It’s no secret that I am a Sega Genesis fan. I’m a fan even though we got ours from our aunt when she moved out west much later than the console was really relevant any longer.
A little of my gaming history is required here. In my early years we had an old NES that my grampa had given us. We had two controllers, one orange and gray zapper and Super Mario Bros/Duck Hunt and Super Mario Bros 3. However, as many NES’ back in the day did it failed. Specifically the security chip failed and we got the blinking red light of death (of course I didn’t know what that meant back then).
Our family didn’t have a lot of money so when that happened we didn’t get a new one. Mind you this was around the time of the launch of the Super Nintendo as we called it (no one I knew ever called it the “SNES”).
Our last bastion of hope was when we got to go over to grama and grampa’s house where our aunt lived as well and in the basement was a glorious thing. A television with a Nintendo hooked up with about 15 games. Oh man those were great days. Little known to us, we played a game with our aunt sometimes called “Final Fantasy”. You know, a small indie company made that RPG…
Anyways, long story short. One week we arrived and our aunt took us downstairs to show us something. IT WAS A SEGA GENESIS! I had been salivating over the Sega Genesis for a long time even then as it was getting long in the tooth. She had bought a used one from a Rogers Video store with a bunch of games. We were all floored. She showed us how to use it and we were off to the races. Well not really races as there were no racing games. But there was Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2! Oh and Phantasy Star IV. We played that with our aunt creating our own bestiaries noting names and HP. That was so much fun and to this day, not because of nostalgia mind you, Phantasy Star IV is literally my number 1 game of all time.
Those three games mentioned above. Yep, they’re all included with the Sega Genesis Mini.
The Sega Genesis Mini is sort of an anniversary gift to its fans. For years we had been dealing with a ton of lousy licensed Sega Genesis’ from AtGames. A cheap and lousey accessory and licensed console maker that released Genesis after Genesis of crappy quality.
Sega saw how fans were upset with this and pushed AtGames to launch a better version. They sort of did with the Sega Genesis HD but it emulated poorly and the menu navigation was nonsensical.
I feel that was the last straw for Sega. They announced on their anniversary that they would release an HDMI equipped console of their own. And it’s now here.
I ordered mine the day it was announced. They hadn’t even released the list of games yet but I was confident they’d get it right. Did they?
The console comes in a retro inspired box that looks very similar in design to our launch Sega Genesis (which I still have the box for, uh, somewhere). Opening the box you have two gamepads wrapped up in foam. And in it’s own box is the Sega Genesis Mini itself. Also included was an HDMI cable, USB cable and an AC adapter (manufacturers take note: we all don’t have phone AC adapters laying around to so including them is still important… SONY).
Let’s talk about the console. The representation is perfect. I mean it, perfect. Right down to the working power and reset switches. It even has a movable volume slider, though it’s not functional. The cartridge slot cover are even spring-loaded and open as if you could put real mini cartridges in the console (more on that later). Even the expansion bay on the bottom of the console slides open. Just incredible.
Now, here’s the contentious bit. The controllers. While they are accurate representations of the original three button controller, and oh do they feel good playing games with, they really should have launched the console with the six-button version. Not only is that basically the best designed controller ever made, it’s essential for playing fighting games included on the system. Instead, in North America, Sega made a deal with a third party to sell the six button controller separate. This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I’d understand if they weren’t providing the six button controller for anywhere else. BUT THEY ARE! Japan’s console comes with six-button controllers! It’s ridiculous to think that we should have to go buy two more controllers to able to play a couple games ON THE CONSOLE!
Now, interestingly, I would like to mention that the console can be powered by plugging the USB cable into your HDTV. At least it works on mine. Not all HDTV’s provide enough power over their USB port to do this but I lucked out with my 49 inch TCL 4K TV.
Now, the real reason we are here, or at least some of us are here, is for the gaming.
It doesn’t disappoint. I am pretty particular when it comes to emulation on NES or Genesis as I can see the differences easily in colour, sound and performance on the titles I played as a kid and up to this day. For instance, when I purchased a, what was claimed to be a great clone NES console (because I refuse to pay $100 CAD for a freaking real NES), I was greeted on Super Mario Bros with nearly pink sky on the first level (the sky is supposed to be blue). That took the fun completely out of it for me even though the sound and performance was fine. Often some emulators even cannot get sound effects right or colours or even keep up with the games it plays.
This is incredibly important especially in games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2. I can report that the games run flawlessly. No slowdown, no latency on the controllers (make sure you enable game mode on your TV or you will notice lag), colours are perfect and the sound, oh the glorious Yamaha sound, is right on. Even the ring sounds that some releases on current and last gen consoles that emulated these games are correct where those get them wrong.
Phantasy Star IV also runs perfectly. Something fun of note with Phantasy Star IV too is there are three save slots in the game itself. The Sega Genesis also offers three save states. This means you can have potentially nine saves for the game!
I am not as familiar with the other games on the console to be completely honest. That is where I have relied on other reviewers thoughts. From what I have read the Sega Genesis Mini does them all justice.
The menu system is great. It has some neat music in the background which apparently is a must for all these mini consoles. The menu navigation is done well with every button on the controller actually doing what it should do. D-Pad doing the navigation, A button doing the selecting and B button doing the backing out. If you are in game you can either press the reset button on the console or hold down on the start button for a few seconds and it will bring up the menu for save states and returning back to the main menu.
There’s only really a couple options for customisation on the Sega Genesis Mini. It has a function to either letterbox or stretch the game on your television. Of course if you are a true fan you will letterbox the crap out of the thing to keep the correct aspect ratio on the games. The other option includes putting a background in those letterboxes. I keep my letterboxes black myself as I don’t need the distraction of a silly background with the games are so good.
Now I said I would get back to this. In Japan they Sega has released what it’s calling an accessory pack and what others are calling the “Tower of Power”. Basically it’s a bunch of fake accessories mimicking the addons that were available back in the day for the original Sega Genesis. So this included a mini Sega Genesis Mega CD, a Sega 32X, a Sonic and Knuckles cartridge complete with a Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge. Reviewers in North America were sent a North American version and the hopes are that Sega will release this in retail for the rest of Genesis fans to enjoy.
Overall the experience has been near perfect. If not for the fact that Sega skipped out on releasing with six button controllers it would have really been perfect.
This will be the first mini console that is staying connected to my television so that has to mean Sega did a pretty decent job here.
Good job Sega. This truly is another love letter to your fans.