Kept you waiting, hunh? Yes, it has been a while since our last list of top Nintendo Switch games, but we’re back. This time we’re looking at a surprisingly robust category on the Nintendo Switch: retro game collections. The death of the Virtual Console seems to have opened the doors for all kinds of compilations, but buying them all would put a serious hit on your wallet. Source: I have. Naturally, the best compilation is the one with the games you like, but we’re going to try to balance the quality of the included games with the quality of the other parts of the collections. We’re presenting them in no particular order, and these are simply our favorites. Feel free to share yours in the comments.
Capcom Arcade Stadium (Free, DLC Packs Ranging from $1.99 to $39.99)
Whether at home or in the arcades, Capcom has a massive legacy. Capcom Arcade Stadium attempts to offer up some of that via a selection of 32 arcade games drawn from the company’s three most prolific periods in the coin-op business. The games are available in three packs covering different eras, or you can go all-in and save a few bucks. The games are great, the emulation is adequate, and while it’s thin on fun extras most of the options you would hope for are here. The extra tournaments and other events help elevate this set even further.
NEOGEO Pocket Color Selection Vol.1 ($39.99)
A rather large percentage of SNK’s historical output is available on the Switch in one form or another, but one well that is just being tapped for the first time is the software from its ill-fated handheld, the NEOGEO Pocket Color. This collection offers up ten of its biggest hits, and while it is as fighter-heavy as you would expect from a selection of games from a NEOGEO console, you do get a few palate cleansers. The extra materials here are quite good, with full manuals and re-created boxes for each game. The game formerly known as NEO Turf Masters is an especially tasty treat.
Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 & 2 ($19.99 Each)
Why yes, I am cheating. And I’ll do it again! Over in Japan, Bandai Namco originally had a very Capcom Arcade Stadium-like app for its selection of 8-bit classics. For the West, it decided to offer two sets of titles with eleven games apiece. Not much in the way of extra materials, but the games themselves are excellent and each set has one brand new 8-bit game conversion as a little special. The first volume includes an 8-bit demake of the amazing Pac-Man Championship Edition, while the second volume has a stunning 8-bit port of the arcade shooter Gaplus. Namco really dug deep for the games on these sets, and they provide a lot of gaming fun for your buck.
Double Dragon & Kunio-kun: Retro Brawler Bundle ($39.99)
This is another 8-bit compilation, this time covering the NES Double Dragon trilogy and a whopping fifteen games from the Kunio-kun series. The latter is perhaps better known under the River City moniker. While we got a handful of the games in the West back in the day, the bulk of them remained Japan-exclusive until this collection arrived. Arc System Works has gone and translated all of those games, and even did new translations for the games that were already released in English. If you love beat-em-ups or wacky sports games, you’ll find a lot to love here. You can even play enhanced versions that mitigate some of the technical issues that these games are infamous for.
Mega Man Legacy Collection ($14.99)
A rather substantial amount of Mega Man games are available on Switch through various collections, but I think the first one is still the best. It includes the first six Mega Man games originally released on the NES along with a bevy of extras and challenges to help you squeeze even more out of these games than was already there. Whether you want to play them the way you did back in the day or use all of the helpful features to push your way through these challenging action-platformers, Mega Man Legacy Collection is a fantastic way to do it.
Castlevania/Contra Anniversary Collection ($19.99 Each)
Here’s my second cheat, but I once again have a good reason for it. These two sets were done by the same developer and offer a very similar set of features and extras. Both are highly recommended, but if you can only have one it’s going to come down to which series you prefer. Castlevania Anniversary Collection gives you eight games covering the bulk of the 8- and 16-bit eras of the series, while Contra Anniversary Collection presents you with seven distinct games from the same period. Both sets include regional variants of most of the games, and include a digital booklet that gives some cool behind-the-scenes info and art you can enjoy. Pick either or both, you’ll have an excellent time either way.
Castlevania Advance Collection ($19.99)
This latest Konami set may not have the sheer quantity of titles of some of the other compilations on this list, but in terms of how many hours of gameplay on offer it’s among the top. You get the trio of Game Boy Advance Castlevania games with a number of improvements and extra options and features, plus the late Super NES title Castlevania: Dracula X. The latter isn’t exactly among the most heralded in the series, but the Game Boy Advance games are full-fat Metroidvania games that can keep you busy for hours on end. They play beautifully on the Switch and the shift to a better display does them a lot of favors.
Atari Flashback Classics ($39.99)
This set contains the earliest games of any on this list, and as such it’s fair to say that many people will find them perhaps a little too retro. But if you were ever to get into Atari’s original classics, this is probably the way to do it. You get a whopping one hundred and fifty titles drawn from Atari’s arcade, 2600, and 5200 libraries, with all the options and features you could hope for. It’s especially good at explaining the variety of game modes that most Atari 2600 cartridges offered, with proper documentation for each title. While the games run the gamut from stone-cold classics to, well, math problems, it certainly makes for an interesting historical dive.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection ($39.99)
While SNK’s NEOGEO games get circulated on pretty much any console that can handle them, the company’s pre-NEOGEO output tends to get a lot less play. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection grabs twenty-four of those games and treats them like royalty even if they may not necessarily live up to that. While the bulk of the selection is arcade games, any of said games that had an NES port offer that version as an extra option. There’s also one console-only title here, the outstanding 8-bit action-RPG Crystalis. The amount of extra material here is an embarrassment of riches, going over SNK’s early history with a great deal of care. Even games that are not included are mentioned, making this as close to a comprehensive look at the company’s first decade as you could possibly hope for.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection ($29.99)
While it isn’t sitting at quite the level of prominence it once had, Street Fighter is one of the most important franchises in the history of the medium. It deserved a high-quality treatment for its 30th anniversary, and for the most part that is just what it got here. It includes twelve different entries from the series along with a wealth of historical materials and other extras. The only drawback is that the Western release only includes the Western versions of the games, and one of those had a bug that made the CPU nigh-unbeatable. This was fixed for the Japanese release of this collection, but Capcom for whatever reason didn’t feel like patching the other versions. Well, chances are good you won’t be spending too much time battling the CPU anyway. Simply an outstanding collection of some truly legendary games otherwise.
And that’s the list! Yes, I cheated, but what can you do? There are so many good ones, and ten slots just isn’t enough. If a person is inclined and has the money, they can build a library of literally hundreds of amazing classic games to play on their Switch. But hey, these are just our picks. What are some of your favorite Nintendo Switch retro compilations? Comment below and let us know!
Interested in more lists? Check out our other recommendations!
- The Best Puzzle Games on Switch
- The Best Party Games on Switch
- The Best Beat-Em-Ups on Switch
- The Best 2D Platformers on Switch
- The Best Western RPGs on Switch
- The Best Shoot-Em-Up Games on Switch
- The Best Fighting Games on Switch
- The Best Action-RPGs on Switch
- The Best Rhythm Games on Switch
- The Best Visual Novel Games on Switch
- The Best JRPGs on Switch
- The Best 3D Platformers on Switch
- The Best Metroidvanias on Switch