Sega has released a number of classic Genesis games on the App Store- Sonic the Hedgehog [$5.99], Sonic the Hedgehog 2 [$5.99], Golden Axe [$2.99], Streets of Rage [$2.99], and as of last night, Ecco the Dolphin [$2.99] and Space Harrier II [99¢]. In the past we’ve been increasingly critical of Sega releasing these emulated games, as while the games wrapped in the emulator are undoubtedly classics, the emulator itself leaves much to be desired.
Revisiting these games with my iPhone 4 has revealed that Apple has finally released hardware that is fast enough to properly run Sega’s emulator (although I have had weird crashing issues with Sonic 2). If you’ve got an iPhone 4, the games run substantially better than the 3GS/3rd generation iPod touch, leaving the touch controls as the only issue. If you’re stuck in the world of the iPhone 3G or 2nd Generation iPod touch, you’re still better off skipping all of these because the performance really isn’t that great. The games are playable, yes, but not a good experience by any means.
Anyway, Ecco the Dolphin is an action adventure side scroller released on the Sega Genesis in 1992. In the game you play as a dolphin, ramming in to things and using your sonar to both talk to other friendly sea creatures and interact with various objects in the game world. When I played the game the first time around on my Genesis, I thought it was surprisingly difficult as you need to manage Ecco’s air supply while navigating vast underwater mazes. Drowning over and over was not something I was expecting to get myself in to when I first saw the cute box art.
There’s a fairly extensive library of clips on YouTube of people playing the game in various emulators:
Ecco the Dolphin is just as much of a classic as the other games Sega has released, and really should be played by anyone who considers themselves a gamer who hasn’t yet. If you want to go back in time even further, Space Harrier II was a launch title for the Genesis and debuted with the system in mid-August of 1989. Like most games of the time, Space Harrier II came packed with a nonsensical story where you’re searching out a distress call from the 214th sector in the year 6236. You run around on a pseudo-3D checkerboard landscape shooting your laser at anything that crosses your path.
Like Ecco, there are no shortage of Space Harrier II gameplay videos captured from various emulators on YouTube:
Space Harrier II hasn’t aged as well as the other classics Sega has released, but it’s still pretty cool to take a look at what was considered cutting-edge mind blowing graphics over 20 years ago. But like all these games, the touch controls of the Genesis emulator on the iPhone aren’t ideal and the framerate is low on older devices. Because of this, they’re all hard to really recommend, but at least they exist in some form on the App Store if you’re determined to revisit these classics on your iPhone.