SEGA Genesis Classics is the latest in a long line of 16-bit game compilations from Sega. That said, it’s the first such title for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and includes many features never before seen in a Sega console collection – including online co-op! With 50 games (17 co-op), this is a great value for classic gaming fans. But the online multiplayer is a real letdown.
The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 versions of Sega Genesis Classics are based on a Steam collection called Sega Mega Drive and Genesis Classics. The console versions include 53 games, whereas the Steam version comes with 59. Missing on console – for no apparent reason – are Ecco the Dolphin, Ecco Jr., Ecco: The Tides of Time, Eternal Champions, Sonic 3 & Knuckles, and Sonic CD. The missing Sonic games are at least available to buy as backwards compatible Xbox 360 titles on Xbox One, but there’s currently no way to get them on PlayStation 4. Still, 53 classic games for $30 is nothing to sneeze at. Of those titles, an impressive 17 support 2-player local and online co-op.
Here are quick impressions of each game or series:
- Alien Storm: A sci-fi beat ‘em up that also includes rail shooter and shoot ‘em up stages. The gameplay variety is impressive.
- Altered Beast: Originally the US pack-in for the Sega Genesis, this one is an action-platformer with large characters, memorable voice samples, and fairly rigid gameplay. “Rise from your gwave!”
- Bio-Hazard Battle: A side-scrolling shmup featuring weird organic ships and enemies. Sort of a precursor to Panzer Dragoon. If one player dies, he or she can’t continue until the other gets a game over, annoyingly.
- Bonanza Bros.: A split-screen heist game that’s probably too clunky for modern players to enjoy.
- Crack Down: This top-down split-screen game plays very rigidly and has nothing to do with Microsoft’s Crackdown series.
- Gain Ground: A top-down action game made up of single-screen levels, this one is surprisingly fun.
- Golden Axe I-III: Sega’s fantasy beat ‘em up series. The first is an arcade port and the sequels were console exclusives. Golden Axe III features 4 playable characters, multiple paths and endings, and some of the best visuals on the Genesis.
- Gunstar Heroes: Treasure’s run-and-gun shooter still impresses after all these years, with stellar graphics, loads of variety, personality, and an interesting weapon combination system.
- Sonic the Hedgehog 2: One of the best 2D platformers of all time, though the co-op support remains extremely slight. The second player can join in as Tails at any time, but loses control whenever Tails falls off the screen. I would barely qualify this one as co-op.
- Streets of Rage 1-3: Sega’s other beat ‘em up series, the second and third games have great graphics for the Genesis. This collection even lets you pick the superior, easier Japanese version of the third game directly from the main menu!
- ToeJam& Earl: This top-down split-screen game features randomly generated levels and lots of bizarre humor and personality.
- ToeJam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron: Alien heroes ToeJam and Earl return in a platformer that’s full of fresh ideas, but too weird (and clunky) for its own good.
- Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair: Not to be confused with the excellent Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, Monster Lair is a linear platformer/shooter that plays a bit like the Hudson’s Adventure Island series.