SEGA Mega drive ultimate collection

Nostalgia is a devilish thing. I remember with great fondness sitting on my bed as a youngster whilst eating pick ‘n’ mix, surrounded by posters of women, clothes strewn all over the floor and a Mega drive controller in my hands playing NBA Jam. They were simpler times, The only thing that really mattered was whether you would beat your friends to a certain level on Rolling thunder or whether Knuckles was REALLY better than Sonic.
I enjoyed those days and I enjoy looking back on them with a smile.
It’s because of these reasons that I thought I would like SEGA Mega drive ultimate collection, otherwise known as Sonics Ultimate Genesis collection to our friends across the pond.

Most people at some point have played a Mega drive, whether they owned one or whether a friend did, most people have attempted to control a speeding blue hedgehog through the emerald hill zone.
So it’s great to see a game that everyone will like, right?
Not so much.


There are many things that are wrong with this collection of “Ultimate” games, please see the quotation marks as sarcasm. There aren’t THAT many ultimate games found within the 40+ titles found here.
Take a look at the list;
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 Mean Bean Machine
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

This Collection is missing some real gems from SEGA’s back catalogue, there are many people who will ask where’s Gunstar Heroes, Where’s Rolling Thunder and what about Cool Spot?
It’s unfortunate that games like these were left out and replaced with games like Fatal Labyrinth.

Another problem with this collection is no fault of Backbone, the fault lies with the games themselves.
Many of these titles have not aged well at all and are either boring or frustratingly hard. Games like Golden axe are horrendous to play and it begins to ruin those pleasing memories that you had from way back when. Admittedly some of these games are still great fun, but they lack the charm they once had.


The misery doesn’t end there, There’s no online co-op to be found in the “ultimate” collection. Now obviously these games were never made for online capabilities but the majority of them have a two player feature and Backbone could have capitalised on that. This would not have been such a big task seeing as many retro games are now coming to XBLA and PSN.
Another disappointment are the achievements and trophies, There is hardly any challenge here and 90% of them can be unlocked within four to five hours worth of playtime. The other 10% are ridiculously tough and plain frustrating. This collection revolves around high scores and the challenge of moving through the levels, this is the perfect chance for achievements and trophies to work well.

Moving on from negatives, Backbone have done a fantastic job in emulating these games on the current generation of consoles. They are all pixel perfect and feature all of the original settings and modes, they even include all the cheat codes. Unfortunately the games aren’t “remade” in Hi-Def visuals, but they do look more crisp and colourful in HD.
A great addition to the games is a save feature, some of the original games had battery backup but now you can save wherever and whenever you like…….No more leaving the game on pause while you eat dinner.

There are also lots of unlockables these include Master system and arcade titles;
Alien Syndrome
Altered Beast
Congo Bongo
Fantasy Zone
Space Harrier
You can also watch videos of some of the developers of the classics talking about the games they made and how they’ve aged. Most of these unlock alongside the achievements and trophies so can be picked up early on. Along with the videos there are detailed descriptions of each game along with the original case and cartridge artwork.


There are options to change the controls on each game or if you want to, turn on turbo fire, Which is very helpful on a lot of the games. Dig a little deeper in the menu and there are options to smooth the graphics and take off the rough look, You can also toggle to 16:9 support, meaning nice full screen graphics rather than windowed.

There are quite a few ups and downs to the Mega Drive collection, There are some great games on here but a lot of classic SEGA games are missing. The controls are tight and most of the games still play well but as with lots of retro compilations, the difficulty will have you tearing your hair out.
All in all, for what you get on the disc there is great value here, but those ideas of nostalgia will soon be squashed when you start playing through the disc.
I asked at the start of this review if this game was for everyone and sadly it isn’t, even hardcore gamers may be left wanting more from this set and you should think twice before letting your wife or kids play as blood can boil quickly and the fondness of the mega drive will soon fade.
Maybe these games are best alone, We have the memories after all.

Hi-Score- Nice visuals, good sound, great value
Lo-Score- Lack of triple A titles, Frustrating at times, Silly rewards

Final Score- 5 out of 10

    • Kevan Gant
    • March 17th, 2009

    Good review mate, you didnt mention that the sonic and knuckles game isnt designed like the original cartridge, you cant insert any cartridges into the game itself. Which means that you can never play Sonic 3 the way it was intended to be played, which is prob the most disapointing thing about this purchase!

  1. Very good review.

    Just a couple of comments, i’d say that Sonic 1-3 along with other title were very much Triple A titles of the time, and this game is a look back at that ‘time’. I wouldn’t say the visuals were nice, but very nostalgic (i think you mentioned this) but you can expect this when you buy a game full of megadrive titles.

    Otherwise, very enjoyable read.

    • Kymo Moir
    • December 17th, 2009

    How come sonic appears in ever sega collection? I miss Alisia Dragoon… Someone make it in a collection already!!!!!

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