Sega has announced a release date for the long-expected Mega Drive Mini, a modern version of its classic 16bit console.
Launching on 19 September, the retro replica will feature 40 built-in games, and comes with two controllers and a HDMI port, which plugs straight into modern televisions. It will cost £70/$80.
Following the hugely successful Nintendo NES and SNES mini consoles, as well as the PlayStation Classic, the Mega Drive Mini is designed to resemble a smaller version of the original machine – even including the headphone volume slider from the initial version of the Mega Drive (known as the Genesis in the US), which was removed from the later Mega Drive II iteration.
Sega has yet to reveal the full lineup of games, but favourites Sonic the Hedgehog, Ecco the Dolphin, Comix Zone and Earthworm Jim are among confirmed titles. Arcade legends Altered Beast and Space Harrier II are also there, as well as cult action adventure titles Castlevania: Bloodlines and Gunstar Heroes, and role-playing great, Shining Force.
Sega has revealed little information about the technical spec beneath the familiar console casing. At first, it was reported that retro hardware specialist AtGames would be handling the Mega Drive emulation – the company has previously produced a range of Sega console clones. However, fans expressed concerns about the quality of previous AtGames devices, and in September 2018, Sega tweeted that it would be working with an alternative partner to produce the software emulation for the Mega Drive Mini.
Nintendo started the current wave of official retro consoles when it launched the Nintendo Classic Mini: Nintendo Entertainment System in November 2016. That machine sold out almost immediately and was later relaunched, followed by the arrival of the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Together the two machines have sold more than 10m units.
Sega will no doubt be watching sales of the Mega Drive Mini very closely. The company stopped producing new console hardware in the early 2000s, but has a range of popular machines including the Saturn and the Dreamcast, which could be candidates for similar modernisation.