In celebration of the Sega Mega Drive’s 30th birthday, Sega officially announced a renewal of its classic 16-bit console, called the Mega Drive Mini, earlier this week. The internet is ablaze with excited headlines, fueled by youthful nostalgia and the goodwill of Nintendo’s monstrously successful miniature remake of the classic SNES (Punch Out in 2018, folks). But there’s founded reason to be wary, even cautious, about the new Sega.
Despite reports just last week pointing to Sega getting back into the hardware business to recreate the Mega Drive Mini themselves, it seems they’ve licensed out the making of the device to one AtGames. AtGames’ business is updating classic consoles, but thus far they’ve offered little else but buyable disappointment.
The Sega Genesis Flashback they made came full of promises — wireless controllers, 85 games built-in, a cartridge slot to play your old Genesis games, updated UI and high framerate. What it delivered, however, was weirdly dysfunctional controllers, a comically confusing-to-navigate UI and inconsistent framerate. As for those 85 games? Just about half of those were actual Genesis games, the rest just random toss-ins (to be fair, Golden Axe and Mortal Kombat were included, but they left out NBA Jam, which I consider unforgivable).
This isn’t all to say the Mega Drive Mini will fail. I pray that it doesn’t. I have precious memories of Street Fighter II to attend to. Polygon reported the new remake will run a new with new emulation software and features, so perhaps there’s hope yet. But as long as Sega continues to allow others to recreate their work, I’m not holding my breath.
Sega’s Mega Drive Mini will release pre-loaded with an unknown number of games with yet-to-be-announced titles — first in Japan, and the rest of the world later this year.
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