Sega was always more loved than it was successful, and though it’s coming in a little bit late to this trend that kicked off back in 2016, the company has created what is the best iteration of a miniature console to date. To be released on September 19, the Sega Genesis Mini includes 42 classic games from the 16-bit system’s lifespan. It also includes two of the classic three-button Genesis controllers, an HDMI cable, and a USB cable with AC adapter, in other words, everything you need to play right out of the box.
At a glance, the Genesis Mini looks just like its competitors: a shrunken version of a console that came out decades ago. It’s plastic and toy-like, and Sega says it’s 55 percent the size of the original console. There are only two ports on the back, one for power, one for HDMI. You can plug it in and start playing immediately, without the constant need for online updates that plague most modern devices. It’s refreshing, as is the pleasingly straightforward controller. Like the console itself, the three-button gamepad feels authentic.
Software-wise, the Genesis Mini includes most of the expected features. Each game has multiple save files, so you can hop in and out of games easily, bypassing the often restrictive nature of retro game saves. It has a non-operable volume slider, miniature cartridge slot with a spring-loaded cover, and even the expansion port where the Sega CD and 32X add-ons would go. The Genesis Mini is a carefully considered package that serves as both a nostalgia machine and a preserver of some of the rarer titles to feature on Sega’s console. The $79.99 Sega Genesis Mini nails all of the basics, with great, adorable hardware and a varied selection of classic games.