It's pretty trendy lately to release games that had an huge success in the past, though most times companies try to develop further on the original project. Sega is at the second installment of it's 'Sega Smash'. Even if 'Smash Pack' seems a nice title, overall it is just a Genesis/Mega Drive emulator with the rom-dumps of some 5+ years old games. Included are (in text files) the original manuals of the games. This time they choosed to re-release:
Sonic The Hedgehog II
As in all the compilations there are some great titles and some other included only to rise the total number, anyway Sonic and Hang-On names are enough to assure Sega some good selling . Consider the emulation engine used in the package was not even developed in house but bought from a third party freeware developer (the Genesis emulator used here was really popular on the emulation scene, prolly considered the best one, altough not the fastest one). All the roms together takes less than 10mb of hard disk space, pretty funny looking at today's multi-cd games. After bashing Sega, it's time for the good of the package, the gameplay.
Gameplay / Controls: 8.3/10
Controls are really basic, u can totally re-configure them and choose to use keyboard or gamepag at will. Gameplay of course can be summarized into 'really high', but of course every single game deserves it's own space. Would have been wonderfull to see some sort of multiplayer over i-net, though they choosed mostly single player games for this package.
Vectorman II 7.8/10
Well, well, this is 2d platforms at their best; The level design is really complex and well done, there's a lot to teach to many nowadays-games. Of course the graphics can't be in par with today standards, but I can assure you it was top of the notch when this game was released. Enemies are not so numerous and will be memorized soon, anyway the strenght of this one is the fast-pace of the action. You will not die as soon as an enemy touches you, since there's an energy bar, though death will force you to start the level from beginning, yes no quick-save
Super Hang On 6.5/10
This one was an higly acclaimed moto racing game. Compared to today standards it's pretty plain, and the higly arcadish target can't keep anymore toward the sloppy ancient graphics faults. Prolly many people know the game already and will be pleased to be able to play it once again, anyway I would love to see one of today's racing games with all the arcade options this one had. Today it's all about simulation, but well, I would be really pleased to have a button that does enable turbo when I reach 280kmh!
Sonic II: 7.4/10
Sonic was made famous by these fast-pace platforms on the Sega Genesis. This is the second installment and doesn't evolve too much from the first, just slighty better graphics and longer levels. Well for those young guys that thinks Sonic = Sonic Adventure I have a surpire... the original Sonic games were 2d Scrolling platform, games where the scrolling speed reached levels never seen before. Often you can't even guess where sonic is going, though you would be really pleased to see the graphics going on at high FPS. Prolly this game was technically impressive on the Genesis/MD, while nowaday even a shareware coder can reach such speeds on a Pentium. Anyway the complexity of the level design, the fast-pace and great frame-rate still makes this game worth playing. As far as 2d platform evolution, just Rayman is really better than sonic, and various years passed (of course Mario has not to be forgotten, but that was before sonic).
Shining Force 5/10
In an all arcade compilation they choosed to put an RPG classic. Especially after adrenaline-sonic this game seems really too old. Prolly the RPG is the genre where there was a better all around evolution: better graphics of course, more complex story, movies and technically better engines allowing more AI and, over all, online multiplayer. Even if this one had been really acclaimed in the past, even considering the plot is still amusing, it's days are really over. Nowadays RPG are overall better without loosing the arcade side of the origins.
Kid Chamaleon 3/10
r number of games on the box, since compared to nowadays games it's a piece of crap, whilst compared to the other titles of the pack it's simply uninspiring. This was a Mario wannabe, the Genesis was full of 2d platform, like the Gameboy is today, but only few had something special, Vectorman and Sonic were amongst them, Kid Chamaleon was not.
Flicky is really a funny game, while playing, you will feel few years back in the past playing an arcade at some place close to house. Indeed this game feels like something emulated trough Mame instead than with a Genesis Emulator. You're a cute flying thingie that has to rescue other yellow little chicken around the level and bring them safe to exit. A couple of cats will try to deny you the joy of ending a level and earning some bonus. You will be even allowed to throw objects at the cats, not just for animalistic fun but to get few more time to free the yellow thingies. The game has actually an original concept, and can be compared just to a faster version of Loderunner, but honestly now that I know Flicky exists, I would not waste time with loderunner anymore!
Comix Zone 8.2/10
Comix Zone is one of the games that did squeeeeeze Genesis to the last chip, giving some 2d graphics that can still appeal today's players (or not?). This one is a scrolling beat'em up, like Double Dragon, where the peculiarity is that you will scroll across a comic, instead across a level! Prolly nothing but screenshoots or playing it can really explain this game. Enemies are always the same, and the game is really brief. Sadly this had to fit onto a Genesis Rom, not on a CD, and at this graphic level they prolly had to choose to cut something to keep it so awesome looking. Really original, pretty funny play wise, something to keep to show what was a Sega Genesis (or MegaDrive).
Sound / Music 5.5/10
Wwell here we had no 5 dolby channels with a Sound Blaster Live Excelsior Mega Ultra. Only a couple Chips gave voice to the Genesis, and one of them was actually used to let the Genesis talk, like the voice saying 'SEGA' on welcome screen. Sega Smash Pack is on stores in 2000, so we have to compare it's sounds and music to 2000 games, and well, they're just to basic, altough the emulator tries to enhance original capabilities of the consolle.
Graphic, ARGH, this is even harder to rank, it's 2d, it doesn't reach 640x480 resolution, everything is sprite based. Just the frame rate is higher than on today's games. Overall the graphics can't handle today's offers. But here the graphics is not the target, it's just a way to reach gameplay (philosophical thought).
Who should get this package? A lot of people actually. Arcade game freaks, like people still playing illegal roms on MAME or other emulators... this time you can actually legally own the games. Retrogaming freaks of course have ordered it already. People that are willing to know where today games come from. People that have lower end systems, this one will play wonderfully on anything that's not more than 2 years old, maybe even 4 years old system may enjoy this little pearl. Further more people that want to play for 15 minutes will have more hopes to play with Smash Pack than with Blair Witch which takes 15 minutes just to load up.... GAMEPLAY! Just wonder why Sega doesn't choose to waste some time to re-code these games instead of packing them like they were 5 years ago, even the menu system is pathetic. Atari compilations were always something more than original, and remakes like Galaga and Breakout give total new life to the original projects, instead Sega wants the money but no work load... Anyway this one is still worth buying, lots of fun! Rumors are that the emulator can run more than the roms that were included in the package...