It feels as though Sega release a compilation of their back catalogue every month. Nobody can accuse them of denying you to access their blast processing goodness of old. The collections usually take the form of dozens of Sega Mega Drive classics made up of franchise favourites Sonic, Streets of Rage and Golden Axe.
The dedicated hardware efforts from AtGames have met with mixed success with the devices plagued with sound issues or inaccurate emulation. Some of the criticism is embellished but Sega have a patchy track record licensing their games to third parties. Even more so when compared to the high quality of Nintendo’s minis. Things have improved recently with Sega’s own Mega Drive Mini performing well in reviews though.
While there are issues on the hardware side, there has been praise for Sega’s software compilations. Containing between 20 to 50 titles they nearly always provide excellent value for money. Most are crammed with extra content and the titles cover a range of genres. The latest of these software compilations was released on the Switch in December 2018. Sega Mega Drive Classics brings over 50 games to Nintendo’s handheld hybrid.
The game is presented by a virtual retro bedroom full of Sega posters and a collection of boxed Mega Drive games on a shelf. Here you will have access to the usual options for display, sound and controls as well as challenges and multiplayer. It is a nice touch and keeping with the retro theme the collection has inspired. It would have been better to allow further games to be downloaded so players can fill the remaining shelf space. But with 50 games already there is more than enough to be getting on with.
Emulation is handled well with only the odd glimpse of input lag on a few titles. However, This does nothing to spoil the action and is only really an issue if attempting to speed run or one credit a game. The option to disable sprite limit may help but this was not noticeable during our play test. Sound is highly accurate and the chip tunes are clear. The Sega synths fly out at you just as they should with punch and fizz.
All the regular suspects you would expect are present. Complete trilogies of Streets of Rage and Golden Axe provide the beat-em-up action with Sonic and Alex Kidd catering for platforming fans. Arcade classics Altered Beast and Flicky bring some 80’s nostalgia and there is quality action in the form of Shinobi and Gunstar Heroes. The lineup is stellar and even puzzle fans get a look in with Columns and Dr Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine.
There is definitely something for everyone and Sega have bolstered the offering with a few gems to please fans. Toe Jam & Earl provide signature Sega style and Alien Soldier, along with Dynamite Heady, show off the Mega Drive at its best by oozing lavish pixel art. There are a couple of titles that are forgettable but you will not be disappointed by the selection. Most of Sega’s biggest properties make an appearance but Ecco and Wonder Boy are notable absentees.
The package also includes some useful features that bring the games up to date. Save states allow you to stop play and resume later. Also, the rewind feature will help players struggling to progress. Simply pulling the back triggers brings the action back a few seconds allowing you to try again. The Joy-Cons are used for local multiplayer or you can jump online with a friend. All this is polished off with challenges that encourage you to explore the games more.
Controls are tight but the Joy-Con analogue stick that lacked accuracy in places, especially in fast games or those requiring quick reflexes. These games were designed to be played with digital eight way controls and for precision a decent controller is recommended. We used the SNES emulator controller and this improved the gameplay enough to fix any control issues.
This compilation provides good value costing just £30 but there is nothing new here we have not seen before. Many gamers will have purchased a similar bundle at some point and even with the few extras it would be hard to justify buying yet another Mega Drive collection. But if you want a library of arcade style action on the go or looking to increase your retro experience this is a must purchase.