Just looking at the Genesis Mini itself tells you a lot about the care that went into the production. The expansion port cover comes off and the headphone volume slider slides, just like on the original. This serves no functional purpose, but it's meticulous little details that show that Sega is taking this seriously, even if they aren't taking themselves serious in the process (they released a "tower of power" package that you can buy to put a sega cd, 32x, and game cartridge on your Genesis Mini, which do nothing functional but poke fun at the old tower of power joke).
When you first boot up, you are presented with a region selection screen as you'd expect, but you can come back to this at any time to change your region. And you should. This is the one killer feature in my mind-- the games installed on the Genesis Mini have various regions included. If you change to Japan, for instance, you can get the far superior version of Contra: Hard Corps.
But after that you get to the list of games, presented in a nice grid of box art (which also changes based on your region). You can sort this list alphabetically or by release date. This menu's music is so great, I had to look it up. It's brand new music composed by Yuzo Koshiro, the composer of Streets of Rage, and it even uses the Genesis audio hardware to be more accurate to the time.
When you get into one of the system's 42 games, many of the staple features these mini systems are known for are at your fingertips. You can hold start to get the save state menu, and go back to the game list (thankfully), but one omission here is the rewind feature made popular by Nintendo's offerings.
The same kind of picture options you'd expect are here, 4:3 or 16:9, scanlines, etc. As I did with the NES and SNES Classic, I just left those options at the default so that it looks closest to what I remember.
As for the games? Well, that's up to you. There are plenty to choose from, double the amount on the SNES Classic (exactly double, in fact) and there are some incredible titles in here. One highlight is Mega Man: The Wily Wars, which was an exclusive to Sega's dial-in online service back in the day, but is now available to everyone here. And like top 10 lists, some people will hate what was included, some will love them. There are some strange omissions, but the games included here are generally fantastic, and there's something for everyone who isn't a sports fan at least (NHL 94 dominated the Genesis and isn't included here? For shame!)
My only complaints are...
- I love the games on this thing, but there are a few glaring omissions. But I don't envy the people who had to put this together, and I've had this complaint about every mini so far.
- The lack of rewind, but with save states that isn't a requirement, though it would have been nice.
- The lack of 6-button controllers. At least this is fixable with a separate purchase, but Street Fighter II for instance is a mess with 3-button controllers. Playable, but much less comfortably.
It's $80, which isn't cheap, but if you like the games included this is a no-brainer. Everything from the design of the Mini itself to the software choices and the tight emulation shows a real attention to detail, and wins over Nintendo in some key ways, to a point where I'd say it's the better device. I certainly wouldn't bet on this game list vs the SNES Classic, even if they do win in quantity, but the loving detail to every facet of the presentation is quite nice to see.