This holiday season, you could buy that retro gamer in your life one of those godawful plug-and-play TV consoles that look like a shoddy approximation of a Genesis or a Mega Drive. Or, you could give them Sega's new collection of classic titles for the Fire TV they already own.
Sega Classics for Fire TV brings 25 Genesis games to your Amazon streaming stick or box for $14.99/£11.99. You can play them with a standard Alexa Voice Remote, though you could also connect a Bluetooth gamepad for a more faithful experience. Some of the games even support multiplayer.
The titles run the gamut of Sega's most beloved 16-bit franchises. You've got the first two Sonic titles and Sonic CD, all the Streets of Rage and Golden Axe console entries, Revenge of Shinobi and some cult classics as well, like Bonanza Bros., Gunstar Heroes, Comix Zone and Ristar.
While that's less than half the number of games in the Genesis Classics compilation on PS4, Switch and Xbox One, it's sufficient for quick bursts of retro fun. We do wish there were at least one RPG here, though. You, sadly, won't be enjoying any Phantasy Star from the comfort of your sofa this way.
The games run decently, too. I bounced from Sonic CD to Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and noticed no slowdown (unless you count one occasion where Sonic CD fully crashed). Accessing the general pause menu/top screen is a bit inconvenient, though, as it requires you to press the home button first, then decline to exit the app.
Discerning retro fans will appreciate that the compilation offers options to adjust aspect ratio, scanlines, pixel-smoothing and screen borders. If you've lost your touch at some point over the past three decades, don't fear — there's even a rewind function. (In contrast, the PlayStation Classic provides absolutely none of those benefits.) Chances are, you'll probably need to rewind to make it through some of the tougher titles in this library, like Comix Zone.
That said, Sega Classics is no replacement for the publisher's more extensive collections or its Sega Ages series. And it definitely doesn’t revisit its roster with the same eye for quality as Nintendo did with the NES or SNES Classic. I was disappointed to learn that the Sonic CD port in this collection doesn't offer features found in the game's excellent mobile port, like the ability to switch between the Japanese and U.S. soundtracks, or to activate Sonic's Spin Dash.
Ultimately, Sega Classics for Fire TV is a great way to revisit some of the company's most memorable games, though hardcore fans would be better served playing the collection made for dedicated gaming consoles, or plunking down hundreds on Analogue's slick Genesis reproduction next year. Each of these products are targeted at very different customers, though, and for $15, you can't beat the convenience — or the price.
Image Credit: Sega