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Sonic's Less Than Ultimate Genesis Collection

Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection Have you heard the news?  Sega has released another retro compilation package of some of the best that the Sega Genesis had to offer, this time packaging a few dozens classic games for the Sony PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 in the form of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection.  All of your old favorites are here, from Streets of Rage (at last) to Phantasy Star to Vectorman to Sonic the Hedgehog.  But wait!  Something is missing.  There's a certain glaring absence from the Genesis library in that the lock-on capability of Sonic & Knuckles has been withheld, so if you're looking to play Sonic 3 & Knuckles or the other lock-onable games on your current generation powerhouse console, you're out of luck.  Kombo has the details while the Sega of America blog offers a half-hearted explanation for the omission.

We’ve gotten comments & questions from die-hard Sonic fans about this collection, and whether Sonic 3 + Knuckles would be included, or just the separate games. For those who don’t know: the original games were intended to be part of the same cart, and Sonic & Knuckles was eventually released as a “lock-on” cartridge, that could be locked-on to Sonic 3 and Sonic 2 so that Knuckles would be playable in those games. Locking Sonic & Knuckles into any other Sega Genesis game allows access to the game Blue Sphere, based on the Sonic bonus levels.

This ‘Sonic 3 + Knuckles’ feature wasn’t included for Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. I spoke with the producer for Sonic’s UGC, Ethan Einhorn, who definitely understands the nature of hard-core Sonic fandom. We had a good conversation about the game, and I got Ethan’s official explanation for why Sonic 3 + Knuckles wasn’t included: “To shore up the development time necessary to get “Lock-On” to work in Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection, we would have had to drop all of the bonus games from the disc. Faced with an either/or scenario, we chose to retain our title lineup in its entirety.”

It's sad to see the lock-in extras missing from Ultimate Genesis Collection, but it's certainly understandable.  After all, it's notoriously difficult to get that lock-on technowizardry working on modern consoles.  Why, to make such magic work one would have to own the original Sega Genesis games.  Or the Sega Saturn collection Sonic Jam.  Or the PC release of Sonic & Knuckles Collection.  Or last generation's Sonic Mega Collection for the Nintendo GameCube.  Or the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox upgrade of that set, Sonic Mega Collection Plus.  Or a PC from 1998 or later running a Sega Genesis emulator.  So you can certainly see how knowledge of how to make such an obscure technology work properly has been lost to the ages.