Wednesday 27 June 2018

SEGA Mega Drive Classics ★★★☆☆

Sega does what Nintendon't. Release a piss poor rendition of their classic games, with a defective emulator riddled with audio glitches and sprite issues.

The idea of having a bunch of your childhood favourite games, in a single collection, should fill one with joyous squees. And partly, it does. There's a decent selection of games presented within a virtual kids bedroom, designed by Dt3, aiming at a nostalgia trip. (I don't remember anyone's room looking anything like this, to be honest. That could just be because everybody I knew shared a room with their siblings). Being able to customise the room, a little, would have been a nice feature. Change the posters on the walls or something, but I guess as an interactive main menu, it serves it's purpose. For anyone that owns Sega Room, on Steam, It's a straight up port of that with a few lighting differences and a 50+ game collection is already padded out, on your bookshelf. Games in the collection include the ones below, plus more!

Not a bad assortment, and it's nice to have the Toejam & Earl and Gunstar Heroes included, for once. A few there to knock the numbers up and not likely to be played. Sadly there are also some glaring omissions, like Sonic 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Ecco the Dolphin, and OutRun all neglected from the set. Sonic 3 is likely down to a music licence issue, with Sega having to pay royalties on their own game. Personally, I hate Ecco the Dolphin, but it's a bit of a favourite among many. I'm sure a few of these will appear as a DLC pack, possibly with some other games, at some point. I'd also like some of the third party games, like Road Rash 2, Chuck Rock, Zool, Cool Spot, James Pond 2 and Micro Machines. Probably just wishful thinking, though.

It's a shame, then, that the emulator itself, running on Unity, struggles to play these games to a decent standard. There are frequent stutters in the gameplay like the emulator's trying to catch up, to itself. Sprites often failed to load in correctly and were sometimes partly invisible. Collision detection was also a little wonky, at times (maybe something to do with the sprite issue?) and so, so many audio problems; from the music sounding like a low quality ZX Spectrum rendition, to sound effects just sounding like horrible digital farming noise or failing to play at all. On the positive side, the emulator offers a few post visual filters. I find that these make the games look slightly like a mosaic and stick to the original pixel art, myself, but I can see how some people may prefer these options. (heathens). The ability to jump out of a game and instantly start another, - once you realise Alter Beast isn't as good as you remember- is quite nice. A perk of emulation is the option for having Save States, so you can come back and finish the game without having to leave the console on and hoping that your parents don't come along and turn it off. One of the surprising features and one that I look forward to using a bit more is the ability to play the games multiplayer, online. Neglecting the need to have a friend present, at your house, because who wants social interaction when you could just talk with headsets.

No emulator is a perfect replacement for the real thing, but I've played these games, with better results, on far less demanding machines. Hopefully, all these issues can be fixed, with a patch, as there is no reason a PS4 or an Xbox One should struggle to run a game that came out twenty years ago. It's a shame that currently, in most ways, the Mega Drive Collection, on the last generation of consoles (360/PS3), is the superior edition. That also had Master System and Arcade versions of select games to unlock, too.

Bry Wyatt

SEGA Mega Drive Classics at CeX

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