AtGames, the manufacturer behind the Atari Flashback and Sega Genesis / Mega Drive Classic Game Console, isn’t going to let Nintendo’s enthusiastically received entry into the plug & play TV console market go unanswered. Its answer, however, is basically this: "Sorry, we don’t have anything new to share."
While AtGames largely invented the space, and has made efforts to move it out of the knockoff import tier it began in, its offerings are no match for Nintendo’s official product. This latest release, advertised by UK retailer FunstockRetro.co.uk, highlights the promotional tie-in with Sonic the Hedgehog’s 25th anniversary. To celebrate, AtGames is rereleasing the same unit and shuffling up the games.
While the Sega Classic Game Console series has always been Sonic-heavy, this year’s release includes one additional Sonic game, as well as some Phantasy Star games. But the unit is still capped at 80 games, so while 20 new games are in — including Sonic 3D Blast and Phantasy Star 2 and 3 — there are 20 games removed — including Ecco the Dolphin, Virtua Fighter 2 and the entire Streets of Rage series. Those 80 include 40 actual Genesis games you care about, and then 40 "bonus" games like Meatloaf Rotation and Mr. Balls that, and I’m making an assumption here, you don’t.
While the Sega Genesis Classic Game Console has some nice features that are absent on Nintendo’s mini NES Classic Edition — such as support for the original cartridges and controllers — it’s still, in 2016, missing one major enhancement that Nintendo’s console brings with it: an HDMI connection. Without it, the AtGames Sega console is limited to a single composite AV port so, unless you’re playing on an old SD television set, your HDTV has to do the upscaling and image processing.
This means that the picture will invariably look bad but, perhaps more damning, it will include whatever input latency that upscaling demands. You hear this complaint about the AtGames console over and over again, that it feels sluggish or something is wrong with the input. This shortcoming is compounded by the console’s cheap, infrared wireless controllers, which require you to point them directly at the console. Remember how 8- and 16-bit wireless controllers were always terrible when you were a kid? Well, that technology is still terrible today!
Okay, so there’s input latency on HDTVs and the Streets of Rage series is gone ... but if you knew about the console’s sound issues, you’d realize the latter is a blessing. Here, watch this video:
Actually, you can watch just about any of these videos and get an idea of just how badly the AtGames Genesis console mangles the system’s audio. You don’t want to hear Yuzo Koshiro’s classic score that way, do you? You can decide for yourself when AtGames latest Sega console offering is available this October.
With any luck, Nintendo’s efforts here will pave the way for future, higher quality plug & play TV consoles. And, if we’re really lucky, that competition may prompt Nintendo to release an even better NES Classic Edition.