Now that April Fool’s Day is over, it’s safe to browse gaming websites again.

As you may have noticed, March has been a rather busy month for Sega, with no fewer than 8 releases here in North America. Needless to say, the sheer number of releases has kept me exceptionally poor, but at least I’ve had a good time.

The only two of Sega’s March releases I didn’t pick up were Matrix Online (not sure if my video card can handle it, so I thought I’d better hold off) and Iron Phoenix (which is technically from the Sammy side of things and it didn’t look all that great from the videos, so it’s difficult to justify dropping 50 bucks on it).

But I did pick up Worms 3D, Worms Forts Under Siege, Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, Sega Classics Collection, Shining Tears and Spikeout Battle Street.

Apparently Spikeout has received enough press coverage about its limited print run to become quite a collector’s item. A quick field trip over to eBay yields some interesting results… Completed auctions routinely going for over $50 with one up to $91… It makes me sad to see scalpers driving the price up for people who legitimately want to play the game. I certainly hope Sega does another larger batch of the game because it really is pretty good (though not without its flaws, such as the lack of camera control).

Worms 3D and FUS are also both fun, especially on Live. While they’re not quite as intuitive as the old 2D Worms titles of the past generations of consoles (including the Saturn and Dreamcast), they’re still quite fun once you get used to the third dimension. Worms Forts Under Siege complicates the game a bit too much by focusing on making buildings as well as blasting your opponents, but I give Team 17 props for trying a different approach to the franchise. It doesn’t render the game unplayable, but unlike the other Worms games, you actually do need to go through the rather slow paced tutorials to find out what’s going on.

Super Monkey Ball Deluxe is a real treat. While the standard Monkey Ball gameplay can be fun, unlocking the minigames in the Gamecube releases took a lot of time and effort in the single player mode. In Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, all the minigames are unlocked already, so the only reason to play single player is for the story or for points. While some people might think this takes away the incentive to play single player, I think that it’s better this way. The single player game is excellent in its own right, and most people will want to play it anyway. Why force them to play it over and over again to unlock the minigames? There’s no reason to, and Sega wisely realized this.

Sega Classics collection has been widely panned by critics (as I knew it would be based on their reaction to the Sega Ages 2500 titles), but when you get right down to it, even if you only like 2 or 3 of the games included on the disc, the $20 price tag is still more than reasonable. I like all of them except Golden Axe, so 8 games (9 if you split Tant-R and Bonanza Bros.) sharing $20 boils down to about $2.50 a game for the ones I like with a bad one tacked on for free. Not a bad deal at all.

I haven’t played enough Shining Tears to form a complete opinion on the game, but during the two hours or so that I have played it, I am somewhat disappointed. I like everything about the game except the gameplay. It’s just a bit too simplistic for a console title, in my opinion. The Shining Soul games were great for the Game Boy Advance, but having similar gameplay on a console seems a bit of a waste.

Sorry about the lack of front page updates lately – I’ll try to be better about that.