Top critical review
386 people found this helpful
Casual Gamers may Like It, but Hardcore Gamers Will Hate It
on November 23, 2012
AtGames is a Chinese company, though you won't find it mentioned anywhere on there website. But it becomes apparent when you see how little information is given in English on their products. AtGames has been manufacturing a product that plays Sega Genesis cartriges since 2003 as far as I can tell, starting overseas, gaining an official Sega license along the way (around 2007 or so), and now they're bringing it in a offical launch in North America (though you could find them since 2009 in different forms). You'll see this same hardware called different names over the years (the Mega X-3, the Firecore system), but 2012 is one of the first times that AtGames has actually made more of a marketing push and started using somewhat professional packaging, including the Sega Genesis logo and a few actual game characters. They also have separate Genesis and Master System hendheld portable systems they've been selling for a few years now, each year getting slight revisions in what games were included, and what packaging was used.
THE PRODUCT: It may say "80 Games" on the packaging, but this is misleading, as you only get 40 Genesis game, and 40 self-published game that could best be discribed as homebrew games (think of the contents of Action 52 and you'll understand). The biggest complaint gamers have is that the EMULATION IS ONLY 90-95%! This is your standard console-on-a-chip, and you'll find the sound is often presented at the wrong hertz (listen to the Sonic the Hedgehog start-up music and any long-time fans will spot the "off-key" music, as it is sometimes called). Sonic himself also doesn't quite reach the speeds he normally does, though its close. Colors can often be off in areas as well. Some people may not notice these little differences, but for the hardcore its a deal-breaker. AtGames has only made slight changes over the years with its emulation, so it probably won't get noticably better any time soon.
The console itself only offers MONO SOUND, but the game slot is big enough to accept ALL North American, European and Japanese games, so this unit is REGION FREE. The unit also has and SD slot, which means you can take a 2GB or 4GB SD Card and put all the Genesis/MegaDrive games you want and play them. Definatlly a nice feature, but you'll need to convert them to the .bin format, and put them in a folder marked "games" or it won't work. There should be some more detailed instructions on the internet for those that need them. You standard composite cables are your only option for video.
NO SAVE FEATURE: The next biggest complaint is the comlete lack of a save feature, even if you have your games on an SD Card. AtGames NEVER discloses this information on any of its products, but you should know it ahead of time (the website may have been updated, but the packaging itself never indicates it). For a lot of games this really doesen't matter, but it means that any game that featured a battery back-up needs to be finished in one sitting (namely RPGs, like Phantasy Star 2). And even if you put in the real physical cartridge to a game that has a working battery back-up -- the save feature STILL WONT WORK. It seems that only an original Genesis/MegaDrive console and the Retron 3 system will actually save your progress. If you come back to one of these games, only the saves that were previously made will be present, reguardless of the progress you made, and even if the system says the save was successful. Games that use passwords are obviously unaffected.
The more casual gamers may not mind the negatives. The slight sound deviations and graphical miscolorations may not be noticed as much if you haven't played many of these games in nearly 20 years, and not being able to save may not be a big deal since many games dont require it anyway, and those that offer a password feature can still be played like normal. Its also very nice to have a simple Genesis-clone with a couple wireless controllers, the ability to plug in any offical Genesis controllers, and a way to take the entire Genesis/MegaDrive collection on a SD Card if you wish. Perfect for some nostalgic gaming if you're on the go, or you need to be away from your main gamming collection for a few days. Just throw this thing in your backpack and you're all set. The list price is $60, but you should find it for around $30 new at Walgren's, Family Dollar and SafeRite stores.
The more hardcore gamers will hate the quality of the emulation, having the sound being off so much will make it impossible to play for some, not to metion some areas will have the wrong-color sprites, and some games just plain won't work. The emulation doesn't include Sega CD / Mega CD or the 32X compatability, you can't save in-game, and you can't even use the emulator itself to create save-states. Having mono-sound is also a bummer. The price may be attractive, but there's a reson why the big retailers don't carry the product. Its a cheaply manufactured product meant to be sold in Third-World countries alongside other knock-off products. The offical Sega license is nice, but many of the games are the same as on "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection" (PS3, Xbox360), so just get that. Nowadays you're probably better off bringing your laptop with you, complete with a decent Genesis emulator, a collection of ROMs, and a digital controller so you dont need to use the keyboard to play. You wont have a cartride slot, but it will be more authentic.