Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection Part Six

Sonic Spinball (1993)

The Museum description pokes fun at Dr. Robotnik’s “Pinball Defense System”. 😛

Spinball tries to combine pinball and platforming, with Sonic as the ball. That aspect makes enough sense, but it’s a difficult game; three lives, no continues. Some of the music is fine, but certain other tracks, like the one for the high score screen, are so cacophonous and industrial it makes some of the Silent Hill tracks seem like smooth jazz. It almost gives me a musical seizure.

Original Score: 2/5

Sonic the Hedgehog (1991)

A high-speed platformer. I’m pretty bad at Sonic games. U_U

Hey… the Special Stages kinda have Sonic act like a pinball. So that’s where Spinball got it from. “I learned it from you, Dad! I learned it from watching you!”

Spikes, pits, and spiked pits are jerks.

This game has aged pretty well, though its sequels look better and have even more emphasis on speed.

Original Score: 2/5

Revised Score: 3/5

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (1992)

This sequel introduces several new elements: Sonic’s friend Tails, Sonic’s Super Saiyan Sonic transformation, Robotnik’s DEATH EGG weapon, the Spin Dash move, and the evil Mecha Sonic, like a Terminator.

I think I played Sonic 2 before I played Sonic 1.

The two-player mode squishes the screen for split-screen gameplay.

Tails is really helpful. He grabs rings for you, and he never gets in the way.

Original Score: 2/5

Revised Score: 3/5

Sonic the Hedgehog 3 (1994)

A solid Sonic game that introduced Knuckles the Echidna to the series.

Sonic 3‘s first stage isn’t as fast-paced as Sonic 2‘s. What was up with the second stages in these games having submerged areas as a prominent threat? Hedgehogs and water don’t mix.

Original Score: 4/5

Space Harrier (1985)

This shooter has aged pretty well, though I think I prefer 3D Galaxy Force II.

I remember playing this game when I rented Shenmue instead of finding those sailors. ;-;

Streets of Rage (1991)

Mr. X’s crime syndicate has infiltrated every aspect of the government in an unnamed city. Only three rogue cops are bad enough dudes (Adam Hunter and Axel Stone) or dudettes (Blaze Fielding) to do anything about it.

The SoR series is famous for its music composed by Yuzo Kishiro. It’s probably his most famous work. The series’ Japanese title is Bare Knuckle.

Adam’s hobby? Bonsai. Axel’s hobby is… video games?!

The trio have vague differences in their attributes, detailed on the character select screen.

Adam: Power and Jump: A

Speed: B

Axel: Power and Speed: A

Jump: B

Blaze: Jump and Speed: A

Power: B

This game is a lot more primitive than Streets of Rage 2.

Original Score: 2/5

SoR spawned a comic strip series in Britain’s Sonic the Comic. Two of the series were written by Mark Millar and features some ugly, ugly artwork, like some of the worst stuff from the ’90s reviewed by Linkara or the weird ’80s indie comics riffed on the website Mister Kitty. Counterpoint: Axel gets to utter the line, “Ninjas are wimps, man!” Shh! Don’t let the Winds of Destruction hear you say that!

Streets of Rage 2 (1992)

This is where the potential of SoR was truly realized. Cooler music, better set pieces, more moves, two new characters, and more enemies with names this time. The enemies in the first game had names, but they were only listed in the manual.

Axel: Technique: 3

Power, Speed, and Stamina: 2

Jump: 1

Blaze: All Stats: 2

Skate: Speed and Jump: 3

Technique: 2

Power and Stamina: 1

Max: Power and Stamina: 3

Technique: 2

Speed and Jump: 1

Original Score: 4/5

Streets of Rage 3 (1994)

Any fan of the earlier two games will be able to tell right off the bat that SoR 3 is quite different from the others. The game has cutscenes with character portraits done in an intense and realistic style. They look really good, but it feels odd to focus on the human aspect so much.

How the game was changed and censored from the JP version is a story unto itself. The original version’s story has to deal with Mr. X trying to use an explosive substance to start a global war; the Western version has the bad guys trying to replace the city’s governing body with robots. Robots!

A frame featuring Axel from the game’s intro, cut from Western versions

A controversial boss was cut from the JP version: Ash, a hard-gay, knee-knocked stereotype who wears a necklace with the Venus symbol. He poses in his jumping attack, and uses feminine voice clips. In the Western version, he was replaced with Shiva, Mr. X’s right-hand man. Shiva also replaces Ash as a secret playable character, though Ash can still be accessed with a Game Genie.

I really ❤ the character select theme.

Axel, Blaze, and Skate return with some altered stats alongside newcomer Dr. Zan, a… middle-aged cyborg who used to work for the crime syndicate. Adam and Max are the only characters to not return in playable form in this trilogy.

Once again, the character’s stats are revealed, as well as their height and weight.

Axel: Power: 6

Technique and Reach: 5

Speed and Jump: 2

Blaze: Her weight is a mystery.

Technique: 6

All other stats: 4

Skate: Speed and Jump: 5

Technique: 4

Power and Reach: 2

Zan weighs 332 pounds due to his cyborg enhancements, though he looks slender. He weighs almost as much as Bob from Tekken.

Reach: 6

Power: 5

All other stats: 3

The game starts with our heroes stopping a bomb. But who set us up the bomb?

The game feels faster. Enemy types and their moves are more varied.

Axel now says “Bare Knuckle” during his uppercut attack instead of “Grand Upper”.

You can dash and roll up or down to avoid attacks.

I still prefer SoR 2, but I could warm up to SoR 3 more.

The characters Mona and Lisa were Blaze palette-swaps in the first game, but in SoR 3, they have been redesigned to rip off the looks of Motoko “Major” Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell.

Sega mucked with the difficulty settings for the Western version as a result of their rentalphobia. Western Normal is Japanese Hard, kind of like what Capcom did with Devil May Cry 3. If you play Western SoR 3 on Easy, the game ends after stage six.

Original Score: 3/5

Whatever Happened to Streets of Rage?

This is a sad one. There have been at least four attempts to reboot SoR, only one of them from Sega itself. Ancient, one of Sega’s in-house developers, attempted to make a 3D Dreamcast installment with a first-person mode; it fell under. It honestly looked a bit ugly. A few years before that, Core Entertainment pitched a 3D SoR game to Sega; they passed on it, and the game manifested as Fighting Force. Grin proposed a 2.5D remake of SoR, and Ruffian pitched a reboot, but both fell through. All of these proposals failed to convince Sega of Japan that they should invest in SoR because it was always more popular abroad than in Japan. 😦

However, the fan-made Streets of Rage Remake exists. At least seven years of work went into it before Sega slapped them with a cease and desist, but it can still be found online.

Super Thunder Blade (1989)

A helicopter shooter; that’s unusual. It’s so easy to die in this game! I prefer Space Harrier or 3DGFII.

This game was one of the launch titles for the Genesis/Mega Drive in Japan alongside Altered Beast and Space Harrier II.

Wikipedia says that Brian Young has the all-time high score on this game at 11,789,400 points based on information from the October 1990 issue of GamePro.

Original Score: 2/5

VectorMan (1995)

2049: Humans have fled an ecologically ravaged Earth in search of hot aliens to bang new planets to colonize. Orbots were left behind to try to clean Earth up in mankind’s absence, but one Orbot, Raster, goes crazy after being accidentally attached to a nuke. Now calling himself Warhead, he has brainwashed his fellow Orbots to prepare for the destruction of humans when they return to Earth.

Only one Orbot, WALL-E VectorMan, who was absent during the brainwashing due to orbiting the sun at the time disposing of toxic sludge, can stop Warhead.

Difficulty levels include Lame, Wicked, and Insane.

This tough run ‘n’ gun platformer has aged pretty well graphically. The music is kinda cool.

Original Score: 4/5

VectorMan 2 (1996)

Now, the default difficulty is Cool and Hard mode is Wicked.

The first level is shockingly dark. VectorMan’s blasts temporarily light things up, but it’s still absurd.

If you get a game over, you… get to see the credits anyway? At least they have a cool theme.

Original Score: 2/5

Whatever Happened to VectorMan?

In 2003, Sega attempted to make a new game for the PS2, but it was poorly received and swiftly canceled.

Zaxxon (1982)

This old isometric shooter doesn’t do much for me.

Final Thoughts

This is such a fantastic and priceless collection. I love it a lot, and there are still games I want to play through or revisit on it.

This is the end of one retro anthology journey, but I would like to do another in the future.

What is your favorite Sega game or series? What is your favorite Sega memory?

2 thoughts on “Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection Part Six

  1. I have similar thoughts on Vector-Man. The first one was pretty cool, but I can’t get past how the second one starts. Also, the title screen received a huge downgrade between 1 and 2.

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  2. I was on Team Nintendo growing up, I guess. I have a Genesis now with Sonic 2 and that’s as far as my Sega experiences go, haha.


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