Gaming

Sega Genesis Mini: A retro console that's a throwback to the 1990s

My family was not well off during my school days - I had to wait for my first pay cheque before I could afford my first gaming console. Back then, in the 1990s, it was only at my classmate's house that I could play games such as Sonic The Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis gaming console.

The Genesis is now a relic of video gaming history. But with the recently released Sega Genesis Mini, I can now walk down memory lane.

The new game console is a miniaturised version of the original, at around half its size. With a footprint of around two iPhone 5ses placed side by side, it will not take up much space.

The Mini is a faithful reproduction of the original, down to the cartridge slot and the volume dial in front. Both are present only for aesthetics' sake though, as they do nothing.

If you are lucky enough to be among the first few to pre-order the Mini, you might get a free Sonic The Hedgehog mini-cartridge that you can insert into the cartridge slot. But again, this is only for show.

At the console's rear is an HDMI port and a micro-USB power port (it does not come with a power adaptor).

In front, the original controller ports have been replaced by two USB ports that are for connecting the two wired Sega gamepads.

Just plug a HDMI cable from the console to the television, connect the gamepads, power it up and you are ready to go.

My only quibble about the Mini's design is that it feels a tad lightweight and plastic. Also, instead of the six buttons of the original Sega gamepad, the new gamepad has only three buttons.

  • FOR

    • Plenty of pre-loaded games to play 

    • Design remains faithful to original 

    • Simple to set up 

    • Able to save games 

    • Very affordable

  • AGAINST 

    • Plastic build 

    • Gamepad has only three buttons

  • SPECS

    PRICE: $119.90

    CONNECTIVITY: HDMI

  • RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 5/5

    OVERALL: 4.5/5

But all is forgiven, given the number of games that comes with the Mini. It is pre-loaded with 42 16-bit games, including Sonic The Hedgehog, Golden Axe, Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition and Earthworm Jim.

The menu interface is simple and retro, transporting one back in time to the 1990s. You can change the wallpaper of the main menu to suit your tastes.

For the games, you can change the screen ratio to the classic 4:3 ratio. There is even an option to add a CRT filter that makes your television screen look like an old CRT television with washed-out colours.

I prefer not having the CRT filter though, as the colours of the games are much brighter and more vibrant without it.

The games I tried, including Golden Axe, Sonic The Hedgehog and Street Fighter II, played smoothly and without any hiccup or lag. It was just as I remembered playing them when I was young.

Unlike the original, the Mini allows you to save games. During gameplay, press and hold the Start button on the gamepad to go to the system menu. There, you can save, load or reset a game, or return to the main menu. This is really a nice feature to have in a modern retro console.

Perhaps the best part about the Mini is its affordable price. For $120, you have a wealth of 16-bit retro games to play to your heart's content, on top of a miniaturised replica of the original Sega Genesis.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2019, with the headline 'Retro Sega console a throwback to the 1990s '. Print Edition | Subscribe