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SEGA Genesis Mini

Platform(s): SEGA Genesis
Genre: Hardware
Publisher: SEGA
Release Date: Sept. 19, 2019


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Hardware Preview - 'SEGA Genesis Mini'

by Thomas Wilde on July 23, 2019 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

SEGA announced it's SEGA Genesis Mini/SEGA Mega Drive Mini retro console, bringing back forty 16-bit games in a miniaturized version of the original console.

Pre-order Sega Genesis Mini

Sega had a lot going on at its booth this year. The Sega Genesis Mini was closest to the hall's doors, with a dramatically oversized Genesis playable at one booth, and a small '90s-chic demo area where attendees could sit down in a beanbag chair and wile away a few minutes playing the available games on the American console. All it really needed was for Sega to hand you a couple of Fruits by the Foot and a can of Surge, and the '90s experience would've been nearly complete.

The Genesis Mini is surprisingly tiny, with USB-compatible controllers that feel about the same as the original-edition three-button versions that came with the first Genesis. The UI's particularly nice, as it boots up into an intro screen that features all the games' original North American box art on an easy-to-navigate grid. The Mini doesn't feature any particular monitor options at time of writing, such as the ability to simulate CRT pixelation that's shown up in a few retro collections, but it does have save states and the ability to switch up to a 16:9 widescreen ratio.

There is a small problem here, in that the North American version of the Genesis Mini will ship standard with two three-button controllers. This is despite the presence of several titles in the collection, most notably Eternal Champions, which were designed to work with the six-button controller. To compensate, a six-button controller designed by Retro-Bit will be available for the Genesis Mini at launch, but will be sold separately for $19.99. Import nuts can also grab some aesthetic upgrades for their Minis from Japan, such as a miniature Sega CD or 32X add-on.

The Genesis Mini's lineup of titles shifts dramatically by territory, sometimes without rhyme or reason. The only games that appear on every version of the hardware are Alisia Dragoon, Beyond Oasis, Castlevania: Bloodlines, Columns, Comix Zone, Contra: Hard Corps, Darius, Ghouls 'n' Ghosts, Golden Axe, Gunstar Heroes, Landstalker, Mega Man: The Wily Wars, Monster World IV, Phantasy Star IV, Road Rash II, Shining Force, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Space Harrier II, Streets of Rage 2, Tetris, Thunder Force III and World of Illusion.

What's a little odd is that two of the games on that list, Darius and Tetris, aren't "Genesis classics" at all. Both are straight arcade ports, handled by M2, the same studio that provides Sega's Ages and 3D Classics imprints. The Genesis Mini also marks the debut of a new English-language version of 1994's Monster World IV, after its blink-and-you'd-miss-it appearance on digital storefronts in 2012.

The American Genesis Mini also features Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Altered Beast, Castle of Illusion, Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Dynamite Headdy, Earthworm Jim, Ecco the Dolphin, Eternal Champions, Kid Chameleon, Light Crusader, Shinobi III, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog, Strider, ToeJam & Earl, Vectorman, Virtua Fighter 2, and Wonder Boy in Monster World, for a total of 40 games. Any game that's present on the system is also present in all original regional variations, so you can switch to Japanese versions if you like.

Big-ticket games that are only available on other editions of the Mini include Langrisser II (Japan), Treasure's Alien Soldier (the rest of Asia), the first two Puyo Puyo games, Shining Force II, and Sword of Vermilion.

For my money, much like how Super Metroid justified the cost of entry for the SNES Classic by itself, the real prize for a Genesis Mini is Phantasy Star IV, one of the best Japanese RPGs of its generation. It's aged surprisingly well, thanks to some old-school comic-book-style "cut scenes," and has been consistently not receiving the praise that it's due for more than two decades now.

The Genesis Mini will ship on Sept. 19, 2019, 20 years and 10 days after the North American debut of the Dreamcast, Sega's last official hardware release. Here's hoping this does well enough that Sega can justify releasing a "Saturn Mini," complete with official box art of Segata Sanshiro kicking Bernie Stolar directly in the taint.

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