Unlike the no longer available NES Classic, Genesis Flashback feels half-baked. The review unit we got was lightweight and flimsy-feeling. The controllers feel like cheap Funcoland knockoffs, with a floppy d-pad and hard-to-press hollow-feeling buttons. They use AAA batteries, and have to be unscrewed to put the batteries in. I’d rather have wires.
The system we used also had some construction issues. The power button, which slides back and forth like the original Genesis, got stuck and slid partway under the housing of this early review unit, bending the case out a bit at the seam. This isn’t encouraging.
The menu and interface are hard to navigate, too, and the whole design feels more like an emulator box than something that feels actually official. It’s all… a little low-rent, especially when compared to the stellar overall feel of the NES Classic. Which is funny, because I didn’t even think the NES Classic was all that stellar when I first played it. In comparison, it’s a first-class ticket.
What a disaster and disappointment. And it gets worse:
All of the games felt plagued with slower frame rate and had audio that sometimes sounded crackly or choppy. I played over and over again: not just with the Genesis Flashback, but side by side with an actual original Sega Genesis that a colleague brought into the office. I played next to the NES Classic. And I played some of the amazing Sega Genesis ports available on the Nintendo 3DS under the “3D Classic” label – Sonic and Sonic 2 in particular.
I could see a difference. The Genesis is fast! It’s meant to scroll smoothly. Games like Sonic were all about speed, smooth speed. On the Flashback, graphics look crisp but frame rate feels consistently choppy… choppier than it should have been. Ports shouldn’t look like that. But they do here.
I suppose we can take solace in the fact that while Nintendo badly screwed up
the NES Classic in terms of supply/demand (yes, some people still insist this was on purpose), at least they didn’t release a piece of junk.
Hopefully Atari learns from this with the Ataribox
(which is different from the retro Atari system made by AT Games, the people who made this Genesis nightmare – the Atari one sounds much better
, but I imagine Atari itself can do even better still.)