LOVED that game. In fact, I didn’t get a NES at first because I was perfectly happy playing Pengo on my Atari 5200. It wasn’t Super Mario Bros. that convinced me to get a NES anyway, it was Zelda.
Anyway, that’s all that on here. Despite some stinkers, it’s still a really good collection for a decent price. You can adjust the screen size of each game, save at any time, read interesting facts, view box art, and even watch some interviews. If you have a PS3 or 360, I highly recommend Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. -Cary