Codemasters may be a part of Electronic Arts these days, but once upon a time, the name stood for a whole lot more; Codemasters was one of the most exciting British developers and publishers of the '80s and '90s, producing loads of amazing games for home computers and consoles, as well as devices such as the iconic Game Genie cheat cartridge.
Codemasters Collection 1 is a selection of 17 games that aims to celebrate this period in the company's life, as well as some unexpected additions thanks to the company's acquisition of Sensible Software in 1999. We may as well start with the Sensible titles, as they're arguably the ones which make this collection so appealing.
Sensible Soccer is one of the great football games of all time and makes this pack worth picking up almost on its own. While it's not the Amiga original (it's the Mega Drive / Genesis port, Sensible Soccer: International Edition), it loses none of its brilliance and is just as playable today as it ever was.
We also have the Mega Drive / Genesis port of Cannon Fodder, which is also fantastic. Granted, the loss of mouse control is a little annoying as the game was built around it on the Amiga, but it's easy enough to get used to using a pad and buttons instead. The final Sensible game is Mega-Lo-Mania, a groundbreaking RTS title which also translated well to console, but again, the lack of a mouse does make the controls slightly more cumbersome.
The remainder of the games are a mix of NES and Mega Drive titles, and many of them are Codemasters' low-budget, low-cost releases, a format it had successfully explored on home computers and took to the NES in the early '90s. While none of these games are especially bad as such, they're hardly what you'd call classics in the console's library – with the possible exception of The Ultimate Stuntman, which is a fantastic game that certainly deserves more exposure.
We also have Super Skidmarks (the Mega Drive version, which isn't as good as the Amiga original), Psycho Pinball (a so-so pinball simulation which originally came out on the Mega Drive), and Tennis All-Stars, which is billed as an "unreleased title" but looks very similar to Pete Sampras Tennis, which Codemasters released on the Mega Drive in 1994. Oh, and there's Cosmic Spacehead (and its forerunner, Linus Spacehead's Cosmic Crusade), which was Codemasters' attempt to create a platforming mascot. It's an attractive-looking game, but it's easy to see why it didn't trouble the likes of Mario or Sonic back in the day.
With 17 games, Codemasters Collection 1 certainly can't be accused of short-changing the customer, and, if you're willing to put in the time, you'll find that pretty much all of the included titles offer some entertainment value. However, for many people, Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder will be reason enough to pick this one up, so everything else is a bonus.