Arcade Nano Mini MegaDrive Review

By Damien McFerran - 17 Nov, 2010

What witchcraft is this?

What witchcraft is this?

If you were to borrow Doc Brown’s Delorean, jump back to 1990 and gleefully inform your pre-pubescent self that one day in the not-so-distant future it would be possible to carry around a Sega Mega Drive in your pocket, then chances are you’d be laughed all the way back to the present day.

But times have changed, and technological progress is an unstoppable beast. The reality of being able to cram a 16-bit powerhouse like the Mega Drive into casing which is only slightly larger than a box of matches has finally come to pass, thanks to those technical wizards AtGames.

Famous for bringing us diminutive ‘plug-and-play’ editions of Sega’s past hardware triumphs, the company has outdone itself by creating the Arcade Nano - a tiny console which is small enough to slip into your bag but is capable of connecting to your television and playing authentic Mega Drive titles.

The machine comes in three flavours, each boasting five different 16-bit hits. You also get another five titles, giving you a grand total of ten games per variant, but the additional five are pretty rough-looking shareware-style releases, and will predictably get ignored in favour of Sega’s own offerings.

Control is offered by an eight-way joystick and five buttons. The usual A, B and C button arrangement is honoured here, and an additional key - X - comes into play on some of the non-Sega titles. This configuration can take some getting used to as the main buttons are laid out almost vertically, rather than horizontally, but on the whole it’s a surprisingly comfy setup. The joystick is particularly impressive, offering responsive control over the on-screen action.

The system is powered by a single AAA battery and hooks up to the TV via phono connectors. The picture quality obviously isn’t going to rival your Xbox 360 on your HD telly, but it’s perfectly acceptable.

All three versions are officially licensed by Sega, so the games included are exactly as you remember them on the Mega Drive. Out of the three packs, the Sonic-themed edition is likely to be the most popular. It boasts the original Sonic, as well as the insanely-popular sequel. You’ll also find Sonic Spinball, Sonic 3D Blast and Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle - the latter is a rather ironic inclusion as monkey-boy Alex was Sega’s mascot before Sonic came along and usurped him.

The Virtua Fighter 2 version is likely to be the next most sought-after, although it won’t be because of the title that is given main billing. Instead, Sega fans will be keen to play Shinobi III, Alien Storm, Golden Axe and Golden Axe III. The third and final version of the system has the weakest line up of the lot, with Columns, Columns III, Arrow Flash and Flicky. With the exception of Columns - and possibly Flicky if we’re feeling particularly generous - the titles on this collection are pretty disappointing, but we imagine that hardcore Sega fans will lap it up all the same.

With a retail price of just £12.99, these pocket-sized wonders are perfect mini-gifts for Christmas. The fact that they’re so incredibly portable means you can just pop one in your bag and hook it up whenever you encounter a TV. The lack of two-player is slightly annoying - especially when some of the bundled games support multi-player modes - but it’s understandable.

The wonders of miniaturisation may frazzle our weary and rapidly aging minds, but we posses enough of our marbles to know that these mini-consoles are well worth dropping some cash on - especially if you’re old enough to remember when a Mega Drive cost almost £200.

The AtGames Arcade Nano Mega Drive is available from our affiliate partner Gamesbasement for £12.99. UK shipping is free.

Jamie O'Neill - 20 Nov 2010, 08:21 GMT

Fair play, as Damo notes here, Gamesbasement's £12.99 pricing and ATGames's dinky design means that this is a decent Christmas gift for any retro buddies. I reckon that even modern gamers would get a kick out of a quick bit of plug-and-play Shinobi III, it sounds like such a well priced and accessible bit of kit.

It is also good to hear that the joystick is responsive, I can't remember the last time I played a Mega Drive game with a joystick. I know that I have a few friends in mind who will be unwrapping a Virtua Fighter 2 edition of this over Christmas, cheers to The MMA for helping me to choose their present!

I may even treat myself to one, I am particularly interested in the screen above which allows you to play any of the Golden Axe levels. I would not mind jumping straight into a 'Palace Gates' scrap if I'm feeling lazy and I want to skip the earlier stages. I wonder if the Arcade Nano Mini MD offers a similar stage select feature for Shinobi III. Nifty!

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