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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.
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on December 21, 2013
First to answer the basic questions.

1. Does this play real Sega cartridges?
A. Yes

2. Can you hook up original/wired Sega controllers?
A. Yes

3. Is this a genuine Sega console?
A. No

4. What kind of console is this?
A. I wouldn't call it a real console. Its branded Sega but Chinese built so a Sega Genesis knock off. The GUI or "menu" displays the name "FIRECORE." No idea about what emulator is being used or any plugins.

5. What games does it come with?
A. It claims to come with 80 games, 40 16-bit Sega games and 40 "bonus" games. These 40 "bonus" games are home brew games which never were released on Sega. Home brew games, in general, are poorly designed and are usually puzzle games not worth mentioning or playing. Home brew games are usually created by individuals or small groups that can never compete with the big boys. The games worth mentioning in my opinion are, Alex The Kid, Alien Storm, Altered Beast, Comix Zone, Ecco, Ecco Jr., Ecco 2, Gain Ground, Golden Axe 1, 2 and 3, Mean Bean Machine, Ristar, Shadow Dance, Shinobi 3, Sonic 3D Blast, Sonic and Knuckles, Sonic Spinball, Sonic the Hedgehog 1 and 2, Streets of Rage 1, 2 and 3, The Ooze and Vectorman 1 and 2. All other games preloaded on this are either home brews or I personally never heard of them.

6. Any problems with any of the games or that is note worthy?
A. The only game so far I have had problems with is Golden Axe 2 and 3. Golden Axe 2 has problems recognizing my wired retro-bit controllers and it won't respond to the D-pad. Golden Axe 3 will not recognize both wireless controllers that are supplied with this product so no two-player on Golden Axe 3 unless you use other controllers.

7. How are the wireless controllers that come with this product?
A. Simply awful. The wireless controllers that come with this product are the absolute worst. You must be within 5 feet and must have a direct line of sight. Even if everything is perfect half the time the buttons don't register. Add a second controller and it gets worse. Sometimes buttons get pressed that you never touched and you end up wasting all your magic before the big boss. It seems the IR on both the controller and the receiver were made with the lowest grade IR technology available. But your in luck. Simply visit Amazon or your local old school game store like Vintage Stock/Movie Trading Co. and they will have a $6 wired, 6 button, 3rd party Sega controller you can use. I bought two branded "retro-bit" Sega controllers and they work great. 10000x better then the wireless controllers and the response time is superb. Only downfall is that the "retro-bit" controllers do not have a menu button. So if you want to get back to your game selection menu you have to either use the wireless controller or press the menu button on the product. No biggy.

8. Any problems with cartridge games?
A. Out of the 3 cartridges I tested only 2 worked. I cannot tell if the cartridge is bad or this product can't read it.

9. Is this product a cost efficient way to play Sega games?
A. In my opinion yes. You have 26 pre-loaded worthy games on this product. If you bought each game separately it would run you $5 - $10 each. Do the math.

10. Anything else worth mentioning?
A. Yes. These games are ROMS and are mostly 99.9% the same as playing cartridges except for some minor details. Some graphics do not appear correctly at certain times in game play or the music may sound a bit off key then how you used to remember it. For example, in Golden Axe 3, when the female warrior casts her spells you hear fireballs falling from the sky but sometimes you don't see them. It is a hit and miss on some games. Others work perfectly fine. The only way you will experience the same game play you did 20 years ago is if you play off a cartridge.

I rated this product 3 out of 5 stars. -1 star for really awful wireless controllers. -1 star for misleading game content. If you can get a hold of two wired controllers and focus on the fact that there are 26 great childhood Sega games on this and it can play cartridges you can have a really great time with it.
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on January 3, 2014
I got this for my husband for Christmas and he was really excited about it until we turned it on. First, the wireless controls have to be unscrewed to put batteries and the screws strip easily. Once you get the batteries in, the controls do not work well at all - they have to be close to the box and pointed directly at it or it will not receive signal. The box has a place to plug in wired controllers but none of the ones we had worked with it.
The whole thing just seemed a bit slow on the response time, even of choosing the game you want to play, and ended up being a letdown with all the hassle. If you have a ps3 or a 360 I'd recommend the Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection - for around $17 it has all the same games and works with a system that doesn't malfunction.
Sonic Ultimate Genesis Collection Xbox 360
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on May 8, 2015
It works well, and is compatible with other Sega games. The only drawbacks are the wireless controllers as they do not work unless they are in close proximity and pointed at the device, but it is not a huge deal.
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on November 23, 2012
Let me preface this review by saying, I loved the Sega Genesis- I was the first kid on my block to get a Genesis and all the neighborhood kids would come over to play Golden Axe. I have a lot of fond memories of the Genesis. I was interested in this system because it already included a ton of incredible games and the controls are wireless. I got the system for $28 and thought the deal was too good to be true and, alas, it was. The wireless controllers are not responsive. They do not work unless you point them directly at the console and even when you do, a button press does not seem to register. For any true gamer, this ruins the experience and is unacceptable. DO NOT BUY.
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on July 20, 2014
The Fact that this Console will not allow you to save your RPG progression completely negates the whole reason I purchased the product. My all time favorite game is Shining Force, I have the emulator for it, but I wanted to be able to play it on is cartridge. But in order to do that on this console I would have to keep it on for the entire game. And Shining Force is not a quick game at all. Add on to that, that ever time you hit the Menu button (located above the start button) it acts like a reset button, there is way to much chance for you to accidently loss all progression by a mere drop of the controller, or simply power glitch.
On top of that, the wireless controls they provide are horrible. If you are not in direct, and i do mean DIRECT line of sight to console they do not work. All in all. A great disappointment!
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on March 27, 2014
I missed buying this item in stores so I was very happy to see it for sale online. Bought this item for my 13yr old son, as a secondary game console (next to the xbox & 3ds). While some consoles can be very expensive, I was happy with the price and the quality. The wireless controllers do need to be quite close for accurate gaming but, still happy to have this classic console.
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on February 16, 2013
Awful. The emulation on this thing is just bad. Purist will be upset when they first start up a game and hear that awful incorrect pitch the music has. When trying to play sonic the pitch of the music was a half step from what it should be. Considering that the people who are going to buy this system are retro enthusiast, that's quite bad. Even worse is the fact that the music emulation is even messed up when you play a cart.

It was a good idea that was just poorly put together. Save your money and buy the genesis collection for the console of your choice.
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on December 5, 2014
It has been said many times before and I am surprised at the overall rating of this product. It deserves worse than it is given. Granted my review is to warn you fellow gamers and consumers. The company that produces this garbage will never read it or care anyway. The stock IR controller is awkward. Poor range and reception are common complaints already mentioned. An easy fix would be to buy a old Sega Genesis controller but it won't play all your old cartridges. It even says so on the box. The list of real Sega games are great but I would recommend purchasing the PS3 or Xbox 360 Sega collection instead. Much better buy. Cheap Chinese knock off just trying to make a quick buck off of poor manufacturing and nostalgic gamers like myself.
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on July 31, 2014
Edit: 10/6/2014 - I ended up returning this unit a week after I bought it. It stopped reading my sega genesis controllers, and I refuse to use the infra-red ones that come packed-in. I would file this under "too good to be true." Some units might work consistently (based on the reviews) but it seems to be VERY 50/50. As a result, I'm changing my previous rating from 2 stars to 1. Don't waste your time.

To break it down simply, let's start with pros and cons:
1) Composite video output is crisp and clean
2) My Sega Genesis controllers work
3) My Genesis cartridges work
4) Packed-in genesis games play as good as their physical counterparts

1) Infrared controllers
2) Sound is poor quality and wrong pitch

The cons greatly outweigh the pros, even though there are more "pros" than "cons."

The fact that they made these controllers infrared limits their usefulness - or more accurately, renders them useless - because IR requires a clear line of sight and is not exactly known for responsiveness. IR works great for TV remotes because reflexive and repetitive button pressing is not required for watching TV. They simply made the controllers IR to cut costs and say they have wireless controllers. It would have been just as cheap (and more reliable) if they'd packed in wired controllers. After reading the reviews, I didn't even bother with putting the batteries in...I simply know better.

The sound chip is tuned to the wrong frequency. For those less technically inclined, it means that everything (music and sound effects) play at a lower pitch than normal, like a cassette walkman when the batteries are low. It might play at the right tempo, but the pitch is distinctly lower. For folks that used to own a Genesis, or played the Genesis collections that have come out over the past 10 years, this is very distracting.

That said, I put in my Ghouls & Ghosts cartridge and my Sega Genesis controller, and gave the system a system a legitimate go. The lower-pitch music made the game more haunting and creepy, but some of the higher-pitched sound effects (or sounds that were SUPPOSED to be higher-pitch) were crackly as the poor sound chip tried to crunch them out. The buttons were sometimes non-responsive, but that is likely because my controller is from 1990.

After playing a couple stages in Ghouls & Ghosts, I played Sonic & Knuckles on the system itself. Navigating the menus was simple and straightforward. Each game had a brief description, instructions, and a screen shot of their respective games. Given the general cheap quality of this system, I feel like some kind of effort did go into making it a reality.

I don't dislike the system, but I can't in good conscience recommend it. Paying $35 for wrong-sounding games, even with the packed-in games as a bonus, just isn't worth it when you can buy Sonic's Ultimate Sega Genesis Collection on PS3/360 for $10 and an old Sega Genesis off of ebay for $10.

This console would be perfect if they had:
A) Done quality testing to recognize the sound chip was wrong
B) Included 2.4 GHz wireless controllers or wired controllers.

I don't dislike it enough to return it, but I will say that the pricepoint doesn't warrant the sacrifices made on the manufacturer's part, and so I have to give this console a 2-star rating for the two "cons" of this console, and take a third star off for the cut corners.
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