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.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Acidbottle

    whatever happened to the promised sega emulator?

    still, on iphone4 hardware these should be well worth nabbin

  • Acidbottle

    whatever happened to the promised sega emulator?

    still, on iphone4 hardware these should be well worth nabbin

  • Drew

    Sega should be ashed of themselves it takes a phone w/ a 1ghz processor % 512mb of ram to run these games....really, that's just crazy stupid.

  • Drew

    Sega should be ashed of themselves it takes a phone w/ a 1ghz processor % 512mb of ram to run these games....really, that's just crazy stupid.

  • JCat

    Sega only has to change the last 3 letters in their name and it would be more on the level of their quality of product. Oh wait, #2 is too high on the list.

  • JCat

    Sega only has to change the last 3 letters in their name and it would be more on the level of their quality of product. Oh wait, #2 is too high on the list.

  • http://www.twitter.com/Gregz0r Gregz0r

    Genesis is cool, but WHERE ARE THE COIN-OP ARCADE GAMES?
    Where are the perfect renditions of OutRun, Space Harrier, Super Hang-On, Super Monaco GP, Enduro Racer, Power Drift and AfterBurner??!?

    • Zonko

      I have to agree. A perfect port of the original OutRun on the iPhone would be almost impossibly great.

    • Jindo Fox

      Eli -- I think the performance is fine on the 3rd gen devices. The 4 probably adds a bit more smoothness but everything is perfectly playable on my 3GS.

      Gregz0r -- the arcade games haven't been done justice in many years. Daytona USA never got a "perfect" port at all. I think the best we can hope for from modern SEGA would be good remakes. I'd be thrilled with a good port of Outrun 2 (with obligatory retro mode of course).

      SO glad iOS 4 has folders since we're not going to get the all-in-one emulator that was announced a while ago. Now that there's room for everything I no longer care.

      The next Genesis releases should be some slow-paced RPGs, which would really shine on the system. The emulator that never came out was supposed to launch with Space Harrier II for free, and Sonic , Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, and Shining Force for $3 - $6 each. So now we have everything but Shining Force. Do you think we'll be seeing it soon?

  • http://www.twitter.com/Gregz0r Gregz0r

    Genesis is cool, but WHERE ARE THE COIN-OP ARCADE GAMES?
    Where are the perfect renditions of OutRun, Space Harrier, Super Hang-On, Super Monaco GP, Enduro Racer, Power Drift and AfterBurner??!?

    • Zonko

      I have to agree. A perfect port of the original OutRun on the iPhone would be almost impossibly great.

    • Jindo Fox

      Eli -- I think the performance is fine on the 3rd gen devices. The 4 probably adds a bit more smoothness but everything is perfectly playable on my 3GS.

      Gregz0r -- the arcade games haven't been done justice in many years. Daytona USA never got a "perfect" port at all. I think the best we can hope for from modern SEGA would be good remakes. I'd be thrilled with a good port of Outrun 2 (with obligatory retro mode of course).

      SO glad iOS 4 has folders since we're not going to get the all-in-one emulator that was announced a while ago. Now that there's room for everything I no longer care.

      The next Genesis releases should be some slow-paced RPGs, which would really shine on the system. The emulator that never came out was supposed to launch with Space Harrier II for free, and Sonic , Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, and Shining Force for $3 - $6 each. So now we have everything but Shining Force. Do you think we'll be seeing it soon?

  • Johnny

    I picked up sonic 1 & 2 and a few other emulated titles and while they run shit on my phone they are pretty sweet on my iPad.

  • Johnny

    I picked up sonic 1 & 2 and a few other emulated titles and while they run shit on my phone they are pretty sweet on my iPad.

  • Zonko

    Sonic 1 now runs nearly perfectly on an iPhone 4, - 60fps with only the ocassional hiccup. Quite a transformation from how it first ran way back on an iPhone 3G. (where it was more like 10fps at best)

    I didn't think Sega had updated their other Mega Drive iPhone apps yet though?

    As for Ecco and Space Harrier, I think I'll pass on these. We need stuff like Streets of Rage 2 & 3, Thunderforce 4, Castlevania/Vampire Killer, Contra, Splatterhouse 2, Alisia Dragoon, Gunstar Heroes, Castle of Illusion, Quackshot, World of Illusion, Shinobi 3 and Alien 3. Obviously a world of licensing pain in many of those, but that's not my problem. :)

  • Zonko

    Sonic 1 now runs nearly perfectly on an iPhone 4, - 60fps with only the ocassional hiccup. Quite a transformation from how it first ran way back on an iPhone 3G. (where it was more like 10fps at best)

    I didn't think Sega had updated their other Mega Drive iPhone apps yet though?

    As for Ecco and Space Harrier, I think I'll pass on these. We need stuff like Streets of Rage 2 & 3, Thunderforce 4, Castlevania/Vampire Killer, Contra, Splatterhouse 2, Alisia Dragoon, Gunstar Heroes, Castle of Illusion, Quackshot, World of Illusion, Shinobi 3 and Alien 3. Obviously a world of licensing pain in many of those, but that's not my problem. :)

  • applesauce25r624

    pathetic. sega has always @$^@ed and this proves it further

    can't even emulate properly an old 16 bit game

  • applesauce25r624

    pathetic. sega has always @$^@ed and this proves it further

    can't even emulate properly an old 16 bit game

  • Johnny

    Good Iist Zonko but I would go for some of the classic genesis RPGS. At least give us the Shining Force games. I heard rumors of one coming to the app store but that was months ago.

  • Johnny

    Good Iist Zonko but I would go for some of the classic genesis RPGS. At least give us the Shining Force games. I heard rumors of one coming to the app store but that was months ago.

  • araczynski

    i think after that 7 minute space harrier trailer i'm all worn out on the game.

  • araczynski

    i think after that 7 minute space harrier trailer i'm all worn out on the game.

  • TheFamousEccles

    I don't see why Sega doesn't release anything from their considerable catalog of TBRPGs. Then it won't even matter that their emulator is somehow crap.

  • TheFamousEccles

    I don't see why Sega doesn't release anything from their considerable catalog of TBRPGs. Then it won't even matter that their emulator is somehow crap.

  • MrMuesli

    Bought Echo, and I have to say it plays really well (3rd gen Touch). I'm still trying to work out how to jump diagonally over stuff without trouble, but I'm putting that down to my own lack of skill. Great classic!

  • MrMuesli

    Bought Echo, and I have to say it plays really well (3rd gen Touch). I'm still trying to work out how to jump diagonally over stuff without trouble, but I'm putting that down to my own lack of skill. Great classic!

  • SC

    Could Sega be any more oblivious, or are they really just this cheap?

    Both Space Harrier and Outrun ARCADE ports (with accelerometer control options) would be unbelievable. Instead, they take the cheap and lazy way out to make a quick buck.

    Pathetic.

  • SC

    Could Sega be any more oblivious, or are they really just this cheap?

    Both Space Harrier and Outrun ARCADE ports (with accelerometer control options) would be unbelievable. Instead, they take the cheap and lazy way out to make a quick buck.

    Pathetic.

  • Anon

    Space Harrier could have been awesome if it was a proper port with espgaluda-style pixel-perfect touch controls. Instead Sega decides to be lazy and waste it on their crappy emulator with a virtual D-pad. Oh well..

  • Anon

    Space Harrier could have been awesome if it was a proper port with espgaluda-style pixel-perfect touch controls. Instead Sega decides to be lazy and waste it on their crappy emulator with a virtual D-pad. Oh well..

  • http://www.robmac.net Rob

    Would really love to see some Nintendo classics - especially Super Mario Bros 2... but I doubt it will happen what with the DS and all...

  • http://www.robmac.net Rob

    Would really love to see some Nintendo classics - especially Super Mario Bros 2... but I doubt it will happen what with the DS and all...

  • Bruteoutlawz

    Ive got ecco the dolphin and it runs fine on my ipod touch 2g, the framerate could be a bit better but it doesnt ruin the game. sonic 1 (used to be laggy but since a recent update it runs really smooth)and sonic 2 run perfect, looks like 60fps and no random lag. streets of rage has a few performance issues. also golden axe runs perfect. why are touch arcade always hating on sega???

  • Bruteoutlawz

    Ive got ecco the dolphin and it runs fine on my ipod touch 2g, the framerate could be a bit better but it doesnt ruin the game. sonic 1 (used to be laggy but since a recent update it runs really smooth)and sonic 2 run perfect, looks like 60fps and no random lag. streets of rage has a few performance issues. also golden axe runs perfect. why are touch arcade always hating on sega???

  • Bruteoutlawz

    and as for the controls i can play all these games just as good as i could with a actual dpad.

  • Bruteoutlawz

    and as for the controls i can play all these games just as good as i could with a actual dpad.

  • K

    I loved Ecco the Dolphin on my Master System. Can't wait to try it again on my iPhone! :)

  • K

    I loved Ecco the Dolphin on my Master System. Can't wait to try it again on my iPhone! :)

  • Guybrush Threepwood

    Dophin? Don't you mean Dolphin?

  • Guybrush Threepwood

    Dophin? Don't you mean Dolphin?