It’s been three years since the breakout success of Nintendo’s tiny NES Classic, but the miniature console wars are finally heating up. First, Nintendo followed up with the slightly improved SNES Classic, and then Sony jumped in with the somewhat disappointing PlayStation Classic. Now, it’s Sega’s turn. And while the company is late to the party, Sega — unlike Sony — seems to have learned from its predecessors. The Genesis Mini is shaping up to be the best retro console to date.

You probably already know the basics. The Genesis Mini looks just like, well, a mini Genesis, to the point that it seems more like a toy than a console. (Sega says it’s 55 percent smaller than the original Genesis.) It costs $79.99, connects to your TV via an included HDMI cable, comes with two three-button USB controllers that are solid replicas of the original Genesis gamepads, and features 42 built-in games. That puts it at the same price point as the SNES Classic and a bit cheaper than the PlayStation Classic’s $99.99 price tag. For that money, you get around twice as many included games as the other mini-systems.

Really, the game library is the highlight of the Genesis Mini. The hardware is mostly what you’d expect: it’s cute and small and solid in an unremarkable way. The library is not only huge, but it covers a lot of ground. For reference, here’s the full list:

  • Sonic The Hedgehog
  • Ecco the Dolphin
  • Castlevania: Bloodlines
  • Space Harrier 2
  • Shining Force
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • ToeJam & Earl
  • Comix Zone
  • Altered Beast
  • Gunstar Heroes
  • Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  • World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  • Thunder Force III
  • Super Fantasy Zone
  • Shinobi III
  • Streets of Rage 2
  • Earthworm Jim
  • Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  • Contra: Hard Corps
  • Landstalker
  • Mega Man: The Wily Wars
  • Street Fighter II’: Special Champion Edition
  • Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Beyond Oasis
  • Golden Axe
  • Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  • Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
  • VectorMan
  • Wonder Boy in Monster World
  • Road Rash II
  • Strider
  • Virtua Fighter 2
  • Alisia Dragoon
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Monster World IV
  • Eternal Champions
  • Columns
  • Dynamite Headdy
  • Light Crusader
  • Tetris
  • Darius

Some of those are obvious inclusions. Of course you’re going to get Sonic the Hedgehogand Ecco the Dolphin in a retro Sega package, and it would feel like something was missing without Gunstar Heroes and Streets of Rage 2Comix Zone is here because, well, it always is for some reason. Other inclusions are more surprising: third-party titles like Castle of Illusion or Castlevania: Bloodlines and the not-especially-memorable fighter Eternal Champions.


What’s great about the lineup, though, is how it spans many different genres and playstyles. In particular, there are several excellent multiplayer games — Streets of Rage 2 is still a lot of fun with a friend — alongside titles like Phantasy Star IV that you can play for hours alone. The package is also rounded out with unexpected games that never actually released on the Genesis, including Tetris and the 1987 arcade shooter Darius. They’re not quite as cool as the addition of the unreleased Star Fox 2 on the SNES Classic, but they’re still welcome add-ons.

Not only are the games themselves great, but the conversions are about as perfect as you can get. This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. The porting for all of the games was handled by M2, a studio that’s made a name for itself with pitch-perfect translations of classic Sega titles, including the recently released Virtua Racing on the Switch. As with previous mini-consoles, you have a variety of display options, letting you render the games in the original 4:3, stretch out to 16:9, or add on a filter to replicate a CRT TV

Aside from that, what’s most remarkable about the Genesis Mini is the attention to detail. The PlayStation Classic felt disappointing mos