The mini-console fad has waned since the heydays of the NES Classic and SNES Classic, with fewer companies giving the concept a chance. However, Sega remains an exception, as it is releasing not one but two new retro-minded machines by the end of the year.
Only one of those, the Sega Genesis Mini 2, is coming to the US. Sega confirmed to Ars Technica that the system in question will be incredibly limited: “about a tenth” of the 2019 Sega Genesis Mini.
Mini production run for Mini 2
The news came as a surprising answer to an entirely different question. Ars reached out to Sega shortly after the Genesis Mini 2 was announced, because we wanted clarification on who exactly is producing and shipping the system.
The Genesis Mini 2 was confirmed months after Sega announced a similar lounge box for its Japanese audience, Mega Drive 2. The number “2” indicates that this is a follow-up to the 2019 concept, only with an all-new set of built-in buildings, emulated by the classics of a generation 16-bit Sega console (this time with the Sega CD games released).
Sega of America has handled the promotion and shipping of the 2019 Genesis Mini truck, while Japan’s Sega seems to be taking full charge this year, which is scheduled to ship on October 27. For example, its official website is in English, but it is hosted on the Japanese domain of Sega. More importantly for interested buyers, the Genesis Mini 2 is only available through Amazon’s US listing, which claims all purchases will be shipped from Japan – thus skipping Amazon’s usual Prime shipping discounts and guarantees (and potentially burdening US buyers with customs issues).
My questions about Genesis Mini 2 shipments were sent to Sega from the company’s Japanese office, which eventually confirmed that the new mini console was a “Japan-only project” for the company. “The Sega Genesis Mini 2 can only be produced in small numbers due to the global shortage of semiconductors,” reads a message from the Sega president’s office, so the company chose to produce a small Western batch of Genesis Mini 2s along with its order of Mega Drive Mini 2s.
The message states that “the number of units for this project is approximately one-tenth of the total number of the previous Genesis Mini”.
You may need to decide in advance
Since Sega has never announced total sales numbers for the original Genesis Mini, or Mega Drive Mini sales in other regions, we can’t accurately estimate how low this manufacturing number will be. By anecdotal, it appears that the original Genesis Mini was somewhere between the rampant sell-out of Nintendo’s own consoles and the disappointing fate of the PlayStation Mini of 2018. Upon its release, the Genesis Mini remained stable and accessible in stock until early 2020 (and had deep discounts by May 2020). These days, they are no longer manufactured and hover in the $160-200 range at both official retailers and eBay listings (well above $80 MSRP).
Most mini consoles came out from the last decade and went with only one or two manufacturing processes, much to the dismay of customers. Sega’s statement doesn’t imply confidence that we should expect anything different from their latest hardware – the same is true of only Japan’s Astro City Mini V, which will resemble the Astro City Mini 2020 (which I reviewed earlier) but this time includes a vertically oriented screen and arcade games A classic to match.
The statement doesn’t say what percentage of the scaling might have been applied to the Mega Drive Mini 2 compared to the first Mega Drive Mini – but it also doesn’t say anything about a European model, leaving us suspicious that European Sega would make a system full of multilingual games branded “Mega” Drive 2 Mini”.
As of press time, Amazon in the US is still offering the Genesis Mini 2 available at a price of around $103 – which has fluctuated since its announcement, due to its Japanese manufacturing origin and its price based on the Japanese yen. This update from Sega of Japan indicates that anyone interested in the western version of the Genesis Mini 2, which will contain western versions of some games and original Japanese versions of others, should not hesitate to place an order.
Ars Technica has already ordered its Genesis Mini 2 hardware and is in touch with Japan’s Sega about getting its hands on the system ahead of its launch. But in light of this apparent rarity, my 2019 review of the original might help you decide before it’s too late to get this anywhere near an MSRP. Both Genesis Mini models are made by the same team at M2 and seem to run around the same simulation cores and interfaces. I’ve mostly praised this system for its price-to-content ratio and glowing simulation performance, and the games this system has announced so far include Genesis and Sega CD classics at a similar price per game (along with a default bump to a six-button controller as a bundle option).
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