Back in the 90s, things were much simpler. There were no smartphones. People didn't dab. Games were played in 16-bit.
No greater emblem is there of this simple time than the lowly Sega Megadrive, a machine that reached Europe in 1990 and took the continent by storm - that is, unless you bought a SNES.
For many, those were the halcyon days - but, unless you had a PC emulator or were willing to play smartphone games stacked with in-app purchases, there was no way subsequently to truly replicate the glory of the Megadrive.
Now, that's all changed. Sort of. Meet the Sega Megadrive Arcade Classic: a plastic box of questionable quality that could be the key to unlocking memories of misspent youth.
Sega Megadrive Arcade Classic: bargain box, bargain build
Wade through the rose-tinted memories and rub the nostalgia from your eyes: this reincarnation of the Sega Megadrive is no high-end piece of hardware.
Pulling it out of the box, this Chinese-made import is distinctly plasticky and feels oddly hollow - probably because computing components have gotten a lot smaller and lighter in the two-and-a-half decades that have passed since Sega’s black box launched.
Admittedly, the original Megadrive was no finely crafted machine, but the Arcade Classic barely even takes the form of the console on which it’s based, opting instead for a rounded, two-button frontage with far less nostalgia value than the NES Classic Mini.
Still, it’s subtle enough to sit beneath your TV and, while more of a nod to the actual Megadrive might have been nice, it’s really the games that you’re here to play.
Sega Megadrive Arcade Classic: no puzzle to play
Thankfully, getting to the games is a cinch: the Megadrive Arcade Classic ships with a power adapter and an A/V cable - with one jack for picture, one for audio (it’s mono sound, after all) - and all you have to do is plug them in.
Unlike the NES Classic Mini there’s no HDMI to play with here. That said, most TVs will have an A/V input, so it shouldn’t be too problematic.
As for the gamepads (two come bundled with the box), these work via infrared, which means - rather than the wired setup of the original Sega Megadrive or, indeed, the NES Classic Mini - you get cable-free gameplay.
The downside? The infrared is ropey at best. You’ll need a direct line of sight to the receiver on the base of the Arcade Classic box and you can’t really sit more than a meter away or things get a bit glitchy. Oh, and don’t try adjusting the volume on the TV at the same time: the signal will block your controller’s commands.
Sega Megadrive Arcade Classic: Far from Full HD
Still, at least the games are everything you'd expect. From Sonic to Echo, there's something here for everyone, with titles spanning most of Sega’s 90s releases.
Sure, you won't have heard of some - many - of the games, but there are enough big hitters here to pull you in, with hours more entertainment if you delve through unfamiliar names.
16-bit graphics spread across a big screen do make your eyes work hard, but it's worth it for the button-bashing thrill of hearing that Sonic ring 'ping’ in your living room again.
Admittedly, sound quality is low, with mono soundtracks that feel at times as if they've been put through a distortion box. This doesn't matter on most games, but with certain titles - such as Echo - repeated sound effects soon begin to grate.