Sega Ages: Volume 1

Sega Ages: Volume 1
Game Name: SEGA Ages Volume 1
Media: 1 CD-ROM
Publisher(s): SEGA
Developer(s): SEGA AM2 / AM4
Genre(s): Compilation: Racing / Shooter
Release Date: 1996
Serial Number: MK81604-50
Region: PAL

Sega Ages Volume 1 MenuSega Ages is a compilation featuring 3 of the biggest arcade hits of the 80’s – Outrun, Space Harrier and AfterBurner. These three flagship titles had been ported to many home systems with varying degrees of success. Some conversions were good (Master System, MegaDrive, PCE) and some were plain awful (Atari ST and Amiga!). However with the launch of Sega Ages you finally got the chance to play perfect versions of these three monster titles in your own homes!

Right, on to the games. Outrun involves you driving a red ferrari …(blah)…(blah)…(blah)…. No I’m not going to tell you what all three games are about because unless you’ve lived on Saturn itself for all your life you already know. The question is how good are the conversions and are they still fun to play? The answer is yes, yes and maybe.

Sega Ages Outrun Screenshot

I have to confess at this point. Outrun is quite possibly my favourite game of all time. It brings back memory of joyful childhood holidays spent in Blackpool (for those of you overseas it’s a kind of a seedy Las Vegas gone wrong sort of place). I played it death on both the master System and PC Engine and the fact that you could supposedly get an arcade-perfect version was the reason I bought my Saturn in the late 90’s. I’m pleased to say that the version is perfect.

It’s amazing that 10 years later from it’s original arcade release the graphics still looked good and acceptable as a Saturn game. Of course being sprite-based they’re basic compared to Sega Rally and Daytona, but what you can’t deny is the feeling of speed they provide. Then there is the music. Magical Sound Shower, Splash Wave and Passing Breeze. Surely 3 of the best in-game soundtracks ever produced. The Saturn version of Outrun has 5 difficulty settings for the time limit and 5 difficulty settings for the number of vehicles on the road which is identical to the dip-switch settings of the coin op. You can also play in either European or overseas mode which alters the layout of the road map. Is Outrun still fun to play then. Oh yes!

Sega Ages Volume 1 - Space Harrier II Screenshot

And so to Space Harrier. Another game that brings back memories of Blackpool. In the late 80’s it was impossible to walk 200 yards up the promenade without hearing that distinctive bellow of “Welcome To The Fantasy Zone – Get Ready” every 20 seconds as the demo kicked in. I actually find the home version easier to play than the coin op. As the control stick on the arcade game was so big I always found that the your character responded just a fraction slow. This was fine until the game started to get hectic when that split second delay was the difference between running into the wooly mammoth or not. The graphics again are simplistic by modern standard but are still smooth and colourful enough to pass off as a Saturn title. The music is superb as ever. Is it still fun to play. It sure is!

Sega Ages Volume 1 - Afterburner Screenshot

And finally Afterburner. Again the version is arcade perfect. I don’t feel the graphics have stood the test of time as well as the other two games. Anything that is large is noticeably blocky. There’s also not much in the way of ground objects. The sound again though is excellent. Great background anthems blast out during the levels. The music that plays on level 4 is one of my all time faves. However the real problem with Afterburner is the game itself. The Arcade game worked because you were sat down in the hydraulic cabinet, a realistic control stick in one hand and the throttle in the other. It actually gave you some form of sensation of flying a fighter jet which disguised a very limited game. On the Saturn using the joypad to do everything just isn’t the same. The throttle can’t be simulated very well by using just the X-Y-Z buttons. Personally I feel Afterburner is by far the weaker of the three titles. Is it still fun to play? Not as much as the others but still good for nostalgia kicks.

So there you go. If you liked any or all of the originals go pick up a copy of Sega Ages. Some people might have wanted ‘souped up’ versions of these classics but that’s not always the best way to go. I don’t like the PS2 ‘Sega Classics Collection’ at all. It’s a shame more extras couldn’t have been included on the disk such as older sega console versions of the games, or maybe 3D model cabinets of the original arcade games to admire. However, I love it just for that moment when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up as you drive under The Gateway at full speed with Splash Wave blasting out. Heaven!

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