“There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance.”
“The following is a contributor post by the Hopeful Sega Mage.”
I’m not a really a fan of the ‘mini console’ phase that gaming seems to be going through at the moment. While I can appreciate having versions of classic consoles that can play on modern TV’s, I don’t like having a selection of games curated for me and I think these machines are capable of holding a lot more games, as emulators have shown. Truthfully, I think these machines, as well designed as they are, are just another example of developers drip-feeding us retro content and making us pay for it all over again.
That said, those thoughts went out of the window when I heard the Sega Mega Drive was making a comeback with the Sega Mega Drive Mini being released in September. Not just the usual inconsistent third party license job, but a mini console made by Sega themselves. I haven’t ordered a Mega Drive Mini…yet. However, I have a feeling that seeing the Mega Drive Mini in the shops is going to take me back to being a kid at Christmas 1994 and asking for Santa to bring me one.
It’s one of the reasons I decided to write this preview to be honest – I wanted to research the Sega Mega Drive Mini and see if it was worth me spending my pennies (read; buy less ice cream and chocolate) to pick one up. I’m glad Sega had seen the success that Nintendo had with their own mini consoles and decided to get involved directly, but I’m kind of on the fence at the moment. While I have faith in Sega to make a quality product, there needs to be more than nostalgia to get me to splash (trickle?) the cash.
That said, Sega have based their Mega Drive Mini on the classic Mega Drive 1 design and it looks great. It looks like it’s a third of the size of the original Mega Drive 1 and even has the volume slider and cartridge slot for cosmetic effect. I wish the cartridge slot was a working cartridge slot – that would make the Mega Drive Mini a day one purchase for me, the chance to go hunting for random Sega games in the wild too much to refuse. I know that a functioning cartridge slot would probably push the price of these mini consoles up, but I think it would be a huge feature as it would render games lost to licensing issues viable again.
Looking at the contents of the Mega Drive Mini, it looks pretty straightforward, which is definitely the appeal of retro consoles. No battery packs the size of a caravan and no pads that need to be coerced to sync with the console. All you get is the mini console, a power lead, an HDMI lead and two pads. The pads included in the UK bundle are three button pads, which seems odd to me. I guess Sega saw the three-button controller as the iconic Mega Drive controller, but I’m sure most players would rather have had a six-button pad, especially for Street Fighter II. Sure, you can buy a six-button pad for your Mega Drive Mini, but that’s an extra £40 for two pads, which is frustrating. Irritatingly, in Japan, the Sega Mega Drive Mini comes with two six-button controllers…
Moving on to the games… I think it’s a very mixed selection. Sega are as guilty as Nintendo for rehashing the same retro games over and over across each generation and there is an aspect of that on the Sega Mega Drive Mini. Most of the usual subjects are here, present and correct. While the likes of Sonic 2, Streets of Rage 2, Golden Axe and Gunstar Heroes are fantastic games that Sega fans remember fondly, there are some games that made me groan upon seeing them included. The likes of Altered Beast and Alex Kidd in Enchanted Castle are two games that Sega really don’t need to release again…
It’s when you move past the usual suspects that the Mega Drive Mini begins to appeal. There are some mouth-watering inclusions here that Sega deserve full credit for. Super Fantasy Zone is one that really appeals to me personally – I love the Master System original and could never get hold of Super Fantasy Zone back in my collecting days. It’s also great to see games like Alissa Dragoon, Castle of Illusion and World of Illusion as part of the Mega Drive Mini’s game library – these are some fantastic games that deserve to be experienced again.
Sega deserve credit for negotiating with other publishers too – they’ve grabbed some great unexpected titles. From Konami (Castlevania: Bloodlines, Probotector) or Capcom (Ghouls N’ Ghosts, Street Fighter II, Mega Man: The Wiley Wars, Strider) to even EA (Road Rash 2), there are some fantastic games there. To me, these games are the main draw of the Mega Drive Mini – they are games that I never thought would be accessible again. That said, if Road Rash 2 is missing the original soundtrack, like the EA Play (PSP) compilation version, then I’ll be annoyed as I love that soundtrack!
Everyone will be able to think of games that they think have been included. I’m personally disappointed that Super Hang On and Outrun didn’t make the cut as they are favourites of mine and fairly synonymous with the Mega Drive. It would have been cool to see Sega try and get the rights for more games from its third party publishers too. For example, we could have had Rocket Knight Adventures and Sunset Riders from Konami. I could personally make the case that we could have more than forty two games on the Mega Drive Mini…there are so many more great Mega Drive games that could have made the cut.
So in conclusion, will I be getting a Sega Mega Drive Mini? My heart says yes, but my head is telling me to wait. There are some great games on the Sega Mega Drive Mini and I do like its design, but it may be worth waiting until it drops in price. Once the initial demand is satisfied, mini consoles are easy to pick up cheap – if you don’t believe me, Twitter is full of people who have recently treated themselves to a PlayStation Classic fairly cheaply.
I’d love to hear your opinions though – are you thinking of picking up a Mega Drive Mini and if not, why not?
The Hopeful Sega Mage is a Sega obsessive who shouldn’t be approached by members of the public. However, he can be found on Twitter at @carrythegary and here at The Well-Red Mage, if you wish to discuss Japanese Mega Drive artwork and the greatness of Altered Beast.
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