SEGA Mega Drive Classics (PS4 and PSVR) Review

Growing up I was a Nintendo child, but later in life, I picked up a SEGA Mega Drive and the Mega CD to see what all the fuss was about and to try out a few of the consoles exclusives. Back then, I was blown away by the diverse lineup of games which I’d never heard of due to SEGA and Nintendo having many unique games and even different versions of the same game across each platform. I really enjoyed my Mega Drive, yet I’ve not had nostalgia or the urge to dig it out since I moved onto the GameCube many years ago. So, with SEGA releasing a collection of over 50 classic Genesis/Mega Drive games, SEGA Mega Drive Classics, I knew I had to check it out and see if the games were as good as I remembered.

Speaking of the games, SEGA has something for everyone here, from everyone’s beloved hedgehog to my all-time favourite turn-based strategy games – you’re bound to like at least a few games in the list below. However, they have made a few sacrifices in both the games and the content for this new collection. Sacrifices which I’m not too happy with, which I’ll get into down below.

SEGA Mega Drive Classics 1

I get to play Shining force again! Yay!

The bad things:
First of all, as I’m not going to go through every single game (although that’s something I would probably do if you’ve seen my reviews before), I’ll begin with the bad news around the package as a whole. Compared to the PS3 version, there are a few missing pieces of content. The PS3 version had unlockable games (which are now just unlocked from the beginning), interviews about various games and systems, and a brief synopsis of each game – in case you don’t know anything about it.

So, it’s not a lot of ‘content’ missing but I would have liked it if the synopsis was at least there. SEGA Mega Drive Classics has over 50 games, some of which I’ve not heard of before, so having to load the game up in order to see what it is, seems a bit long-winded. A simple synopsis or a 3D model of the case with cover art and a zoomed in rear cover would have been nice. I’m not sure if people will miss the interviews, although they would have been nice to watch, and also to try and unlock as it will have given more incentive to play various games which I probably won’t touch. Likewise with the unlockable games. Yeah, we get them all already unlocked from the beginning, but I’m a fan of having to unlock things in games. Take injustice, for example. I loved it on the Wii U where you had to unlock the challenges and earn the rewards, yet when it came to the PS4 they had unlocked everything by default at the beginning, thus removing half of the gameplay.

On top of missing features, there are also some missing games. Games such as Sonic 3, Sonic and Knuckles, and Ecco the Dolphin 1 and 2. But don’t despair, it’s not all doom and gloom as SEGA Mega Drive Classics has added a whole batch of games which aren’t in the PS3 version! Which brings me onto…

SEGA Mega Drive Classics 2

The emulation is spot on – the games ran perfectly for me

The good things:
You have no idea how excited I was to jump into SEGA Mega Drive Classics and play many, many hours of Shining Force – which is by far one of my favourite SEGA turn-based RPGs – however, I resisted it as I wanted to try out all of the games. You truly are spoilt for choice with this collection, click below to see the full list of all of the games:

Click to see all of the games!

• Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
• Alien Soldier
• Alien Storm
• Altered Beast
• Beyond Oasis
• Bio-Hazard Battle
• Bonanza Bros.
• Columns
• Columns III: Revenge of Columns
• Comix Zone
• Crack Down
• Decap Attack
• Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
• Dynamite Headdy
• ESWAT: City Under Siege
• Fatal Labyrinth
• Flicky
• Gain Ground
• Galaxy Force II
• Golden Axe
• Golden Axe II
• Golden Axe III
• Gunstar Heroes
• Kid Chameleon
• Landstalker
• Light Crusader
• Phantasy Star II
• Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
• Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millenium
• Ristar
• Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
• Shining Force
• Shining Force II
• Shining in the Darkness
• Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
• Sonic 3D Blast
• Sonic Spinball
• Sonic the Hedgehog
• Sonic the Hedgehog 2
• Space Harrier II
• Streets of Rage
• Streets of Rage 2
• Streets of Rage 3
• Super Thunder Blade
• Sword of Vermilion
• The Revenge of Shinobi
• ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
• ToeJam & Earl
• Vectorman
• VectorMan 2
• Virtua Fighter 2
• Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair
• Wonder Boy in Monster World

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I would have loved it if they would have included some games from the 32x or even the SEGA CD, but this is the SEGA Mega Drive Classics collection and not a ‘SEGA collection’ – so I’m fine with that. What I thought the game did well was the whole emulation of the games and the presentation, as well as a few nifty additional modes which they threw in as well.

Personally, I played each game for around an hour each, with a few of them maybe pushing four or five hours as I lost track of time, and I never had any issues with the emulation. I’ve noticed some people have mentioned micro stutters here and there or gaps in the audio – but I honestly never noticed this on my PS4 Pro. However, they did release a patch yesterday (which wiped all of my in-game trophy status’) which may have resolved any issues as I’ve just tried to replicate the issue but failed to do so. I’ll go through the emulation options below, as there are quite a few of them, but the whole presentation of how you play the games is a delight.

SEGA Mega Drive Classics 3

Welcome to your bedroom.

In SEGA Mega Drive Classics, you start out in your ‘virtual bedroom’ – which is a feature SEGA added to the PC collection a while ago if I recall correctly. Within your room, you can change your audio settings on the hi-fi, remap the controls by looking at a controller, sit at your desk and look up your trophies, and even browse all your games on the shelves. It’s a cool feature and everything works as intended – you can even adjust the clock on the wall to change where the sun is and how it shines through your window – it’s a small touch but it’s quite neat. The one complaint I have with the virtual room is that it’s not the most user-friendly design. If given the choice between a menu or this, I would have chosen a menu. Technically it works, it’s just a bit of a hassle trying to find what you’re looking for when it should be straightforward.

When you pick a game, the view tilts and you see the cartridge slide into the ‘original’ Mega Drive device, which is situated next to a few VHS tapes (do you remember those!). Then, the view tilts up and we are playing the game instantly on the glorious 14″ CRT TV/VCR combo device! By default the game will be fullscreen – so a 4:3 image with a chosen border around the sides – but you can change the options so it either zooms into the image or stretches it to 16:9, and you can pick one of nine borders (which is a bit poor as I would have liked a custom one for each game). Alternatively, you can play the game with the TV view which is where you see the bezel of the TV and the wall as you sit there and play the game. This was my prefered method of play.

You can also choose your ‘favourite’ games on the shelves and they will be placed in front of a bookend for easier access at a later date. Again, this is a small feature, but it works and it did help me catalogue the two games which I like and put them in front of all of the others.

SEGA Mega Drive Classics 4

The challenges are cool – press square and instantly start at the point the challenges begin.

Now onto something I really enjoyed, challenges. A few games within the SEGA Mega Drive Classics colllection have set challenges assigned to them such as starting Columns on a set level and obtaining a certain score, and Complete Streets of Rage Stage 2 without picking anything up. What makes these cool is you can access them via the game on the shelf or the dedicated Challenge menu and upon selection, the game instantly starts at that set level, stage, boss etc… If at any point you fail – so in SoR 2, you pick up an item – the challenge will stop and you can instantly replay it. Most of these are linked to PSN trophies, so being able to stop and start the challenge right at the initial starting point within less than a second is pretty cool.

That brings me to the trophies themselves. Similarly to the PS3 version, not every game in the SEGA Mega Drive Classics has trophies assigned to them and the ones which do are usually related to the above challenges. This is both good and bad for me. It’s good as it got me to try out games I wouldn’t usually touch, such as Crack Down, but it’s also bad as it means games like Shining Force 2 (which I adore) will gain me no reward for completing it other than the satisfaction that I have. This is just a small issue with myself but all-in-all, it isn’t that different to the previous iteration in this aspect.

None

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The Nitty-Gritty:

Okay, so you have played emulated games before and you’ve played these 50+ games on everything from your mobile phone to a scientific calculator – so what emulation options and enhancements do we have? Well, the first thing I’ll look at is the emulation options which you select by looking at the console. Here you can alter the ‘Pixel Scaling’ from Original, Bilinear (blurs the pixels into a smooth image), EPX (Dynamically creates 4x the pixels), HQ4x (Smooths out the image and applies AA),  and XBR (Same as HQ4x but has a better result in complicated situations). You can also apply scanlines to any of the above settings, disable the sprite limit (which was in place on the original console due to hardware limitations), and you can even set the image to bend and warp at the corners to simulate being on a CRT TV.

You can also rewind time whilst playing a game by holding the L2 trigger and speed it up by holding R2. This really helped me in a few games where I kept falling into holes! A simple press of L2 and I was back on the ledge. Another feature which people will like is the addition of quicksaves and loads. You only get one per game, which is done by holding the right stick either up or down. You also get four regular save slots which can be accessed at any time for each game. I found the quick save useful, but with the addition of the instant rewind feature, I never actually had to use it!

Finally, and probably the most interesting addition SEGA Mega Drive Classics has to offer, is the ‘Mirror mode’. If you’re not familiar with that term, usually it’s used in racing games where the tracks are mirrored, so a left turn is now a right turn for example. This collection has an option to enable this in all games. When selected, the entire game is flipped, all the assets, writing, UI, the lot! However, so are your controls. So, whilst playing the game in mirror mode, left is still left and right is still right for the player – this is great. Sure, all the text is now backwards and this will have little impact on the actual gameplay, but it’s a cool feature which could actually allow you to replay games you remember from your childhood but in a new way so they feel fresh again.

SEGA Mega Drive Classics 5

I’m number one! I won’t be for long though.

Can my friend stay over?
One of the best things about the 8, 16 and 32-bit generation was the local multiplayer. You would beg your mother to let your friend stay so that you could stay up all night and play video games, as well as get into arguments when you realise you left the friendly fire on and you beat your mate up in Golden Axe without realising! I’m happy to say that all of the games in the SEGA Mega Drive Classics collection which featured multiplayer still support it locally. However, as this is 2018, you can also play all the games online either with friends or in matchmaking, and the majority of the games have online leaderboards as well. This is a great addition and one which reminded me of Nintendo and how they said the NES games they are bringing to the Switch will have online multiplayer and leaderboards – I imagine they will be like this.

As a last note, I just wanted to say that a lot of the games still hold up today, thanks to the vast amount of pixel-art style games out there, these look just like any other indie game if I’m being honest. Thanks to the great emulation of both the sound and visuals, these were a joy to play and I only had regrets playing a few – I’m looking at you Alex Kid…

Sega 16-bit in VR? 
That’s right. Today (25th July 2018), SEGA has pushed out a patch to the PS4 version of the game which has given us full PSVR support for the Gameroom. Basically, it’s exactly the same as it is in non-VR, only you can look around and act as if you’re actually sat in this room in the mid 90’s playing your games on the CRT. What makes this even more special is you can opt to play in a non-fullscreen mode which places you a few feet from the 14 inch TV as you play the games! It looks really good in VR as well. Sure, it offers nothing new to the game and doesn’t really change anything, but it’s a novel way to play the game and it works surprisingly well. Check out my video below for more information!

New PSVR Mode:

Official Trailer:

Final Conclusion:
SEGA Mega Drive Classics is a great purchase if you want to take a trip back to the 90’s and replay many classic games. Containing over 50 titles, you won’t find a collection this big for such a low price whilst also offering high-quality emulation with added extras like instant rewind, quick saves, and the mirror mode. A lot of the titles are brought into the 21st century with the inclusion of online leaderboards, challenges, trophies and online multiplayer which adds to the replayability factor. Pretty much every genre is included and there is bound to be something for everyone. If you grew up with a Mega Drive/Genesis then I can’t recommend this enough – you will explode with nostalgia! Otherwise, if you’re interested in seeing just how hard games used to be, pick up the collection today.

However, if you still have your PS3 and the SEGA collection on there, then the SEGA Mega Drive Classics collection will give you few new titles and also lack some popular games and features. As such, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to you guys unless you really want to play them on the PS4.

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A copy of the game was kindly provided for review purposes

SEGA® Mega Drive Classics™

8

Final Score

8.0/10

The Good:

  • Large selection of games from all genres.
  • Additional challenges in a decent amount of games.
  • Online multiplayer and leaderboards with matchmaking and private.
  • Great emulation with a whole host of additional options like mirror mode.
  • Interesting aesthetic with the virtual bedroom.

The Bad:

  • Some people have reported micro-stutters (but I didn't have any).
  • Popular games like Sonic 3 and Ecco were removed from the collection.
  • No synopsis', box art, video clips, or interviews.
  • The virtual bedroom can be a bit cumbersome to navigate.

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