Sega is launching a compilation of classic Mega Drive Games on PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, the publisher announced last night. Its release date? 29th May.
Nobody talks of retro films or retro music. Read a novel by Tolstoy or a passage from the Bible and you aren't retro-reading, just as sitting down to a DVD of Citizen Kane or Lost in Translation would never be referred to as retro-viewing. And yet our industry is still yet to reach the point where it can refer to eras and movements rather than retrogames and retrogaming. Moreover, the process of buying a film by Orson Welles or Sophia Coppola is virtually the same today, despite the fact that more than fifty years separates their birthdates and best work. If Madonna and Tchaikovsky CDs are separated by metres in the local music store, mere inches on iTunes, why is it nearly impossible to buy a new copy of any videogame released anytime before yesterday?
It's a frustration that's been slightly eased, albeit in a patchwork, unsatisfactory way, by PSN, XBLA and WiiWare. Here it's possible to pick out a specific videogame from yesteryear and pay a few pounds for the privilege of owning the ROM, albeit with little guarantee of how good the emulation is going to be and without any of the enjoyment that comes from owning the box and manual. It's certainly convenient when you want to dip back into your youth in a moment of drunken sentimentality. But what single download releases can't offer is a broader snapshot of a console's library, a sense of where each game sits with other titles of the era or, indeed, the handiness of having all of your "retro games" in one place, restored with a consistent degree of care and context.
Backbone Entertainment, maker of the recent and quite brilliant Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix, is aiming to do just this with the boastfully named Mega Drive Ultimate Collection. Bundling together 40 of the system's better titles and presenting them with high-resolution artwork and a slew of developer interviews, its title bespeaks its ambition: to provide the definitive collection of SEGA-published Mega Drive games yet offered on a contemporary system.
SEGA has decided to put together a Mega Drive Ultimate Collection for Xbox 360 and PS3.