Sega finally has, blessed has begun to compete directly with Nintendo's beloved lineup of classic reissues with the Sega Genesis Mini. Come September 19th, the other side of the 16-bit console war finally has a worthy piece of nostalgia.
Now the format should be familiar: The Sega Genesis Mini is a diminishing version of the classic console, but the controllers are large and authentic (quite a bit). The game library, though not exhaustive, is a particularly well-researched survey. However, what is unique about the Mini is that one time Sega itself takes care of production tasks rather than outsourcing the family-owned business outfit, AtGames. Presumably why you read this, so I won't keep you in suspense: whether or not your comparator is the superlative SNES Classic or one of many disappointing Genesis clones, the Sega Genesis Mini stands out in everything it seeks. to do.
(Ed. Note: This is a preview, timed to 30th anniversary of the North American launch of Sega Genesis. The full review embargo is next month, closer to the release of the Sega Genesis Mini. So consider these thoughts.)
M2 / emulation
When I said Sega was handling the console itself, that was only half true. The actual hardware and manufacturing and all that is Sega, but it turns out that programming is emulation super complicated and one has to go no further than dodging Sega's classic titles by the entire AtGames line to prove how bad things can go in the wrong hands.
So Sega tapped a longtime partner who has successfully tailored his titles across multiple platforms for decades to deal with the emulation itself. M2, the original Japanese game developer best known for its excellent Sega Ages compilations both old and new, is tackling the program finale of the Sega Gensis mini, and I would encourage you to watch My Life in the one-hour history of Gaming developer if you haven't heard about the studio. Its benefits in this area are almost excessive.
This is a preview, so I didn't spend many hours comparing the Sega Genesis Mini's video and audio emulation to vehicles running on original hardware or similar to Mega SG. Based on what I do have played – sampling many of the included titles – the emulation is great. The goal is to make the games look original, for lack of a better term, and on that note it succeeds.
A major benefit of an emulator-based retro gaming solution is software features such as save states and rewind functionality, both of which appeared on the SNES classic two years ago. Conservation states offer the ability to save your progress in games where it is not possible to save or gives you the opportunity to save in the face of a difficult time, a feature that is much appreciated by older games.
Discovering a feature, like the one found on the SNES Classic or the NES Nintendo Switch Online Video Library, becomes something of an tablet insert for emulators, especially commercial choices. The Sega Genesis Mini has the first, but unfortunately not the second. That's not a big deal, but it is is disappointing.
Other now-standard features look here, like 16: 9 widescreen stretching (don't do that!) And "scanline" CRT filters (do that, maybe, if you will). The sci-fi lines deliver alternating black lines intended to simulate the way CRTs draw pixels, and re-inserting them is mostly a matter of course.
The system also comes with three backgrounds to fill your widescreen display. It's the obvious black that lets the game pay attention. is the retro pattern background, which is not a terrible look … and is the background sound source background. And see, there's a lot. But it's also so perfect for a 1990 Sega that I can't fault it. I just want to share it with everyone.
Sega Genesis Mini is, well, a mini Sega Genesis, complete with a functional power switch and non-functional gew tools like the volume dial, the cartridge flaps and the expansion port cover.
The insert feels completely obsessed, as if built by a hobby modeler. Power is delivered via a micro-USB port and included USB adapter, while video and audio are sent via HDMI. The system includes two, three-button USB Genesis controllers. Although it would be nice to see the later six-button controllers – especially since there are wrestling games that could really use them! – The console supports Retro-Bit's six-button USB controllers.
In a very welcome departure from Nintendo's offerings, Sega Genesis Mini allows you to return to the main menu via the controller. Holding the Start button for three seconds will bring up the menu with the included controllers, while the Mode button on the hex controller starts it at once.
Region coding and other UI thoughts
The Sega Genesis Mini loses some points on the user interface, shown above. Although it is better than the UI offense we saw on the AtGames Sega Genesis Flashback HD console, the menu certainly lacks the charm and design of Nintendo's offerings. It's Spartan, sometimes guilty.
Although the menu is mostly meaningful, there are a few exceptions: the menu and box art changes depending on the region in which the console is configured, giving you a great opportunity to experience what the console branding and identity of players around the world looked like. And the menu soundtrack – by legendary music play composer Yuzo Koshiro – is great. Enjoy!
The games themselves
Running a list of games for a "Mini" console like this must be one of the hardest tasks in gaming. And see, 42 games is a good variety. It's 100 percent more games than the SNES Classic's 21 game selection, and probably not by chance. Somehow it's not enough either.
But take this list seriously! Tighter! Gunstar Heroes! Even deep cuts like the SegaNet exclusive Mega Man: The Ugly Wars.
Sonic the Hedgehog
This is the Dolphin
Space Harrier 2
The Robotnik Medium Bean Machine
ToeJam & Earl
Zone of Cómic
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
Thunder Force 3
Super Fantasy Zone
Streets of Anger 2
Sonic the Hedgehog
Cons: Hard Corps
Mega Man: The Ugly Wars
Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition
Ghosts of Ghouls
Alex Kidd in the Charming Castle
Phantasy Star 4: The End of a Millennium
Sonic the Hedgehog the Hedgehog
Wonderful Boy in Monster World
Via Rash 2
Virtue Fighter 2
Alisia the Dragon
Monster World 4
I would like to highlight two underclassmen classics from some of the biggest video game properties that, although they were excellent entries in their respective canon, didn't get the same attention as their Super-NES counterparts: Castlevania: Bloodlines and Cons: Hard Corps. These two Konami titles warrant a premium on eBay, and it's great that interested players can pick up an entire Sega Genesis Mini for less than the price of one of these used games.
The rest of the games will either catch you, or they won't. What people want in these collections is often a very personal matter.
One thing I would like to highlight here, which is also a testament to M2's dedication to conservation and less flattering to a lack of design: Changing the region of the game not only modifies the menu, but also the games themselves. Take it Cons: Hard Corps for example. The US release was famously modified from the Japanese original, replacing the livelihood with single-hit kills and offering only five durations instead of an infinite number. Needless to say, you have to play the Japanese version and, because you have a choice of Sega Genesis Mini, you can.
Unfortunately this choice is no longer evident on the game's details page. It's such a great detail, and it's a shame most people will probably never see it. I wish this part of the experience was clearly communicated to the player so that everyone knows how to enjoy multiple versions of their favorite games.
We can also quickly discuss what it is no on this console. Except heavily absent Sonic the Hedgehog – rumors have long shown Michael Jackson's alleged involvement as a reason for its continued omission – there are other games that could probably be here. There are no sports games on the Sega Genesis Mini, despite sports games dominating much of the heavy 16-bit landscape. NBA Jam? Not here. Any Madden titles? No. The legend NHL 95? It's not here.
It's also not anywhere else due to licensing issues, but it remains to be seen that the best way to play these games is to track original vehicles on eBay or Google.
A throwback to Sega's past
"Sega has done significant, undeniable damage to the consumer proposition to buy its classic games, while Nintendo has upgraded 30-year-old products to unsurpassed status," I wrote in my review of the latest AtGames release. "As a one-time Genesis kid whose nostalgic sweet spot is Sega Genesis, I feel qualified to say that Genesis you deserve it better than its owner. But if Sega is ready to authorize its platform instead of creating its own hardware, it may not look better than this, the most decadent console victory imaginable. "
And now, two years later, Sega has done it. It's made a top quality retro console with great games, great emulation, original controllers and a price tag that seems fair. Will it be enough to undo a decade of damage done by poorly made Genesis clone consoles? Who knows! But today, on the 30th anniversary of the release of the original console, suffice it to say that Sega has accepted the challenge of respecting its own heritage.
The Sega Genesis Mini will be available on September 19 for $ 79.99.