Begun, the Clone Wars Have: SEGA Fires Back at Classic Mini NES With a Mini Genesis

But it's looking less like a pitched battle than a total rout.

News by Jeremy Parish, .

Nintendo's Classic Mini: NES fired up imaginations when it was announced last week, and the same nostalgic fans who went crazy for that tiny machine will likely find themselves transported even more convincingly into the past when they learn that SEGA promptly followed up Nintendo's news with the announcement of their own miniature clone console.

Shipping in October (at least in the U.K.) and containing a whopping 80 games, the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis Classic Game Console looks exactly like a shot fired over Nintendo's bow, a reminder of the classic console wars during which the companies found themselves in a constant state of one-upmanship. Yet SEGA's upcoming creation will more likely serve as a contrast to better underscore the value and merit of Nintendo's retro device.

Based on the descriptive text at U.K. retailer Smyths Toys' website, this "new" device is little more than the latest iteration of the Genesis clone consoles a Chinese manufacturer called At Games has been issuing in different formats for the past few years. Unfortunately, they're anything but a nostalgic home run.

In principle, these SEGA reissues should be much better than Nintendo's upcoming offering, including more built-on games and a functioning cartridge slot to allow players to use their original Genesis games. In practice, they're shoddy: Rather than incorporating original Genesis hardware — despite the cartridge slot — they run on mediocre emulators that don't offer full compatibility with cartridges. Inexplicably, they don't even offer save support for carts that include battery backup (so please enjoy completing Phantasy Star II in a single sitting). They also provide standard-definition video out via composite cables, the worst possible way to view games on modern TVs — assuming, that is, your TV isn't so modern that it no longer supports a composite signal. And the systems' sound quality calls into question the word "quality," with familiar tunes like Sonic's "Green Hill Zone" sounding more like the flatulent final expulsion of a dying robot. Meanwhile, Nintendo's Classic Mini: NES offers high-definition visuals over HDMI and is almost certain to support full game saves. While it doesn't offer any way to play games beyond the 30 announced titles, one questions the value of playing a vast library of badly rendered, ear-shattering, incompletely supported games. Is that really a superior experience to playing a handful of well-curated and nicely presented classics? (Spoilers: No.)

Oh, and it's probably worth mentioning that only half of the 80 included games are legitimate Genesis classics; the other 40 titles are cheap-looking shovelware with enticing names like "Cross the Road," "Snake," "Sudoku Quiz," and "Jack's Pea."

The weird irony of this is that SEGA consoles offer the best emulation quality of any systems on Virtual Console, thanks to the involvement of SEGA 3D Classics Collection developer M2. But they clearly had no role in At Games' creations. Which means that, for the moment at least, the absolute best Genesis reissues you're going to find are all on Nintendo systems. Truly, the most unexpected outcome of the console wars.

Then again, maybe this will be the time At Games finally does SEGA's classic console justice. Hey, anything's possible.

Header photo credit: Evan Amos

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Comments 41

  • Avatar for MattG #1 MattG A year ago
    Oh god, that minor key flat off-pitch Green Hill Zone.
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #2 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @MattG It's literally the Sonic music you hear in your nightmares.
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  • Avatar for Daikaiju #3 Daikaiju A year ago
    Will the D-pads still suck? For maximum authenticity!
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  • Avatar for ArugulaZ #4 ArugulaZ A year ago
    Frustrating as hell, man. AtGames has had years to fix the issues with its Genesis consoles... YEARS. Yet its RedCore emulator still sounds terrible after all this time. If they still haven't fixed this, I want no part of whatever they'll be selling next.
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  • Avatar for Spectreman #5 Spectreman A year ago
    This is a piece of garbage. The sound is awful (2:30 mark).
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #6 SatelliteOfLove A year ago
    Oh for the love of Jehosephat, it's a science and an art, not neither!

    Ah, there we go. People what know a YM2612.Edited July 2016 by SatelliteOfLove
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  • Avatar for Pacario #7 Pacario A year ago
    I'd be more interested in a Master System Mini, anyway. That system deserved better.
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  • Avatar for dburrola #8 dburrola A year ago
    I'd love it if someone made a Neo Geo clone that had both onboard games and a cartridge slot. The Neo Geo X looked cool, but was lacking in a lot of areas.
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  • Avatar for seanfilkins89 #9 seanfilkins89 A year ago
    Um, that SEGA thing has been out for years.
    Nintendo is late to this game.
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  • welcome to the retro war. *sighs* here we go again *shrugs*
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  • Avatar for orient #11 orient A year ago
    I have one of these and they're *terrible*.Edited July 2016 by orient
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  • Avatar for joshualugert73 #12 joshualugert73 A year ago
    This thing is their response to the new NES mini. This se gas been out for awhile now my nephew got it at a garage sale. Sega must be able to see the future to respond that far ahead.
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  • Avatar for Nakadile #13 Nakadile A year ago
    Ok and when that doesn't pan out so well, will Sega again hook its system up to life support by offering a sega cd mount on and then a 32x mount on?
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  • Avatar for jake559 #14 jake559 A year ago
    That's been out for awhile, lazy written article
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  • Avatar for Cynalus #15 Cynalus A year ago
    Oh, look!

    [Pretends to see an "Official SEGA Seal Of Quality" stamp on the box...]

    [pauses hesitantly...]

    ... ... ... Oh. Wait... ... ...


    (triggers Tommy Boy clip)

    Tommy: Let's think about this for a sec, Ted. Why would somebody put a guarantee on a box? Hmmm, very interesting.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: Go on, I'm listening.
    Tommy: Here's the way I see it, Ted. Guy puts a fancy guarantee on a box 'cause he wants you to feel all warm and toasty inside.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: Yeah, makes a man feel good.
    Tommy: 'Course it does. Why shouldn't it? Ya figure you put that little box under your pillow at night, the Guarantee Fairy might come by and leave a quarter, am I right, Ted?
    [chuckles until he sees that Ted is not laughing]
    Ted Nelson, Customer: [impatiently] What's your point?
    Tommy: The point is, how do you know the fairy isn't a crazy glue sniffer? "Building model airplanes" says the little fairy; well, we're not buying it. He sneaks into your house once, that's all it takes. The next thing you know, there's money missing off the dresser, and your daughter's knocked up. I seen it a hundred times.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: But why do they put a guarantee on the box?
    Tommy: Because they know all they sold ya was a guaranteed piece of shit. That's all it is, isn't it? Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it guaranteed, I will. I got spare time. But for now, for your customer's sake, for your daughter's sake, ya might wanna think about buying a quality product from me.
    Ted Nelson, Customer: [pause] Okay, I'll buy from you.
    Tommy: Well, that's...
    Tommy, Richard Hayden: ...What?



    ...Yamauchi's Original Nintendo Seal of Quality was always *earned.*
    (The 10NES lockout chip, third-party contracts, etc atop even "quality" itself -- and controlled quantity...)
    Nintendo continues to march to the beat of its own drum, has always had evident its own aspirations and ideas, and follows them irrelevant of trends and fads. It falters at times, stumbles and falls at others, but has always stood up and produced innovative products and creative ideas.

    ...and then there's Se-Ga. Haphazard. Quality vs rubbish. A Diet Coke aftertaste.
    (Typical product example as per Jeremy Parish's article above.)


    [[Lastly -- concur re: another above that if they ever do develop a quality product, it would be wonderful if it was SMS. I played and beat Phantasy Star so many times back in the late 80s (and 90s, and 2000s...). Let alone so many other awesome games on that system...]]Edited 2 times. Last edited July 2016 by Cynalus
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #16 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @jake559 You clearly didn't read the whole story, and somehow it's the article that's lazy? Hmmm....
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  • Avatar for Sintjago #17 Sintjago A year ago
    There have been Mini Genesis for a long time now, so cant get excited there. I mean we have mini coleco, mini Intellivision, mini Atari, and mini Genesis for a while. What made the mini Nintendo exciting is that they have not done this before because they been pushing the virtual console. I need one mini Nintendo and not another mini Genesis. That said, I wish all of them had some way to connect to the virtual console system and expansion slots to add more games over time. It is annoying when you buy one of these mini consoles, then two years go by, they come up with the new version and now there are 20 more games and yours cannot be updated.
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  • Avatar for Sintjago #18 Sintjago A year ago
    Deleted July 2016 by Sintjago
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  • Avatar for mikedymski05 #19 mikedymski05 A year ago
    Why make minis just make NES , SNES and Genisis again, call it a remastered people will buy it just like the stupid people buying the same games that came out years ago again today
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  • Avatar for Thad #20 Thad A year ago
    Why make minis just make NES , SNES and Genisis again

    Because then you'd have to pay for building new consoles out of obsolete parts, modify the original hardware to output to HDMI, and put the games on cartridges, which would themselves involve obtaining obsolete parts and fabricating them individually. Even assuming you put all 30 games on a single cartridge, and even assuming that cartridge was budget-priced, it would drive up the cost of the device significantly. And then, instead of making controllers compatible with the Wii/U, you'd have to manufacture controllers that no modern console supports. Unless you wanted to sell an adapter, or build Bluetooth support into the machine, either of which would drive up the cost.

    I'd love to see a retro console using authentic hardware, and I'd pay good money for it -- heck, somebody over in another thread pointed me toward the upcoming RetroUSB AVS, and I'm seriously considering throwing down $185 for it, and it doesn't even use authentic hardware. But it's a niche product for a niche audience.

    Why don't Nintendo and Sega just release overpriced products that most people won't want? I'm not nearly as puzzled by that question as you seem to be.
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  • Avatar for swamped #21 swamped A year ago
    EWWWW that sound was so bad I had a physical reaction to it.

    Also thanks for a reasoned opinion on this. I didn't even realize emulators were imperfect until I started listening to Retronauts and all this is new to me. I have a feeling most "news" sites are going to begin and end their criticism with "OMG MINI GENESIS!!11"Edited July 2016 by swamped
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  • Avatar for VotesForCows #22 VotesForCows A year ago
    Awww... would love to see this done right. Nothing to see here, sadly.
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  • Avatar for SuperShinobi #23 SuperShinobi A year ago
    I hope Sega makes a Japan-made official mini-Genesis, since these licensed Chinese systems are no good. High-quality emulation, HDMI and save states are must-have features for these.
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  • Avatar for wayneeverettfoster #24 wayneeverettfoster A year ago
    I doubt sega is even involved in this I have gotten two versions of the genesis clone from at games the controllers on at least one of them had cheep controllers break easy and the extra games or some least the ones I saw weren't worth much or most. If sega were involved I would hope they would go for something with at least a little more quality then the at games models I have seen. Would be great if sega actually took a big role in releaseing an official version of the console though
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  • Avatar for dwightbenner84 #25 dwightbenner84 A year ago
    I will wait until the mini play station comes out they have great games.LOL
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  • Avatar for Gaurav-Kumar #26 Gaurav-Kumar A year ago
    Again, I don't this is any worth too much. Even child like HD Games. Lets see later what happen.
    License by Ninja
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  • Avatar for kjc18490 #27 kjc18490 A year ago
    Deleted July 2016 by kjc18490
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  • Avatar for nickjeromana #28 nickjeromana A year ago
    I can see Nintendo coming out with their "Mini-Retro" console.
    I'd even buy it if SONY came out with a Mini-Retro PS1 or PS2.
    However, YOU can't play in this game because unlike Sony and Nintendo
    YOU quit like a bunch of cowards. Instead of realizing that you simply had to upgrade the DreamCast with a DreamCast 2, you threw your arms in the air and said "Sega is no more!"


    And every Sonic game after DreamCast has died has been utter garbage...
    (Sonic 4 Episode II was actually pretty good, but then again, that was 1 exception in how many years?) You can't expect a game franchise that downgrades their villain from Dr. Robotnik to merely Eggman and hope that people would take it seriously.
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  • Avatar for gashthrasher #29 gashthrasher A year ago
    you may be joking dumb.
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  • Avatar for connoraterrell11 #30 connoraterrell11 A year ago
    People should just get the original consoles imo.
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  • Avatar for joeycagle15 #31 joeycagle15 A year ago
    Sega Megadrive & Genesis Classics packs are available on Steam for the PC. The emulation for that is excellent. I much prefer it over the At Games Genesis clone consoles.
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  • This has existed for years is sitting on my friends entertainment unit as we speak, do your research!
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #33 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @lancewilliamsperoni5 You created an account just so you could criticize an article you didn't actually read? That's delightful. Welcome to the community!
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  • Avatar for davidaaron96 #34 davidaaron96 A year ago
    I hate to break it to everyone, including the writer of this article, but this Genesis/Megadrive package has been out for a few years now. The only bad thing about it, is that the sound seems to be a little off when playing carts. But the fact that you can play carts and expand your retro gaming experience makes this an infinitely better choice than the Nintendo offering.
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  • Avatar for Roto13 #35 Roto13 A year ago
    @davidaaron96 Where are you (people? person?) coming from? Don't read the article then make new accounts using actual names as screen names to leave idiotic comments. There's like a dozen of you here.
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  • Avatar for NateDizzy #36 NateDizzy A year ago
    Too bad we'd never get a "Mini-Saturn" loaded with Radiant Silvergun, Panzer Dragoon Saga and Magic Knight Rayearth.Edited July 2016 by NateDizzy
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  • Avatar for jeremy.parish #37 jeremy.parish A year ago
    @Roto13 This piece got a ton of links around the web over the weekend, evidently including at some sort of mansplaining enclave.
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  • Avatar for Thad #38 Thad A year ago
    @joeycagle15 I wouldn't call the emulation on the Genesis Classics series "excellent". It's adequate, but it's not as good as what you get with fan-developed emulators. The timing is slightly off, which probably doesn't matter to most players, but if you've got all the Blue Sphere levels in Sonic 3 ingrained into your muscle memory, it's really noticeable.

    The sound effects aren't quite right either (eg when you pick up rings, the chime is supposed to alternate between the left and right channel, but in the emulator it just drops every other chime), but I haven't found an emulator yet that doesn't have that issue.

    That said, I really do like that Sega's encouraging the Genesis mod/romhacking scene among PC fans. It's downright refreshing for a Japanese publisher to realize that an active modding/homebrew community doesn't decrease the value of old games, it increases it.
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  • Avatar for zanegrey63 #39 zanegrey63 A year ago
    Just want to point out that this has been out for a while, you hack.
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  • Avatar for GaijinD #40 GaijinD A year ago
    @zanegrey63 Just wanted to point out, if you'd actually read the article you'd know he's well aware of that.
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  • Avatar for Woogity #41 Woogity A year ago
    Sega! No! You're doing it wrong!
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  • Avatar for Woogity #42 Woogity A year ago
    Looks like some classic titles like Curling 2010, Dominant Color, and even Hexagonos.
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  • Avatar for TernBird #43 TernBird A year ago
    Oh heck--my sister got me this for Christmas last year.

    I didn't know it couldn't support battery-saves, that's inexcusable! I was worried for a minute that this was a bootleg console, given the generic titles availble alongside Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine.
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