I’ll go ahead and paraphrase the Mad Men Don Draper here and say that the Sega Genesis Mini 2 isn’t just an all-in-one mini console, “It’s a time machine. It takes us to a place where it hurts to go again.” Don was relying on nostalgia to sell the carousel slideshow when he said that, but the entire ballpark works just as well with these old consoles. While this mini homage to Sega’s beloved 16-bit system falls short of its predecessor and the TurboGrafx-16 Mini (also powered by the M2) when it comes to console quality and menus, it’s still a great little piece of technology that “allows us to go somewhere We know we are loved in him.”
Nostalgia – It’s subtle, yet powerful
The Genesis Mini 2 is a follow-up to the Genesis Mini that I reviewed in 2019. It totally took me on Sega’s first journey into the world of the mini console, and so I was excited to announce a second Genesis, this one aptly based on the Sega Genesis 2 model. 2 A smaller version of the original Genesis released in 1994, the same year Sega launched the ill-fated Saturn.
Genesis Mini 2 Showroom
It’s a simple nod to the evolution of the Genesis console, and it looks cute sitting next to its slightly older, older brother. Like the previous Genesis Mini, it has a door with a removable expansion slot so you could theoretically fit it into a purely aesthetically pleasing Sega Tower of Power miniature. (As was the case last time, this ridiculous and cool Sega CD attachment was only available in Japan, and it sold out long before I knew it existed.)
The cartridge port has small spring-action doors just like the real Genesis, so if you have any of the miniature cartridges that were available with the power tower (you probably don’t!), you can open them again. It doesn’t serve any functional purpose, it looks great.
On the front of the Genesis Mini 2 there’s a power switch and a button called “Reset,” but that’s not what it actually does: pressing it brings up a menu screen that lets you save, load, or exit back to the main menu during games. A button with the same functionality is also included in the 6-button wired controller. The good thing is that it’s a standard USB device, with a wire about two meters long, so you can connect it to a computer if you want.
The menu button on the console is easy to access and doesn’t mess with the console’s original design in the least. It’s where you might expect to find the right shoulder button on another console, but it’s blended into the mold so it doesn’t come apart. At first glance, it’s just a regular six-button controller—something we stole from it with the 2019 Genesis Mini. The good news is that the right extended controller is right there, included in the box, and will work with the original Genesis Mini, too. The bad news is that the controller is rather bad.
As far as first-party replicas of older consoles go, the one that came with the Genesis Mini 2 is just plain agreeable at best. The buttons look pretty awesome. They have a mushroom that I found really undesirable, and the D-pad shares the same tactile discomfort. I haven’t noticed any lack of responsiveness while gaming, but it feels light and cheap, as if it was just an afterthought. The three-button controller that came with the original wasn’t great either, but at least there were two of them in the box instead of just one.
Prick it in your heart
The user interface of the Genesis Mini 2 is mostly unchanged from the original. The menu screen music isn’t nearly as good, but all the other options I loved are back, like seeing “Your Collection”, as well as some new backgrounds for the menu screens and during gameplay. There isn’t much in the way of improvement from the get-go, and frankly, since I’m not very fond of music, it’s less fantastic. It’s a shame Sega didn’t take some inspiration from the TurboGrafx-16 Mini’s superior user interface fun. For example, while the Genesis Mini 2 includes a healthy selection of Sega-CD games, it lacks the extra touch of the TurboGrafx-16 Mini — a region-specific animation when loading a cart or game CD.
In other words, if you load a CD from the US interface, it’s like the US version of TurboGrafx, while loading from the Japanese interface is like a PC drive, and EU games look like the EU version of the PC drive – they’re even done Simulated sound of a CD drive spinning and reading the disc. It was a very nice, pointless touch, but a loving touch that’s totally missing from the Genesis Mini 2, and it’s a disappointment to me, a grown man who loves fantasy sounds.
What the Genesis Mini 2 shares with the TG-16 and the original Mini is how the game menu changes to reflect the language settings. Choose “Japanese” from the list of language options, and the whole experience will change. You not only change the language of the onscreen prompts in the UI, you change the box art, the game language, and even the UI changes to reflect the region. I prefer the Mega Drive’s Japanese packaging and visual design because of how strong it was in the ’90s, and simply switching to Japanese in the language menu gives me what my eyeballs craves.
It’s not only the user interface and language that has changed, but also the art of the game box – but unfortunately in the US we don’t get the full list of games found in the Japanese version of the Genesis Mini 2. Magical Taruto-kun, for example, on the console Japanese control but not the Japanese version of the Genesis Mini 2 sold in America. It is a very cute and colorful side scrolling program that is probably the most famous because it was developed by Game Freak, which you may know from Pokemon. We also miss the Captain Tsubasa game for the Sega CD that never came west, and the original Shin Megami Tensei game. It’s kind of weird, honestly, because you can’t actually buy a Genesis Mini 2 here in the States. You have to import it from Amazon Japan. It’s a strange omission, especially considering that the Turbo Grafx-16 Mini had all the games in it no matter what country you bought it in.
The reason I’m not giving up hope on the entire list of Japanese games is that M2 is basically a bunch of crook gods. This company absolutely fascinates me. She’s responsible for some of the best game preservation projects around, and she’s set a high watermark in video game preservation and restoration. This team could have built a custom emulator and UI, pasted them into some ROM files and called it the day, but that’s not how the M2 works. Not even close! No, the developers of M2 not only went ahead and added some unreleased games to the Genesis Mini 2, they also moved some of the old arcade games to the Genesis. Which is amazing! They didn’t have to do it but did, just as flexibility – but there is more! Space Harrier II, the classic Sega arcade game, originally got a Genesis port, but M2 said, “Yes, but what if Genesis supports animated icon scaling?” It went ahead and made this thing, but it also added the same icon scaling support for the Genesis version of Space Harrier. So you get an extra game, a game that I personally like a lot.
On top of creating ports that didn’t exist before, M2 has made some modifications to the included games. Phantasy Star II, one of the most legendary 16-bit RPGs, has quality-of-life improvements similar to what M2 did with the Sega Ages version of the original Master System version of Phantasy Star. Basically, playing is becoming more acceptable in 2022 thanks to the Easy Mode and increased walking speed. Trust me, you’ll want to enable it. Walking speed in early Phantasy Star games is tough.
Aside from the “new” games, there are a bunch of other great games here, totaling 61. It has Sonic 2, which all the coolest kids I know agree is the best, and Sonic CD. There’s also Ecco the Dolphin and its sequel, both for Sega-CD. If you want to hit 16-bit weirdos at random, you have Streets of Rage 3, Final Fight CD, and Super Street Fighter II. For RPGs, there is the aforementioned Phantasy Star II, Shining Force CD, Shining in the Darkness, and more. It’s full of games of all kinds at that time, except for sports.
Compared to the original, it’s hard to say whether the Genesis Mini 2 has a better selection of games or not. I’d put them in a quandary, saying the game choices are complementary to each other.
Literally “pain from an old wound”
There are also some weird games like Ooze, which I haven’t played or even heard of before. After a few minutes with Ooze, I probably won’t play it again, and there are definitely quite a few duds here. Bonanza Brothers isn’t a game I’ve enjoyed at all, we feel Ninja Warriors was added because the license was inexpensive, and Virtua Racing for Sega Genesis is the least expensive version of that game. However, in the case of Virtua Racing, it makes sense from a historical perspective to add it to the Genesis Mini 2 because at the time it was amazing – but now it’s just useless and unfamiliar. Night Trap is another one of those games that has a reputation for being awful, but it might historically be the most important game on the list. None of the other games on the Genesis Mini 2 can boast that they have called the outrage of the legislative branch of the US government. It would be a shame not to include it, even if FMV is pretty crazy.