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We Need A Modern Version Of SEGA's Mega Games Compilations

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We Need A Modern Version Of SEGA's Mega Games Compilations

Video games are expensive - but then, for console users at least, it’s always been so. It wasn’t unusual to see new Mega Drive and Super Nintendo releases in the early 1990s retailing for over £50, with some going as high as £70; and even before that you’d be lucky to get much change from swapping a couple of twenties for an 8-bit Master System or NES cart. The switch to disc-based games did bring prices down somewhat in the mid-1990s, as the PlayStation took on the Saturn and came out on top - but the current generation of PS5 and Xbox Series X has put us firmly back at that £60-70 price point for the latest titles.

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As a child in the Mega Drive era, most of my games for SEGA’s big-in-Europe 16-bit console were either received as gifts or bought second hand with saved-up pocket money. But something SEGA offered that few of its competitors at the time did, outside of the home computer scene, was compilations - some games for the price of one, which for anyone unable to spend a lot on software was a total blessing. Usually bundled with the purchase of a console, but subsequently available in second-hand stores as they were traded in for new releases, SEGA’s Mega Games series offered exceptional value for money - and I’d love to see Xbox, PlayStation or Nintendo put out something comparable, today.

Several Mega Game inclusions feature on the Mega Drive Classics collection for Switch and other consoles/PC, which comes highly recommended…

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For those who’ve no idea what I’m talking about, let me take you back in time to 1992, and the release of Mega Games I for the SEGA Mega Drive. (It was also released in the States as Triple Score: 3 Games In 1… did America have to rename everything?). This was first sold separately from consoles but would eventually become a pack-in cart, and featured the arcade racer Super Hang-On, match-three puzzler Columns, and the widely rebranded kick ‘em up World Cup Italia ‘90 - three games, for the price of one. Sure, none of the games were especially brilliant, but if you’d just got a Mega Drive, or were on a tight budget, Mega Games I was a fantastic addition to your collection.

SEGA didn’t stop with a single volume, and Mega Games 2 came out in 1993, this time as an exclusive inclusion with purchases of the remodelled Mega Drive II console. While the first compilation wasn’t exactly bursting with bangers, its sequel most certainly was, including Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and The Revenge of Shinobi. A third three-in-one release followed in the same year, packing Super Monaco GP, Super Thunder Blade and the underrated sci-fi side-scroller Alien Storm into a single cart. At no point was SEGA putting new games on these collections, but if you were to somehow get hold of them all, via a little swapping with mates or trips to the local trade-in place, you had nine games for relatively little spend. Not a bad thing, at all.

It’s not Streets of Rage good, but Alien Storm is a fun side-scroller with bonus first-person sequences / Credit: SEGA
It’s not Streets of Rage good, but Alien Storm is a fun side-scroller with bonus first-person sequences / Credit: SEGA
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As gaming moved from the 16-bit era to the new dawn of 32-bit play with the PlayStation and Saturn, SEGA switched its Mega Games series up. If you were buying a Mega Drive II new in 1995, you may well have got one of the six-game Mega carts with it, as three were released in one year, in Europe. The final entry in this run is the one to get if you’re eBay shopping today, featuring Streets of Rage, The Revenge of Shinobi, Sega Soccer (the 1990 World Cup branding ditched, five years on), Columns, Super Monaco GP and Sonic the Hedgehog. Some incredible winners there, if you were arriving very late to the Mega Drive party. The same year, the US market got 6-Pak, which bundled the original Sonic in beside Streets of Rage, Revenge of Shinobi and Columns, but swapped Sega Soccer for Super Hang-On and Super Monaco GP for Golden Axe. Yeah, the American one’s better, isn’t it. 

Throughout the lifespan of the Mega Drive/Genesis, several compilations surfaced. It’s not like other consoles didn’t get some great single-cart collections - the Super Nintendo’s Super Mario All-Stars is an all-timer, and Tetris and Dr Mario received the two-in-one treatment in 1994 - but SEGA’s console really did offer a lot of bang for not so many bucks on a number of releases. 1996’s Classic Collection ditched the Mega Games branding but stuck to the same formula, putting the highly desirable (and very expensive to buy today, on its own) Gunstar Heroes on the same release as the one-time Mega Drive pack-in game Altered Beast, Flicky and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle. It’s Gunstar Heroes that makes the release worth owning today - Classic Collection sells for two figures, Gunstar solo often for three - but there’s fun to be had with Flicky, too. 

Gunstar Heroes is the high point of Classic Collection / Credit: SEGA, Treasure Co Ltd
Gunstar Heroes is the high point of Classic Collection / Credit: SEGA, Treasure Co Ltd
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Sonic got his own compilation in 1995, Sonic Classics (or Sonic Compilation in Europe, a title that’s maybe a little too literal) squeezing the first two 16-bit Sonics onto one cart alongside the reskinned Puyo Puyo puzzle action of Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine. Other one-cart collections on the Mega Drive included EA Sports Double Header (EA Hockey, John Madden Football); Sega Sports 1 (Wimbledon, Ultimate Soccer and Super Monaco GP - there was never a second volume); The Disney Collection (the Donald Duck-starring Quackshot and Mickey Mouse’s Castle of Illusion); and Codemasters’ pairing of Fantastic Dizzy with Cosmic Spacehead and Micro Machines with Psycho Pinball. All offered great value, retailing for the price of a single game (or, in many cases, less than a brand-new release). What didn’t was 1993’s Action 52, an unlicensed America-only release from Active Enterprises that put 52 terrible games on one cart and sold for $199.99. I say “sold”, but inevitably it didn’t exactly fly off shelves at that price.

Okay, back to the present day. No SEGA - well, not as a console presence, anyway - but video games, they sure still exist. And they can sure be expensive. I appreciate that it doesn’t take long for reductions to start taking the asking price of relatively recent releases down to appealing levels; and that the rise of subscription services and ‘free’ game provision has changed the landscape somewhat in regard to what we play and how we access it. But imagine, if you will, PlayStation or Xbox saying: hey, our players, how about getting three of our games for the system you’re using right now, for the price of one. I mean, how about that, right? It’d be great. 

EA Hockey, aka NHL Hockey, was on EA Sports Double Header and was always great for one-on-one play with pals after school / Credit: EA, mobygames.com
EA Hockey, aka NHL Hockey, was on EA Sports Double Header and was always great for one-on-one play with pals after school / Credit: EA, mobygames.com
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Yes, you can play Forza Horizon 3, Halo 5: Guardians and, errr (quick, think of another Xbox One-era exclusive that’s been out a while), Gears of War 4 via Game Pass - but believe it or not, the internet isn’t all that great everywhere, nor is it totally affordable for everyone. So a physical Xbox One ‘Mega Games’ with those three titles in it (or comparable ones), with three discs in one case, would be a terrific box-in bonus for new buyers - and probably pretty darn appealing for everyone if priced at £20 or so in stores. You could go year to year, through the outgoing (yet still active) console generation’s lifespan. PlayStation could put together a first-party triple from 2016 with the Ratchet & Clank before the latest Ratchet & Clank, The Last Guardian and Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End; or jump forward to 2018 and stick God of War, the Shadow of the Colossus remake and Detroit: Become Human into a single box. God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, new and boxed, for £20? You’d snap someone’s hand off for it, even with the misery of Detroit there too.

Compilations like SEGA’s Mega Games and the many other multi-game releases on the Mega Drive were a way for those less-well-off to enjoy a variety of video games without coughing up money that’d be better spent elsewhere. Discounts and ‘PlayStation Hits’ series and subscription perks are all well and good, and have their places, clearly. But I do wonder if, with living costs spiralling out of control, one of today’s major console games publishers couldn’t strike out with a contemporary take on Mega Games. 

BioShock: The Collection includes all three titles from the 360/PS3 era, plus DLC / Credit: 2K Games
BioShock: The Collection includes all three titles from the 360/PS3 era, plus DLC / Credit: 2K Games

I concede there are some, if not equivalents, at least bargain-priced ways to pick up relatively modern games - think about the remastered compilations for the Batman Arkham games, BioShock, Mass Effect and some of the LEGO releases. But those lean heavily on past-gen titles, looking back to the Xbox 360 and PS3 era. I am very much talking about collections that include games originally made for the console in question, freshly packaged together for the console in question; PS4 games compiled for PS4 players, for example. And no, I am not counting the multitude of retro-game collections that are released every year here - although that 50-game Mega Drive Classics is a triumph. You should absolutely own it over the Switch Online subscription service’s offerings.

It’s an idea, isn’t it? Is it such a bad one? Maybe - there’s always the thinking that if something hasn’t happened yet, something that might seem obvious at first glance, there’s a great business reason why (I mean, other than greedy companies being greedy). But I wouldn’t be against seeing budget compilations from today’s major publishers, releases that give strapped-for-cash players a little more for their money than usual. Nintendo already gave us Super Mario 3D All-Stars (before delisting the thing, tsk), which was a consoles-spanning set for the Switch - but how about a Switch-specific set that took The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening, Kirby: Star Allies and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, all current-gen console exclusives and often ones receiving eShop reductions, and bundled them together in one box for, let’s say, £30? Forty, maybe, at a push? Anyone coming to the Switch anew would see that and gobble it up happily; and many a long-standing Switch owner won’t have played even one of the three yet, either. 

So how about it, Xbox? PlayStation? Nintendo? Is there any new life in this old model? As we look again at new releases hitting stores at £70, an alternative way to pick up some older - but not old - games would be a boon for newcomers to any console, especially with backwards compatibility considered, and a huge public relations win for the publisher in question, I don’t doubt. And even greedy companies like those, from time to time.

(Small update: I've since learned that in 2018 Bandai Namco released a two-games-in-one package for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Dark Souls III, for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. It's on Amazon right now for about £20 for Xbox One. This is great, and exactly what I'm talking about! More of it, I say.)

Featured Image Credit: SEGA, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Topics: Opinion, Retro Gaming, Sega

Mike Diver
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