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Christmas with the Nerds: SEGA Classics on Steam!

‘Tis the season to be jolly. As much as we love giving Christmas gifts during this holiday season, our poor wallets have seen better days. No question about it, December is always a difficult month in terms of affording things and January is even harder work.

But wait a second… oh no! It’s already the day before Christmas Eve and you still haven’t finished all of your gift shopping.

Every year we all vow to finish hunting for suitable gifts for friends and family earlier than the year before, although it just never seems to happen. You have drank far too much eggnog, so driving to the store is out of the question. To make matters worse, it’s cold and wet outside. Braving the crowds of panicked last minute shoppers really doesn’t sound too appealing either. This is quite the pickle you’re in.

Fear not though, as we may well have the perfect SEGA style solution for you! You will even save some of those all important pennies helping make the start into the new year that bit easier.

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If any of your gift recipients appreciate retro gaming (as they should), then there are some fantastic titles all currently on sale via the Steam store. All of these titles are classic SEGA games from the 16-bit Genesis era and they are grouped together into five nice little packages. Named SEGA Genesis Classics (or SEGA Mega Drive Classics if you live in Europe), each one of these five collections contains a whopping ten SEGA titles from yesteryear. While you cannot mix and match, each pack is currently priced at a mere $3.75 / £2.75 in the Steam winter sale and they are fantastic value for money.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Steam software, then you have most certainly been missing out. Acting as a portal for playing and purchasing PC games, Steam is a great way to grab gifts for any friends and family that may already be registered with the service. The service was created and is maintained by Valve Software, a company best known for video game titles such as Half-Life, Portal and Team Fortress. Steam is well known for having huge summer and winter sales, as the prices of many games are always dropped significantly. If you have friends and family that use the service, it can be a great way of gifting top quality titles that are priced at very reasonable amounts.

We’re now going to take a quick look at eight must-have titles included as part of these packs, all of which are listed in no particular order. Any of these titles are sure to make a SEGA Nerd smile this Christmas and the fact that each game does not require expensive hardware to run means that there is no concern on whether they will work or not! Strange. The blast processing must already be built in…

COMIX ZONE BANNER

SEGA Classics - COMIX ZONE
Wack! The comic book style boarders are a nice touch and each stage takes place on a different page.

Sketch Turner is no ordinary comic book artist. Ever since a terrifying strike of lightning shot down from the heavens and hit his latest comic book, things have been pretty weird. His creations have come to life, taken him hostage and now he’s part of his own bizarre world! This side scrolling beat-em-up is a classic action packed title from STI. It features large sprites and unique background visuals that resemble panels from a comic book. There’s also an incredibly catchy heavy metal soundtrack composed by none other than Howard Drossin. It’s catchy and fits the game perfectly, no doubt being some of the most interesting music we have ever heard coming from the Yamaha YM2612 Genesis sound chip.

Be it short, Turner’s adventure is no walk in the park as this game is tough as nails. Players will have to master the simple yet compelling fighting system if they are to defeat the evil Mortus and escape the comic book world. It’s very fondly remembered by any SEGA fan and there is still some demand for a proper sequel to be released, nearly twenty years after the first game came out.

If you are going to purchase any of these games for a friend this Christmas, make sure Comix Zone is one of them.

DYNAMITE HEADDY BANNER

SEGA Classics - DYNAMITE HEADDY
Headdy the hero! All of the scenery in this game looks like it could be a stage prop and Headdy’s life bar is indicated by a stage spotlight.

Developer Treasure have always been well known for coming up with zany video game concepts, especially in the 16-bit era of gaming. Dynamite Headdy sure is one of them. You play as Headdy, a loveable puppet on a mission to save the world from the terrifying King Dark Demon. How frightening. Throughout this extravagant stage show, Headdy will be required to make use of his special powers, the ability to shoot his noggin towards enemies and swap it with many other head types! Ranging from a vacuum head to even one that allows him to fly through the air in a space shooter style sequence, each one of the power ups is different from the last and players will be itching to find more and test out their abilities.

The visuals for this title are some of the best on the Genesis and the concept is very unique. As Headdy and his friends are all puppets, the game is set entirely on a stage. Each level is described as a different act in part of the show and it’s a style that has only just been used again recently in the Sony PS3 title, Puppeteer. There is so much interesting action going on at once you wont know where to look next. The bosses are huge and the game is lengthy, especially for a side scrolling platforming title. The music is absolutely killer too, just like with all other Treasure Genesis titles.

Dynamite Headdy is a must-have for anybody purchasing gifts from the SEGA Genesis Classic packs this holiday season.

GOLDEN AXE 2 BANNER

SEGA Classics - GOLDEN AXE 2
Ax Battler is letting out his rage on that poor bandit. “Why do they always pick the dwarf over me?” he cries.

Perhaps the best title in the Golden Axe series, the second game takes everything awesome from the first title and adds in more levels, higher quality graphics and a brand new game mode. This classic arcade style side scrolling beat-em-up has players taking control of one of three characters, Ax Battler, Tyris Flare and fan favourite, Gilius Thunderhead. The three are out on yet another dangerous quest, this time setting out to defeat a new evil clan, the Dark Guild. It wouldn’t be Golden Axe without the legendary axe making an appearance either, as the leader of the Guild has hogged it all to himself and it’s up to our three hero’s to slap him about a bit and take it back.

Duel mode sees players facing off with enemies encountered in the main game in a battle arena. There are many battles to conquer and in them some very tough enemies to face. This is definitely a mode developed for the more adept Golden Axe player, as with only one life bar available throughout all of the different fights, it will take a lot of skill and patience to reach the end. The gameplay in Golden Axe II is addictive and it features some of the most iconic tunes and sound effects from SEGA’s past.

This is a title that surely anybody who is interested in retro gaming would be chuffed to bits if they were to receive it on Christmas day, which is why we felt that is deserves a mention.

GUNSTAR HEROES BANNER

SEGA Classics - GUNSTAR HEROES
The bosses in this game are huge and they are fun to face either alone or with a friend.

Developer Treasure’s second title on this list is perhaps one of the most sought after titles on the SEGA Genesis. Gunstar Heroes features fast run and gun gameplay that has players teaming up co-operatively to bring down an evil organisation, named the Empire. An ultimate weapon of mass destruction codenamed Golden Silver is currently in the mitts of the bad guys and as all evil organisations aim to do, they plan on activating it on the moon and using it to terrorise cities on earth. It’s up to the Gunstars to work with one another and defeat the leader of the Empire, Commander Grey, and save the citizens of earth!

This title is a little more accessible than most run and gun shooters in that players have infinite continues. It’s definitely one where you will want to play alongside a friend though, as it is very easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of enemies on-screen at once. One of the games main features is the different ammunition types found throughout each stage. Players can pick up these ammunition orbs and combine them with others, each one giving a different type of attack. It’s an interesting mechanic and it makes for some very interesting combinations, adding a new element of strategy to this otherwise quite basic title.

Although the Steam version unfortunately does not feature online co-operative play, Gunstar Heroes would be an ideal stocking filler for any fan of the run and gun genre.

PHANTASY STAR IV BANNER

SEGA Classics - PHANTASY STAR IV
Boom! Players level up and learn some truly devastating attacks. Those Biomonsters wont know what’s hit ’em!

Released on the SEGA Mega Drive in Japan during 1993, this fourth entry to the Phantasty Star saga sees the familiar RPG style gameplay fans have become accustomed to. In Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, you play as a group of hunters in their quest to rid the world of the pesky Biomonsters and find the route of the cause behind the planet Motavia’s decent into the grim wasteland it has become. Their adventure will be a perilous one, with many twists and turns along the way. It’s a very story-heavy title and we would recommend playing Phantasy Star II before moving onto IV, although luckily that is also available on Steam.

Unlike many other titles of the RPG genre, Phantasy Star IV has a futuristic setting. This, along with its anime style character portraits and over the shoulder battle screens helped it to stand out from the rest. The story becomes very engrossing and it is defiantly one you will want to play until the very end. The dialogue is kept interesting with lovely portraits of each scene popping up on the screen as the action unfolds, something that was very rare in RPG titles of this time.

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium is one of the best titles on the SEGA Genesis and it is one all classic RPG fans deserve to appreciate.

RISTAR BANNER

SEGA Classics - RISTAR
Ristar is incredibly pretty, we just can’t take our eyes off of it. Each planet is unique and features many new obstacles.

We just couldn’t leave out Ristar. This lovable little shooting star fellow was designed by Sonic Team and starred in his one and only title on the SEGA Genesis back in 1995. As there hadn’t been a mainline Sonic title for quite some time, a lot of people suspected he may have been created in an attempt to replace Sonic on the SEGA mascot throne. Unfortunately, despite the amazing visuals and captivating worlds in which our little friend visits over the course of his adventure, a sequel was never to be seen.

In this side scrolling platform action title, players control Ristar and fly around to many different planets in an attempt to rescue his captured father, defeating the evil tyrant Greedy in the process. Each planet is themed and each is very different to the last. There are plenty of bonus stages and secrets to uncover too, making this a great game for the completionist. Other than being able to fly through space, Ristar can also stretch his arms to great lengths. This allows him to swing around stages and also grab hold of enemies from great distances, propelling himself towards them and head-butting them into the cosmos.

Ristar is a beautiful game and it’s so finely crafted it’s no wonder he gave Sonic a run for his money back in the day. Pop it on the list.

STREETS OF RAGE 2 BANNER

SEGA Classics - STREETS OF RAGE 2
Bare knuckle! We can’t think of a bad word to say about this game. Everything is superb, especially the soundtrack.

Streets of Rage, or Bare Knuckle as it’s known in Japan, is another side scrolling beat-em-up title that has a distinct nineties feel about it. The game is full of twilight cities, neon lights and dangerous gang members to punch clean in the face. Players can choose one of four characters; Axel, Blaze, Skate or the awesomely named Max Thunder. As either one of these four kick-ass servers of justice, you must make your way into the headquarters of the sinister Mr. X in an attempt to save the older brother of Skate and also one of the playable characters from the first title, Adam. While the game features both two player co-operative and versus play, just as with Gunstar Heroes, the Steam version is local co-op only.

The second Streets of Rage title is undoubtedly the best in the series and it is some of SEGA’s finest work. The special attack from the first game has been altered to feel more like a finishing blow and it’s much quicker to activate. With a press of the A button, each of the four characters can unleash one of their own individual special moves. It’s a lot of fun and the music, of which was produced by well known video game composer Yuzo Koshiro, is absolutely astonishing.

It would be a crime to leave Streets of Rage 2 off any list of classic SEGA games, so be sure to include it as part of your Christmas must-buys!

MONSTER WORLD BANNER

SEGA Classics - MONSTER WORLD
This hidden gem is challenging but addictive. We would recommend it to more the more adept SEGA gamer, but it should not be passed up by anybody.

Last but not least on our list is a lesser known title, Wonder Boy in Monster World. The Wonder Boy series never really took off outside of Japan, but it definitely does not deserve to go ignored. In Monster World you play as Shion, a young boy setting out on an adventure to save the land from an evil creature known only as the BioMeka. Throughout his quest, Shion meets many friendly (and unfriendly) faces as he discovers his potential to become the legendary hero and rid the world from this terrible menace.

This title is a side scrolling action RPG game where players fight monsters, collect gold and buy new equipment to defeat even more monsters. There are several dungeons the players must traverse and massive boss battles to overcome at the end of each. In-between these dungeons are town stages. These serve as a nice break from monster infested over worlds and there are many non-playable characters to interact with. It’s an incredibly addictive game and there are so many secrets to uncover. While it can be considered as an open world title, many of the routes will not become available until the right items and hidden trinkets are found. As with many other titles on this list, the music is also terrific.

While this game can be quite difficult to newcomers to the action RPG genre, Wonder Boy in Monster World is a seriously underrated classic that deserves far more attention than than it gets. Gift this to a friend this Christmas and we assure you that it will not disappoint!

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We cannot recommend these SEGA Classic packs enough. They provide a great stocking filler for any SEGA Nerd (or any retro gaming enthusiast, for that matter.) While they may not be quite on par with some of the 3DS, PS3, 360 and Wii ports developed by M2, they are compatible with a wide range of PC specifications and all run like a dream, especially when controlled by using a gamepad.

Merry Christmas and happy gaming!

Lee Sparkes

Lee is a huge retro SEGA nerd and currently resides in bonnie Scotland. Starting out with a SEGA Master System, some of his favourite SEGA titles include Monster World IV, NiGHTS Into Dreams, OutRun 2, and of course, Sonic the Hedgehog. When he's not playing old SEGA games, he's probably sat watching Lupin III.

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