Review: Sega Genesis Classics (Switch)

More than 50 games at an unbeatable price.

By Marc Deschamps. Posted 03/22/2019 06:00 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Tons of games; great presentation; easy-to-use save feature; terrific price
Poison Mushroom for...
Some games haven't aged as gracefully as others; some notable games excluded

Genesis was cool and Super Nintendo was not. That’s not true, obviously. After all, the SNES library has arguably aged better than the games that appeared on Sega’s console. But that was the spin, thanks to Sega of America’s terrific marketing machine. For kids on playgrounds throughout the early ‘90s, that was certainly enough to inspire furious debate. While much of the company’s success can be attributed more to marketing than quality, the Sega Genesis still housed a number of classic titles. Over the nearly two decades since Sega became a third party publisher, the Nintendo faithful have had plenty of opportunities to play some of Genesis’ finest games. That said, there has never been a better option than Sega Genesis Classics on Switch.

One of the first things players will notice about Sega Genesis Classics is just how sleek the overall presentation is. Things kick off with an opening montage featuring character sprites racing around the Genesis’ original system design. While many compilations tend to focus less on the original console and more on the games themselves, the Genesis itself plays an integral role in the package: players literally choose one of the compilation’s 50 plus games from a shelf and watch as the cartridge is plugged in before it boots up on a faux television set. The whole thing takes place in an era-appropriate bedroom adorned with posters featuring art from some of the games. These are very minor details, but they really give the package a distinctive flavor, forming connective tissue between games that are quite disparate in tone and genre.

That variety is a good thing, however. Any retro compilation succeeds or fails based on its content, and Sega Genesis Classics really shines in that department. Games like Sonic 2, Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Phantasy Star II and ToeJam & Earl are just a few titles that appear in the compilation, and that should give players a sense of the genres represented within. Some of those games have aged better than others. Sonic the Hedgehog 2, in particular, holds up extremely well; its predecessor, however? Not so much. Old-school Sega fans would be better off picking up Sonic Mania or ToeJam & Earl: Back in the Groove than revisiting the original Sonic the Hedgehog or ToeJam & Earl: Panic on Funkotron. That said, newcomers will certainly be happy to get a chance to see the roots of these franchises, at the very least.

With any compilation, it’s easy to focus just as closely on the exclusions as it is to focus on the inclusions. That said, Sega Genesis Classics does have some very notable titles missing, including Sonic the Hedgehog 3 and Ecco the Dolphin. As with most retro collections, this one is also devoid of licensed games, as well; a shame as games like X-Men and Aladdin would help paint a fuller picture of what the console had to offer during its prime. These amount to minor gripes, though. While it certainly would have been nice to see even more games offered, it’s hard to hold it against Sega Genesis Classics considering just how many games it does manage to include, particularly at the title’s price point.

Of course, it wouldn’t matter how many games were offered if the emulation was weak, but the games look, sound and run the way they originally did on Genesis. In fact, they’re even better than the original offerings, because Sega has implemented a number of optional improvements. Perhaps the game’s most welcome addition is the save system. Players can easily save and load each of the games included so they can hop into the next title without losing their progress; a godsend when coupled with Switch’s sleep mode. The package also offers achievements, a rewind feature, different screen size options and support for two-players with a single pair of Joy-Con controllers. Purists can easily avoid the save and rewind options, while newcomers and those pressed for time will appreciate their presence.

As a kid growing up in the ‘90s, the idea of games like Sonic the Hedgehog or Vectorman appearing on a Nintendo console seemed impossible, to say the least. Since those days, a lot has changed, with various compilations and Virtual Console offerings giving Nintendo fans a glimpse at the best Sega Genesis had to offer. While these options varied in terms of quality, none offered nearly as comprehensive a package as Sega Genesis Classics. With more than 50 games available on a single Switch card at a meager $30 asking price, the title offers one of the best bargains available on the system. Some of the included titles haven’t aged nearly as gracefully as others, but gamers of all ages should have no problem finding something they’ll enjoy here. Sega Genesis Classics is a worthy tribute to Nintendo’s greatest competitor, and a must-have title for Switch owners.

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