Nintendo’s Switch proved itself a worthwhile home for older games right from its release. A handful of old Neo-Geo games digitally launched alongside the console, showing how the system and its two Joy Con controllers made for a great little portable home for older games. That’s something that’s only been bettered with the inclusion of NES games as part of the system’s online subscription. If you like playing old games, there are far worse ways to do so.
It makes a retro-tastic collection like the SEGA Mega Drive (that’s Genesis, for our friends in the US) perfectly suited to Nintendo’s little console. While it’s possibly jarring seeing old, 16-bit SEGA games preceded by a Nintendo logo, rereleases and nostalgic collections that evoke halcyon days have become a prevalent part of SEGA’s output. In what seems like the hundredth collection of SEGA’s finest, the Switch is now home to its own SEGA Mega Drive Classics. It’s a collection of fifty 16-bit games from an era gone. As with any collection of games from the past, its value comes in the selection of games, so your own mileage may vary.
Before we get to the games though, I have to say that the presentation is superb. Its aesthetic is cribbed from the free SEGA games classic Hub on steam, that lets users buy the ROMS they want to play. That means it’s all set within a deliciously retro SEGA fan’s bedroom, complete with kitsch SEGA bedding, odd peripherals, accessories and other SEGA-themed curiosities. And of course, an old CRT TV, probably very much like the one your own Mega Drive was plugged into in your youth. The games in the collection all sit nicely collated on a shelf, appearing as physical copies in this digital world. It’s a nice way to show off a collection, but I do wish that players had easy access to the game manuals, as well as some sort of museum mode that we’ve seen in other, similar collections. A look at concept art, makings-of and other design documents would make a collection like this a must-have. That sort of bonus material is incredibly hard to come by, and also infuriatingly expensive to track down and collate, so we’ll excuse its omission.
Thankfully, the emulation itself is spot on. Games run exactly as they should, enhanced through optional sprite filters and smoothing, along with faux scanlines to make things look like they did in the past. On top of that, you get modern conveniences, like rewind and fast-forward features. You can rewind time to avoid getting hit in the face, or fast forward through blather and bluster. The best thing about the Switch version, of course is the portability, along with the multiplayer you get from having two Joy Con controllers. There’s also online multiplayer, but it’s frustratingly barren. One nice additions come in the way of challenges and objectives, which is a way of adding Achievement-like quests to older games. They’re all nice to have options that make the recently-released PlayStation Classic even more shameful in its shoddy execution.
So on to the games themselves, and this is where I feel the collection falls apart a little. Because we’ve seen these collections over and over again over the years, it’s hard for them to remain exciting. I’ve played the best games on the roster many times in the last few years, and honestly, only a handful of them still hold up. While Altered Beast isn’t (and never has been) a good game, Streets of Rage and its sequels are still fun to play, as are the Golden Axe games. A perpetual favourite of mine, Gunstar Heroes, still shines brightly. Of course, Sonic games are included, but of the platformers you’ll only get the first two. For some reason, the best one – Sonic 3 and Knuckles – isn’t on the collection. What you’re left with after that is largely stuff that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny in the modern age. And then there are unforgiveable exclusions, like the lack of gems like Wonder Boy in Monster World and Ecco the Dolphin – or any of the great 3rd party games like EA’s Jungle and Desert Strike games – take the shine out of the collection.
Last Updated: January 18, 2019