SEGA Mega Drive games get gorgeous new lease of life on Nintendo Switch OLED

The first thing that struck me about the newest addition to Nintendo Switch Online is the surprising selection of games at launch.

Sure, there’s expected favourites here like Sonic 2, Streets of Rage 2, and Golden Axe. But they’re also joined by some quite obscure, unexpected releases like Contra Hard Corps and M.U.S.H.A.

One thing you cannot complain about, though, is variety with RPGs, puzzlers, beat-em-ups and platformers across the 14 launch titles, each one well representing the different phases of the console’s lifecycle.

And there’s still plenty of room for this catalogue to grow and flourish over the weeks and months ahead. For now, there’s plenty of quality to sink your teeth into.

As before with the NES and SNES variants, there are three styled game screen modes, being 4:3, Pixel Perfect and CRT Filter. But checking out each on Switch OLED really makes some of these classic games pop like they haven’t done in years.

The greenery is so rich in Sonic 2, for instance, and the mix of coral in the blue ocean waters of Ecco is particularly stunning and a reminder how I first felt when I played it in 1992. The latter, in fact, really benefits from running buttery smooth when it’s full flow.

Playing some of these classics on modern day TVs, it feels like they lose something as they’re stretched and pulled apart but they really shine on OLED, confined to a smaller screen where they retain much of the quality they launched with.

It’s not just visuals, either, the world-class OST of Streets of Rage 2 just bops coming out of the console’s speakers. And it’s a real treat with headphones in, almost like listening to it again for the very first time.

The games all play really well as well, with the standard controls naturally benefitting many of the releases and of course you have the option of purchasing a Mega Drive controller for that added immersion as well. For me, I stuck with my HORI Switch Split Controllers.

The ports all seem faithful and well implemented, and everything feels very appreciative of what SEGA achieved in the 16 Bit Era. Being completely honest, I can’t see another platform outside of Nintendo getting its own Switch Online section before the console’s lifecycle is over, which, in of itself, is a huge sign of respect. But let’s face it, seeing an entire section dedicated to the Mega Drive on a Nintendo console is never not going to feel a bit weird.

Still, it also shows how much time and effort Nintendo have put into this, even going as far as to having the iconic SEGA ring through the Switch speakers everytime you boot up the software.

There’s a couple of games here you can really invest in and dedicate long periods of time to like Shining Force, and with the option to save a state at any time, playing these games is a heck of a lot easier and more user-friendly than it was back in the 90s.

True, we’ve probably seen a dozen iterations of these games many times over across generations and it’s no secret many would have preferred to have had Gameboy or Gamecube consoles to sample some of Nintendo’s less replayed gems. But what’s here is really good and I’m glad to have the chance to play games like Ristar and Gunstar Heroes again which aren’t as commonly seen.

And with games like M.U.S.H.A added, it also gives me hope for other super rare Mega Drive games that haven’t been seen or officially emulated in years like Quackshot or Shadowrun. Possibly even expanding into the Mega CD era. Road Avenger, anyone?

The splitscreen option doesn’t really look great on some games, on handheld of course, so playing TV would definitely be preferred for, say, Sonic 2. Fortuntely, you can also hop online at any point, which is also a super cool, pretty unheard of feature for many of these Mega Drive games and may just be enough to get you to reinvest in checking some of them out again.

This pack probably isn’t the reason you’d pick up Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack +, it’s pretty clear the focus is on the Animal Crossing DLC and N64 games and we’ll definitely get to that. But there are some seriously fantastic titles already in this lineup, that have been well presented and look just fabulous on Switch OLED.

I very much look forward to seeing what else gets added to the service, but now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a Phantasy Star IV save to get back to…

To access SEGA Mega Drive on Nintendo Switch Online, you need to purchase the Nintendo Switch Online Expansion Pack + which also gives you access to the N64 library and Animal Crossing: New Horizons Happy Home Paradise DLC.

A code was provided for the purposes of this coverage. Thanks to Nintendo for the support.

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