It’s not often worth talking about old console emulation packages here, but Sega have pulled out all the stops with this one. Once just a loose collection of old ROMs wrapped in a crunchy emulator shell, the Mega Drive & Genesis Classics collection is now a high-budget VR-era production, all thanks to a free update. It now boasts online multiplayer, leaderboards, challenge modes, new graphics options and – most impressively – full VR support, allowing you to play around with virtual cartridges in a digitally recreated messy ’90s bedroom.
One of the coolest features introduced with this new edition is the Challenge mode, presumably inspired by Nintendo’s NES Remix collection. Through some clever little tweaks to ROM and RAM alike, each game has a bonus goal to complete, like squeaking through the first level of Revenge of Shinobi with only 1 health point left, or for Streets of Rage 2, completing the second stage without picking up a single item. I’d like to see them add more of these, but it’s great that they’ve added content at all to such venerable old titles.
Online leaderboards and multiplayer are great features too. While you’ll ideally want to be playing with a friend in the same country so as to keep pings to a minimum, there should be only the barest hint of input lag if you’ve got a buddy relatively close to home. Now you can relive those childhood memories without the pain of digging out the old hardware and finding it doesn’t work on your modern TV anyway after inviting your friends round from half the country away.
The collection still retains full Steam Workshop-assisted mod support, meaning that you can play the likes of Sonic 3D Blast: Director’s Cut (created by the original lead developer of the game – read more about it here) as authentically as possible. While I don’t have a headset to try the VR stuff at present, it looks like a pretty natural fit, and hopefully the relatively low pixel density on current-generation headsets won’t affect the graphics too badly.
The SEGA Mega Drive & Genesis Classics collection is available on Steam in its entirety for £25/$30, or you can buy the games individually for under £1 in most cases. The full patch-notes for this update can be found here.