To commemorate the 30th anniversary of its legendary 16-bit console, Sega has launched the Sega Genesis Mini, a portable reimagining of the console (known as the Mega Drive outside of the US) that includes 40 retro games – plus two bonus titles.
With Nintendo’s NES Classic Mini and SNES Classic Mini miniature remakes of the classic consoles having seen notable popularity, it’s not shocking to see Sega taking a similar path. For someone who grew up in the 1990s, the idea that former enemies Sega and Nintendo are reuniting is very exciting.
Although Sega Genesis games have been released in a mini-console before, this is the first time Sega has produced an official product. That means you’ll get the official branding as well as the model 1 Genesis’ classic shrunk-down style. This makes it a must-have buy for Sega fans and enthusiasts over third-party consoles.
The Sega Genesis Mini will be available for $79.99/£69.99/AU$139.95 on September 19, 2019, in North America (and as the Sega Mega Drive Mini in Australia) and October 4, 2019, in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
The prototypes of these official mini consoles are stunning (yet shrunken down) recreations of the classic consoles, but with a few new twists, just like Nintendo’s offering, the Sega Genesis Mini is an exact model of the original Genesis, with a functioning power switch and a reset button that both function like they did on the original. The volume knob, on the other hand, is purely decorative.
Even the cartridge slot flaps function, but you can’t put any cartridges in it – originals won’t match, and the games that the Sega Genesis Mini runs are all pre-installed in its memory.
Even, it’s a nice touch, and if you just want to relive your old-school gaming days, you should keep open the cartridge flaps and giving Genesis a good thud before running some play.
It’s all compressed down to the scale of a palm of your hand – it’s truly amazing how compact it is. The attention to detail would make every old nostalgic gamer’s heart skip a beat, and the only complaint we have is that it seems a little light and empty, and therefore a little too fragile. We’re used to our Genesis/Mega Drives being huge chunky tank-like machines that can take a beating.
It also seems that mini (yet non-functional) add-ons for the Sega Genesis Mini, such as a mini 32X and Mega CD, will be sold separately in Japan. These are merely decorative, but it’s a pleasant touch that demonstrates Sega’s dedication to this project. Regrettably, they are currently only available in Japan.
You’ll also get two controls that are exact replicas of the initial Genesis controllers. They are the same scale as the originals, rather than micro models, which we think is a smart choice because it ensures we can depend on good old muscle memory to take over while we play the retro games. Using a smaller controller could spoil it – and maybe make you feel awkward.
The Sega Genesis Mini, on the other hand, has undergone several updates. An HDMI out on the back allows you to connect it to a modern TV, and power is supplied through MicroUSB and a power adapter. The cables are included in the package.
The two initial controller ports on the front have been replaced by USB ports since the latest controllers have USB links. This ensures you won’t be able to use the initial controllers. Thankfully, the latest controls are such exact replicas of the originals that we don’t mind.
Overall, the architecture of the Sega Genesis Mini is a delight, with lovely details and touches that demonstrate how much of a party this gadget is, and the few references to modernity are pleasant conveniences.
The User Experience
The user interface of the Sega Genesis Mini is one of its highlights, making it simple to delve into your favorite sports. The games are shown on the menu panel, along with their original boxart. When you press the A button on the controller to pick a title, a window emerges with a rundown of the game, including the year it was published and the number of participants.
On the main screen, you can adjust how the games are sorted, such as alphabetical, genre, or number of players – as well as the normal, release date.
You may also use the B button to turn the main menu into a virtual game rack, where you can scan the games by their case spines. It’s a cool feature, but we prefer the default appearance.
There’s also a Settings menu where you can fine-tune various facets of the Sega Genesis Mini. You can modify the system language from here. In a pleasant touch, when you adjust the language to a specific option, such as Japanese, the graphics change to match the language (including original game artwork). Furthermore, certain games are only accessible in some languages, allowing you to unlock many more region-specific titles.
You may also adjust the screen settings to the original 4:3 aspect ratio, or extend them to 16:9 widescreen (yuck), and allow a CRT filter to make modern televisions appear like older CRT televisions, with scan lines and modified colors. To be honest, we liked playing the games without the filter because they looked great on modern TVs, while the filter made them look a little boring.
You may also choose the wallpaper that appears while the games are run in their proper 4:3 aspect ratio. There isn’t a lot of variety, so it’s nice to have choices.
The music that plays when you’re in the main menu is maybe the most appealing aspect of it. Yuzo Koshiro wrote it specifically because it’s both modern and retro (the composer for iconic games such as Streets of Rage and Beyond Oasis). The track was also made using the same YM2612 sound chip that was used in the original Genesis. Again, it’s a great detail that demonstrates the care that has gone into the Sega Genesis Mini.
When playing games, you can save them by pressing and keeping the Start button or the Reset button on the screen – something you couldn’t do with the initial hardware.
Performance-wise, the Sega Genesis Mini does an impressive job of recreating the classic console, with both graphics and sound looking and sounding just as we recall. In reality, by connecting to the digital HDMI port rather than the old-school RF ports of older TVs, the graphics appeared cleaner and more vivid than ever before.
As previously said, the CRT filter is intended to give people who want an old-school look an option, but we preferred it turned off.
The Sega Genesis was never the best-performing console; many of its games were too optimistic for the hardware; for example, while playing two-player Sonic 2, the original console would fail. However, the Sega Genesis Mini does an outstanding job of running games in an authentic manner while still ensuring that their success isn’t slowed for nostalgia’s sake.
The GUI allows it simple to choose and load games, and games appear easily. We’ve been playing all of these games for decades, and they still work as well as we recall them, while purists can notice minor differences from the initial hardware. However, for the vast majority of users, the Sega Genesis Mini works admirably, faithfully reproducing the memory of playing retro games whilst incorporating a few new touches that render the overall experience even more enjoyable.
M2 handles the ports, which describes the high consistency since the organization already focused on Sega Ages and Sega 3D Classics, but it has plenty of experience introducing Genesis games to new hardware.
While playing, we found that the Sega Genesis Mini controls, while the same size as the initial controllers are a little smaller, which took some getting used to. If you’ve never played on the Genesis before, this shouldn’t be a problem, but for Genesis/Mega Drive fans, or anybody who prefers a bit of heft on their controllers, it may feel strange at first.
You can also use the Retro-Bit Sega Genesis 6-button controller. However, we haven’t done that with any other USB game controllers.