How should game collections be reviewed?

If every game ever made were on a single disc, would that compilation deserve a “10” just based on volume? Would it make more sense to average the reviews of all the games and use that as the compilations official review score? Should points be deducted from the score for every game the reviewer already owns? And if this every-game game came out again in five years, should its past availability negate any value it would otherwise offer the consumer?

These are the questions I have been pondering as I look through the reviews for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. Many bring up the fact that much of the collection has been released multiple times in multiple formats. Something seems faulty about criticizing the quality of a game on the basis of its distribution.

I cannot wrap my head around the contrast between the rave reviews the Chrono Trigger port received and the scores given to the Genesis Collection. Chrono Trigger is worth a 10 but the entire Phantasy Star series, both Genesis Shining Force games, the whole Streets of Rage series, third Shinobi, Dynamite Headdy, and all three classic 2D Sonic games on a disc deserve a 7?

If reviews should be based on what people already own then I give Chrono Trigger a 0. I have the SNES cart and will not buy the DS port. Obviously this is stupid and reviewers should focus on reviewing the quality of games and not concern themselves with what the reader does and does not already own.

I have tried and failed to devise a reasonable system for reviewing a compilation of games. It doesn’t make sense to simply average all of the games separate reviews together. If we use simple addition to arrive at a score, just from the Phantasy Star series alone we are looking at roughly 28 out of a possible 10. A reviewer could simply just go with the score of the best game on the disc and leave it at that. At least one of these games is an all time classic deserving a 10, so that’s easy.

Of course if publications didn’t insist on using hard coded numerical based review systems, they could simply say something along the lines of “The games in this collection range from 4s to 10s but ultimately, the volume of classics contained on this disc make it an amazing collection.”

Or you could just give a collection of some of the best games ever made a “C” grade because you already own a lot of them. I need to start a Virtual Console series of reviews that all read: “I already own this. Not recommended.”

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15 years ago

When I’m thinking about purchasing a collection I look at reviews for each of the games on it I’m interested in, and then I check to see if the re-release adds any new features or bonuses. The reason why reviews are based on discs rather than individual games is because they’re mainly just used as convenient purchasing decisions, people read them to see if their money is going to be justified. I personally would rather make that decision myself rather than have a reviewer do that for me, so I look at reviews of the original games and draw my own conclusion on the price of all of them together.

15 years ago

So much of this is psychology. With Chrono Trigger, you have a “legendary” game that was still relatively unavailable until the DS port, so reviewers felt it needed a fair review, to determine if it is still worth buying, and just because they can’t trash Chrono Trigger.

With this Genny compilation, there are a lot of “legendary” games, but Sega’s classics aren’t quite as beloved anymore, for whatever reason. Add in the fact that they have released the Sonics for the upteenth time over the years, and you have all the ammo a snarky reviewer could need. Just say “do you need to pay for Sonic yet again?”, casually mention the rest of the games, and slap a score on it.

A few, smarter reviewers have mentioned that this collection is just a bit too similar to the well emulated PS2 Genesis Collection released a while ago. I talked about this with Jay a few days ago, and I can’t shake the feeling that this is important. Yes, you can still evaluate the games and ignore that old compilation disc, but if I had bought that, and found that it has been quickly outdated/improved, I’d be pretty pissed. The problem here is that Sega and others don’t seem capable of getting these classics emulated right the first, or even second time, and either you rebuy them, or don’t and feel a bit snubbed.

Personally, I don’t need value. I would be more than willing to pay for Sega Ages collections here in the States. I am sure many others would too. Ultimately, that would be the deciding factor, were I to review this one. Knowing that I am not getting the best treatment of a game because of whatever decisions Corporate has made indicates that they only have so much respect for these games, and I will react the same to their releases.