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Sega Genesis Mini review: The best retro console for everyone who ignored Nintendo

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Earthworm Jim. It's back, it's really good.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Now, may I suggest another path, as well?

With the Sega Genesis Classics game collection, a compilation of games available on PS4, Xbox One and Switch, $30 gets you 52 (roughly, depending on the compilation) Sega games. And that's probably more than enough. The game assortment between the Sega Genesis Classics Collection and the Genesis Mini is different, though. The Mini goes for a slightly wider range of titles, plus some rarer third-party games. The Classics Collection is all Sega-made stuff, and tends to include more games in each series (all the Phantasy Stars, Streets of Rages and Golden Axes, for instance), but still lacks some key games, too.

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The packaging, and whole system, are really well done.

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No collection is a perfect collection. Still, what a time for Sega Genesis fans

The Genesis Mini box is adorable, and even has a moving volume lever, and a cartridge door that opens (you can't put a cartridge in, though, it's so tiny). It's a collector's item, for sure. The system connects to any TV or monitor with HDMI (a cable's included), and it uses a standard Micro-USB power adapter.

It also comes with two original Genesis controller replicas that plug in via USB. You could pick up other USB controllers and experiment to see what works, and an official six-button Genesis controller (the later, better version) is sold separately. The three-button Sega controllers and their D-pad bring back memories, but also felt clunky and not always perfect for the games: Controlling Ecco the Dolphin's flips, or getting Earthworm Jim to angle a shot, sometimes got frustrating. The cords are longer than the super short ones that came with the NES Classic, but still not long enough to stretch from one wall where my TV is to my sofa.

I tried to get my kids into the Genesis Mini, and oddly enough, they didn't seem interested. I think Nintendo's had a better run at updating franchises and repeatedly re-releasing classics. Sonic the Hedgehog is a household name, but nothing else is.

There are enough great rarities (Castlevania: Bloodlines, Contra: Hard Corps, Monster World IV, two great Disney games with Mickey Mouse, and a unique port of the side-scrolling shooter Darius) that are well worth browsing, and I definitely want to buy a Genesis Mini just because it exists.

But there are a lot of other ways to get your Sega fix, if you have another console. Just consider that before you dive in. Otherwise, this is exactly the beautiful little Sega retro box I wanted forever.

This story originally published earlier on Sept. 12.

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