I’ll just go ahead and paraphrase Don Draper from Mad Men here and say that the Sega Genesis Mini 2 isn’t just a miniature all-in-one console, “it’s a time machine. It takes us to a place where we had a hard time leaving.” Don was banking on nostalgia selling slideshow carousels when he said that, but the whole lot works equally well for these retro consoles. Although this miniature homage to Sega’s beloved 16-bit system falls short of its predecessor and the TurboGrafx-16 Mini (also from M2) when it comes to the quality of the controller and its menus, it’s still a wonderful little piece of technology that “lets us go to a place where we know we are loved.”
Nostalgia – It’s delicate, but powerful
The Genesis Mini 2 is the sequel to the Genesis Mini which I reviewed in 2019. I was quite impressed with Sega’s first trip into the mini console world, and so I was excited about the announcement of a second Genesis, this one appropriately based on the Sega Genesis Model 2. The Model 2 was a smaller version of the original Genesis released in 1994, the same year Sega launched the ill-fated Saturn.
Genesis Mini 2 Gallery
It’s a nice little nod to the evolution of the Genesis console, and it looks great sitting next to its slightly taller older sibling. Like the previous Genesis Mini, it has a removable extension door so you can, in theory, place it on the purely cosmetic Sega Tower of Power mini. (As was the case last time, this ridiculous but awesome Sega CD accessory was only available in Japan, and it sold out long before I even learned of its existence.)
The cartridge port has tiny spring-loaded doors that work, just like the real Genesis, so if you have one of the miniature cartridges that were available with the Tower of Power (you probably don’t!) you can insert them. Again, they’re useless, they just look cool.
On the front of the Genesis Mini 2 is a power switch and a button labeled “reset”, but that’s not really what it does: pushing it brings up a menu screen allowing you to save, load or return to the main menu during games. . A button with the same functionality is also integrated into the included six-button wired Genesis controller. It’s nice that it’s a standard USB device, with a cord of about 2 meters, so you can plug it into a PC if you want.
The menu button on the controller is easy to access and in no way detracts from the controller’s original design. It’s located where you might expect to find a right shoulder button on another controller, but built into the mold so it doesn’t protrude. At first glance, it’s just a regular six-button controller – something we were robbed of with the 2019 Genesis Mini. The good news is that the proper extended controller is there, included in the box, and will also work with your original Genesis Mini. The bad news is that the controller sucks a bit.
As far as proprietary replicas of older controllers go, the one that came with the Genesis Mini 2 is passable at best. The buttons feel pretty terrible. They have a mushy look that I found really off-putting, and the D-pad shares the same tactile annoyance. I didn’t notice any lack of responsiveness while playing, but it’s just lightweight and cheap, almost like an afterthought. The three-button controller that came with the original wasn’t great either, but at least there were two in the box instead of just one.
A pinch in the heart
The Genesis Mini 2’s user interface is virtually unchanged from the original. The menu screen music isn’t as good, but all the other options I liked are back, like seeing your “collection” unfold, plus some new wallpapers for the menu screens. menu and during gameplay. Not much improvement over the first one, and honestly, since I’m not much of a music lover, it’s a little less great. It’s a shame Sega didn’t take inspiration from the far superior charm of the TurboGrafx-16 Mini’s user interface. For example, while the Genesis Mini 2 includes a healthy selection of Sega-CD games, it lacks the extra touch of the TurboGrafx-16 Mini – a custom, region-specific animation when you load a cart or CD game – ROMs.
In other words, if you loaded a CD from the US interface, it looked like the US version of the TurboGrafx, while loading from the Japanese interface looked like the PC Engine, while EU games looked like the EU version. of the PC Engine – it even simulated the sound of a CD player spinning and playing the disc. It was a very cool, very unnecessary, but loving touch that the Genesis Mini 2 completely lacks, and it’s disappointing to me, a grown man who loves fantasy sounds.
What the Genesis Mini 2 shares with the TG-16 and the original Mini is how the games list changes to reflect language settings. Choose “Japanese” from the language options menu, and the whole experience changes. You don’t just change the language of the on-screen prompts in the UI, you change the box art, the game language, even the UI changes to reflect the region. I much prefer the Japanese packaging and visual design of Mega Drive due to its 1990s aggressiveness, and just switching to Japanese in the language menu gives me what my eyeballs are looking for.
It’s not just the UI and language that changes either, but the art of the game box – but unfortunately in the US we didn’t get the full list of games found on the Japanese version of the Genesis Mini 2. Magical Taruruto-kun, for example, is on the Japanese console but not the Japanese language version of the Genesis Mini 2 sold in America. It’s a colorful and super cute side-scroller, perhaps most notable for being developed by Game Freak, who you might know from Pokemon. We’re also missing a Captain Tsubasa game for Sega CD that never came west, and the original Shin Megami Tensei. It’s a bit strange, honestly, because you can’t buy a Genesis Mini 2 here in the US. You need to import it from Amazon Japan. It’s an odd omission, especially since the Turbo Grafx-16 Mini had all the games no matter what country you bought it in.
The reason I don’t give up hope on the full list of Japanese games is that M2 is basically a bunch of rogue gods. This company absolutely fascinates me. He is responsible for some of the best game preservation projects and has set the high water mark in video game preservation and restoration. This team could have created a custom emulator and UI, cut and pasted in some ROMs and called it a day, but that’s not how M2 works. Not even close! No, the developers at M2 not only added a few unreleased games to the Genesis Mini 2, but they also ported old arcade games to the Genesis. Which is amazing! They didn’t have to but they did, just as a flex – but there’s more! Space Harrier II, an arcade classic from Sega, originally had a Genesis port, but M2 said, “Yeah, but what if Genesis had support for sprite scaling?” and just went ahead and made it a thing, but also added the same sprite scaling support for the Genesis version of Space Harrier. So you get a bonus game, a game that I personally like very much.
In addition to creating ports where none existed before, M2 has made some changes to its included games. Phantasy Star II, one of the most legendary 16-bit RPGs of yore, improved quality of life in the same vein that M2 did with the Sega Ages version of the original Master System version of Phantasy Star. Basically, it’s been made more enjoyable to play in 2022 with an “easy mode” and increased walking speed. Trust me, you’re going to want to turn it on. Walking speed on these early Phantasy Star games is approximate.
Aside from the “new” games, there are a bunch of other great ones here, for a total of 61. It has Sonic 2, which all the coolest kids I know agree he is the best, and Sonic CD. There’s also Ecco the Dolphin and its sequel, both on Sega-CD. If you fancy bashing some random 16-bit weirdos, you have Streets of Rage 3, Final Fight CD, and Super Street Fighter II. For RPGs, there’s the aforementioned Phantasy Star II, Shining Force CD, Shining in the Darkness, and more. It’s packed with games from virtually every genre of the era, except for sports games.
Compared to the original, it’s hard to say whether the Genesis Mini 2 has a better selection of games or not. I would put them on par and say that the game selections are complementary to each other.
Literally “The pain of an old wound”
There are also weird games like Ooze, which I had never played or even heard of before. After a few minutes with Ooze, I probably won’t play again, and there are definitely a fair number of duds here. Bonanza Brothers is not a game I enjoyed at all, The Ninja Warriors feels like it was added because the license was cheap, and Virtua Racing for Sega Genesis is the least of all the versions of this game. However, in the case of Virtua Racing, it makes historical sense to add it to the Genesis Mini 2 because back then it was stunning – but now it’s just clunky and not funny. Night Trap is another one of those games that is just plain awful, but historically it might be the most important game on the list. None of the other games in the Genesis Mini 2 can claim to have angered the legislative branch of the US government. It would be a shame not to include it, even though it’s a pretty craptacular FMV game.
#Sega #Genesis #Mini #review #IGN