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Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection

Really the "ultimate" collection?

If you've ever handed over 400 Microsoft points for an Xbox Live Arcade Mega Drive game, it's time to cry. Because for £25 Sega's new packed and polished-as-a-marble-floor Mega Drive Ultimate Collection brings back 40 old school classics. And you're never getting those MS Points back.

First up, because we know the most important selling point of this package is its list of games, here's an, erm, list of games:

  • Alex Kidd
  • Alien Storm
  • Alien Syndrome
  • Altered Beast
  • Altered Beast Arcade
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Columns
  • Comix Zone
  • Decap Attack
  • Dr. Robotnik's M.B.M.
  • Dynamite Heady
  • E-Swat
  • Ecco 1 and 2
  • Fantasy Zone
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Golden Axe I, III and III
  • Golden Axe Warrior
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Phantasy Star I, II, III and IV
  • Ristar
  • Space Harrier
  • Shining Force I and II
  • Shining in the Darkness
  • Shinobi Arcade and III
  • Sonic I, II and III
  • Sonic and Knuckles
  • Sonic 3D
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Streets of Rage I, II and III
  • Super Thunder Blade
  • Story of Thor
  • Tip Top
  • Vectorman I and II
  • Zaxxon

Not a bad selection, eh? A lot of the titles have stood the test of time rather well and spending an hour or so wrapped up in the nostalgia of Sonic and Knuckles, Streets of Rage or Ristar is all good fun.

While most will turn up for Golden Axe and Sonic, there are plenty of lesser-known retro gems hidden inside. Look out for Treasure's bonkers but brilliant Dynamite Heady, Decap Attack and the criminally underrated Vectorman games.

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It's not a bad list at all; there's the odd dated "favourite" we suspect was only included for nostalgia purposes (we're looking at you, Flicky), but most Sega stalwarts would be hard pushed to claim that Sega haven't managed to include a lot of the Mega Drive's best (even if it has snubbed a lot of classics - more on that later).

Emulation on each title, unless we're going to get really picky, is about as spot-on as most will care. Sega kindly provides options for state saves, remapping controls, switching the screen ratio between traditional 4:3 and 16:9 widescreen (although this is visibly stretched) and the weird smoothing option from XBLA ports that makes the game look like its gone skinny dipping in Vaseline.

Hardcore Mega Drive nuts will notice the odd sound anomaly when compared to the original console games (Sonic 3 is most guilty of this), but again it's a very anal point and will go unnoticed by most.

Developer Backbone has done a really great job of creating a well presented and nostalgia-filled package. Menus look sleek and true to the Mega Drive design, while changing your game options on the fly with the back or select buttons is fast and effortless.

There's even an entire museum of trivia, (boring) developer interviews, and box artwork - though the latter's unfortunately only from the North American versions.

Local multiplayer support is also in and a major selling point. Upon unveiling Streets of Rage and Sonic 2 in front of the missus last weekend we discovered the collections' stealth feature; as a retro party game. Playing through Golden Axe III or Streets of Rage with a partner is still fantastic fun and for us provides the real meat of the collection's appeal.

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