This $15 Sega Genesis compilation is a great Switch alternative to Nintendo's premium subscription
Get your fill of Sega nostalgia on sale.
Scott SteinEditor 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.
ExpertiseVR and AR, gaming, metaverse technologies, wearable tech, tabletsCredentials
Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
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.
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.
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.
The full game list
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Eswat: City Under Siege
Galaxy Force II
Golden Axe II
Golden Axe III
Phantasy Star II
Phantasy Star III: Generations of Doom
Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
Shining In The Darkness
Shining Force II
Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Sonic 3D Blast
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
Virtua Fighter 2
Games available on Nintendo's Premium Switch Online tier that aren't available here: