After toying with lackluster miniature versions of its Genesis console, Sega finally hit its stride with the Genesis Mini. The HDMI-equipped emulation device faithfully recreates the 16-bit experience without the laggy or choppy performance of previous efforts, making it a worthy competitor to Nintendo's SNES Classic. The tiny console is currently on sale for $50 -- $30 off its usual price, making it an even more alluring purchase as a holiday gift.
The Genesis Mini was produced by Sega's longtime partner M2, which specializes in painstakingly detailed emulation. And it's not just the software that's impressive; the console itself is a faithful, though miniaturized, recreation of the Model 1 Genesis, complete with a non-functioning volume slider and cartridge slot dust flap. This puts the Genesis Mini in stark contrast to Sega's previous efforts at a throwback units which were poorly constructed.
While not every game featured on the Genesis Mini is a hit, there are plenty of games to sink your teeth into. Classics like Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and Gunstar Heroes will transport you back to the early '90s, while rarities like Contra Hard Corps and Monster World IV could be new experiences even for gamers well-versed in the 16-bit library.
You can grab the Sega Genesis Mini for $50 at Amazon, as well as other electronics retailers. If have a decent collection of cartridges, you may want to consider the Analogue Mega SG, a full-sized Genesis clone which uses hardware emulation via FPGA to create a native HD experience.