Why you should avoid the "AT Games" SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive
If you like your retro gaming and you happen to come across a SEGA Genesis / Mega Drive console with 80 built in games, the ability to play all of your old cartridges and have two wireless controllers - all for less than fifty quid - then you'll probably soon find yourself at the cashier, credit card in hand, wondering what's the quickest route home so that you can plug it in and get playing as soon as humanly possible.
But wait a second, breathe, have a quick Google and see whether it's actually any good.
Actually, that last sentence is useless to you, because reviews for this product are actually reasonably good - assuming you take the word of those who have bought it and taken the time to review their purchase on the website of the vendor they got it from.
However, I'm here to set the record straight. Don't be fooled.
Where do we start? I suppose it should be at the games - after all, there's 80 of them built-in - and it can play cartridges. Well, yes you do get 80 games built-in, but only half of them are Mega Drive games, the rest are what the box calls "bonus games".
The good news is, the Mega Drive titles include: Alex Kidd, Altered Beast, Columns, Comix Zone, Ecco the Dolphin, Golden Axe 1, 2 & 3, Kid Chameleon, Ristar, Streets Of Rage 1, 2 & 3, Sonic & Knuckles, Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog II, Vectorman and Virtua Fighter II.
The bad news is... they're all terrible. As in the games are fine but the console is incapable of playing them. Just take a look.
I don't know what hardware this thing uses but it's not a streamlined version of the original. It can't match the original at all. To be fair, the Yamaha YM2612 sound chip is difficult to emulate, but come on, the console is as old as I am. I can emulate everything I was doing in 1988 perfectly, just don't get mad at me when I vomit on myself, sleep all day and poo my pants, I'm just trying to make a point.
Speaking of vomit and poop, back to the console. Now, you can see from the footage above that the sound and visuals are way off - mostly the sound. If you're wearing headphones, you will have also noticed that there's only sound in the left channel. This is because the console's "plug and play" selling point means that it comes with a simple Audio/Video cable which plugs the AV ports in the back of your TV. However, most TVs split their audio so you basically get a choice of having the awful sound coming from either the left or right speakers.
The footage above is taken from the built-in version of Sonic the Hedgehog, however I tried also using the cartridge version of the game (as the console can play original copies of the games too) and the results were just as bad.
Whilst we're on the subject of compatibility, not all games work. Most do and chances are you won't have any difficulties, but don't expect them to look or sound as good as they should do - it's the console, not the software. Also, while there are two slots for original SEGA controllers, you also get two proprietary wireless controllers packed in. They're not too bad, they're a bit cheap but they're chunky and they work - although the infrared does mean that you need to point the controllers at the console at all times to make sure the signal is received.
Anyway, if you want to give this console a try it's being distributed in the UK as an exclusive to Argos - but I'd recommend you steer well clear and get yourself a proper Mega Drive... or even a Mega Drive II, which ironically I got as an Argos exclusive around 1999 and is currently sat in my parent's loft.
Needless to say, this was returned within a day.
To tell you the truth, this little rant is probably quite moot because YouTube just end up putting adverts for the very product I'm telling you to avoid, over the video in which I'm telling you to avoid it. Wonderful.