Nintendo hit on a winning formula when it launched the NES Classic in 2016. Gamers clamored to get their hands on this plug-and-play gateway to gaming history. The SNES Classic followed, and then Sony tried its hand at mini consoles with the disappointing Playstation Classic. Sega’s effort has taken longer, but it’s almost ready for release, and it’s shaping up better than the PlayStation. Early reviews are universally positive — perhaps even more so than they were for the NES Classic.
The Genesis Mini, known as the Mega Drive Mini outside the US, uses the familiar mini console formula. It looks like a shrunken-down version of the 90s hardware. Instead of plugging game cartridges into the Genesis Mini, it has 42 classic games preloaded on the internal storage. That’s twice as many included games as other miniature game consoles. It also comes with two retro-style Sega controllers (the three-button version), so you can do multiplayer without any additional purchases.
This is not the first retro Sega console. In fact, there have been many attempts to capitalize on the Genesis game library over the years, probably because Sega dropped out of the console market nearly 20 years ago. These devices usually suffered from a mediocre game selection, poor emulation performance, or both. The Genesis Mini software comes from a developer called M2, which specializes in emulation. The results, by all accounts, are superb. Playing on the Genesis Mini feels like playing games on the original hardware. It connects to your TV via HDMI, and you can choose between original 4:3 and 16:9 ratios. There’s even the option to add in CRT-style scanlines.
Sega didn’t skimp on the game selection for the Genesis Mini. It’s got all the hits, as well as some lesser-known classics. There’s Sonic the Hedgehog, of course, but also Golden Axe, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Altered Beast, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, Streets of Rage 2, Earthworm Jim, and many more. It even includes Darius and Tetris, two games that never launched on the Genesis in the US. That’s not as cool as the unreleased Star Fox 2 debuting on the SNES Classic, but it’s still a nice bonus.
The Sega Genesis Mini is available for pre-order via Amazon, Best Buy, and more. It launches on September 19th. It’ll run you $79.99, the same price as the NES Classic at launch. There’s an officially licensed 6-button version of the controller also available for another $20.