The VGC covered a previous edition of this system in 2012, but I figured I'd give my impressions of the more recent version released last year that I picked up at Target the other day.
Firstly, I now realize why the Atari Flashback Portable had such a weird button layout: it was modeled to look exactly the same as this one, aside from the colors and button labels being different. It's the first of many signs that AtGames, the manufacturer of these systems, cared far more about making them cheap to produce than their actual quality.
The lineup of games is at least impressive: there are 40 Sega titles, many of which are genuine classics...provided you don't play them on this system. Additionally, there are also 40 off-brand titles apparently made specifically for AtGames's Genesis systems, but trust me when I say they're not worth your time. The box for this game makes a big deal out of including Mortal Kombat 1,2, and 3. One truly bizarre omission from this handheld is Sonic the Hedgehog 3, which is quite grating when you consider that all the other Genesis Sonic titles (even Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine) are included in it. Also, because AtGames is lazy, Sonic and Knuckles's lock-on feature isn't supported. You can supposedly also load more ROMs via an SD card. I say "supposedly" because I tried using a MicroSD card in an adapter and it didn't work, and I'm not willing to go out and buy SD cards for a device I don't even like.
The D-pad is...not a good fit for Genesis games, or any games really. It's one of those D-pads whose shape is closer to a circle than the traditional cross. While playing a game with one of these pads, it's all too easy to accidentally press a diagonal direction, which can seriously screw you over in virtually all of these titles. The layout of the buttons is odd too: they're arranged in a mostly vertical alignment, which is not at all what Genesis veterans are used to. The buttons also don't feel quite as responsive as a classic Sega controller, which makes sense considering the cheapness this thing exudes.
The picture quality is weirdly grainy and causes even the prettier titles to look fairly ugly. But the cherry on the top of the sundae of underachievement known as the "Ultimate" Portable Game Player is the sound. Sweet merciful Jesus, the sound. I am not exaggerating when I say the excellent soundtracks of games like Sonic and Shinobi are utterly massacred by whatever emulator this thing uses. For whatever reason, it especially has trouble playing sounds above a certain pitch and instead renders them a hellish monotone. Star Light Zone from Sonic 1 in particular must be heard to be believed.
So yeah, do yourselves a favor and don't buy this. If you want to play Genesis titles on the go, I suggest you install homebrew software on a PSP instead. It's a far better investment than 50 bucks on this slapped-together product.
Reserved for classic gaming discussions.
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