Playing video games is, by nature, an expensive hobby. With new titles typically costing as much as $60, it can definitely be hard on one’s pocketbook. One way to help alleviate the high cost of gaming, not to mention relive some great games of the past, are to pick up a video game collection. Over the years, many publishers have tapped into their back catalog and released two or more games together. While that’s all well and good, to be a truly exceptional value, a video game anthology really needs to be made up of at least three titles. Here are our picks for the best classic gaming collections.
Mega Man X Collection
It was a tough call between this title and Capcom’s Mega Man Anniversary Collection, but Mega Man X Collection for the Nintendo GameCube and Sony PlayStation 2 gets the nod thanks to the fact that it contains more modern titles. Mega Man X Collection is a collection of the first six Mega Man X games as well as Mega Man Battle & Chase, and while the former games are all in the classic action/platform style of this legendary Capcom series, the latter is a racing game, which made its way to North America for the first time in this compilation. While there are some glitches due to localization and emulation errors, the games are a lot of fun, and thankfully the password system used in the early Mega Man X games has been replaced by a save feature.
Sonic Mega Collection Plus
Many fans feel that the old 16-bit Sonic the Hedgehog games are the best, and while they have been re-released through download services for today’s big three consoles, they also have been gathered together and released in this wonderful package. Available for the Microsoft Xbox and the Sony PlayStation 2, Sonic Mega Collection Plus includes the original three Genesis Sonic the Hedgehog titles, plus Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic 3D Blast, the pinball game Sonic Spinball and even Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, which is basically a version of the classic puzzler Puyo Pop. There’s also a version of Sonic Mega Collection for the Nintendo GameCube that includes these games, but what gives the Xbox and PS2 versions the edge is the inclusion of additional titles, including a half-dozen Sonic Game Gear games as well as the Genesis classic Comix Zone. For under $20, it’s definitely a bargain.
Sega Genesis Collection
While we’re on the topic of the Sega Genesis, there’s another compilation of Genesis games that belong on this list, and that is the Sega Genesis Collection for PlayStation 2 and Sony PSP. This amazing collection of video games includes more than two dozen of the very best offerings of the 16-bit era, including Sonic the Hedgehog 1 & 2; Phantasy Star II, III & IV; Vectorman 1 & 2; Columns; Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, the Golden Axe series, and three Echo the Dolphin games. It is just an amazing congregation of different types and genres of games, most of which have stood the test of time quite well. Plus, both the PS2 and PlayStation Portable versions of the game feature different additional games that can be unlocked, thus further enhancing the value of this sub-$20 offering.
Neo Geo Collections & Anthologies
SNK Playmore, the rights owners for several of the classic old Neo Geo games, have released several different gaming anthologies, and it’s far too hard to pick just one, so we’re nominating them all collectively. For a budget price (usually $10 to $20 dollars), gamers can enjoy Contra-style run-and-gun action in Metal Slug Anthology for Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 2 and PSP, one of many collections of one-on-one fighters, including Art of Fighting Anthology and two volumes of Fatal Fury Battle Archives for PS2, or weapons-based brawling in the forthcoming Samurai Shodown Anthology for the Wii and other systems. If you have to pick just one, the Samurai Shodown games would get my recommendation.
The Best of the Rest
Unfortunately, there are far too many quality game compilations to review all of the good ones. Hopefully, you’ll agree that the above titles are the best of the best, but if you’re still looking for more, there are plenty of honorable mention titles to choose from. Foremost among them is the Legend of Zelda Collector’s Edition, which includes full versions of both NES Zelda titles as well as the Nintendo 64 classics Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask. Tecmo Classic Arcade for Xbox includes such quality, old-school titles from the developer as Tecmo Bowl, Rygar and Solomon’s Key. For the very old-school, Atari Anthology offers more than 80 classic first-generation titles, including Asteroids, Missile Command, and even several never before released titles. Along the same lines, Activision Anthology for PS2 and GBA include some of their most memorable Atari titles, including Laser Blast, Pitfall and River Raid. All of them are worth at least a rental, even if they might not have the replayability of several of the featured gaming collections on our list.