Ever since Nintendo debuted its NES Classic Edition, multiple video game companies have jumped on the nostalgia bandwagon with miniature consoles of their own. And why wouldn’t they? Those things sold like hotcakes—anyone would want to replicate their success, especially as they vanished from stores left and right. From the PlayStation Classic to the upcoming diminutive TurboGrafx-16 Mini, these tiny versions of popular systems are all the rage.
Now it’s the Sega Genesis Mini’s turn to step into the spotlight.
Sega’s latest stab at bringing some of its storied games to a convenient and easy-to-use platform has proven a fruitful endeavor. It’s the perfect size with a great variety of classic games, and most importantly, it performs fantastically. If you’re in the market for a new miniature console, the Sega Genesis Mini might be the one you want to pick up next. Here’s everything you need to know.
Sega Genesis Mini: The Box, Controllers, The System, and Other Specs
The Sega Genesis Mini comes packed in a classic Sega Genesis Model 1 box, complete with a coy Sonic the Hedgehog adorning the unit. The signature black and chrome aesthetic looks as great now as it did when the Genesis first debuted, only this box is scaled down to a much more modest size, perfect for display in your living room on a shelf somewhere. It would normally come with a pack-in cartridge of Sonic the Hedgehog, but obviously no cartridges are needed with a miniature console that has everything you could need already on board. That sure would have been cool, though, to have functional tiny cartridges included.
This package is about half the size of the original Genesis box, and it acts as a sturdy place to store your unit if you don’t plan on keeping it out with your other consoles indefinitely. For a nostalgia grab like this one, attractive packaging is a must, and Sega hit a home run when it comes to ensuring it’s immediately recognizable as a fun throwback for fans who proudly purchased the original console.
As far as the system itself, it comes packing 32 classic Sega Genesis games, and can connect to any display via HDMI. It comes with two full-sized controllers modeled after the Sega Genesis Model 1, and they feel terrific. Everything about the controllers, from the D-pad to the A, B, and C buttons, feels super comfortable, and most of all, faithful to the original hardware.
In contrast to the somewhat flimsy-feeling PlayStation controllers that came with the PlayStation Classic, Sega has managed to create some truly finely crafted controllers that may even have surpassed the original equipment, which isn’t something I can say very often. But after spending a ridiculous amount of time with the new versions, I found myself gravitating toward them when I placed new and old Genesis controllers side by side. If only every recreation was this doggedly determined to be an improvement.
Here’s a quick rundown of everything you get with your unit:
Sega Genesis Mini console
Two full-sized controllers
An HDMI cable
A micro-USB cable
USB power adapter
As far as the system itself, it’s nice and sturdy, with a special cartridge slot that’s functional if you received a set of limited-edition cartridges from E3 (which don’t do anything)—otherwise, it’s just a nice little Easter egg. It does feature a volume slider, expansion port, and an LED power indicator that will glow red when the unit is on.
But I do have one big gripe: Like many of the other mini consoles out on the market, the Sega Genesis Mini’s controllers aren’t wireless. Their cords are long enough that I don’t have any issues going from TV to sofa with them, but it would have been nice to see them connect wirelessly to make swapping them around or having a Genesis party with all your friends so much better. However, the controllers do feature USB connections, so you could potentially use them as USB if you choose to.
What About the Games?
The games are the most important part of the package, of course, and the lineup is excellent. There are 42 titles to choose from, including hits like Sonic the Hedgehog, Vectorman, Virtua Fighter 2, Comix Zone, and Castlevania: Bloodlines. There are some deeper cuts included as well, such as Dynamite Headdy, Alisia Dragoon, Kid Chameleon, and Wonder Boy in Monster World.
While there are some obvious omissions, such as Sonic and Knuckles, the Sega Genesis Mini does offer some titles that were otherwise unavailable for Genesis fans to take in, like Mega Man: The Wily Wars, Tetris, and Darius. Previously, Mega Man: The Wily Wars had only been available on the Sega Channel subscription service, while Tetris and Darius make their Genesis debuts with the Mini. These new additions alone make the price of entry worth it simply to check out the games’ performance on a new console.
Here’s a brief rundown of every game included on the system:
Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
Contra: Hard Corps
Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine
Ecco the Dolphin
Ghouls ’n Ghosts
Mega Man: The Wily Wars
Monster World 4
Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium
Road Rash 2
Sonic the Hedgehog
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
Space Harrier 2
Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition
Streets of Rage 2
Super Fantasy Zone
Thunder Force 3
ToeJam & Earl
Virtua Fighter 2
Wonder Boy in Monster World
World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
How Does It Play?
Luckily, the jam-packed game list is punctuated by the fact that there are no bugs or emulation problems to have to worry about with the Genesis Mini. The games look great, play with picture-perfect precision, and they’re silky smooth.
I went through and painstakingly tested each game for at least an hour or so before diving into my favorites (Gunstar Heroes and Phantasy Star 4: The End of the Millennium) and experienced zero crashes or slowdown—though if it’s there in-game already, as with games like Sonic Spinball, it’s going to be faithfully replicated here.
The interface is attractive as well. Each game features its own unique box art, including a short description of the title and a layout that makes sense for browsing. You can swap the language from English to Japanese to change regions between titles as well, which will work with several languages. This makes the box art change as well, so you can do a bit of exploring to see how the game cover art and titles were altered between regions, much like the name of the Genesis itself (the Mega Drive) elsewhere.
Plus, like most emulators will allow, the Genesis Mini has a full-featured safe system that lets you create a save state anywhere as well as a built-in way to boot back to the menu via your controller without having to get up and press the console reset button. This is something that’s been sorely missed on most of the other miniature retro consoles, and not having to physically press a button to switch out games when you’re trying a few out is such a boon that I could recommend the Genesis Mini nearly because of that feature alone.
The Sega Genesis Mini: Our Verdict
If you’re a faithful Genesis fan drunk on nostalgia, all in on the microconsole craze, and want a cheap and easy way to enjoy some of the system’s greatest hits, there’s a lot to love about the Sega Genesis Mini.
For just $79.99, it’s an absolute bargain, with a wide range of unique titles to play, a great-looking replica of an influential console, and an attractive box to keep it all in when you’re done playing that looks great on your shelf. For other companies looking to follow in Nintendo’s footsteps with the NES Classic Edition in mind, pay attention: This is how you bring back a beloved console in style.
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