Sega goes retro with the Mega Drive Mini

Were you a Ninten-nerd or a Gene-goob? Sega has been out of the gaming hardware market since 2001, but back when I was in school the rivalry between Nintendo and Sega was possibly the single largest social force within my peer group. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the launch of the Sega Mega Drive—better known as the Genesis here in the 'states. To celebrate, Sega announced at its FES 2018 fan event that the Mega Drive Mini will be launching this year.

There are precious few details about the upcoming micro machine. We don't know what games it will ship with, how many controllers it will include, or whether it will actually accept cartridges or only play its built-in games. We do know that US-based AtGames will be the company behind the hardware. That bit of news comes from that AtGames itself, who tweeted confirmation yesterday that Sega would be releasing the Mega Drive Mini in Japan (presumably soon) and in the US and "other territories" later this year. The tweet's since been deleted, but NintendoLife grabbed a snapshot of it.

The news that AtDrive is producing the Mega Drive Mini is probably of some concern to fans, including yours truly. AtGames is the company responsible for the Atari Flashback and Sega Genesis Flashback mini-consoles. While those systems do let gamers play a selection of retro titles on modern displays for relatively little cash, they're also plagued with emulation issues and flimsy build quality. IGN reviewed the Sega Genesis Flashback and came away highly disappointed. I bought one of the units myself and promptly sent it back to Amazon.

There is hope, at least, since AtGames' tweet described the technology in the Mega Drive Mini as "new and improved." Along similar lines, NintendoLife says it was in contact with AtGames earlier this year after the site gave the Mega Drive Ultimate Portable a scathing review. The site was apparently told that the then-unannounced 2018 system would offer "improved technology and features." After all, it wouldn't do for Sega to ship sub-par hardware in light of old rival Nintendo's recently-launched high-quality SNES Classic.

Besides the upcoming mini console, Sega made a number of other big announcements at the FES event. The first two Shenmue games are coming to PS4, Xbox One, and PC, with high-resolution visuals and the option to use Japanese or English audio. Fifteen classic Sega 8- and 16-bit games are coming to the Nintendo Switch as the Sega AGES collection. Shining Resonance is getting a PSVR expansion, and a new Sakura Wars game is in development, too.

A collection of classic Sega hardware at FES 2018.

While we reckon most gerbils are likely to be savvy enough to build their own emulation-based living room retro-gaming setups, there's a lot to be said for turn-key solutions like the SNES Classic. You can hand one off to a single-digit-aged child with little concern about them destroying your carefully-wrought config files. They're also usually cheaper than a hand-rolled setup—nevermind being a whole lot less work. You might havto wait a while for the Mega Drive Mini, though—Sega hasn't announced it'll be available outside of Japan so far.

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