Typical. We’ve been waiting patiently for SEGA Vintage Collection: Monster World only for it to arrive on Xbox Live Arcade the same day as SEGA Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co. This may not sound like a bad thing to happen but it really is. Our feeble brains can only handle so much nostalgia, you see. When SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection was released we spent the week thinking it was 1992 and went around telling everybody we saw to “Do the Bartman!”
We’ll focus on the Monster World collection first. This one features the arcade version of Wonder Boy in Monster Land and two Mega Drive Monster World adventures – Wonder Boy in Monster World and Monster World IV. We’re glad that the arcade version of Monster Land was used rather than the Master System version. Although it wasn’t a bad conversion, when low on health an ear-piercing siren sound-effect was played until your health was topped back up. For an arcade game there are quite a few unexpected RPG elements, such as the ability to buy items and armour and also stop in taverns and purchase some second-hand gossip.
Monster World IV meanwhile was never released outside of Japan, although an unofficial fan translation has been available online for a while. It’s quite the departure from the previous Monster World games – whereas the last two had a medieval theme, this one has an Arabic vibe with a female lead character. She’s able to grab hold of a floating creature to access higher areas. It was released in 1994 – the same year as Sonic & Knuckles – and as such it was one of the better looking Mega Drive games.
This is a likeable enough collection although we would have liked it just that little bit more if SEGA had included Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair in order to make it a complete Monster World package.
SEGA Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co. on the other hand has to be just about the oddest thing ever. What we have here is Alex Kidd in Miracle World on Master System, Shinobi on Mega Drive and the arcade version of Super Hang-On. If there’s a connection between those three games then we failed to see it.
Retro Gamer magazine had an article on Super Hang-On a few months ago and we were quite surprised to learn that it’s a game that does in fact have quite a few fans, so they’ll no doubt be pleased with its inclusion. It’s very much a ‘love it or hate it’ kind of game though – we thought it was dated even back when it was re-released as part of Sega Mega Games 1 early during the Mega Drive’s life.
Shinobi is a game that should need no introduction and has stood the test of time rather well. Its appearance on this collection is however overshadowed by Alex Kidd in Miracle World. This wasn’t just the best Alex Kidd game – even topping Alex Kidd’s sole Mega Drive adventure – but also one of the best Master System games. It’s a game that everybody with an interest in Sega’s back catalogue should play – it had lots of Mario-style elements, and the ability to pick up items and then use them when you saw fit was a unique idea at the time. The music remains toe-tappingly enjoyable.
As great as it is to see Alex Kidd on Xbox 360, it’s a very strange collection and at 800 MSP it’s quite pricey too.
Both of these SEGA Vintage Collections feature jukeboxes, leaderboards and a few other minor extras. While Xbox owners are getting them as two sets, over on PSN they’re being released as individual titles thus giving PlayStation owners the chance to pick and choose.
SEGA has another two Vintage Collections planned for release on 30th May. One features all three Streets of Rage games while the other contains the first three Golden Axe titles. It’s quite hard to get excited about these two packs – they’re set to cost 800 MSP (around £7), even though Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection can be found for around £10 and contains all of these games and more besides. SEGA have always had the rather bizarre habit of devaluing their own software. We guess old habits die hard.