It’s looking like Nintendo will have some competition in the retro gaming space, as Sega of Japan has announced a mini Sega Genesis, aka Mega Drive Mini. Knockoff versions of Sega’s retro consoles are easy enough to find online and in used game shops, but this is the first time Sega has produced any gaming hardware since the days of the Dreamcast. This move was likely inspired by the success of Nintendo’s own line of retro gaming consoles.
— セガ公式アカウント (@SEGA_OFFICIAL) April 14, 2018
While Sega has confirmed that the retro console is in the works, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. One of the biggest concerns will be the format. Nintendo’s retro consoles are essentially well-made emulator boxes that come pre-installed with a handful of games. Our reviews found that both the NES and SNES Classics were well-made machines that did a great job of running their lineup of classic games.
Based on the image in the tweet, the console looks a bit too small to accept classic Genesis cartridges. It’s possible that Sega is still finalizing the design, so you shouldn’t rule out a machine that plays old carts. Based on the current evidence, however, that doesn’t seem too likely. While a cartridge-based system would be more flexible than an emulator, it is also a lot more difficult to use, since old Genesis games can be a pain to find.
The best bet might be to create a hybrid model which features a list of pre-installed games with the option to play old cartridges or simply download new titles. This would give the retro Genesis a degree of flexibility that Nintendo’s own offerings lack.
Hopefully, the hardware quality will be as good as Nintendo’s, because there are a lot of poorly made Genesis clones out there. They either run games poorly or simply look and feel cheap. Nintendo’s own offerings, by contrast, run their lineup flawlessly and are well-made.
Beyond the fact that it does exist, we still don’t know too much about the new console though we do have some information. AtGames, which made a previous version of this console, did tweet that the product was in the works and would be coming to western markets. However, both the tweet and the Facebook post have since been deleted. It is possible that Sega did not want AtGames leaking the details too early.