Three icons from the house that the blue hedgehog built, in one glorious gaming package? Ambassador, with this collection you're really spoiling us. Ferrero Rocher references aside, I have to say Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd and Co is a joyful little game to while many an hour of your precious time whilst revisiting your childhood.
It is a wonderful little package including the classic Master System platforming action of Alex Kidd in Miracle World, the super speedy Super Hang-On of Sega’s arcade cabinet fame and last but not least my favourite and probably best remembered game, The Revenge of Shinobi one of the greats from the days of the unforgettable Sega Megadrive.
Alex Kidd in Miracle World is an old fashioned platformer as you would expect from a game released in the mid eighties. You guide Alex on his quest to rescue his brother Prince Egle from the evil tyrant Janken the Great. Alex has a number of areas to traverse using a modest set of tools to aid him in his journey. Alex make his way across miracle world in the usual manner by hopping between platforms, smashing bricks and chests with his massive hulk like fists to gain money and power ups, or revving up his motor bike or helicopter to rest his legs for a while. The game plays well, with the level design and old school gameplay resulting in a very satisfying platforming experience. The controls have been mapped perfectly and do not get In the way at all.
I’m always puzzled by retro games and their spirit crushing difficulty curves as I never remember having to restart my game as much when I was seven, and Alex Kidd in Miracle World is one of these games so be warned. The use of vehicles and the appearance of Janken’s Henchmen (boss characters) mix up pace nicely especially when a game of rock paper scissors is involved. Overall Alex Kidd is an old school delight which may hold your attention for twenty minutes at a time while you try to defeat Janken or in my case make it past the first level.
The inclusion of an arcade game such as Super Hang-On is a very nice touch for this vintage collection giving you probably the best remembered Sega arcade cabinet, which has also spawned a multitude of clones to this day. The game is simple - ride hard and hang on otherwise you will end up in a heap by the side of the road! The game takes the form of a simple time trial, navigating the road whilst racing other bikes and trying not fall off or crash into road-side obstacles. Each checkpoint you pass in the road gives you the much needed extra time to continue on your way and if you’re lucky make it to the end unscathed. Super Hang-On allows you to visit four different stages around the world based on the major continents with each having an increasing number tight bends and checkpoints.
The game is really fun which is down to its simplicity, the controls are nicely implemented navigating the track with the analogue stick and triggers is a doddle and you can glide round corners with ease but they obviously don’t come close to the arcade cabinet in terms of experience (Sigh). The biggest highlight of the game in any level being the mad dash to the next checkpoint whilst watching the clock count down and just nabbing it with one or two seconds to spare, it’s a rare fist pumping moment you don’t really get these days with modern racers. The tracks can be learned and mastered which will appeal to perfectionists out there and it is one of the old school games you can play with your mates to see who can get the furthest or the highest score while passing the controller around the room. Super Hang-On is a good excuse to turn the xbox on for two minutes or two hours whatever the weather.
That brings me to the nicest surprise of the Sega Vintage Collection namely the inclusion of the gaming masterpiece which is The Revenge of Shinobi. This is a true master stroke from Sega and I suspect will be the real draw for people to this package. You play Joe Musashi taking on the Neo Zeed organised crime gang, with the aim to avenge your ninja clan and return with your bride Naoko. Joe in his ninja suit then goes on a mission across eight districts spanning the globe, dealing out swathes of ultra cool ninja flavoured retribution to the Neo Zeed crime organisation, using his trusty shuriken, ninja sword and special ninjutsu powers to put an end to his foes. You will come across ninjas like yourself who require swift thinking and acrobatic skill and you will need determination and brawn to take on the samurai warriors the Neo Zeed have at their disposal (among other varied enemies). The Revenge of Shinobi is your classic side scrolling action game but it will test you and ultimately reward you when you persevere and triumph. The thrill of passing a level with little or no damage while dealing the Neo Zeed goons new air holes left right and centre is old school magic and cannot be beaten. The Revenge of Shinobi is the best addition to Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd and Co and to be honest even without the other two games it would still warrant a purchase.
The front end of Sega Vintage Collection: Alex Kidd and Co is very tidy and shows a mock up of each game in its respective console or gaming cabinet and gives you a handful of nice extras to accompany this already tidy package. You have the option to play the original game in its European, American or Japanese flavour or run a number of ranked trials which take the form of different scenarios within each game which are scored and then can be uploaded to the internet leaderboards for bragging rights. The regional differences of the games are very minor but the i imagine Sega included them to streamline development and release the same game package to the three regions rather than tailoring each release.
There is a fantastic jukebox which allows you to listen to all the music tracks within each respective game and create your own playlist. Super Hang-Onand The Revenge of Shinobi have the best selection of tunes, showing off how talented sound engineers were back in the day when they only had six or seven channels of sound to play with.
The package contains all three games maintained in their original state with no major reworking of the visuals or HD re-touching here - its true old school just like you remember it. You do however have a number of options to alter the image aspect ratio, or make the visuals slightly more pleasing to the eye with a jaggie erasing filter to soften the picture.
Overall as a package Sega Vintage Collection: Alex kid and co is brilliant, giving you three top Sega gems for 800 points isn’t bad at all (All three games are available on PSN on an individual basis also). The nostalgia aspect is probably the draw for most of the older gaming community but will it appeal to younger gamers? Probably not. If your gaming memories are invested in any one of these titles it is a very pleasant trip down memory lane and the other titles will not disappoint. The thrill of Super Hang-On, the platforming greatness of b>Alex Kidd in Miracle World and the ninja flavoured action of The Revenge of Shinobi will bring you back for more and possibly take you back in time.
Like a fine wine, this only gets better with age.