Released: 2011 (bundle on Steam, most games were early/mid '90s)
Zolgar paid: $7.49
Beaten: 40 games, what do you think?
Zolgar's rating: 9/10 (bundle. Individual games vary)
Replayability: Varies by game.
So today I'm actually breaking from my norm a little.. and I'm actually breaking one of my rules, too. I'm not so much offering a specific game review, as a review of a bundle of games. The Sega Genesis/Master System collection on Steam. This contains 40 games from the Genesis and Master System, including some great classics that I spent too many hours of my childhood playing.
Granted, the bundle is $30 regular price. However, I decided it was acceptable to break my $20 rule for this, seeing as it comes out to $0.75/game, the only thing more budget friendly than that is buying it on sale!
|Peaceful and serene. What could possibly go wrong?|
Much like Duke Nukem 3D, there's a lot of nostalgia in Genesis games for me, and for that matter, just console games of that era in general. When I was 9 (I think) my mom got a Sega Genesis.. they weren't brand new, but it was still the giant design and the 6 button controllers weren't out yet. I still remember being woken up in the middle of the night to see the airplane level of Sonic 2. Side note: I have an awesome mother.
The Genesis has been packed up for years though, the game cartridges collecting dust, every now and then though, I miss some of the games on it. This little bundle serves to feed my nostalgia kick quite well.
So, this bundle is 40 games packages with an emulator, now that my nostalgia tripping is done, the first thing I'll talk about is the emulator itself.
First, the controls. Genesis games were not, by any means, intended to be played on a keyboard. However, the emulation software includes support for keyboard and controllers/gamepads, complete with full customization and button mapping to replicate the 6-button Genesis controllers. I didn't do much with the keyboard, I'll admit.. I have a controller, why play it inefficiently? It does map up nicely on an Xbox Controller though.
|Remember when these graphics were good? .. neither do I!|
It also provides you with something that very few Genesis games of the day offered: save games! You can save your progress anywhere in any of the 40 games. Granted that progress saves your current number of lives and current health. Still better than you used to get!
Mechanically I've not found any of the problems of classic emulators.. well other than if you run it at too large of a resolution it gets more pixilated than normal. Pixels? Seriously?! These are top of the line, 8 and 16 bit graphics! (Remember when we thought 16 bit was just epic?)
For the games:
- Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
- Alien Soldier
- Alien Storm
- Altered Beast
- Bio-Hazard Battle
- Bonanza Bros
- Columns III
- Comix Zone
- Crack Down
- Decap Attack
- Ecco the Dolphin
- Ecco: The Tides of Time
- Ecco Jr.
- ESWAT: City Under Siege
- Eternal Champions
- Fatal Labyrinth
- Gain Ground
- Galaxy Force II
- Golden Axe
- Golden Axe II
- Gunstar Heroes
- Kid Chameleon
- Landstalker: The Treasures of King Nole
- Light Crusader
- Shadow Dancer
- Shining Force
- Shining Force II
- Shining in the Darkness
- Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
- Space Harrier II
- Streets of Rage
- Streets of Rage 2
- Super Thunder Blade
- Sword of Vermilion
- Virtua Fighter 2
- Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair
Yeah, sorry, I don't love you enough to review 40 games, and besides, I doubt you want to read that much anyways. There's a few specific ones I'll touch on in just a moment though.
The one thing that holds true for most anyone who goes back to playing a video game from the late 80s to early 90s, is the sudden remembering of how bloody hard games were back then.. and if you're too young to remember those days? You're probably going to feel like you just suck at video games.
Sometimes the hard elements were sheer frustration factor, other times it was just being brutally unforgiving. Things like not healing between levels, scarce health items, or just AI programmed to actually kill you.
However, while being extremely hard, it also makes the game feel far more rewarding than most modern games. Modern gaming the first few levels are basically handed to you under the guise of 'teaching you to play'. Some of these, you find yourself struggling with the first fight, wondering if there's some stupid thing you're missing because you don't have the instruction books.
Good or bad? Your call.
Then the games I wanted to mention:
This one has always stood out to me, maybe because I used to be a comic book nerd and sometimes fancy myself a writer. Comix Zone is also one of the main reasons I bought this bundle.
|Who knew panel walls were so solid?|
You play Sketch Turner, a 'modern day' comic book artist, who gets pulled in to his own comic book by his archvillain. Your goal? Find a way to get out of the comic book and back in to the real world before your villain becomes a full-fledged human and conquers the world.
The interesting thing about Comix Zone, is that while it's a sidescrolling action platformer, it takes place on comic book pages. You move between panels, sometimes tearing through borders. There's also some 4th wall breaking going on. New foes are drawn in, and you can even tear up a piece of the page to throw as a paper airplane.
Comix Zone is also one of those that was brutally unforgiving. Attacking the environment hurts (and you have to do it), you don't heal between levels, health items are scarce, and you have one life.
I didn't even know about this game until I got the bundle (I got in to RPGs late in to the SNES, and really with the PS1 and PC).
Shining Force offers me something that tends to be hard to find in modern games. A decent turn based tactical RPG. A pleasant surprise when I was expecting a meh-ish JRPG. Now, Shining Force is no Temple of Elemental Evil or Ice Wind Dale or the like, and plot/character wise it's very much a JRPG. But combat wise it's good, fairly simple and straight forward, no weird annoying controls to deal with (something many console RPGs could use). One minor complaint is that characters get XP individually as opposed to per combat, so your fighters will level up much faster than your squishies.
Also, in a rarity for games of it's age: death isn't game over, you get 'ported back to the last save point.. keeping the levels you've gained.
|Hero got.. er.. is balls.|
Hailing from about the same era as Comix Zone, Vectorman was a weird little platformer that seemed to have been built more as the developers playing with new technology than anything else.
It ended up a fun one though, with an odd shapeshifting hero and all manner of interesting foes to destroy. It also runs a little easier than many games of the era. Although, of course, the boss fights are classic games of timing and coordination. Run, double jump, shoot, double jump, run, double jump, shoot. And so on.
Shinobi III, Ecco the Dolphin and Galaxy Force II also all earn honorable mention as games that I wasted far too many hours on as a child. And Galaxy Force II earns the distinction of being the only game on this list that my mom was better at than me. As much as I would like to cover those, and more, I'll stop here, so as to not spend the next 20 hours writing. (especially seeing as this will be posting in ~7 hours.)
Suffice it to say that if you're looking for a nostalgia trip, or maybe just want to step back in time to when video games were hard, and you felt like you achieved something without getting a little popup saying “Congratulations, you have picked your nose 5 times!”, this collection is well worth the price.
If you don't want to spend $30, individual games are $3 each, I would say Shining Force and Comix Zone especially are worth that.
“The perfect thing to make you feel like you suck at video games.”
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