Sega Genesis Mini Review — Genesis Does What Nintendoes Pretty Well
The Sega Genesis Mini is a worthy classic console for one on the 1990's coolest systems.
For years, plug and play consoles typically had a bad rap for being poorly made cash-grabs with poorly emulated games. That being said, the NES Classic Edition’s 2016 release changed that perception. Its build quality was great and it contained well-emulated versions of many classics. The NES Classic and its SNES successor quickly became hot items for collectors, and other companies took notice. A TurboGrafx-16 Mini is on the way from Konami and next week will finally see the release of the Sega Genesis Mini in North America.
Over the past month, I have spent an extensive amount of time with Sega’s latest project that calls back to the era they are best known for. While the menus and in-console presentation may not be as polished as the system’s Nintendo counterpart and the system itself does not do a ton to stand out from the mini console crowd, the Sega Genesis Mini a well-designed platform with excellent emulation, courtesy of M2.
As I mentioned in my preview, Sega fans will know that the Sega Genesis Mini is an awesome item for collectors from the moment they lay their eyes on it. Though the system itself is only 55% of the original console’s size, the packaging and mini-console itself meticulously replicate their inspiration. As an owner of an original Sega Genesis with the Sonic the Hedgehog branded box, it awesome to see how much passion went into recreating this classic console, controllers, and box. While the hardware is really awesome from a nostalgic fan’s standpoint, it is disappointing in some other areas.
For example, original Sega Genesis controllers and game cartridges can’t be used on the system. While the NES and SNES Classic did not do this either, it is still a somewhat upsetting exclusion, especially the lack of original controller support. If the Sega Genesis Mini wanted to break out of the Nintendo classic mini consoles’ shadows, either of those would have been a neat addition. Also, keep in mind that the start button doesn’t always work for some games if it is in the slot on the right that’s supposed to be for the second player.
The presentation surrounding the included games is also not anything amazing. While the original piece of menu music from Streets of Rage 2 composer Yuzo Koshiro is great and was actually created on the original Genesis sound chip, both options for presenting the menu and the three possible backgrounds for games are all fairly bland. These are not deal-breakers but do signify that the Sega Genesis Mini is a no-frills mini console that Sega fans should mainly get for its appearance and 42 games included. Fortunately, the Sega Genesis Mini has a great game lineup and immaculate emulation.
All of the game emulation for the Sega Genesis Mini was handled by M2, which has previously worked on Sega 3D Classics Collection and the Sega Ages ports. During my time with all of the Sega Genesis Mini’s games, I never once ran across faulty or game-breaking emulation. From popular titles like Sonic the Hedgehog to lesser-known games like Landstalkers, every game on the Sega Genesis Mini has been preserved well and should satisfy those looking for an authentic experience.
Though I personally don’t use CRT filters or widescreen modes for retro games normally, the options included with the Sega Genesis Mini were handled well by M2 and are there for those who like them. Changing the system’s region also modifies the branding and localized version of the games one plays, which is a really neat inclusion for those that like to scour titles for regional differences. The system doesn’t point this out at all, so it is a hidden feature any potential Sega Genesis Mini owner should know about. It’s certainly better than only using the worst versions of some of the games like the PlayStation Classic decided to do.
Moving onto the games themselves, the Sega Genesis Mini contains a beefy lineup that should please most fans. Of course, one can complain about a couple of odd exclusions like Sonic the Hedgehog 3, NBA Jam, and Micheal Jackson’s Moonwalker, all likely due to licensing issues or controversy, but so many great titles are presented in such a polished fashion here that I do not mind. Some of my personal favorites include Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Columns, Landstalker, Super Fantasy Zone, Shining Force, and the bonus Tetris game. Not all of the titles hold up incredibly well (looking at you Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and Altered Beast) but all of the included games do clearly deserve a spot.
Some more obscure inclusions like the aforementioned Landstalker and Beyond Oasis may also introduce newly initiated Sega fans to some cool titles that they would not have heard of otherwise. Come for Sonic the Hedgehog, stay for Dynamite Headdy.
Though I have no qualms with the emulation, there are some problems on the Genesis Mini exclusive features side of things. Save states are included, but the process to access and load them with the start button feels just a bit too long to activate and navigate through. There is also no rewind feature. Yes, this is also something the NES Classic and SNES Classic didn’t have but is a helpful feature that I’m still waiting for one of these retro consoles to include.
Those that adore the original Sega Genesis and its games will have the time of their lives with the Sega Genesis Mini. The consoles and controllers look the part, and all the games run and look just as well as people remember, maybe even better. The Sega Genesis Mini is also a great device to use for those that want to let others know why the original Sega Genesis was such as cool system.
The Sega Genesis Mini’s main flaws aren’t deal-breakers but can show a lack of ambition. Being able to rewind games or use original Sega Genesis controllers would have been nice and given this classic mini-console an edge against its competition. Still, as a Sega Genesis fan, I was ultimately left satisfied with the Sega Genesis Mini. In the Sega vs. Nintendo classic mini-console war, Sega was able to hold its ground but not completely outdo Nintendo, just like in the 90s.