It's a shame because the Sega Smash Pack
has some of the Genesis' shining moments, games that are still as fun to play today as they were when they originally came out. While there are a few dubious games on here, there's more than enough classic hits to make it worth the money. Hell, Shining Force
and Phantasy Star 2
are worth it--the rest are just gratis
To be specific, the Smash Pack has twelve games on it, ten of which are old Genesis titles--Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Shining Force, Wrestle War, Streets of Rage 2, Columns, Phantasy Star 2, Vectorman, Altered Beast, and Revenge of Shinobi. Along with those, two Dreamcast titles come along for the ride--the now-classic Sega Swirl and the never-before-released-in-America Virtua Cop 2.
A quick run-through of these games will have to suffice, unless you'd like to read for ten pages. First, the games that didn't particularly enthuse me. Wrestle War is an adequate wrestling game, but it's just not my style. Revenge of Shinobi strikes me as nowhere near as brilliant as the first game, but it's still a relatively entertaining side-scrolling platformer-beat'em'up. Streets of Rage 2 is mildly entertaining, and the moves sure are fun to pull off, but the game is way too easy, and you'll find yourself kicking your way through it in no time.
Now, Golden Axe was a blast in the arcade, and while it definitely lost some of its oomph on the translation to the Genesis, it's not a bad title at all. It's still fun to run around hacking enemies to bits, and there's something about the gameworld that's always appealed to me. The same goes for Altered Beast--classic, cheesy, and a hell of a lot of fun. It's another one where experience makes the game rather easy, but unlike Streets of Rage 2 there's some degree of campiness that makes it all the more worthwhile. Vectorman is an amazingly solid platformer by Blue Sky Software, but its difficulty level is probably higher than most people nowadays could handle.
Columns, while never the puzzler that Tetris was, is still an absolute blast to play. There's something about line-em-up games that keeps you coming back for more, and Columns is no exception. The fact that this implementation of the game is probably the least grating of all of the official ones helps--it really doesn't get any better than this. Sonic the Hedgehog . . . ah, where do I start? It's fast, it's furious, it's a lot of fun. The game still chugs too much when there are a lot of rings on the ground--sometimes the emulation here is a little too perfect--but there's something to be said for our favourite blue mascot. While not quite the perfection that Sonic 2 was, the first game is still amazingly fun.
The two shining stars in the Genesis segment for an RPG fan like me, however, are Shining Force and Phantasy Star 2. The first is an epic strategy-RPG--one of the first, actually--and the latter is an involving science fiction RPG. Both are absolutely huge, offering more hours of gameplay than most games nowadays, and while neither's graphics are particularly impressive, there's something to be said for two RPG classics on one disc. Shining Force is my favourite of the two, mainly because I'm a complete strategy-RPG whore, but both are fantastic, and amazingly hard to find if you actually want a copy for your Genesis.
The two Dreamcast games are nice, but nothing particularly amazing. Sega Swirl is a console adaptation of a game that started out on the TI calculators; Virtua Cop 2 is a conversion of an arcade rail shooter. Both are entertaining--Sega Swirl more so--but they feel more like filler and less like main content.