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This $15 Sega Genesis compilation is a great Switch alternative to Nintendo's premium subscription

Get your fill of Sega nostalgia on sale.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
Expertise VR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tablets Credentials
  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

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


I've been a Sega Genesis fan for decades. While the Nintendo Switch has a premium online subscription offering N64 and Genesis games, the far better budget pick if you don't care about N64 games is buying a separately sold game compilation that's currently on sale. The Sega Genesis Classics collection is available for $15 on Nintendo's eShop, half off, and it's worth jumping on the deal.

I've been rebuying Sega games for years -- the 3DS had a fantastic bunch of Sega arcade and Genesis games, and I loved the plug-and-play Genesis Mini. This Switch version of the Sega Genesis Classics compilation is pretty perfect, and there are tons of games. But it lacks a few from Nintendo's online service added in the fall, while gaining others.

In comparison, Nintendo's premium upgrade to its Switch Online service costs an extra $30 for one year of access to its own library of Genesis and N64 games.

Sega also has a separate line of Sega Ages arcade and console ports on the Switch, too, with some excellent options there (Virtua Racing, Thunder Force III and IV, and Herzog Zwei). Those are also currently on sale. But the sheer value and quality of the Genesis Classics compilation makes it the clear go-to for any Sega-nostalgic Switch owner.


Yes, you choose games in a virtual living room.


The value proposition is off the charts here, though. For the normal $30 price, you get 51 games (on sale, the value's even better). 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 I played Golden Axe 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. 

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, too. There are game saves and rewinds. It's a complete package.


There's a virtual game shelf.


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 15 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.


Phantasy Star forever.


The full 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 2
  • 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

Games available on Nintendo's Premium Switch Online tier that aren't available here:

  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Contra: Hard Corps
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • M.U.S.H.A.
  • Strider
  • Thunder Force II