When it comes to classic game collections, ensuring a good selection of games is almost as important as getting the emulation correct. After all, if the games are no good, who really cares how accurately they are represented? Thankfully, that's not a concern here, as SEGA has assembled a solid, if eclectic, collection of titles that are all worth playing.
The first game in the collection, and its namesake, is Alex Kidd in Miracle World. Old-school SEGA fans and those who grew up in Europe likely know this one well, but if you were a Nintendo kid (or if your first game system was post-PlayStation), you may have missed out on this one.
Long before Sonic was created, SEGA needed something to combat Nintendo's Super Mario Bros., and Alex Kidd in Miracle World was it. First released in 1986 for the SEGA Master System, Alex Kidd has held up surprisingly well. The old-school platforming mechanics are completely unforgiving by today's standards, though all that means is that you have to actually get good at the game in order to win.
Levels are designed with both horizontal and vertical scrolling, so hazards can come from any direction. Alex's default moves are a punch and a jump, though you can purchase special items to help in your quest. Attacks must be precisely timed, as your life is a one-hit wonder: One hit, and you die. There is no save option or password system, so once all your lives are gone, it's game over. An undocumented continue function helps, though you can only purchase it if you have found enough in-game money.
The Revenge of Shinobi is the second game in the collection and the one that represents SEGA's 16-bit Genesis console. The first Shinobi to grace the Genesis, Revenge of Shinobi is considered by many collectors to be one of the great titles of the system. It is known for its challenging combat as well as the notable variety of enemies.
Over the years, SEGA actually released a few versions of Revenge of Shinobi (this appears to be the most recent version) due to licensing issues. The initial Japanese version played fast and loose with licensing, having versions of Batman, Godzilla and Spider-man appear as enemies. Rambo and The Terminator also appeared in the original. The models have been edited (Batman is now Devil man, Rambo is bald, etc.), but older gamers should still be able to recognize the characters.
Although Revenge of Shinobi is challenging at first, it is a game that rewards repetition. Every time you die due to error, you learn something. Give it another go, and you'll progress farther along the path. This is a game where the challenge level is high, yet never feels cheap.
Super Hang-on is the final game in the collection and represents SEGA's arcade heritage. A straightforward arcade racer, Super Hang-on is all about beating the clock. In some ways, it feels like Outrun on two wheels. Each course is a winding track through the world, with obstacles along the side of the road and other riders in the center. Hit any of them, and it's an instant wipeout.
There are no lives in Super Hang-on, just the clock. Cross the checkpoint before it reaches zero to earn a time extend. An unlimited turbo offers an extra speed boost at the loss of some control. As a result, it can be a bit of a risk to use, as wiping out at the wrong time can be devastating; crash when the clock is close to zero, and you're probably not going to cross the next checkpoint.
Although the Vintage Collection shares the same name as SEGA's prior digital download classics, the 2012 packages are all developed by M2 rather than Backbone. This is important because the quality of the emulation is noticeably improved — not only from an authenticity standpoint, but also from a feature standpoint.
All three games feature a jukebox option, allowing you to play the full soundtrack without loading up the game. Screen settings are fully customizable, allowing you to pick from a set of default options or set it to your specific preferences. One of the presets is a dot-by-dot emulation. Smoothing and scan lines can be turned on or off. Wallpapers can also be selected. All of this is saved on a per-game basis.
Super Hang-on has an additional screen setting that allows the game to be played in 3-D. It offers full-color, side-by-side 3-D for gamers who have a fancy 3-D set, and it also offers the traditional red/blue 3-D for players with a 2-D set. Options allow for the adjustment of display depth as well as focal point.
Also available in the game options are ROM variations. Alex Kidd in Miracle World includes four versions of the game: Europe, Japan, North America and the built-in Master System II iteration. The Revenge of Shinobi includes Europe and Japanese and North America ROMs. Super Hang-on allows you to play either the ride-on version or the upright. The core game is the same between versions, but there are small changes that fans will appreciate.
None of the three games offer online play, but they do each have a trials option. The trials are specific gameplay scenarios under predetermined conditions. Designed to be more difficult than the regular game, the trials are optional challenges that simply exist for bragging rights. Each one has leaderboard support, so you can show off to the world.
Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd & Co. may look like a random collection of games, but the three choices feature a strong cross-section of classic gameplay from SEGA's heyday. The emulation is solid, the games are fun, and to top it off, this is the first time any of these have been collected in their original forms. At a mere 800 MSP ($10 USD), there's plenty of fun to be had.
Editor's Note: Be sure to follow the WorthPlaying Twitter feed today (September 14, 2012) as we're handing out copies of classic SEGA games for #FreeCodeFriday!
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