Sega Mega Drive Mini review: Relive your childhood with this loving recreation of a 90s powerhouse
Mega drive back to the past with the King of the Retro consoles, the Sega Mega Drive Mini
Growing up in the 90s there was one issue of that time that divided people like no other, one argument that split homes and destroyed friendships - are you Nintendo or Sega? The original Mega Drive with its black, sleek curved console hit our shores back in 1990 and blew everyone away.
The 16 mega bit graphics and stunning sound were the closest thing to arcade graphics in the home at that time. Miles ahead of the original Nintendo Entertainment system, this was a powerful machine aimed at teens and adults.
With edgier games like Road Rash, Mortal Kombat, followed by titles such as Night Trap, Sega were always pushing the boundaries of gaming, trying to be the antithesis of Nintendo.
The Mega Drive held its own - even when the much-loved SNES appeared - and these two were the heavyweights of gaming in the 90s. Fast forward to 2016 and the Nintendo Classic Mini was released, quickly followed by the Super Nintendo Classic Mini, both wildly successful.
These mini consoles were a massive hit with nostalgic gamers of a certain age, and have had successes like The Super NES mini and failures like the Sony PlayStation Classic.
So, it was only a matter of time before Sega got in on the act.
Sega's Mega Drive Mini is finally here
The Mega Drive Mini, created in-house at Sega, is nothing like the previous, cheaply made AT Games mini consoles released previously that were known for performance and sound issues.
Firstly the Mega Drive looks awesome; the packaging is a replica of your region's version of the computer games system, which is a really nice touch, hitting you with a wave of nostalgia before its even taken out of the box.
Even the packaging is retro
The loving attention to detail on the shape of the console, buttons and dials are spot on, with the power button working and the reset button bringing up the menu. And while it’s not solid, its lightweight build keeps it comfortable to take to a friend’s house.
The cartage slot even opens, which serves no purpose but looks cool. The Japanese model has mini Mega CD, 32X and games cartridges you can place in the slot, and while they also don’t do anything they look incredible and will be loved by hard-core fans.
The Mega Drive Mini comes with two controllers
The curved controllers are exactly as I remember them - the simple three button interface of early Mega Drive controllers but with a standard USB plug, which can make games like Street Fighter a little more challenging to play.
Two controllers are packaged in the box, allowing for some multiplayer action.
Reminiscent of batarangs, the black curved design initially felt much larger, but are exactly the same size as the originals, and even feel comfortable in adult hands for prolonged amounts of time.
There are 42 classics to choose from
The menus are also reminiscent of the late 80s early 90s aesthetic, with grids and neon and game box art displayed. Even the midi music, composed by famed Streets of Rage composer Yuzo Koshiro, sounds like a remix of Sonic starlight zone theme.
You can organise games alphabetically, by date of release or even genre, which helps you navigate the list of legendary titles.
The device features 42 games, which is more than any retro system to date. There’s a good variety of games from beat ‘em ups like Street Fighter 2 and Streets of Rage 2 to role-playing games such as Phantasy Star IV and Shining Force.
No Sega machine would be complete without the blue blur himself and Sonic and Sonic 2 are here - although conspicuously absent are Sonic 3 and Sonic and Knuckles. Some of the early releases from the collection can feel a bit clunky, but it would have been a crime not to include games like Altered Beast.
Try your hand at old-school Sonic
The games run really well with no noticeable lag from controller input to games, and were fine other than a few flashing sprites in Sonic and Sonic 2.
You can play the games in their original 4x3 aspect ratio or 16x9, which looks like a stretched nightmare. If you want to feel really old school or if your perfect flat screen TV looks too sharp, you can add classic screen lines, which is a nice addition.
One of the most impressive features is that you can change the language in the menu, with the games changing to that region's version.
Not only does the box art on the menu change, but there's fun to be found for fans in trying different versions to see content that may have been removed in their original region.
The Mega Drive Mini is a pitch perfect recreation of the loved original and a fitting testament to its legacy in gaming, great for casual gamers and hard-core classic Mega Drive fans.
Featuring a varied and solid selection of games and some top-notch features, it elevates itself to king of the retro mini consoles.
James Ide (2019, October 1) Updated: 2019, October 2
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