To those of a certain age, a palm-sized Sega Megadrive is the realisation of a childhood fantasy. Sure, the Game Gear was good, but it couldn’t run the full version of Desert Strike.
First, a disclaimer: the Blaze’s Megadrive Handheld isn’t a full version of the console. It’s packed with 20 games and can’t be upgraded to store more. But it is horribly, horribly addictive.
Easy as A, B, C
The device is about the size of a chunky iPhone, but don't let that comparison excite you too much - it's oldschool through and through. A D-pad and A, B and C keys sit either side of the 2in screen, and beyond them there are menu and pause buttons, a volume control, an on/off switch, headphone jack and an AV-out for hooking it up to your telly.
Sure, the concept is very like those cheap as chips units you buy down the market with knock off Asian games like 'Blue Hedgehog Game' and 'Crazy Plumber Land'. Except on this handheld you'll find 20 bona fide classic Sega Megadrive games (a full list is at the end of the review).
The controls are a little flabby: Alex Kidd overshot a lot of jumps and Shinobi seemed to have put on a little weight a la Karate Kid 3. But the addictiveness of simple gaming remains. Golden Axe is a delight if a lot harder than we remember and there's even a spot of Ecco the incomprehensible dolphin.
Being the demanding types, we can't help missing notable absences like Streets of Rage, John Madden, Desert Strike and Sonic the Hedgehog (only the far inferior Sonic and Knuckles is available here).
It won't compete with a DS or a PSP and the spongy controls will get on your nerves after a while (if the music doesn't first). But as a £30 slice of nostalgia, it’s hard to beat.
Full games list: Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Alien Storm, Altered Beast, Arrow Flash, Columns III, Crack Down, Decap Attack, Dr Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine, Eswat Cyber Police City Under Siege, Ecco, Ecco Jr., Shinobi III - Return of the Ninja Master, Flicky, Gain Ground, Golden Axe, Jewel Master, Kid Chameleon, Sonic Spinball, Shadow Dancer, Sonic & Knuckles.
Stockist: Sega Retro