Sega Mega Drive Classic vs Nintendo Classic Mini: All you need to know about the retro rivals

Most of us are used to hearing about Xbox One vs PS4, but there’s a retro console rivalry that’s just as interesting – the Nintendo Classic Mini vs the Sega Mega Drive Classic.

After Nintendo announced it was to re-release the NES console, news came that a Sega Mega Drive – or Sega Genesis in the US – was also getting the re-release treatment.

Well, sort of. The ‘new’ Genesis/Mega Drive is actually just a rebranding of an emulator that’s been around for a while.

With that in mind, we thought we’d tlay out all the information for both these consoles to give you a better idea of what’s going on. What does each console offer? Can you play all your old games on both? We’ve got the answers to all your questions right here.

Related: Nintendo Classic Mini review

Sega vs Nintendo – The consoles explained

When it comes to the Mega Drive/Genesis, the console isn’t built by Sega, but licensed by third-party manufacturer ATGames. ATGames has been making an emulation box for years, and has merely rebranded its product for this year.

The NES Classic Edition, on the other hand, is being built by Nintendo, and is a miniaturized version of the original NES from 1985.

Also, while the NES hooks up to your telly via the HDMI cable, Sega fans will need to hook up via old fashioned AV cables – another clue that the Mega Drive console isn’t exactly an official re-release. It’s also worth bearing in mind you’ll need an AC adapter for the USB cable which powers the NES classic as the adapter doesn’t come bundled with the console itself.

Nintendo’s offering also comes with one controller, modelled on the original joypad, which can be plugged into a Wii Remote in order to play Virtual Console games on Wii or Wii U. You’ll also be able to use your Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro on the NES Classic, so multiplayer shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Additional NES controllers will also be avaialble separately.

AtGames’ Mega Drive copy comes with two official-looking controllers, but be warned – several outlets have reported the consol itself doesn’t feature any official Sega hardware and it seems the machine itself leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to actually running the games. Sound reproduction has been singled-out as particularly shoddy.

Sega vs Nintendo – Games

The Megadrive does come with 80 games built-in. Among the bundled games are every Sonic title released for the platform, as well as the three original Mortal Kombat titles.

Related: Best Nintendo Switch games

NES Classic

Other heralded games include Alex Kidd, Altered Beast, Echo, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage and more.

Better still, unlike the Nintendo version, it’s compatible with all of the old school Sega Mega Drive cartridges, so if you’re harbouring a tonne of classics then they’ll all work too. How well they’ll work remains to be confirmed by us, however.

Here’s the full list of games. Some are actual Sega games, but many are bundled software from third-party developers which never appeared on the original console:

  • Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  • Alien Storm
  • Altered Beast
  • Arrow Flash
  • Bonanza Bros.
  • Chakan: The Forever Man
  • Columns
  • Columns III
  • ComixZone
  • Crack Down
  • DecapAttack
  • Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  • Ecco
  • Ecco Jr
  • ESWAT: City Under Seige
  • Fatal Labyrinth
  • Flicky
  • Gain Ground
  • Golden Axe
  • Golden Axe 2
  • Golden Axe 3
  • Jewel Master
  • Kid Chameleon
  • Mortal Kombat
  • Mortal Kombat 2
  • Mortal Kombat 3
  • Ristar
  • Shadow Dancer
  • Shinobi 3
  • Streets Of Rage 1
  • Streets Of Rage 2
  • Streets Of Rage 3
  • Sonic & Knuckles
  • Sonic Spinball
  • Sonic the Hedgehog
  • Sonic the Hedgehog 2
  • The Ooze
  • Vectorman
  • Vectorman 2
  • Virtua Fighter 2

Bonus cartridge games

  • Cross the road
  • Jack’s Pea
  • Jewel Magic
  • Curling 2010
  • Fish Story
  • Mahjong Solitaire
  • Warehouse Keeper
  • Chess
  • Memory
  • Snake
  • Air Hockey
  • Spider
  • Naval Power
  • Mr. Balls
  • Cannon
  • Fight or Lose
  • Bottle Taps Race
  • Bomber
  • Checker
  • Hexagonos
  • Reaction Match
  • Whack-A-Wolf
  • Mirror Mirror
  • Memory Match
  • Treasure Hunt
  • Fire Fly Glow
  • Panic Lift
  • Black Sheep
  • Space Hunter

Flash memory games

  • Table Magic
  • Color Puzzle
  • Brain Switch
  • Mega Brain Switch
  • Bulls and Cows
  • Logic Dial
  • Match Eleven
  • Formula Challenge
  • Sudoku Quiz
  • Dominant Color

Buy Now: Sega Mega Drive Classic at SmythsToys.com for £49.99

Mega Drive

The Nintendo alternative however, comes with only 30 games preinstalled and no way to play old cartridges. It also doesn’t look like the company is going to make it possible to add more games as there’s been no suggestion of online connectivity for future downloads.

One nice feature Nintendo has added, however, is save states. Now, when you stop playing, the system will remember where you left off so you can come back to the game at a later date and pick up from the same point.

Here are all the games you get with the NES Classic Mini:

  • Balloon Fight
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Castlevania, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest
  • Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr
  • Double Dragon II: The Revenge
  • Dr. Mario, Excitebike
  • Final Fantasy
  • Galaga
  • Ghosts ‘n Goblins
  • Gradius, Ice Climber
  • Kid Icarus
  • Kirby’s Adventure
  • Mario Bros
  • Mega Man 2
  • Metroid
  • Ninja Gaiden
  • Pac-Man
  • Punch-Out!! Featuring Mr. Dream
  • StarTropics
  • Super C
  • Super Mario Bros
  • Super Mario Bros. 2
  • Super Mario Bros. 3
  • Tecmo Bowl
  • The Legend of Zelda
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link.

Sega vs Nintendo – Price, release date and best deals

The Nintendo Classic Mini has been available since November 2016, retailing for $59.99 in the States and £49.99 in the UK. The Mega Drive is also currently available – and has been since at least 2012 – including the newest rebrand, which celebrates the 25th anniversary of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Note that, due to high demand, the Nintendo Classic Mini has suffered from availability issues and some retailers have inflated their prices as a result.

Check out our regularly updated NES Classic Mini deals below for the best offers going right now.

Related: Nintendo Switch review

Authentic Nintendo Classic Mini or knock-off Sega Megadrive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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