Dear SEGA, These Are The Games We Want On The Mega Drive Mini
It's official: SEGA's Mega Drive Mini console releases on 19 September, for a penny shy of seventy of your pounds sterling. With two (three-button) controllers included (Japan gets the six-button version), and a thoroughly decent 40 games built in, this feels like it's going to be right up there with Nintendo's SNES Classic as a must-have for retro-heads the world over.
Like the SNES Classic (and the NES Classic before it), the SEGA Mega Drive Mini will allow players to save their progress in each game wherever they like (much like you can in the Mega Drive Classics collection). Its ports have been worked on by M2, the team behind the excellent Nintendo 3DS versions of Streets of Rage 2, Out Run, Gunstar Heroes and the SEGA Ages line. Another big seal of approval, there.
So far, only ten games have been confirmed for the (UK version of the) Mega Drive Mini. All-time essentials like Sonic the Hedgehog, Shining Force and Gunstar Heroes are joined by the excellent Castlevania: Bloodlines, Ecco the Dolphin and Comix Zone, with the remaining four including at least two that I can live without - namely Altered Beast and Space Harrier II - but Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine and ToeJam & Earl will make sure that second pad gets a workout, now and again.
That leaves 30 games yet to be revealed - and with the Classics collection featuring 50, we can expect more than a few from that release to carry over to this plug-in-and-play offering. But then there's the curveball of Bloodlines - that's a third-party title not featured on Classics. Could it mean that Konami is on board for this one? And if that's the case, could we get another couple of Mega Drive hits from the studio that'd later give us Metal Gear Solid? Or more games from other third-party studios? The likes of EA and Capcom were very active on SEGA's system.
With that in mind, here's ten more titles we'd love - okay, that I'd love - to see make the cut for the Mega Drive Mini.
Rocket Knight Adventures
Konami's jet-powered platformer of 1993 introduced the world to the character of Sparkster, an opossum who is thoroughly past taking all of your crap, swinging a big-ass sword into the faces of his enemies. Of the 16-bit era's raft of anthropomorphised platforming heroes, Sparkster is absolutely one of the best, and Rocket Knight Adventures picked up a lot of critical acclaim. And with Bloodlines confirming Konami's involvement with the Mega Drive Mini, surely slipping this gem onto the line-up isn't too much to ask.
Zombies Ate My Neighbors
Another brilliantly reviewed Konami(-published, as it's made by LucasArts) game for the Mega Drive, which also came to SNES,1993's Zombies is a fantastic top-down romp for one player, but comes into its own when played cooperatively with a pal. You race around your neighbourhood, saving the locals from an outbreak of the undead. It never sold loads at the time, earning something of a cult classic reputation in the years since its release, but the inclusion of Zombies on the Mini would be much appreciated, especially for those seeking couch co-op fun.
Streets of Rage 2
Come on, this is a no-brainer. SEGA's own certified bangers have to show up, and 1992's Streets of Rage 2 - with its special moves, four playable characters and pulsating electronic music - has to be included. If it's not... Well, it will be, so we don't need to worry ourselves.
Sonic the Hedgehog 2
The same logic applies here as Streets of Rage 2. Yes, the original Sonic is already included; but its sequel is one of the very best 2D platformers ever. Also, M2 already worked on a superlative version of this game, likewise SoR2, so they've already done the hard work. If Sonic 2 isn't on the Mini, I will eat my Mega-CD.
Electronic Arts enjoyed a healthy relationship with SEGA in the '80s and '90s, notably producing a great many EA Sports games for the platform. 1991's Road Rash was a rather less-simulation-like offering, however, mixing motorcycle racing with close-quarter combat, as you punch and kick opponents off their bikes while roaring towards a finish line and avoiding the cops. It was widely ported, but the Mega Drive's Road Rash is the original and definitive version. We wants it, we does.
Another great from the EA archive, 1992's Desert Strike: Return to the Gulf was an isometric shooter that drew on the Iraq War for inspiration. Whether taking out enemy outposts or rescuing allied troops from the ground, the game was always edge-of-the-seat stuff despite its moderate pace, as your chopper couldn't take too much damage, and every mission had a strict time limit (and fuel is a limited resource, too). SEGA, do the right thing - get on the blower to EA, and bring us this and Road Rash.
Capcom also put out a solid run of SEGA hits in the early 1990s, and Mercs - a conversion of 1990's arcade game - is a cracking vertical-scrolling run-and-gunner, a breed of game that we don't see so much of in the 21st century. Disappointingly, 1991's Mega Drive version lost the co-op multiplayer of its arcade predecessor, but Mercs has come out for a host of systems since its 16-bit debut, and is the kind of classic coin-op that'd feel right at home on the MD Mini.
This side-scrolling action-platformer was an arcade hit for Capcom in 1989, and it received a Mega Drive port the next year. Before Capcom hit a new level of recognition with Street Fighter II - a game I'd have included here if we were getting those six-button pads - Strider was very much one of its highest-profile critical darlings, hyperactive of action and a stunner to see in motion. Age hasn't been the kindest to it - it definitely looks like an early Mega Drive game in comparison to later titles - but Strider's speedy gameplay remains undiminished.
Weirdly, the 1994 Mega Drive version of SEGA's arcade smash Virtua Racing, which began crunching loose change in 1992, hasn't featured in the many Mega Drive compilations to have released in recent years. And that's a shame, as while the 16-bit port lacks the crispness the Saturn and 32X games, the simple fact that it works on such hardware is incredible. Its graininess can be off-putting in stills, but when played, it becomes clear that this is a superbly smooth polygonal racer that boots the Super Nintendo's FX chip into the nearest bin.
Micro Machines 2: Turbo Tournament
The greatest multiplayer racer on the Mega Drive, Codemasters' Turbo Tournament of 1994 came on a special J-Cart that enabled players to plug a total of four controllers into their console, without the need for a multitap. But even without that unique perk, this would be a great, great addition to the Mega Drive Mini's line-up, guaranteeing fierce competition with sofa-sharing pals.
No doubt some of these selections are highly unlikely - and I've deliberately left out a bunch of games that are practically guaranteed to be featured. But what about you? What Mega Drive winners do you want to see revived on the Mini, when it releases in September? Let us know - we're on Twitter and Facebook.
All Mega Drive/Genesis screenshots from Moby Games.
Featured Image Credit: SEGA