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Video Games

Sega Genesis Classics on Nintendo Switch is handheld Sega perfection

Get your fill of Sega nostalgia for a bargain price.

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Altered Beast, and you can even virtually bend the screen.

Sega

I've had a dream of bringing my Sega Genesis games on the go for over a decade. The PSP once had a great Sega Genesis compilation -- but the Vita never had one. The Nintendo 3DS has some amazing Sega arcade and Genesis games, perfectly restored by M2, but they're all sold separately. Standalone handheld offerings have generally been pretty awful.

When the new Sega Genesis Classics compilation came out earlier this year on PS4 and Xbox One, I loved it -- and wished for a Nintendo Switch version. That moment has arrived, and I'm thrilled to say that it's really, really good. So far, it's nearly perfect... except for its missing games.

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Yes, there's also a virtual living room.

Sega

The value proposition is off the charts here. For $30, you get 51 games. Many of the games on the list are really, really good. Others are mediocre. None are total garbage filler. Some long-dormant rarities are back, including both Toejam & Earl and its sequel, Panic on Funkotron.

Want more good news? These games work with two Joy-Cons, so the many multiplayer-enabled games can be played on the go. Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, Columns -- yes, it's nice. Joy-Cons can be split into two mini controllers, and Golden Axe played perfectly with Josh Goldman while kickstanding the Switch on my desktop.

So far, games look like they're playing perfectly, too, with audio and frame rate seeming spot-on. This is the stuff that usually bugs me about retro game boxes, and killed the Sega Genesis Flashback plug-and-play system.

The emulation system also allows some added controls and tricks, from adding scan lines for retro effect to removing the Genesis emulator sprite limit (whatever that does). Online multiplayer is available, but I haven't gotten to try it yet. There are game saves and rewinds. It's a complete package.

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There's a virtual game shelf.

Sega

Here's the sad news: there are some key games missing. Ecco the Dolphin and its sequel aren't here. A few Sonic games are absent. And, two games that made the PS4/Xbox One version, Wonder Boy III: Monster Lair and Wonder Boy in Monster World, aren't included either. (A remake of Wonder Boy III is sold on the Nintendo eShop, but it's expensive.) There's no Thunder Force game, either, although Thunder Force IV is also sold on the eShop, as part of a separate Sega Ages set of releases. And, of course, third-party games aren't present at all, so put to rest your dreams of Castlevania or Road Rash or Desert Strike or FIFA or Madden.

But, the games that are here are… plentiful. And there are at least fifteen AAA games here that are worth the price of admission: the Phantasy Star games, Dr. Robotnik, Streets of Rage, the Sonics, the Shinobis, Gunstar Heroes, the Toejam & Earls, and Vectorman.

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Phantasy Star forever.

Sega

The game list:

Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Alien Soldier
Alien Storm
Altered Beast
Beyond Oasis
Bio-Hazard Battle
Bonanza Bros.
Columns
Columns III
Comix Zone
Crack Down
Decap Attack
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Dynamite Headdy
Eswat: City Under Siege
Fatal Labyrinth
Flicky
Gain Ground
Galaxy Force II
Golden Axe
Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III
Gunstar Heroes
Kid Chameleon
Landstalker
Light Crusader
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Ristar
Shadow Dancer
Shining In The Darkness
Shining Force
Shining Force II
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic 3D Blast
Sonic Spinball
Space Harrier II
Streets of Rage
Streets of Rage II
Streets of Rage 3
Super Thunder Blade
Sword of Vermilion
The Revenge of Shinobi
Toejam & Earl
Toejam & Earl in Panic on Funkotron
Vectorman
Vectorman 2
Virtua Fighter 2

Sega's slowly releasing its own Sega Ages series of arcade and console ports on the Switch, too, and some of those could end up being must-haves, too. But the sheer value and quality of this compilation makes it the clear go-to for any Sega-nostalgic Switch owner.

Sega Genesis Classics is now available on the Switch eShop.

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