Over the weekend, I decided to try one of the pre-loaded retro video game systems that are for sale at various stores like Toys R Us, Wal-mart, and even some Dollar Generals. The ones I have found so far is an Intellivision, Atari 2600, a ColecoVision, and a Sega Genesis system. I found two versions of the latter system, one having about 20 Genesis games while the other has 40. Both of the consoles had additional cheap, knock off games like chess just to make the game total higher for more appeal. The ColecoVision and Atari systems have nothing but official games and are considerably more loaded since the games were far less in size compared to the 16 bit Genesis.
I decided to get the Genesis as it had quite a few games I really enjoyed (more on that later). The console is only about ¼ the size of a late model Sega Genesis and comes with a game slot to play cartridges as well. The version I got, the one with more games loaded, comes with two wireless 6-button controllers. Of course, since this is not an official Sega release, the controllers aren’t quite the same as the original 6-button. The entire system, controllers included, are much lighter and feel cheaper made (because it is). The controllers have a battery chassis on the back as would be expected, but a definitely design flaw is that it requires a screwdriver to open. Both will require two AAA batteries to operate. Fortunately, the console comes with 2 ports for wired controllers. I plugged both my standard 3-button and my 6-button turbo joystick in both ports, and they worked just fine.
The A/C power unit is a narrow body, so it can plug in between other plugs unlike the bulky brick the original Sega required to operate. Unfortunately the system just comes with mono audio cables (meaning one yellow and one white, no red), but given the fact most are playing this for cheap nostalgia based upon us playing on small TVs that had 1 built in speaker, it will sound exactly as we remember. There are the two expected buttons on the top, one for power and the other for restart. This is where the provided wireless controllers really show their benefit. Each one has a Menu button built on it to reset the system back to the menu options. If using another form of input device, a manual reset on the console is required.
I went through the list of games after powering on the Genesis, trying out a few that I remembered such as Ecco, Sonic, and Comix Zone. Since I haven’t played my original Genesis in years, I couldn’t quite compare the performance value of the system. Some claim that the speed is close but no cigar as the system is emulated, but playing Sonic, I had no real issue with his speed. All other games performed flawlessly without any lag or delay. There were no moments of audio drops or graphic glitches. The system never crashed or locked up.
If you were to just bring one regular 3-button controller and the system with the two cables, you could easily fit it in a tablet backpack, it’s that small and light. Most of these loaded systems are running around $45 though online deals could drop it into the 30s.
I’m guessing we haven’t seen a pre-loaded Nintendo or Super Nintendo yet because of licensing issues and because they already have the games for sale digitally via their WiiU online store and on 3DS. Keep in mind the existing systems on the shelf like Colecovision are extremely cheaply made and may not last very long. Some cartridges won’t work on the Genesis either, though I haven’t found a list yet. However, bang for your buck, these pre-loaders are really an excellent way to get back into retro gaming or introduce classic systems to younger generations. They make for excellent presents for the price, averaging out to about $1.00 per official Genesis game if the system is considered free.
Although a quick Google search will yield results of where to locate these consoles, here are the direct links for Toys R Us:
Until next time, lie about your dice roll as much as you can get away with. Thanks for stopping by.