Amongst various timeless Zelda and Mario titles, incredibly obscure PlayStation 2 and GameCube releases and some soon to be classic Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games sits a few others on our bulging dusty shelves that we wouldn’t even dream of trading-in or putting on eBay.
As the name of this article has more than likely already given away, they’re retro collections. Regular readers will know that we’ve always had a soft spot for these, and so today we’re looking at eight of the best.
Inexpensive and often containing one or two games that would cost a small fortune if purchased for their original hardware, all of these offer decent value for money as well as serving as invaluable portals back to misspent youth.
SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection – PS3 / 360
SEGA’s sublime collection from 2009 is packed with so much content that you could say that they ‘ultimately’ ended up shooting themselves in the foot. Why pay £6.75 for the likes of SEGA Vintage Collection: Golden Axe and SEGA Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage on XBLA – or even £3.39 for one of the Sonic games – when they’re all present on this collection which can usually be found for around £10? Aside a possible desire to unlock the achievements they contain, we fail to think of a valid reason.
Whereas most retro collections tend to contain just the first game in a renowned series, this compilation more than lives up to its moniker thanks to containing every single 16-bit Sonic, spin-offs and all, the entire Golden Axe and Streets of Rage trilogies and a grand total of six Shining Force and Phantasy Star RPGs.
Fellow top-down role player Beyond Oasis (aka Story of Thor) is another highlight, while platform fans are very well looked after – Ristar, Dynamite Headdy, Kid Chameleon, Decap Attack starring Chuck D. Head, Vectorman and its sequel – which was never released in Europe – all feature too. So many spinning collectables, so little time.
Unlocking achievements – which vary from stupidly easy to surprisingly creative – also unlocks interviews with key SEGA staff as well as a handful of arcade and Master System games from SEGA’s early days including the first Phantasy Star, RPG spin-off Golden Axe Warrior and the arcade versions of Altered Beast and Space Harrier.
The only real downer is that a few games from 2007′s PlayStation 2/PSP SEGA Mega Drive Collection are missing. Then again, Sword of Vermilion, Ecco Jr. and the Mega Drive’s wonky rendition of Virtua Fighter 2 were a bit rubbish to begin with and as such aren’t huge losses, leaving quality to prevail.
Taito Legends – PS2 / Xbox
We’re so incredibly fond on the two Taito Legends collections that we’re going to take a look at them both. Although a few games have a whiff of filler about them (hello, Great Swordsman, Electric Yo-Yo and Volfied) they are thankfully outnumbered by stone cold classics.
And they certainly don’t get any more classic than Space Invaders, immortalised here in three different forms – the original, Space Invaders Part 2 and Return of the Invaders. As an extra bonus there’s a video interview with creator Mr. Tomahiro Nishikado, which is well worth watching.
Operation Wolf and its often forgotten sequel Operation Thunderbolt, Rastan, Space Gun, Phoenix, Super Qix and Elevator Action likewise gobbled plenty of coins back in the day.
Then we have the ever colourful trio Bubble Bobble, New Zealand Story and Rainbow Islands. All three of these sold incredibly well when converted to home consoles in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s and as such are rightly well remembered.
Fans of Konami’s licensed scrolling brawlers from the ‘90s should find solace in The Ninja Kids, a very similar side scroller to The Simpsons/TMNT with a rather distinct art direction. We found this to be the collection’s hidden gem. Puzzlers Plotting and Tube It hold up well too, made that slightly more frantic due to their tight time-limits.
As well as viewable arcade flyers, now defunct UK publisher Empire went beyond the call of duty and included one of six collectable arcade artwork postcards inside each box. It’s doubtful that anybody bought six copies just to own them all, but we do seem to recall retro collectors swapping and selling them on various gaming forums. A nice little touch on Empire’s behalf.