Somebody far funnier than us once said life is about re-purchasing your favourite movies in higher definitions until you die. The same can also be said about Mega Drive compilations.
SEGA Mega Drive Collection – out on PS4 and Xbox One at the end of the month – is the fourth since the Japanese publishing giant departed the hardware biz.
2009’s SEGA Mega Drive: Ultimate Collection managed to live up to its name, containing all the renown hits ‘90s SEGA fans grew up with, alongside a handful of arcade obscurities such as Congo Bongo. FMV interviews rounded the package off nicely.
This latest iteration, however, has a few gaping holes in its library that the new additions (Wonder Boy, ToeJam & Earl, Landstalker, Bio-Hazard Battle, and more) can’t compensate for.
If you’re wondering where the following are, then you aren’t alone.
Ecco the Dolphin
Since the release of the PS2/PSP’s Mega Drive Collection we’ve gone from three Ecco games (yes, three – Ecco Jr. is an often-forgotten kid’s title, released in the US and Australia only) to zero.
Although the underwater adventure series is unquestionably a ‘Marmite’ affair it’s still an important part of the Mega Drive’s history, offering non-violent gameplay at a time when the industry was under fire for introducing increasingly adult themes.
Sonic 3/Sonic & Knuckles
There’s a reason Sonic 3 and Sonic & Knuckles are both absent – Michael Jackson and Brad Buxer directly sampled songs from their respective discographies, resulting in a licensing nightmare. SEGA has found workarounds in the past, giving the PC re-release alternative music, but they’ve clearly decided to omit them completely here, perhaps for authenticity’s sake.
Greendog: The Beached Surfer Dude!
Greendog may not be fit enough to rub shoulders with the Mega Drive’s finest, but it was a big seller back in the day. As such, it’s bound to hit gamers of a certain age with a bout of nostalgia, despite numerous shortcomings.
It’s trash, but the best kind imaginable – quintessentially ‘90s trash. We’d happily take ol’ Greendog over Super Thunder Blade any day.
We can live with the fact that not a single sports title features on this compilation. The complete lack of racing games is inexcusable, however. Well, maybe not inexcusable – OutRun isn’t here because the Ferrari licensing deal expired decades ago. Super Monaco GP was also loaded with licenses, including billboards featuring Marlboro cigarettes, so that’s a no-no too.
As far as we’re aware though, all vehicles and tracks in Virtua Racing were entirely fictional. The only possible explanation for its absence could be emulation issues, as the cartridge included a dedicated 3D chip. But even then, that isn’t much of an excuse – Nintendo was able to include the Super FX 2 powered StarFox 2 on the SNES Classic Mini, after all.
While it’s great to see a few fresh faces on the new collection, a few more wouldn’t have gone amiss. The Ooze is something of a lost classic, released during the end of the Mega Drive’s life. It’s pretty hard to find, in fact, selling for between £50-£70 on eBay nowadays.
A very different experience to most Mega Drive games, it puts you in control of a slimy puddle of green goo that slithers across the ground while growing and shrinking in size. For the time, it was technically impressive. It’s more of a curio these days, but seeing many people overlooked it upon launch, it would have been a worthy addition.
Emulation can’t be an issue as it was included in a past collection – 2002’s Sonic Mega Collection Plus, where it was joined by Comix Zone in the bonus game section.
While rarely mentioned nowadays, this one-on-one beat’em was well-received at the time, gaining a lofty 97% from Mean Machines. It even went on to spawn two-spin offs: Chicago Syndicate for Game Gear and X-Perts for Mega Drive. It did the merchandising rounds too, with comic books and a Tiger LCD handheld iteration available.
We’re guessing this curiously colourful brawler isn’t here due to age rating restrictions. It wasn’t as violent as Mortal Kombat, certainly, but it did feature stage fatalities. Having said this, Streets of Rage 3 had an MA-13 age rating in the US and that has made the cut. So, let’s chalk this one up as another peculiar omission.
Frequently found on ‘hidden gems’ lists, this early Mega Drive release was way ahead of its time. So much so that reviewers didn’t really know what to make of it. The 16-bit system was known for arcade conversions, sports sims, and colourful scrolling platformer, yet here was a fully-fledged real-time strategy game that predated the likes of Command & Conquer by several years.
It was only years after launch that it received the appreciation it was owed. Coupled with the fact that it puts a nifty transforming robot under your control, we fail to think of another game more deserving of a re-release.