Sega Genesis Mini
Welcome to our look at the Sega Genesis Mini. In this rundown, we will take a look at what the console has to offer. Featuring 40 classic Sega Genesis titles from the early 90s, including Sonic the Hedgehog, the new microconsole seeks to emulate the past with a compilation of classic games.
As the latest microconsole to hit the market, Sega dives in headfirst with a strong showing of their best games. However, it goes without saying that we’ve seen all of these games released many times before. With that said, we’ll note several alternatives that feature the same game lineup. We’ll compare the Sega Genesis Mini to the microconsoles that came before as well as the previous compilations released by Sega.
Rather than review the Sega Genesis Mini, however, we’ve linked to several reviews below for your reading pleasure. These reviews also double as our sources for information. But the overall goal here is to ensure you’re getting the best possible buy for the games you want to play!
With that said, if you’re a collector by nature, the Sega Genesis Mini may very well be a no-brainer. But if you’re just looking to take a trip down memory lane, we’ll give you a critical look on whether this is worth your purchase or if you’re better off playing the same games on a more viable platform.
What’s in the box?
The Sega Genesis Mini includes the microconsole with 42 digitally downloaded games. It also includes two controllers, a USB cable and plug, and an HDMI cable. Specifically, these are the 3-button controllers featured in the American release of the Sega Genesis. With that said, you’re ready to play like it’s the 90s all over again.
In addition, the console features screen filters, widescreen options, save states, and backgrounds to help modernize the experience. Much like with the NES and SNES Classic Edition consoles of recent years, the Sega Genesis Mini also features its own original menu music. This music is composed by Yuzo Koshiro, legendary composer of the Streets of Rage titles, ActRaiser, and Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, among others.
Also, the controller allows you to return to the menu. Note that this feature is not included in the Nintendo microconsoles. Finally, you can also change regions within the menu, another feature not present in the NES or SNES Classic.
Are the games worth it?
The game list includes classics like Sonic 1 and 2, Streets of Rage 2, Shining Force, Vectorman, Phantasy Star IV, and more. It even features Castlevania Bloodlines and Contra: Hard Corps, both previously unreleased for over 25 years until the recent release of Castlevania Anniversary Collection and Contra Anniversary Collection. Note that both of those compilations cost $20 a piece and include over half a dozen games each, including their respective Japanese versions.
In the meantime, check the official site for the full game list.
As far as the game list looks, it’s a positive first impression. Many nostalgic players will find their old favorites while newer generation gamers interested in the past will surely find a game they love. For instance, you can’t go wrong with Sonic or Streets of Rage. Shinobi III is a challenging platformer with a great soundtrack to go with it. Unfortunately, these bring to mind one of the first issues of the Sega Genesis Mini.
You notice Sonic 1 and 2, but where is Sonic 3 & Knuckles? Even as far back as the Sega Genesis Collection release for PlayStation 2 in 2006, Sega has had this uncanny knack for omitting arguably the best game in the Sonic series. This applied to Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection in 2009.
While the latter featured Sonic the Hedgehog 3, that was only half the package of the connected games. Note that Sonic 3 & Knuckles has been available on compilations like Sonic Mega Collection (GameCube, PS2, and Xbox) and Xbox Live Arcade. Yet for whatever reason, Sonic 3 & Knuckles never appears in any compilation.
Streets of Rage 2 was arguably the most popular game in the SoR series. It was a huge update to the original game in terms of visuals, audio, and gameplay. Fans of the first and third games, however, may feel either shouldn’t have been left out. Additionally, Vectorman 2 also does not appear on the console. All these games appeared on previous compilations.
Revenge of Shinobi is also nowhere to be seen. A classic platformer with composer Yuzo Koshiro’s majestic works composing the game’s music has every reason to be on this console. Additionally, Shining Force II, considered to be better than its predecessor, is also nowhere to be seen. Finally, a driving force for the Genesis’ success was the original Mortal Kombat. Despite the series’ rampant popularity, no game in the series appears in this console.
All microconsoles come with important game omissions. The Nintendo microconsoles completely omit licensed games, such as TMNT or Aladdin. Even Chrono Trigger, one of the SNES’ defining JRPGs, makes no appearance on its respective console re-release. Some sacrifices are made, however, and the Genesis is no exception.
One particular note I found was in IGN’s review of the Sega Genesis Mini. In their review, they mention emulation issues in Sonic 1. Among them include flickering sprites, such as the Chaos Emeralds and Eggman’s Wrecking Ball in Green Hill Zone. While visual emulation glitches are rendered harmless, it does callback one particular issue with Sonic the Hedgehog.
The U.S. version of the title featured spikes that killed you for touching them. Note that in Sonic Mega Collection, the default version of Sonic 1 was the Japanese version. Inputting a code allowed you to play different variations of the title. Note that the Japanese version allowed you invincibility frames to keep from dying on the spot should you fall into a spike pit.
We live in an era where you can download Sonic the Hedgehog on mobile and play as Tails and Knuckles. This comes thanks to the efforts of Christian Whitehead, who would later go on to develop the hit title Sonic Mania. While the Sega Genesis Mini emulates games based on their first versions, this also feels like a step down to anyone spoiled by later and better emulations.
It also calls to mind that the reason Revenge of Shinobi isn’t in this compilation may be due to the original version of the game featuring many copyrighted characters. Among them included Spider-Man, Batman, Terminator, and Godzilla. Yet again, however, another revision could have been used in its place.
For $79.99, you’re paying for 42 Genesis games. Unfortunately, with my past experience of Genesis games, I found very few of these titles to honestly be worth the money. Just because Kid Chameleon has a large number of stages doesn’t mean they’re all enjoyable. Games like Altered Beast may be worth a playthrough before you never bother with it again. Plus, you have Street Fighter II: Champion Edition, the second version of Street Fighter II. While this featured playable boss characters, like Balrog, Vega, Sagat, and M.Bison, it also means playing with the 3-button controller!
If you’re even trying to play this with 3-buttons, you may be want to avoid playing it altogether. While 6-button controllers are available for the console, that’s $20 you need to spend just to enjoy the game. Furthermore, Champion Edition is a version of Street Fighter II that has not quite aged well. In fact, you can carry this sentiment with many games on this console.
Sega Does What Nintendon’t?
First, compare the Sega Genesis Mini to the NES Classic. It featured the Super Mario Bros. trilogy, Mega Man 2, Castlevania, Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, Ninja Gaiden, Kirby’s Adventure, The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and more. Unlike the common arcade titles on the Sega Genesis, many of the NES Classics became video game hallmarks.
Now compare it to the SNES Classic. Super Mario World, Super Castlevania IV, Final Fantasy VI, Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Super Metroid, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. For $80, you were paying for the historical re-releases of some of the greatest, most defining games of all time. Some players might feel enamored to play the Genesis version of Virtua Fighter 2. Others, however, may prefer to play Street Fighter II Turbo on a controller that supports fighting games.
Finally, compare it to the PlayStation Classic. Actually, let’s don’t.
Now that we’ve covered what the Sega Genesis Mini can do, consider what you want more. Do you want to relive the experience on the console and controller? Or do you want to emulate the games themselves? Depending on the consoles you own, you may well find a cheaper answer.
Sega Genesis Classics
Your primary alternative would be the Sega Genesis Classics release on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PC. Featuring over 50 games, you can pick this up for $24.51 on Amazon at the time of this writing. You can find the entire collection on the screenshot of the back of the box.
However, you may want to check a list first. Note the far right column features the games released on the console version. If you’re okay with not playing Ecco the Dolphin, for instance, then this will be your best bet.
Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection
If you either don’t own a modern-day console or you would rather pay a little less, the PS3 and 360 have Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection. You can pick up Sonic’s Ultimate Genesis Collection – 48 games – for $13.49 at this time of this writing. Keep in mind that, for Xbox One owners, your system is not backwards compatible with the 360 version of the game.
Additionally, take a look at Sega Forever. You can play Genesis games for free on your mobile devices. The drawback is you will see ads frequently on the app. Plus if playing on a mobile device isn’t for you – and you don’t own a controller for it – this might not be your cup of tea.
But Let’s Not Do This…
Finally, based on the reviews, we do not recommend the Flashback Genesis microconsole. Released several years prior to the Genesis version, check GameSpot’s review for a glimpse at a third-party’s attempt at releasing Genesis titles. Long story short, Sega does it better.
The Sega Genesis Mini panders to the needs of the nostalgic collector. Featuring over 40 games, as well as the bonus releases of Tetris and Darius, it appeals to the player with both its hardware and software. For players not keen on emulating games on their computers, however, the surefire way to pay tribute to your childhood would be to pick up the $80 microconsole.
Whether it’s because you would rather play on the original hardware or want to support Sega with their latest release, it’s not a bad option, per se. What you see is what you get. 40+ games for $80 with a few bells and whistles to modernize the package.
But if you’re a price-savvy consumer and don’t want to hook up another console to your TV, you’ll fit in much better with Sega Genesis Collection for modern-day consoles. Given the price point and the amount of games, you’re literally getting more quality and quantity without the fancy box. It’s really up to you on what suits your needs and interests more.
If you feel like not spending a dime, you can always play the games on your phone with Sega Forever. But that’s only if you’re willing to try to play games with touch controls and no multiplayer. Granted, JRPGs like Dragon Quest play perfectly fine on a mobile device. Plus Christian Whitehead’s touch-up of Sonic 1 and 2 play like a charm. The controls aren’t an issue if you can adapt to them quickly.
Also, note that the Japanese version’s release features different games. Not only does it include The Revenge of Shinobi, among other novelty titles, it includes one of my personal favorite fighting games: Yu Yu Hakusho: Makyo Toitsusen. As a matter of fact, given the difference in the game list, it might as well be a separate release altogether. If the unique import titles impress or intrigue you, it would be much different than buying a console of the games you already own. Because for most players importing, you will certainly be trying a new game.
To sum it up, you have either cheaper alternatives for more games or you pay more for the console and add another item to your collection. The Sega Genesis Mini might not be the best or most economic way to play yesteryear’s Genesis classics, such as Castle of Illusion and Comix Zone. But it costs as much as the SNES Classic, which featured a 20-game lineup of some of the best games of all time.
Unlike the SNES Classic, the Sega Genesis Mini features throwaway titles, like Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle and Virtual Fighter 2. If you’re looking to add to your collection, however, then perhaps this might be right up your alley. Not to mention games like Earthworm Jim and Space Harrier 2 went previously unreleased on past Genesis compilations. While it’s not the perfect microconsole, it’s technologically sound and has most of what you could ask for a sound Genesis collection.
Thank you for reading our take on the Sega Genesis Mini. What’s your favorite game on the collection? Let us know in the comments below!