Gaming Omnivore Art Gallery

One of my goals for 2020 was to keep pushing forward and continuing to progress in not only my writing ability(hey, it could happen…) and also to experiment with new ideas and formats on my blog site. For today’s post I wanted to highlight some of the captivating visuals found in games I’ve played over this past console generation.

The quality and complexity of game visuals is light years from the simple pixelated images produced in the early days of gaming, like the Atari 2600 or even the NES a handful of years later. Video games have also grown more complex and capable of not only providing an interesting gameplay experience, they can tell stories on par with any Hollywood film and can instantly transport players anywhere from real-world locations, distant planets, or places we could only otherwise see in our own imaginations. Video games have in more recent years finally become accepted and recognized, Roger Ebert notwithstanding, as an artistic medium similar to music or movies, with many games featuring the same level of production as many films. Games are more than able to convey ideas and emotions to match other mediums and today I’m going to showcase some of wonderful visuals found within them.

One of the options featured in a vast number of games this past console generation is Photo Mode which allows you to briefly suspend play and not only take a snapshot of everything on screen, but also giving some rudimentary camera controls or filter options to further color the mood of your digital playground. This comes as a nod of recognition to the painstaking level of detail and effort put in to create such impressive world. It’s become almost an afterthought in most open-world games like Horizon: Zero Dawn or Assassin’s Creed(nearly every Ubisoft game, actually) and is frequently the reason I feel I’m not progressing through many areas of the game as I find myself stopping every so often to jump into Photo Mode and save a quick picture. Here’s a guided tour of five pieces that I love, along with the feeling that comes to mind when viewing them. Please remember to stay behind the velvet rope…

Control

Mystique – The feeling of being inexplicably drawn to somewhere or something and the determination to discover the secrets behind it. We see Jesse as she cautiously ventures down an ever-changing corridor towards a carousel horse that serves as an Item of Power. I also love how the shot brings to mind the film Blade Runner as you can see the carousel horse in the background bears a striking similarity to a unicorn.

Gris

Hardship – Her voice taken away as a result of a traumatic experience, our heroine makes her way across a broken world, devoid of color. We also see the progress of her healing journey through the implementation of colors and as a metaphor for the challenges one may face in life. I love the use of beautiful watercolors in this piece.

Layers of Fear

Obsession – Here we observe an example of the sometimes too fine line between genius and insanity. Our artist has found themselves caught in-between the vision of the mind and the ability of the hands and the ensuing struggle to create. This can also be a manifestation of the artist’s internal struggles as well.

Death Stranding

Death – Sam nears the end of his destination, his journey has been on a personal as well as physical level as he courageously faces death itself trapped between the plane of the living and dead. The ominous BT whale in this sublime, otherworldly shot serves as the Grim Reaper; awaiting us all at the end of our lives.

Far Cry 5

Serenity – Seeing this shot leaves me with a peaceful, calming feeling as I can just about smell the mountain air or the warmth of the sunlight reflecting off the water below the falls. This can represent the tranquility for some in simplicity of life and being in touch with nature as we gaze upon its majestic beauty.

This concludes the tour for now! I kind of like the idea of showincasing different shots and a short description of the feelings accompanying it. This is more or less what I’ve used my Instagram account for as I primarily post screenshots of random games I’ve played. There’s many more screenshots I’ve taken in games that are better than anything I’ve ever photographed in real life. What are some games that feature worlds that you can completely lose yourself in? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Weekend Gaming Review – Delays & DLC

It’s been a little while since I’ve written about recent happenings and general news within the gaming world, but there’s been no shortage of things to follow(or try to ignore) on social media. I figured I would throw in my two cents from the luxury of my own WordPress soapbox rather than within the 280 character confines of Twitter.

Delayed Expectations

Remember how crowded the release schedule for this spring was looking, with what seemed to be highly-anticipated games getting released nearly every week? Well…the months of March and April aren’t quite as crowded as they once were.

It first started with both Animal Crossing New Horizons and Doom Eternal being delayed from a Fall 2019 releases to both games ironically announcing a March 20 2020 release date. I’m having a hard time explaining precisely why I love the thought of buying a new Animal Crossing game at the same time as a new Doom game…I dunno. The release date of mega-hyped The Last of Us Part 2 was given a release date of February 21 2020 during Sony’s State of Play presentation this past September, but only a few weeks later the game was delayed and slated for a May 29 release.

In the past couple weeks another barrage of delays were announced by Square Enix with the Final Fantasy 7 remake being delayed from March 3 to April 10 and also Marvel’s Avengers was pushed from its planned release of May 15 to September 4. The FF7 remake wasn’t much of a suprise to me, as the development of the game has been ongoing for years with speculation for a long time about whether not the project would see light of day. The Avengers game also isn’t suprising, considering how little anyone knows about the game other than the cast portraying Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and that the game has been hinted as being a living, open-world game. Coincidentally enough, the Iron Man VR game for PS4 has also been delayed from February until May 15.

And finally, another game delay that, while not as much SURPRISING as disappointing was the CD Projekt Red’s announcement that Cyberpunk 2077, their follow-up to The Witcher 3 has been delayed from its intended release of April 16 to September 17. Cyberpunk is one of the games I’m most anxious to play so I’m a little bummed to hear of a delay, but coming from CD Projekt Red, delays are never all that surprising.

I’m completely fine with the recent delays, most people have expressed a similar feeling and mentioned the words of Shigeru Miyamoto himself as he stated “A delayed game is eventually good. A bad game is bad forever”. Another common reaction to the news was that of being disappointed to hear a game is delayed, if it means the dev team isn’t put under as many crunch hours. This is where I applaude publishers and developers for agreeing to delay a release and mention nice things like employee work-life balance, but what I fear is this becoming something said solely to maintain goodwill as we’ve become more aware of the strain of crunch hours on developers and testers. The delay of Cyberpunk 2077 was quickly followed CD Projekt Red confirming that it will still be requiring extra crunch-time hours from its dev team. Maybe I’m just being too cynical? Progress has been made in bringing awareness of crunch and its effects on those creating the games we love to instantly consume, but there’s still more to be improved upon. I’ve linked an article articulating this far better than I can.

https://kotaku.com/game-delays-cause-more-crunch-1841065204

Pokemon Sword/Shield DLC Announced

Over the past few years Nintendo has been on a wildly successful streak starting with the release of the Nintendo Switch in February 2017 and continued all the way through 2019. As we entered 2020, much specualation had begun as to when Nintendo would announce another Direct presentation to announce new games, features, or even a rumored Switch Pro. Within the past couple weeks Nintendo has indeed hosted two Direct broadcasts, the first being Pokemon-related and the second announcing the fifth and final DLC fighter for the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass(more on that in a minute).

The first Nintendo Direct was held on January 9 and was specifically Pokemon-centered(…get it?). During the presentation a paid DLC bundle for Pokemon Sword & Shield was announced; each containing a brand new area to explore with new Legendary Pokemon as well as over 200 others returning from previous generations. The first pack – Isle of Armor will release in June, with the second – Crown Tundra to be released later this Fall. The announcement was met with a generally(?) positive reaction as those who already enjoy the game will be simply offered more of it, but also noticed others who still felt that Game Freak had betrayed their loyalty. Some felt add-on DLC with more Pokemon is simply a way to squeeze extra money out of gamers when CLEARLY Sword/Shield should have contained every one of the 800+ Pokemon. Those who were felt they were being railroaded into buying the same game AGAIN to “catch em’ all”. I find being upset about DLC coming to Sword/Shield a little humorous as if you REALLY want to scrutinize, you could come to the conclusion that we’ve been buying 3 versions of essentially the same game since 1998. I think adding DLC to Sword/Shield is perfectly fine and in a broader way shows Nintendo and Game Freak are slowly, but surely entering the modern era of gaming in regards to post-release content.

Smash Bros. 5th DLC Fighter Announced

Another Nintendo Direct presentation was announced for January 16 2020 to cover the fifth and final DLC fighter for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. At any given time there’s a consistent swirl of rumors and speculation as to just who Mr. Sakurai will announce as the newest addition to what is already the greatest-selling fighting game in history. Being the final fighter in the Fighters Pass, there was an even bigger frenzy of guesses, wishes, or demands, so Smash fans were more than eager to see who would receive the latest invitation. Many fans wanted to see a character representing other games like Sora from Kingdom Hearts or Dante from Devil May Cry, there were even those rumors of Master Chief or the Demon Slayer from Doom. The possibilities seemed endless as the Smash community had been treated, to the point of being spoiled by some outrageously awesome additions like Joker(Persona 5), Hero(Dragon Quest), Banjo(Banjo-Kazooie), and Terry Bogard(Fatal Fury/King of Fighters). So when Sakurai announced Fire Emblem: Three Houses main protagonist Byleth as the next fighter, many fans felt disappointed and frustrated and quickly voiced their opinions via social media, as trending hashtags on Twitter indicated.

I completely understand being disappointed with the newest Smash character announcement, but when it turns into the inevitable bickering and fighting is when I’m unable to empathize. It’s only a couple months since we went through the EXACT SAME thing when Terry was announced and a large portion of the fanbase went “who’s Terry?”. Many fans look at Byleth’s inclusion to the Smash Bros gigantic roster as completely uneccessary, “There’s too many Fire Emblem characters!!” or less deserving than others ” ANOTHER anime sword-fighter??”. Fire Emblem: Three Houses was one of the best of Nintendo’s many great 2019 releases and I have no issue with Byleth being part of the already incredible roster of characters in Smash Bros. Ultimate. For those complaining about the over-representation of Fire Emblem characters(8) in SSBU; if there was a game that warranted an abuncance of FE characters it would be Smash Bros. How many of us may not have ever been inroduced to the Fire Emblem games if not for Roy and Marth’s inclusion to Smash Bros Melee back on the Gamecube. Also, how awesome does that Cuphead Mii Gunner outfit look?

Smash fans: No more sword-fighters
Also Smash fans: We want Dante!

In addition to Byleth joining the Smash roster, Sakurai announced a second Fighters Pass which contains 6 DLC fighters that will be introduced throughout the year and completing in January 2021. So for all the fun we’ve had with the first 5 fighters, we can look forward to 6 more….along with another year of the…healthy discourse within the Smash community.

I think that’s all for now, what do you think of Nintendo’s recent DLC Directs? Are you disappointed with the recent game delays? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading!

Resolutions and Goals for 2020

With 2019 firmly in the rearview mirror and 2020 in front of us, we are presented with a renewed opportunity to contemplate and evaluate our ambitions for the year ahead. For today’s post I’ve created a list of things that I would like to focus on or improve as it pertains to blogging and also a few other things I would like to accomplish this year.

Blog

Keep going! – I’ve been writing on my blog site for just under a year now and I’ve become much more comfortable with posting my assortment of video game ramblings and feel like I’ve improved since taking the first steps(maybe a little bit?). I aim to keep pressing forward throughout the year, sharing my boundless enthusiasm of video games while hopefully leveling up any writing skills I possess along the way.

Stay focused! – As much a personal goal as writing, I want to continue to improve in various ways in 2020. One of the most prominent things would be to stay on track and focused on whatever I have in front of me at the time. In regards to blog posts, I want to work on sticking to a main point or purpose to a given blog post rather than excitedly(incoherently) going on and on without really saying anything.

Games

Final Fantasy VII – Another goal in 2020 is to FINALLY complete some games that I’ve either been slowly working on for a while or games that I’ve started a few times but have always failed to get very far into them, Final Fantasy VII is one of those games. The first game of 2020 I began playing was FFVII and I have a greater sense of determination to finally see this one through.

The Witcher 3 – I finally started playing The Witcher 3 for the first time just this past year, with many hours of adventures still ahead. Giant, sprawling RPGs like The Witcher 3 tend to come off as daunting tasks, so I’d always set that aside for when I was ready to devote the countless hours to one single game. I’m going to give the game a serious effort in 2020.

Try not to spend as impulsively Chrono Trigger – My next goal was to try and curb some of my impulsive game-buying habits in part to concentrate on my already enormous backlog of games, and also due to the fact there is going to be a landslide of big releases starting in March with the Final Fantasy VII remake so saving my precious pennies is a smart idea…..that didn’t get very far. I just happened to check out my local used game store and they quickly informed me they are currently having a Buy 2 Used Games Get 1 Free sale. In short, I…uh…..added a few hundred more hours of JRPGs on top of my backlog, but I DID finally get ahold of Chrono Trigger(again), the one game above all others I regretfully had never played. Three days into the new year and I failed one quest but took on another, so, there’s my silver lining…

Other

Build a PC – I grew up primarily a console gamer, as I generally didn’t have either 1) a powerful enough pc or 2) adequate internet to play many online games, so the idea of building my own pc has always been an intriguing idea. I’ve always found a greater understanding and appreciation of things through being able to build/assemble it myself, so I have been doing lots of reading and research as to the best way to go about assembling what I’ve read many refer to as “putting together an expensive Lego set”. The nearly endless game options are definitely appealing and I’m hoping to get the project completed sometime this year.

Try streaming gameplay– This kind of coincides with building a pc and itsn’t something I intend to simply jump headfirst into, but I think it would be fun to try something along the lines of streaming on Twitch/YouTube or just recording some gameplay-related videos that I can upload to my site. This is maybe a more long-term goal than just finishing off some of my backlog games. In the same way I nudged myself out of my comfort zone and started my own blog site I think it would be fun to dabble in and serve as another outlet for my love of video games.

Those are my primary objectives for this year! There’s many more things I would love to take on, but decided to keep a shorter list of manageable things rather than create an enormous list that winds up being more discouraging than helpful. Now that we are through the holiday season and beginning a brand new year I plan on getting back to posting about specific games after the last several weeks of creating lists. What’s something you want to accomplish this year? Or how about some of the games you plan on crossing off your list? Let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!

2019 Gaming In Review

With the year winding down and my games of the year list completed, I wanted to finish in stride with a review(kinda) in my gaming experiences of 2019. The past year was quite productive in the number of games attempted and completed as well as endeavors such as taking the first steps in starting my own gaming blog. I recently began keeping a list of some of the gaming-related memories that stood out the most over 2019, beginning with the completion of Red Dead Redemption 2 in January just before the anticipated release of the Resident Evil 2 remake. Other memorable moments would be my quest to complete everything in Breath of the Wild or the stress-inducing first encounter with BTs in Death Stranding. I’ve also included all the games I played for the first time in 2019, complete with info from my year-end Nintendo newsletter. A more competent blogger may provide a comprehensive breakdown of statistics at the end of the year, I’m gonna show all the games I played this year…enjoy!

2019 Gaming Memories

  • Being emotionally wrecked by the end of Red Dead Redemption 2 and Marvel’s Spider-Man
  • Leon’s terrifying first run-in with Mr. X in the Resident Evil 2 remake
  • Battle Royale victories in both Apex Legends and Tetris 99
My highest achievement in gaming…
  • Starting a gaming blog on WordPress
  • Nintendo’s 2019 dominance – Smash characters, 2 Zelda announcements, new Switch model
  • Playing through Cuphead on Nintendo Switch
  • Collecting every Korok seed and completing every shrine in Breath of the Wild
I did EVERYTHING in Hyrule and all I got was this lousy tunic…
  • Participating in A Geeky Gal’s 30 Day Geek Out Challenge
  • The early morning run to my local Target to pick up the Link’s Awakening remake & Amiibo
  • Counting down to the Halloween release of Luigi’s Mansion 3 with spooky-themed Blogtober posts
  • My first encounter with BTs in Death Stranding
  • Hiding from the Great Serpent in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Nope.

Games I played in 2019


Nintendo Switch

Ape Out
Back in 1995
Blazing Chrome
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
Captain Commando
Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse
Castlevania Adventure
Celeste
Coffee Crisis
Cuphead
Dauntless
Final Fantasy IX
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Gato Roboto
Gris
Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition
King of Dragons
Kirby's Dream Land 3
Layers of Fear
The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening(2019)
Luigi's Mansion 3
My Friend Pedro
Pokemon Sword
Rolling Thunder
Slain: Back from Hell
Splatterhouse
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
Super Mario Maker 2
Super Mario Party
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack!
Tetris 99
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
Playstation 4
Apex Legends
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
Assassin's Creed: Origins
Blasphemous
Borderlands 3
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare(2019)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Control
Death Stranding
Destiny 2
Devil May Cry V
The Division 2
Far Cry: New Dawn
Far Cry: Primal
Guacamelee 2
Hotline: Miami
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix
Mass Effect: Andromeda
MLB The Show 19
Mortal Kombat XL
The Outer Worlds
Persona 5
Rainbow Six: Siege
Resident Evil 2(2019)
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Sonic Mania
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Wolfentstein: The New Order
Nintendo 3DS

Star Wars: Lethal Alliance
Vampire: Master of Darkness

Game Boy Color

The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons

Sega Genesis

World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse

PC

System Shock 2

I don’t really have anything else to add for my year-end review, I’m looking forward to 2020 and an utterly STACKED lineup of game releases this spring before the release of a couple new consoles later in the year. I intend to write up a post of things(resolutions) that I aim to accomplish this year(The Witcher 3) which should be coming up within the next weekend or two. Lastly, I want to give a big thank you for reading these posts and taking even a passing interest in my weekly ramblings. Well…I’m off for some snacks, Simpsons episodes and a few video games. Happy New Year!

Games of the Year 2019

In what seems obligatory for anyone with a gaming-related channel or site, I’ve finally created my list of ten favorite games of 2019. After what seemed like hours of discussion and lists, not to mention the countless hours of playing research, I was able to devise a definitive list of favorites released in 2019…until I change my mind anyway. I know of many out there that felt underwhelmed with the year’s offering of games, but I feel this year has still been a great one. No, we didn’t get near masterpieces like in 2017 with Breath of the Wild or Mario Odyssey or with God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018, but there’s still been a sizable crop of quality games. What I have found so interesting this year is the fact there hasn’t been the one game held above all the others as the unanimous choice for Game of the Year. If you were to read/watch/listen to any one of the vast sea of GOTY pieces online, you would be hard-pressed to find anything remotely close to a consensus on which game was “best”. Each and every game nominated for end of the year awards has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, which I find fascinating as some of the most memorable games may be the ones whose flaws merely add to their uniqueness and charm. Someone may favor a game like Control, while the next person found a game like The Outer Worlds to be the most engrossing experience this year; a third individual may have generated their greatest enjoyment of the year in the created chaos of Untitled Goose Game. I’d also like to point out before beginning that while lists like this are fun for the sake of discussion, they are completely subjective with no right or wrong answers. My list contains the games that have provided either a completely memorable experience, pure gameplay joy, or a mix of both. First off, I have a few games that for me fell just outside of my ten favorites, but greatly enjoyed nonetheless.

My 5 Runners-up

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Super Mario Maker 2

Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair

My Friend Pedro

Blazing Chrome

And now my 10 favorite games of 2019….

10. Tetris 99

9. Ape Out

8. The Outer Worlds

7. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening

6. Control

5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

4. Luigi’s Mansion 3

3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses

2. Resident Evil 2

1. Death Stranding

And there we have it, my 10 favorite games of 2019. What are your favorites from 2019? Let me know in the comments or provide feedback as to how my list could have been better. We’re in the final few days of what was a pretty productive year and I still have just a little bit more to accomplish blog-wise before celebrating the new year. I plan on following up my games of the year post with another collection of some of my gaming memories from the past year as well as all the games I played for the first time throughout 2019. Thanks for reading!

Games of the Decade

We are in the final stages of 2019 and are nearing the end of another decade in video games. Yes, I know it’s “not actually the end of the decade” and all that, but for convenience I’m going to make up this list a year “early”. The past decade has been great for gaming; our wonderful hobby is enjoyed by more people every day and we have seen new ways video games can be pushed in terms of technology and as an interactive artistic medium. Video games as an industry have surpassed movies and music in terms of revenue and I would even dare to say popularity as gaming is light years away from the niche hobby of basement-dwelling loners as nearly everyone partakes in some aspect of video games; I haven’t even mentioned the rise of platforms like YouTube or Twitch. I have, after much deliberation and numerous lists scribbled on my desk, created two separate lists for my games of the decade; one list with my favorite game of each year of the decade and another simply comprising of my 10 favorites of the decade. After looking through all(well, pretty much) the releases of the decade it’s hard to not point out 2015-18 as being downright amazing years for gaming. The early years of the decade saw some great games like the first Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2, Skyrim or The Last of Us, but outside of a few big games I don’t feel anywhere near as enthusiastic about 2010-14 as I do 2015-19.

2015 – the year that saw releases like Bloodborne, Metal Gear Solid 5, Fallout 4, Undertale, and The Witcher 3.

2016 – we received the phenomenal Overwatch and Persona 5, along with the revitalization of beloved franchises with the release of Resident Evil 7 and Doom.

2017 – the year began with a brand new Sony-exclusive in Horizon: Zero Dawn, only to be eclipsed by Breath of the Wild and the surprising success of the Nintendo Switch(yes, it was a surprise for most of us), with Super Mario Odyssey capping(get it?) off the year.

2018 – I don’t even need to say much further than – God of War, Spider-Man, Red Dead Redemption 2, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

***I will point out right away that while both The Witcher 3 and Persona 5 are looking to be INCREDIBLE games, I feel like I haven’t played enough of them at this time to accurately include them in my list, not entirely at least. Without further ado, here are my favorite games of each year of the past decade…

2010 – Red Dead Redemption

2011 – Batman: Arkham City

2012 – Far Cry 3

2013 – Grand Theft Auto 5

2014 – Destiny

2015 – Bloodborne

2016 – Overwatch

2017 – Super Mario Odyssey

2018 – God of War

2019 – Death Stranding

Here’s my personal favorites games of the decade. I included Red Dead Redemption 1 & 2 as a single pick, NOT sorry, I DO make these rules…

Super Mario Odyssey

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

Far Cry 5

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Bloodborne

Overwatch

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Grand Theft Auto 5

God of War

Red Dead Redemption(1&2)

That’s my list! What are your favorite games from the past decade? Let me know in the comments or just let me know how much you agree or disagree with any of the included games. I have also been working on a 2019 Games and Moments of the year that I will post soon. I’m heading back to re-watch more Star Wars movies! Thanks for reading!

Sega Genesis Mini Review

There’s hardly anything that can prompt gamers to empty their wallets faster than the feeling of nostalgia, I’ve experienced this myself more times than I can count. Replicas of retro consoles have been available for years, but were seen as an inferior way to play the game as the hardware itself was rarely of reputable quality as well as the emulated games suffered from frame rate and lag issues. It wasn’t until Nintendo(who seems downright disinterested at times in re-releasing many of their back catalog titles) released miniature-sized replicas of the NES and SNES complete with an array of classic games and HDMI inputs to accommodate modern tvs. The NES and SNES Classic sold out instantly in their initial production runs and in response no doubt to Nintendo’s success, companies such as Sony and Sega have since released small-scale replicas of the original Playstation and the Genesis/Mega Drive; the ensuing consoles were respectively known as the Playstation Classic and Sega Genesis Mini.

AtGames has released several different lines of Genesis replicas licensed by Sega featuring a “greatest hits” of games built-in. These models were generally considered to be poor quality in both hardware and game performance. As a result, they remained stacked on the shelves of retailers before being discontinued. Sega announced in 2018 they were releasing a new scaled-down replica of their mega-successful Genesis and aimed for a release window to coincide with the 30th anniversary of its North American release in 1989(I posted a list of My Favorite Sega Genesis Games this past August to commemorate). The Sega Genesis Mini missed the target release date of August 14, 2019, but was released shortly afterward on September 19. I recently received the console as a birthday present and after spending some time with it, decided to write up a review of the Sega Genesis Mini.

SEGA!!

My old Sonic 2 cartridge showing scale size of the Genesis Mini

The Sega Genesis Mini includes the miniature-sized Gen 1 console(I got the Gen 2 growing up) and accommodates modern tv/monitors by an HDMI input and simple USB power adapter. The Genesis also comes with not one, but two full-sized wired control pads complete with the red lettering on the buttons and around the d-pad. The controllers plug into the console via USB ports and look, feel and play identical to my old ones. I was pleasantly surprised the controller cords are around 3.5 feet in length which allows you to sit a comfortable distance away from your tv. This being a sometimes overlooked detail as the average tv size has doubled since the days of sitting on a couch in the basement in front of an old 19-inch CRT tv; one of the biggest complaints against Nintendo’s NES Classis was the bafflingly short length of the controller cords. Everything about the Genesis Mini has been impressively replicated: console, controllers, and original box art. The game selection menu even features music created by Yuzo Koshiro who was responsible for some of the most beloved Genesis titles; I even love how the sound effects as you navigate the menus are pulled directly from various games.

Sega has done a remarkable job in recreating the Genesis down to details such as the power button being the very same used in the original, as well as a movable slider for the headphone volume and working dust flaps over the cartridge slot; the latter two details being purely cosmetic but add a nice sense of authenticity. There’s even the detachable cover for the slot underneath the console where the Sega CD add-on could be attached. In fact, Sega manufactured additional add-ons for the Genesis Mini: A Sega CD, 32x, a replica Sonic&Knuckles cartridge, and mini Sonic the Hedgehog cartridge that can all be assembled to create Sega’s infamous Genesis Tower of Power. Of course the additions to create this mini-behemoth are again, purely cosmetic but make for a great piece of Sega history. I was a bit disappointed to find out these are only being sold in Japan, and are currently sold out on Play-Asia.

Final Genesis Evolution – The Tower of Power

While the Genesis Mini not being included with 6-button controllers may seem like a turn off for those such as myself, who simply refused to play fighting games like Street Fighter 2 or Mortal Kombat without one. Also, the 6-button controller is probably the sole reason I was able to beat The Lion King on my old Genesis. Fortunately, Retro-Bit offers officially licensed Sega Genesis 6-button controllers that can be can be plugged into the USB port. These sell for $19.99 and are compatible for use on other platforms such as Steam or even the Nintendo Switch.

The Name of the Game is THE GAMES

The Genesis Mini comes preloaded with 42 classic games, including 2 “Bonus Titles” – shoot-em-up Darius and a Genesis version of Tetris; both of which have never appeared on a Sega console. The collection of games includes nearly every big-name title to appear on the Genesis and spanning a range of genres: action, fighting, shoot-em-ups, RPGs, and even a few puzzle games. Classics like Sonic 2, Earthworm Jim, Streets of Rage 2, and Street Fighter 2 took up countless hours of my childhood and there’s a number of games that I still have yet to play like Alisia Dragoon, Shining Force, or Castle of Illusion. Mega Man and Tetris games are near-synonymous with Nintendo so it will be interesting to play them using a Sega controller. One of my complaints about the selection of games for the Genesis Mini is there could have been more EA games included, as Road Rash II is the only one. Electronic Arts had some very prominent sports titles on the Genesis that would have been cool, or even something along the lines of NBA Jam or even Mutant League Football would have been nice to see. It’s rather odd that there’s no inclusion of a Mortal Kombat game or two, considering part of Sega’s cooler, edgier image was seemingly cemented by the blood and gore of the Mortal Kombat games; this also turned Congressional hearings with Joe Lieberman into a spectator sport. “Sega does what NintenDON’T” remember?

The included games:

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

Blast Processor Performance!

Being wary of any issues such as input lag or chugging frame rates that have plagued other retro consoles, Sega’s previous efforts with AtGames in particular, I was relieved to read prior to the Genesis Mini’s release that Sega had commissioned M2 to work on bringing the collection of titles over to the console. M2 had recently worked with Konami on the Castlevania Collection released earlier this year, with impeccable results. Anyone who’s played the original Castlevania entries can attest to what a significant impact any amount of frame rate issues or input lag will have on what were already difficult games(though Castlevania Adventure’s frame rate issues are simply beyond repair).

I like the fact the games are kept in 4:3 and not stretched to fit the screen. The surrounding border also doesn’t take up as much screen space as other retro collections(Namco Collection…)

As a way to jump in and test how well the games play, I decided to start with a game I was familiar enough with and would no doubt magnify any issues – Contra: Hard Corps. The game plays wonderfully and the fact I died within the first seconds of the game are no way the fault of frame rate/lag, the game’s just tough as hell. I made my way through the first few levels and couldn’t find any noticeable hiccups, so I decided to test a few more games. From there I went to Sonic 2, another of my favorites that I know inside and out. After playing Sonic 2 for a while I decided to try out the Mickey Mouse platformer – Castle of Illusion, which also played great. I have since spent a while playing Shinobi III and Street Fighter II and am eager to jump into some other games that I’ve never had the chance to play….or some Sonic Spinball?

Worth Buying?

The Sega Genesis Mini is a wonderful addition to the plethora of licensed retro consoles available and the collection of games play incredibly well. Is it worth buying? For someone that already has most of or all of the included games, maybe not.

My biggest critiques of the console would possibly be the omission of 6-button controllers, though the Japanese version included them. I also would have liked to see a couple more EA games as well as at least Mortal Kombat II. The Japanese version of the Mega Drive Mini also includes several games that were swapped out for the North American version. A significant one for me was MUSHA, which I’d love the chance to play, but it is quite rare AND expensive to pick up a physical copy. The Genesis Mini IS a great way to play some of gaming’s all-time greats with such authenticity, but still taking advantage of modern technology. It was also marked down to as low as $50 over the Black Friday weekend which is more than a fair price for what’s included. I stated I’ve only ever played about half of the included games and only have a small CRT tv in the closest I occasionally drag out to get the full experience when I get the urge to play old Genesis or SNES games, so for me, it’s definitely worth picking up.

Do you plan on getting a Genesis Mini? What are some of the games you’d be most excited to play? What I intended to be a brief review of a MINI console turned out to be the opposite it seems…thanks for reading!