Rereleases of Sega Genesis games are fairly common these days. With the Wii’s Virtual Console service and various collections on many modern consoles, chances are that most console owners have access to some classic 16-bit gaming. PC gamers, on the other hand, haven’t had quite as much exposure. Sure, there’s GameTap’s subscription based service but you don’t necessarily “own” the games you’re playing.
On June 1st, Sega changed that with the release of Sega Genesis Classics on Steam. For a reasonable price of $2.99 each, except Sonic 3D Blast for $4.99 (why?), gamers can purchase individual Genesis games for their Steam library. The price alone makes this one of the better options for getting your Genesis gaming kick and if Sega can continue to regularly update the list of games available the service could only improve.
Every game you purchase from Steam will be compiled into the Sega Genesis Classics application that serves as a hub for all the games you’ve downloaded. Within this app you can mess with various display features like resolution, visual filters (for example, one that simulates playing on an old TV), as well as, configure your control inputs. I’ve played with both keyboard and a PlaySega USB controller and both worked great. In fact, it looks like the Sega Addicts are giving away five of those nifty controllers right now!
Beyond the few visual features, each game also supports save states with quick save and quick load functions. While, the extra features that are included are appreciated it would have been nice to see a few more bonuses with the games. Online multiplayer would have been welcome, as well as, Steam achievements or unlockables. What made Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection so fun was the little challenges they had created to unlock extra games and interviews. I can understand not including unlockable games with each purchase but some artwork, interviews, or just achievements would give the games more appeal. Especially, for those who already own the games in some other format. If Sega could include a “Challenge of the Day” type mode, a la, Game Center CX 2, I would be tempted to purchase any game they put out just for the unique challenges.
The most important part of porting old games to new systems is the emulation quality. After playing through each of the eleven games available I can state confidently that everything runs just as it did on the Genesis. Everything looks, sounds, and plays perfectly and I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. If you’re worried about seeing your Genesis memories tarnished by poor emulation, worry no more.
Overall, Sega Genesis Classics on Steam is a service with a lot of potential. They already have a strong backbone with great emulation and a reasonable price point. If Sega can continue to increase the amount of games available and add some more features it could end up being the go to source for Genesis rereleases.
Sega Genesis Classic on Steam gets a B+.
Look below for some quick recommendations from the Sega Addicts staff:
Alex: Get it. Altered Beast may fall more into the “so bad it’s good” category, but if you’ve never played it or haven’t played it since it was relevant now would be a good time to revisit the “classic”.
Tom: Get it. Greek-themed, slightly homo-erotic supernatural throwdown action at its best! You get to turn into half-animal monsters–what more do you need? This is how you stomp a mudhole in an evil sorcerer’s ass. The gameplay is simple and repetitive, and it’s totally cheesy, but it’s a classic. Get you some!
Alex: Get it. It may be overly difficult but Comix Zone is one of the most impressive games on the Genesis. Just don’t expect to see much more than the first level.
Alex: Don’t get it. Crack Down isn’t a great game but it’s one of the two games released on Steam that isn’t found on some of the other recent Genesis collections. It plays sort of like Gauntlet but for some reason the actual gameplay window is only a fourth of the screen. The rest of the screen is taken up by an overly complicated HUD. I only recommend this game to completionists or the curious.
Ecco the Dolphin
Alex: Don’t get it. Ecco the Dolphin looks great, but the only fun part is at the beginning when you’re jumping around and playing with your dolphin friends.
Alex: Don’t get it. A unique take on the top-down shooter, Gain Ground has you helping your team “gain ground” through different enemy defenses. An interesting idea but it’s mostly frustrating and rarely fun.
Kris: Get it. Gain Ground isn’t for everyone. It’s part strategy game, part top down shooter, and very ugly. That said, if the game clicks with you, it’s pretty fun to tear through enemy defenses either by force or by evasion. It’s one of the more unique games in the Genesis’ library, and if you’re willing to take a gamble and listen to some catchy tunes, I’d say get it.
Alex: Get it. It’s hard to make a bad beat-em-up and Golden Axe is one of the originals and most renowned. I especially recommend the game if you have a second player to join in on the fun.
Kris: Don’t get it. I have very little nostalgia for Golden Axe. It’s not abysmal, but much better beat ’em ups have been made since this one ruled the arcades. The digitized screams grate after a while, too. Don’t get it, wait for Streets of Rage or download Final Fight Double Impact instead.
Shadow Dancer: The Secret of Shinobi
Alex: Get it. Shadow Dancer is another one of the games that isn’t available on many of the other Genesis collections. It’s a shame too because Shadow Dancer is one of the best Shinobi games out there. It’s a difficult game but you do get a pet dog so that makes up for it.
Kris: Get it! It’s Shinobi 2! You’ve got a dog in this one! It’s the prequel to Shinobi III!
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Alex: Get it. This was the last Shinobi game released on the Genesis and, like its predecessors, it’s amazing. If you like ninjas and good times then this game is for you.
Kris: GET IT! If you enjoy action games in the slightest, and haven’t played this one, you are missing out. A fantastic game by any standard… it also has surfing ninjas!
Tom: Get it. Arguably the best game in the series–it emcompasses everything that’s fun about the older Shinobi titles, but introduces a lot of cool, new stuff and a much edgier art style. Definitely worth it!
Sonic 3D Blast
Alex: Don’t get it. First of all, the game is $4.99 rather than the usual $2.99. That may be a little more understandable if the game was really good or rare but it is neither. The game plays more like an isometric Flicky than a Sonic game and it’s not good in that respect either. Isometric games were usually awkward back in the 90’s and this game is no exception.
Space Harrier II
Alex: Get it. I’ve always enjoyed the Space Harrier games. It can be hard at first to figure out the depth of field and properly avoid the enemy projectiles but eventually everything starts to make sense. It helps that the visuals look great and it’s always fun watching the environments transform as you progress in the game.
Alex: Get it. Vectorman is one of the best 2D shooters on the Genesis. Not only is it one of most visually impressive games on the system, it has great gameplay to match. If you’re a Mega Man fan or just a fan of challenging 2D side-scrollers in general, I recommend checking it out.
Kris: GET IT NOW. It’s worth the cash for the soundtrack alone. The game itself is also pretty great.