The miniature console fad has abated since its NES Classic and SNES Classic peak, with fewer companies giving the concept a shot. Sega remains an exception, however, as it’s launching not one but two new retro-minded machines by year’s end.
Only one of those, the Sega Genesis Mini 2, is coming to the United States. And Sega confirmed to Ars Technica that the system in question would be in incredibly limited supply: “around one-tenth” the count of the 2019 Sega Genesis Mini.
Mini production run for Mini 2
The news came as a surprising answer to a completely different question. Ars reached out to Sega shortly after the Genesis Mini 2 was announced, because we wanted clarity on exactly who was producing and shipping the system.
The Genesis Mini 2 was confirmed months after Sega announced a similar living room box for its Japanese audience, the Mega Drive 2. The “2” indicates that this is a follow-up to the 2019 concept, only with an entirely new selection of built-in, emulated classics from Sega’s 16-bit console generation (this time with Sega CD games thrown in).
Sega of America handled the promotion and shipment of the 2019 Genesis Mini, while this year’s Genesis Mini 2, slated to ship on October 27, appears to be handled entirely by Sega of Japan. For one, its official site is in English, but it’s hosted at Sega’s Japanese domain. More importantly for interested buyers, the Genesis Mini 2 is only available through an Amazon US listing, which claims that all purchases will be shipped from Japan—thus skipping Amazon’s usual Prime shipping discounts and guarantees (and possibly burdening American buyers with customs issues).
My questions about Genesis Mini 2 shipments were forwarded to Sega of Japan’s corporate office, which eventually confirmed that the new miniaturized console was a “Japan-only project” for the company. “The Sega Genesis Mini 2 could only be produced in small numbers due to the global semiconductor shortage,” reads a letter from the Sega president’s office, so the company opted to produce a small Western batch of Genesis Mini 2s alongside its order of Mega Drive Mini 2s.
“The number of units for this project makes up around one-tenth of the total for the previous Genesis Mini,” the letter states.
Might need to make up your preorder mind
Since Sega never announced total sales figures for the original Genesis Mini, or other regions’ Mega Drive Mini sales, we can’t accurately estimate how reduced this manufacturing count is. Anecdotally, the original Genesis Mini seemed to fall somewhere between the rampant sellouts of Nintendo’s own systems and the underperforming, rapidly discounted fate of 2018’s disappointing PlayStation Mini. Upon its release, Genesis Mini stock remained stable and accessible even through early 2020 (and had its own deep discounts by May 2020). These days, it’s no longer manufactured and hovers in the $160-200 range at both official retailers and eBay listings (well above its original $80 MSRP).
Most miniaturized consoles from the past decade have come and gone with only one or two manufacturing runs, much to customers’ chagrin. Sega’s statement doesn’t suggest confidence that we should expect anything different from their newest machine—and the same goes for the Japan-only Astro City Mini V, which will resemble the 2020 Astro City Mini (which I previously reviewed) but this time includes a vertically oriented monitor and classic arcade games to match.
The statement does not clarify what percentage of scaling may have been applied to the Mega Drive Mini 2 compared to the first Mega Drive Mini—but it also doesn’t mention anything about a European model, which leaves us doubting that Sega of Europe will manufacture a system that is full of multilanguage games with “Mega Drive 2 Mini” branding.
As of press time, Amazon’s US site still shows the Genesis Mini 2 available at a price hovering around $103—which has fluctuated since its announcement, owing to its Japanese manufacturing origin and its price being based on the Japanese yen. This update from Sega of Japan suggests that anyone interested in the Western version of 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 own Genesis Mini 2 hardware and is in touch with Sega of Japan about getting its hands on the system ahead of its launch. But in light of this apparent scarcity, my review of the 2019 original may help you make up your mind before it’s too late to get this one anywhere near MSRP. Both Genesis Mini models are made by the same team at M2 and apparently revolve around the same emulation cores and interfaces. I mostly praised that system for its price-to-content ratio and glowing emulation performance, and this system’s announced games thus far include serious Genesis and Sega CD classics at a similar price-per-game ratio (along with a default bump to a six-button controller as its pack-in option).
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