Xbox 360 Review: Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection

The best videogame collection ever? Maybe…

We may have seen many compilation games over the years and many of SEGA’s games have appeared on XBLA and Wii VC, but now the best of the best are on one disc. Have the classics aged well? Time to find out.
The full list of games included in SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection are:

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alien Storm
Altered Beast
Beyond Oasis
Bonanza Bros.
Comix Zone
Decap Attack starring Chuck D. Head
Dr. Robotnik’s MBM
Dynamite Headdy
Ecco the Dolphin
Ecco II: The Tides of Time
Fatal Labyrinth
Gain Ground
Golden Axe I
Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III
Kid Chameleon
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Shining in the Darkness
Shining Force
Shining Force 2
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic and Knuckles
Sonic Spinball
Sonic The Hedgehog
Sonic The Hedgehog 2
Sonic The Hedgehog 3
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage 2
Streets of Rage 3
Super Thunder Blade
Vectorman 2

That’s not all either, there are a few arcade games that you can unlock by doing specific things in games like gaining 20,000 points in Columns or 1,500,000 in Super Thunder Blade. Achievements also follow that pattern and are fairly easy to get, you can get the full 1000 in a few hours.

With each game, you can extend the screen to 16:9 and smooth the visuals to make it look nicer on your HDTV, but it doesn’t really look 720p as its claimed to be. It’s not as HD as I hoped, but it didn’t bother me that much…they still look fairly good games, albeit with a few exceptions like Super Thunder Blade, Beyond Oasis and Flicky.
As a collection of games, it does everything right. It gives you reason to play them all in the form of achievements and unlockables, even the games you don’t particularly like. I came across a few that I hated with a passion like Beyond Oasis, Fatal Labyrinth and E-Swat. Fatal Labyrinth is perhaps the most annoying as it’s like a random dungeon generator and you have to keep searching for stairs to the next floor while fending off enemies. Flicky can be quite annoying too, but thanks to the save function in every game…it’s easy to save before you attempt something and then just load the save back up to try again.

The hardest achievement has to be completing Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, even with the code to go to the last level…it all comes down to pure luck. It took me about an hour of just randomly stacking beans till I got a good enough combo, it may take longer or not…it all depends on how good you are and how good the beans are that you get.

The famous Sonic games like Sonic 1, 2 and 3 are here, as is Sonic and Knuckles. But alas there is no Sonic 3 & Knuckles, so there’s no way to play the great Doomsday Zone level that I wanted more than anything. It’s weird since they managed to get it on the Sonic Mega Collection disc for the previous generation of consoles, I would have preferred that…even if it meant losing a few games, preferably the rubbish ones that I’ve mentioned. Personal favourites include the Sonic games, but also the Vectorman games. It seems really under-rated and is a great platformer/shooter, while Comix Zone is also pretty fun…but very tough (unless you enter the infinite health cheat) and my all-time favourite has to be Decap Attack. I remember playing this as a kid and I had such a blast with it, it brings back some great memories.
The controls for each game are fairly similar and work fine with the Xbox 360 controller, it’s D-Pad does cause a few problems so I’d suggest sticking to the analog stick for most of the time you play. I would have honestly preferred some tougher achievements that made you play most games for longer than a few seconds. An example is just collecting a Chaos Emerald in Sonic 1 instead of getting them all and beating the game like in the XBLA version.

Loading times are pretty much non-existent. The visuals are true to their original counterparts, but can look better for those with HDTV’s. There’s also a museum with info on each game and box art as well as the original cartridge, even if most of them are the North American versions. As well as that are video interviews and the unlockable arcade games I mentioned.

The Verdict

Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection (or Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection for America) is a great collection of the best games on the system, but there a few noticeable exceptions in the form of Fatal Labyrinth and missing greats like Sonic 3 and Knuckles, Earthworm Jim, Toe Jam and Earl and so on. Overall though, it’s hard to fault this collection. It’s great value and has tons of replay value which any Sega fan should enjoy.