When Nintendo announced the NES Classic, it set a great precedent for how a first-party should treat its gaming history. Nintendo followed up and improved on the formula with the Super NES Classic, and both systems remain the high-water mark for all-in-one classic consoles. But the Sega Genesis Mini is shaping up to be the new gold-standard.
If you care at all about video game history and preservation, you should absolutely add the Genesis Mini to your collection. How can I say something so authoritatively without having so much as seen one in person, much less tested out the games inside? It’s easy: M2 is handling the development of the software.
M2 is a Japanese developer with a long and storied history. Over the years, M2 has earned a reputation as THE be-all and end-all when it comes to releasing updated versions of old games.
M2 does more than just port games: it lovingly repackages and reworks them.
M2 does more than just port games: it lovingly repackages and reworks them to make the experience as authentic as possible, while also going above and beyond with extra features. In the excellent M2 documentary from My Life In Gaming and Limited Run Games, M2 CEO Naoki Horii talks about the process his company underwent bringing every single Fantasy Zone arcade and home console release to the PlayStation 2, but how he also brought Fantasy Zone 2 from the Sega Master System to an arcade port.
It’s important to point out there was never an arcade release of Fantasy Zone 2. The version in the Sega Ages 2500 series, Fantasy Zone II: The Tears of Opa Opa, never existed as an arcade game. However, Horii wanted to make one, and consulted M2’s programmers about porting it to Sega’s System 16 arcade boards. Unfortunately, the boards didn’t have enough memory to support the port, but Horii didn’t allow that to stop him from seeing his dream realized.
Rather than call it quits and move on, Horii consulted a friend “who knew a lot about arcade hardware” and together built a printed circuit board with the necessary RAM to run the port on a System 16 board. Since the expense wasn’t budgeted, Horii paid his own money to have the board made, something he said cost him “about the price of a new car.”
For the Love of the Game
M2 doesn’t just bring old games to new hardware, it adds extra features that didn’t exist in the original versions of the games. Whether it’s multiplayer, split-screen play, or even 3D graphics, M2 has built its rock-solid reputation by going above and beyond. In many cases, these features were added because M2 wanted them, not because they were asked to include them. The company just does old games right, and prides itself on the care it takes in both adding new features, while at the same time, working incredibly hard to ensure the games look, feel, and sound like the originals.
M2 has built its rock-solid reputation by going above and beyond.
It’s impossible to make a conclusive statement one way or the other about the quality of the Sega Genesis Mini without having played it. When it was originally announced, we were a little skeptical. There’s already an officially licensed Sega Genesis retro system on the market, and it’s terrible. In our Sega Genesis Flashback review, we gave it a 5, a “mediocre” on our ratings scale. It’s also a huge bummer the US isn’t getting the pack-in 6-button Sega Genesis controllers like the Japanese Mega Drive. But a rocky past doesn’t portend a failed future.
Knowing how well M2 has handled game preservation in the past, and judging from the line-up of games announced for the Genesis Mini, it really looks like it’s going to be one of the best, if not THE best all-in-one retro mini console. Just pick up any game M2 has had a hand in and you’ll see just how lovingly it treats gaming history. The Sega Genesis Mini is in the best possible hands.
Seth Macy is IGN’s tech and commerce editor and just wants to be your friend. Find him on Twitter @sethmacy.