Sega Smash Pack: Volume 1
Sega's bringing the classics to a new generation of gamers. - Review By digitaltaco
The days of 16-bit gaming have long since passed us by. Platform games such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Super Mario Bros. have been replaced by newer, hipper 3-D sequels. Some genres, such as the overhead arcade shooter, have almost died in the 128-bit era. Some "old-school" gamers will still claim that gaming was better back then. They claim that intriguing, addictive gameplay has been left by the wayside. In their eyes all gamers care about nowadays are better and more impressive graphics.
No matter what your take on this issue is, it's hard not to be fond of the games that once were. I'm talking about the classics that made us want to start gaming. Games where simplicity was the key and graphics were less important than gameplay. I'm talking about the 16-bit era. It was a time that some gamers will refer to as the golden age of gaming.
While people are still flabbergasted by the idea of backwards compatibility, which is currently available in the Playstation 2 and will be included in the upcoming Gameboy Advance, Sega has just done something that many gamers had hoped would happen for ages. The company has released the Sega Smash Pack, a Dreamcast bundle pack including a disk containing ten Genesis classics as well as Virtua Cop 2 and Sega Swirl. Not since the days of the Saturn have such compilations been made. While Sega hasn't released Sega Smash Pack: Volume 1 as a standalone game just yet, it appears that the title will hit stores in March.
But is the disc good? Is it a worthy recreation of the games we used to love so much? Does it fall flat next to modern classics? Read on, my friends, and you shall see.
If it looks familiar, then you've probably seen a Phantasy Star game before. The few; the proud -- Sega RPG gamers.
To begin with, I'd like to mention that I'm very glad that Sega finally opted to bring back some of their classics. This is something that gamers have been asking to see for quite some time, and Sega finally made it happen. Next, in this review, I'm not going to focus much on the different games themselves. They are classics, and for the most part, are some of the best representation of the 16-bit era. Instead, what I will focus on is the compilation itself. But, to get you up to speed, here are the games included in the package, with a brief description:
- Sonic the Hedgehog - You know this guy. He's the blue bomber. The 'hog with attitude. This is the title that started it all. Speed is the name of the game in this platforming masterpiece. A true classic.
- Revenge of Shinobi - The second title of the Shinobi series. Platforming gameplay with fast action, cool ninja weapons, and ninja magic. A perfect representative of Sega's classic, arcade-style gameplay.
- Streets of Rage 2 - Sega's answer to the Double Dragon and Final Fight series. A true brawler.
- Phantasy Star 2 - Probably the Genesis's best RPG and usually thought of as the best in the Phantasy Star series. Before it went online, this title combined technology and fantasy for a long adventure on a faraway planet.
- Altered Beast - The game that started it all on the Genesis. It was beautiful and featured the ability to transform into a number of different beasts, each with different attacks and abilities.
- Columns - After Tetris, Sega needed a puzzle game to call their own. That game was Columns. Beautiful graphics and beautiful music made this puzzle game very attractive. Especially when the tiny Gameboy screen was too much for your eyes to handle after hours of Tetris.
- Shining Force - A title which really went far in combining elements of the RPG genre and a strategic battle simulation. The game features a cast of over twenty playable characters and parties of up to ten at a time. One of the best RPGs the Genesis had to offer.
It's not Fighting Force, but then that's a good thing. Streets of Rage 2 still is the best beat-em up around.
- Wrestle War - This is the only "new" Genesis game on the disc. While Wrestle War was released for the Japanese MegaDrive, gamers abroad never got a chance to play the game. If you ever wanted a Genesis wrestling game, well, here it is.
- Golden Axe - This arcade classic hit the Genesis soon after it was released. This game, like Sonic, was an instant classic and sold a whole lot of Genesis consoles. You know the drill: Choose a character, hack and slash the enemies, and keep those damn thieves from stealing your magic jars!
- Vectorman - I missed this one on the Genesis. And I'm sorry I did. This game combines fantastic graphics and probably the best animation on the Genesis with suburb platforming gameplay. Though it was probably the last great title on the Genesis, it should not be forgotten.
- Virtua Cop 2 - This arcade shooter was released in Japan as a standalone Dreamcast game. In America, we get it in addition to all the great Genesis titles in this collection. That's pretty awesome. And finally, a reason to dust off that old light gun after playing through House of the Dead 2 about a million times.
- Sega Swirl - Sega's latest, and most inexpensive, puzzle game. It's fun and addicting. And if you haven't gotten it yet through the late Official Dreamcast Magazine, then you'll get it now in the Smash Pack.
So, now that you know what you're getting in your Sega Smash Pack, let's get on with the review portion of the show. Except for Sega Swirl and Virtua Cop 2, all of the games on the Smash Pack run on a software emulator created by Sega. The program basically replicates the Genesis hardware using a software program. You can expect pretty much exact versions of the old Genesis classics running on your Dreamcast. As far as emulators go, it's rare to find one that works so well. All the games run at full speed and with perfect graphics. As a nice bonus, the Genesis games now have VGA Box support. If you are lucky enough to have a VGA adapter for your Dreamcast, you'll be able to play all the old classics through your crystal clear monitor. While the colors are much nicer, beware that the graphics will be quite pixelated.
Next: A Bit More Good, The Bad, and The Final Word