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Renaming Sonic's Ultimate Collection
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on January 21, 2009   |   Episode 156 (Show Archive)  

   

It has a horrible title, but how can you complain when you're getting 40 great games for $30?
In a mere two weeks Sega plans on shipping their newest 16-bit compilation disc, Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Fans who missed out on 2006's amazing Sega Genesis Collection will no doubt be ecstatic about the line-up of games, including all four Phantasy Star games, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, tons of Sonic games and every 16-bit entry in the Shining Force series. With more than 40 games this $30 collection is shaping up to be quite the bargain, especially for those who missed these Genesis gems the first time around.

But there's something holding back my excitement over this upcoming compilation. I hate to nitpick, but what's up with that name? Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection? There's nothing about that name that screams must-own, especially coming off of the terrible reviews associated with the newest Sonic the Hedgehog game. Should I worry that people are going to get the wrong impression with this game? Should I worry that I'm forever going to be forced to explain that this is more than just a Sonic compilation?

These are the things that I worry about when I close my eyes. Why must Sega always find some way of making our lives miserable? And it only gets worse from here. The more I thought about the name Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Compilation the more I hated it. I'm to the point now where I resent it because it feels like it's lying to me. To help you sort through what is wrong with this terrible title, I have decided to take each word one at a time and dissect the name to separate the fact from the fiction. What will the name be after I get done poking at it? Find out now when we do our best to rename Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection!

SONIC
With a name like Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection you might get the impression that this is nothing more than a Sonic the Hedgehog compilation. Yet seeing how there are more than 40 games on the disc, this is clearly more than a Sonic the

Yes it has a bunch of his 16-bit adventures, but there's a lot more to this collection than just Sonic the Hedgehog!
Hedgehog best-of. In fact, Sonic only makes up six of the 40 or so games found on the disc. I suppose a case could be made that there are more Sonic games here than, say, Golden Axe or Phantasy Star or Streets of Rage. But he's still a minor part of this Sega Genesis collection.

Another problem is the fact that Sonic's name doesn't mean much these days. Ten years ago Sega could get away with using the name Sonic to sell games, but after a string of disastrous 3D adventures, our favorite blue hedgehog has something of a PR problem. When somebody hears the name Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection it makes them think it's nothing but a Sonic compilation, which isn't the best way to sell units. You wouldn't release a 1980s best-of album with the name, Michael Jackson's Ultimate 1980s Collection, even if most of the biggest hits came from the former King of Pop.

Oddly enough, the last time Sega released a Genesis collection they didn't employ Sonic the Hedgehog to pose for the cover. Instead they called it exactly what it is, the Sega Genesis Collection. When you buy that game you knew exactly what you are getting, a disc that is a collection of Sega Genesis games. They didn't try to trick you into thinking this is some Sonic the Hedgehog collection, they told you right from the get-go that this is the Sega Genesis Collection and if you're a fan of the Genesis, then you owe it to yourself to buy it. It was as simple as that.

ULTIMATE
Is this really the "Ultimate" Genesis Collection? There's no doubt that there are a lot of amazing Genesis games featured on this single disc, but would I go as far as to use the "U" word when describing this particular Genesis collection? Absolutely

You don't need to include Greendog to be considered "Ultimate" ...
not. The truth is, this is a solid Sega compilation disc full of some of the best 16-bit games of all time. However, there are a few noteworthy games completely missing from this so-called Ultimate Genesis Collection.

For starters, where are games like Sword of Vermillion, Ecco Jr. and Virtua Fighter 2? Granted, these aren't the creme of the Genesis crop, but it does seem odd that they would appear on the PSP version of the Sega Genesis Collection. Even more troubling is the absence of Shadow Dancer: The Secret

... But giving us Gunstar Heroes would be a good place to start!
of Shinobi, one of Sega's best 2D action games. And it doesn't stop there, where's Eternal Champions? Why include Decap Attack without also giving us the infinitely better Chakan: The Forever Man? And what about Greendog ... okay, nobody actually wants Greendog, so forget I mentioned it. For what it's worth, I am of the mind that you cannot call your collection "Ultimate" if you didn't include Gunstar Heroes, which may be the single greatest 16-bit game of all time. No Gunstar, no Ultimate.

And even if it did include all of those games, it still wouldn't have the best of the best Genesis games. You see, even though this is called the Ultimate Genesis Collection, it is actually nothing more than the Ultimate Sega Collection. All of the games here are by (or at least distributed by) Sega. If they wanted to make this the "Ultimate" then they would have added some of the triple-A titles from Konami, Capcom and Electronic Arts. Obviously that wasn't the goal of this collection, but when you bandy about a word like "Ultimate" you really should go all the way and actually deliver.

GENESIS
You would think that a disc named Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection would be nothing but 16-bit Genesis games, right? Well, you would be wrong. Recently Sega announced that not only would they be offering the three 16-bit Phantasy Star games (Phantasy Star II, Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom and Phantasy Star IV: The End

Fine, then I'll just stand here staring at you. I have all day!
of the Millennium), but they would also be including the original 8-bit Phantasy Star that started it all. Not that I'm complaining, but isn't this supposed to be a Sega Genesis collection? If you're going to go as far as to put the name "Genesis" in your title you should at least make sure that all of the games on your disc are from the Genesis era.

Even more troubling is the fact that Sega is advertising that "this is the first time ever that all four titles have been featured in one compilation." I hate to correct Sega, but this actually isn't the first time all of the Phantasy Stars have been featured on one disc. Obviously they are forgetting about the 1998 Sega Saturn game, Phantasy Star Collection. Now, if they wanted to say that this was the first time American gamers got a compilation with all four games, then they would be accurate. However, that's not what they said. And considering that this isn't a Genesis game, that leads me to believe that this isn't really a Genesis collection, contrary to what the name tells me.

COLLECTION
Well ... I suppose this is a collection. In fact, of the four words in the title, this is about the only one that actually seems to apply to the actual game. We've ruled out Sonic, Ultimate and Genesis, so I guess

The newly renamed compilation disc: Collection!
Collection is about the only thing we have left to hang on to. But Collection is kind of a boring title; it doesn't have the same ring as, say, Game or Compilation Disc. Still, I prefer the name Collection over being lied to by Sega.

When it comes right down to it there's no reason they couldn't have come up with a different name for this compilation. Heck, they could have stuck with the tried and true Sega Genesis Collection. It worked on the PS2 and PSP, and that's essentially what this disc is. And besides, this game is coming out on two systems that didn't have the Sega Genesis Collection in the first place, so I don't see the harm in just using that name again. You could even call it the Sega Genesis Collection Plus or the Sega Genesis Collection Vol. 2 or something.

They also could have called the game Sega's Greatest Hits, which would accurately describe this particular disc. Sure it may be missing a few of Sega's best moments, but every best-of is missing a few of the biggest hits. I would also have settled for something a little more creative, like Sega Genesis Unboxed. Or maybe they could get self referential and call it something like The Sega Genesis Converter or the Sega Nomad Ultimate Collection. There are plenty of good titles they could have come up with, but instead they chose to lie to us and try to use Sonic to pimp their game. Shame on you Sega, you should never have stooped to that level. You should have faith that your classic 16-bit games are good enough to sell themselves.
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