LadiesGamers Retro

Best Ways to Retro on Switch

I’m a big fan of retro gaming and the Switch has quickly become an ideal console to experience video games from the past. In this article, I’ll run through some of the best ways you can enjoy games from the past.

Nintendo Online – NES and SNES games

Even from the beginning I always felt that the Nintendo Online service was a pretty good deal. For around £20 you have access to a library of NES titles, which featured online capabilities and save state features. A feature I also liked was how after the initial load of the app, games would load instantly even if you backed out to the main menu to choose another game to play. No hanging around here, instant retro gaming like the old days only less blowing on a cartridge.

This service steadily grew and now today you can enjoy a larger library of NES and SNES titles. Nintendo also threw in a rewind ability a common feature in modern retro collections. While each library has the titles you would expect from Nintendo like Mario, Metroid, Kirby and Zelda games the service has had a fair amount of niche titles that have never been released digitally on Nintendo platforms before. This includes games like The Immortal on NES, a title I actually enjoyed on the Mega Drive but it was great to experience this alternative version.

While the games are locked behind a yearly subscription service the price of entry is a third of a new Nintendo developed Switch game and it does appear the service is gradually growing over time with more games. Fingers crossed they will add Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance to the mix. Plus,  the online subscription gives you Tetris 99 which I just adore. I’ve become Tetris Maximus (1st place) five times now!… Sorry, I’ll move on.

Best For Nintendo Fans

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Sega Ages

M2 is a developer I have come to adore over the years. You may not know the developer but you may know their work. Over the years they have released mostly Sega titles to various platforms like the 3D Sega games on 3DS, the Vintage Sega collections on Xbox 360 and of course the Sega Ages games on Switch.

Some people gaze at a game like Sega Ages Sonic the Hedgehog priced at £5.99 and frown. But if you’re a retro enthusiast this price point is well worth the cost of entry. M2 provided solid emulation of the old games providing the player with the ability to tweak settings to their liking. You can choose the version of the game (usually Japan or Intentional), tweak various display settings, map controls to your liking and many more. They also provide optional quality of life improvement. For example, in the Phantasy Star release, you can use a setting where you earn four times the experience and rewards from battles making the game less of a grind. I’m old now I don’t have time to grind away for hours to get better at a JRPG.

Additionally, in dungeons, the game draws a map for you on-screen rather than expecting you to get the graph paper out like the old days. As well as this release, other favourites of mine have included Gain Ground and Wonder Boy in Monster Land. If you love any of the games in the Sega Ages line then they are highly recommended purchases.

Best For Retro Enthusiast

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Sega Ages often adds handy quality of life improvements like a map of the dungeons

Arcade Archives

Hamster are hard-working developers bringing several arcade titles over to Switch under the banner of Arcade Archives. The price of entry is £6.29 for a single game which again some may consider high for old titles. At this price point, you usually get multiple arcade versions of the game such as the Japanese and International release but you may get different arcade versions depending if the game was released on a cabinet with two players or maybe four.

You can also tweak multiple display settings as well as arcade settings like the games difficulty and life count. For the cost of entry, you get a pitch-perfect arcade game to play handheld or on TV without the need for a giant cabinet. Though I wouldn’t say no to one of those someday. Hamster has brought over games from multiple companies including Konami, Neo Geo and even Nintendo. There really is something from everyone and the company is continuing to release games steadily over time. One day I hope they release Rainbow Islands (pretty please Hamster). For now, though some favourites of mine include Sunset Riders and Puzzle Bobble 2 (actually called BUST a Move 2 in Europe a much better title).

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Sunset Riders was an old arcade favourite

There’s also another arcade collection series called Johnnys Turbo arcade which consists of arcade game releases mostly from Data East like Bad Dudes and Sly Spy (a game I actually played on Amstrad back in the day). I haven’t actually purchased any of these personally so can’t speak much to the quality of the emulation. Though unlike the Hamster games I have noticed these often go on sale at severely discounted prices.

LadiesGamers Retro
It is Bust a Move, not Puzzle Bobble

Best For Arcade Fans

Retro Collections

There have been a decent amount of retro game collections that have been released physically and digitally. These collections are mostly several games all in one place, most of which allow save states. One of the best I own is the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection which includes 24 games with a mix of both console and arcade, titles I mostly never got to experience back in the day. This collection goes a little above and beyond the rest as it provides some optional history you can read about each game and SNK. There is also this very clever feature where you can fire up a game to play and start it in what’s called ‘Watch’ mode which allows you to simply watch the game being played. While it doesn’t sound that amazing it does allow you to jump in and take control at any time. A great addition if you’re trying to learn how to play the game or simply want to sit back and watch someone else play it.

As well as this collection there’s the Darius console and arcade collections both of which I reviewed on this site. Namco has also released a few collections of their old arcade title. Square Enix brought out the Mana collection and has a Final Fantasy Game Boy collection coming out around December time. Capcom has also released 5! Mega Man collections on Switch giving you plenty of Blue Bomber bang for your buck. There is also a Dragons Lair trilogy available for the fans of QTEs. All these are a great way for fans new and old to experience retro games without owning the systems they originated on.

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Why play when you can watch

Another collection I wanted to discuss was Sega’s Mega Drive collection which I have something of a love-hate relationship with. Basically, this is a collection of over 50 Mega Drive games all in one place. Essentially they’re just rom dumps with the option of save states and a finicky rewind and fast forward feature. If you’re looking for a lot of retro games in one place this isn’t actually too bad a deal. After all, you have all the heavy hitters like the 3 Streets of Rage games, 3 Golden Axe games, Shinobi games, its a decent Mega Drive fans collection. Why I’m a little iffy with this collection is Sega in their bizarre wisdom removed the Wonder Boy titles from this version which are included in all other versions of the game. The collection also features online but it just rubbish so only buy this if you intend to use it to play locally.

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Best For Lots of Retro Games in one Place

Odds and Sods

There are a few other ways to retro, that are worth bringing up but they just didn’t seem to fit in the above category. Some companies did release old retro titles as stand-alone releases. One of the most popular was Bethesda who released DOOM, DOOM 2, and DOOM 64 to Switch as individual titles at a very cheap price point. While they had a hairy start by asking the player to sign up to a Bethesda account to play them. I’m pleased to report this has been removed and all three games run great on Switch.

LadiesGamers Retro
Doom has been ported to many systems including calculators, printer LCD screens and pregnancy tests

The first three Dragon Quest games have seen individual releases on Switch and Nintendo is also releasing the original Fire Emblem NES game with English translation in December.

Ultracore was an unreleased Mega Drive game that released by itself which I also reviewed. It’s a fun little shooter for fans of the 16-bit generation.

Commander Keen released kinda quietly on Switch which is an old PC platformer I used to play long ago on an old computer with Windows 3.1. Though I can’t speak to its quality on Switch as I’m yet to play it.

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Best For Can’t find what you’re Looking For?

Of course, I’ve likely missed titles and this article doesn’t even cover retro remakes or retro-inspired indie games. Something for another day. Either way I love retro gaming and have been very pleased with what has been on offer on Switch. It’s great to take retro gaming out on the go and sometimes give a joy-con to a friend or loved one to play some retro goodness together. Thanks for reading and have fun playing some retro games.

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