It seems that every year there is a new Retro Console in a mini format released, we've had Nintendo releasing the Nes and Snes in a mini format, sony releasing a version of the PlayStation as well as Sega muscling in on the action and releasing a tiny Mega Drive back in 2019.
There were two distinct versions of the Mega Drive, aptly named the Mega Drive and The Mega Drive II, both machines were very similar using the same processor, etc but had very minor differences, particularly regarding sound and picture quality (most game geeks think the Mega Drive II was inferior in this way).
There were two versions of the Mega Drive so only fitting that there are two versions of the Mega Drive Mini. Sega announced the Mega Drive Mini II Earlier this year as an exclusive distribution through Amazon and it was released on October 27th 2022.
On release day, the lovely Amazon delivery person dropped this at my front door 😊
The box is way smaller than I expected, around half the size of the original Mega Drive mini. it contains the Mega Drive Mini II itself, a quality HDMI cable, a micro USB charging cable for power and one USB controller (the original Mega Drive Mini came with two controllers). The system does not come with a power supply but Sega knows that most people have a plethora of spare USB chargers from old phones etc. Who needs another one?
The image below gives you an idea of the size of the new machine relative to a computer mouse, and against the original Mega Drive Mini from 2019. You can also see that the new controller is smaller than the original mini and includes more buttons.
I could continue this post by giving a list of all the games the machine comes with but there are hundreds of posts and youtube videos detailing all that, suffice it to say that the machine comes with 60 acclaimed games, including a handful of Sega CD titles and a few "bonus" games. But my main interest has always been arcade shoot'em ups, something that Sega has always done very well (so much better than Nintendo)... And luckily for me, this machine is jam-packed with no less than 12 great games in this genre.
I wanted to write this post to highlight the Arcade Shooter games that this machine brings to the table, the TLDR is that I am impressed by the selection, and if you are a fan, then you should be too! Here's a rundown of the fantastic Arcade Shoot'em Ups that are built into this fantastic tiny machine!
AFTER BURNER II
What can I say about After Burner that you don't already know? Nothing, everybody knows and loves this game surely? It is set in the modern day and you play an ace fighter pilot, launching your F14 Thundercat jet fighter from an aircraft carrier, your mission is basically to weave in and out of waves of bullets and rockets while trying to gun down other fighter planes.
It's fast! It's Furious, and so much fun just like the arcades and the Mega Drive version really does it justice.
Here's a slightly different take on the shoot'em up. Looks graphically like an RPG but plays like a traditional vertical shooter.
You are some sort of sorcerer trying to avenge the evil Gyra and your weapons are the elements, water, fire, wind and earth which are powers within your body. Lots of enemies to shoot at! It's a fast-paced, great game and there are 8 levels of it with great bosses at the end of each of course!
This is one of those bonus games that Sega announced, this game is absolutely classic sega, it looks cute (in a similar way to Nintendos' Paradious, do you remember that?) it's a strange beast in that you can fly left or right at will and you earn money while playing which you can use to purchase better weaponry. Great music, fantastic graphics, just super super fun!
Now, this is a great shooter! A totally classic futuristic arcade shoot'em up set in a world overtaken by a dark force called Super Mechs! The game's graphics are just great, with lots going on, reminiscent of the classic R-Type style of play but it's different because you start the game already packed with a variety of weapons, essentially you can choose at any time between shooting forward, diagonally, up and down etc. and power-ups for speed and enhanced weaponry on the way. There are 6 levels and it's just fast furious fun!
This game is an import Sega CD game, your job is to save Dr Masker Lindberry and his daughter who has been kidnapped. The game feels very much like a cross between Thunder Blade and Space Harrier with a futuristic flying vehicle twist... Are you with me? 😉
The graphics are crazy fast but very "Chunky" and sometimes hard to see. It's still amazing to see what this machine was capable of back in the day though.
You take command of the Robo Aleste War Machine, essentially this is a crazy fast vertical shooter with some great zoom effects which almost look 3D. The game is a rather simple shoot'em up in nature but it's fast and frantic with lots of crazy hard bosses of course.
This is a classic game which was created to show off the capabilities of the Sega Mega CD. This game is an FMV (Full Motion Video) game on rails where you go head fast at speed through a sewer system shooting everything you see (a little like the light gun games of old). You do get the choice of direction sometimes but the fun is literally shooting things as they are coming at you. This really showed off the capability of the Mega CD back in 1992 and is still fun to play today.
Well, this is an interesting one, it's a Sega Mega CD game so has all the bells and whistles when it comes to presentation, with beautiful 3D to boot. It has a Starfox feeling (without the cuteness) but overall it's like a souped-up 3D version of Galaxians or Galaga with enemies coming at you in formation. Such a great game!
SPACE HARRIER II
Of course, everyone knows the classic Sega game of Space Harrier, but memories of playing this game on the Mega Drive were, well, meh... It wasn't great and certainly didn't do the smoothness and speed of the arcade justice... It was fast(ish) but had a certain jerkiness to it, move along to 2022 and the release of the Mega Drive Mini 2 and Sega have included a reprogrammed version of the game, this is a different beat altogether, it does suffer from some sprite flashing but overall it's very fast, ultra smooth and plays very well. It's not the strongest game of the bunch, but it's very good... Well done Sega!
Unsurprisingly this is the 4th version of the Thunderforce games and you'd expect that by this time, the game designers and developers would have got it right... Well, they certainly have, what an amazing specimen of a side-scroller shooter, has everything, power-ups, bosses, fantastic parallax scrolling backgrounds, and great sound... Pretty much perfect! If you loved Nemesis or R-Type then you will love this!
This is literally your classic vertical shooter, hordes of enemies to shoot, lots of ground enemies, classic power-up mechanism where power pods float on the screen which you collect for better weapons... And did I say, BIG BOSSES? Just love this!
Finally, there's Viewpoint, this shooter detracts from the usual side or vertical scrolling shoot'em up games and continues from where Zaxxon left off. It uses an isometric graphical style and is presented really nicely. A really good game if just a little hard to be precise with movement (if you have ever played Zaxxon you'll know what I mean). As well as Zaxxon, this game borrows from R-types mechanic by giving a more powerful burst if you hold down the fire button longer. Not the strongest game here but great nonetheless.
So there we have it, even if Shoot'em Ups were all you were interested in, then this machine has the best of them built in, hours and hours of fun.
Just remember that as well as the games highlighted here, there are 48 more games from different genres built into this machine, most of which are absolutely great to play and that makes buying this little beauty a no-brainer. I'm so glad I got mine and it will certainly keep me in retro gaming fun until at least the next mini console is released! 🙂
If you find this article interesting, could you please do me a favour by sharing it or commenting below, I would love to hear your and other peoples' thoughts on this subject. Thank you
Date: 29 Oct 2022
Author: Craig Pickles (YorkshireTechy)