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SEGA Mega Drive Classics – PS4 Review

It’s 2018 and it’s time for another Mega Drive collection for modern systems. This time around we have SEGA Mega Drive Classics for PS4, Xbox One and PC. This collection has been developed by d3t who have previously worked on the SEGA Mega Drive Classics Hub for PC. In fact, this collection is incredibly reminiscent of the Hub and includes the same bedroom menu presentation. PC owners of the Hub will also notice it has now been patched to more closely resemble the collection on consoles, except it still retains its Steam Workshop support for mods.

So what makes this collection different from the previous Mega Drive collections for PS2, PSP and PS3/360? The big selling point is how exhaustive the selection of games is. You have a total of 53 unique games to play with some real deep cuts included. The biggest surprises come in the form of Treasure’s Mega Drive titles which include Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, Light Crusader and Alien Solider. These are some of the most critically acclaimed titles on the system and they’re joined by even more oddities like isometric RPG, Landstalker and obscure side-scrolling shoot-em-up, Bio-Hazard Battle. Some titles even have the option to switch between Western versions and Japanese versions, which is a lovely bonus for those of us who get a bit picky about altered colour palettes and graphics.

Not only are there new games, but there’s new ways to play them as well. SEGA Mega Drive Classics includes a whole host of challenges which are designed to push seasoned players into really showing off their mastery of specific games. These are comparable to the challenges in Nintendo’s NES Remix series, but unfortunately, there isn’t the same exhaustive list of challenges per game, and some of the challenges are tied to achievements/trophies, making their inclusion feel a little arbitrary.

On top of all this we get a gorgeous bedroom menu to navigate, with a day-and-night cycle that changes depending on when you’re playing. Play in the afternoon and it’ll be bright and sunny outside. Play at night and the room will be darker, but the various light fittings will illuminate the space more noticeably.

The high quality of presentation also extends to the sheer number of display options you’re given control of. We’ve got multiple pixel scaling options, aspect ratios and a scanline filter, as well as different borders to use if you want to play with the 4:3 aspect ratio but do something with the dead space that now appears on the sides of the screen. Every game also supports up to 4 save slots and we’ve also got the ability to use frame skip to help maintain smoother gameplay and there’s a handy rewind option if you want to go back and correct a playing error on the fly.

Unfortunately, if the inclusion of a frame skip option is worrying to you, you’ll be saddened to hear that games do tend to stutter slightly during gameplay. It’s not frequent and it’s certainly not game-breaking by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a blemish on an otherwise flawless presentation. What’s more irritating is that this hasn’t been an issue on previous collections like SEGA Mega Drive Collection on PS2/PSP and SEGA Mega Drive Ultimate Collection on PS3/360.

This also extends to sound emulation which is noticeably worse in games that use speech samples. Bare Knuckle III is an obvious offender with player samples sounding lower-pitched and enemy samples sounding distorted. While not as bad as SEGA’s AtGames mini-consoles and handhelds, it can remind you of the sound issues that plagued those systems and it’s not something the SEGA purest really wants to be reminded of.

Speaking of being a SEGA purest, if you’re used to playing these games on actual hardware then you’ll be disappointed to learn that there is noticeable input lag. Again, while this is not game-breaking, it’s something else to get used to if you remember these games being more responsive.

The biggest disappointments come in the form of glaring omissions that have been present in previous collections. Sonic 3 & Knuckles and the Ecco the Dolphin games are no-shows and it’s a bizarre decision as these games are from extremely well-remembered SEGA franchises. There’s also a surprising lack of bonus content. Previous collections featured a whole host of artwork scans, hints and tips, interviews and unlockable games, and there’s nothing of the sort included in SEGA Mega Drive Classics.

While these various absences and issues do affect the overall presentation of this package, it’s certainly a functional and affordable option if you’d like to relive SEGA’s 16 bit era on a modern system. At £25, you’ll be extremely hard pressed finding an actual Mega Drive and a way to play all these games for anything close to that price, and while the issues we’ve listed will certainly register with the hardcore Mega Drive player-base, this collection is not aimed at them. Like Nintendo’s recent bout of mini-consoles, SEGA Mega Drive Classics is a way for new players to explore a library of Mega Drive titles for the first time, and it’s that player-base who will get the most out of this collection.

7/10

Written by Lewis “Sonic Yoda” Clark on 01/06/2018

Cover and Disc Scans

Screenshots

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