Exclusive: Hands-on with Ultimate Genesis Collection for iPhone

Regardless of how you feel about playing games on an iPhone--or iPad for that matter--Sega is bringing classic Genesis titles to the platform.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Regardless of how you feel about playing games on an iPhone --or iPad for that matter--Sega is bringing classic Genesis titles to the platform. We first told you about the Ultimate Genesis Collection app two weeks ago; here's a follow-up with some exclusive hands-on impressions.

Like most games that originated in the world of controllers, the Ultimate Genesis Collection relies on virtual buttons placed on the sides of the screen. You also have the option to play games in their original aspect ratio, which will put a graphic border around the game screen.

Sonic the Hedgehog looked great, though we did notice a slight dip in frame rate. There's a certain magic missing from the iPhone version that the classic was able to generate, most likely because the virtual controls aren't as solid as we would have liked. Precise controls are a must in games like Sonic, so it's going to take a lot of getting used to for those familiar with the speed of the original. A game like Ecco the Dolphin seemed slightly better in terms of control (it's a slower game), though a learning curve is still present here.

Too often we found our thumbs wandering off the designated button areas. Though the game does compensate for such an inevitability, we occasionally had to look down to make sure we were hovering over the correct virtual button. This isn't a drawback to Ultimate Genesis Collection, rather a necessary evil when playing games on a touch screen.

Perhaps the best feature here is game-saving. Unlike most titles on the Genesis, the Ultimate Genesis Collection will allow you to save midgame.

The Ultimate Genesis Collection will be free for iPhone and iPod Touch owners when it's released (any day now) and will come with Space Harrier II at no additional charge. Players can then purchase new Genesis titles from within the application. Game prices range from $3 to $6, though were told these aren't set in stone. No word yet on what other Sega titles we can expect, but our money is on a slew of first-party games. We'd imagine that something like Columns or After Burner isn't far off.

About the author

Jeff is a host for CNET video and is regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404, and also writes the site's tech comic, Low Latency. He is CNET's senior gaming editor and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.


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