I have three Sega Genesis consoles, Original first one, Genesis two, and the portable Nomad. They all work perfect, fine, good, gaming machines. But I have this quirk about me that I love messing with clone systems, always comparing them to the original hardware. Recently I picked up the Fei Hao Sega Genesis clone which contains HDMI output, my main reason for wanting this console. Here are some of my first impressions as I test drive this console.
The cosmetic design of the console shell is taken from the first original Genesis, or Mega Drive as it was called across the pond. And really it looks just like that original Mega Drive outwardly more so than the US release of the console, colors match. It almost leads you to believe that they used the same molds for the plastic shell as was used for that original Sega console, with a little modification. The reason I say that is because it has the snap out area where you would normally plug in the Sega CD, but there is nothing there to attach the CD system. No mother board in that area. There is very little on the inside as with all clone systems, typical. And the snap out cover will fit my old Genesis exactly. The console will even fit the CD system base. One could gut this thing and use it to mod your old Genesis for HDMI, maybe. Just a thought. And no it will not take the 32X because there are no hook ups and the cart connection sets lower due to no motherboard.
Same setup as original console. Below the original Sega controller is in the middle.
One thing they did include was the headphone feature with the volume control. I am glad they kept that, but one thing that is lost, which is a deal breaker for many Fans I am sure, no stereo. I don’t understand why. The original Genesis one had stereo in the headphone jack. The original didn’t have stereo out of the back, but it did in the headphone jack. Audio is, what word am I looking for, shallow? Not as deep and rich as the original? But it is better than a lot of clone systems that I have come into contact. I don’t get that gritting of my teeth, or wincing while playing. I can enjoy playing the game.
It has both HDMI and RCA outputs, so you can use it on HD flat screen and old CRT televisions. It has a switch on the back so you can toggle between Japanese and US games, sorry, no PAL. Cart slot on top has no guide for the US games that we are use to, reason for that is because you could not use a Japanese game if it did. So you need to be careful as you push a cart in and sort of feel your way into the correct position. Not as bad as you would think but still something you need to be aware of if you plan to get one of these things. Not sure of the damage that can happen because of that, or durability.
In The Package:
You get the console, two wireless controllers, one wired controller, HDMI cable, RCA cable, AC adapter, instruction leaflet (how to hook it up), and they threw in an 11-N-1 multi cart. If you get it in the box, the name Fei Hao is on the package. There is nothing on the console or any of the accessories to indicate the name of the manufacturer. For some reason they took mine out of the box but left the stuff in the box divisions that were inside. It resulted in the same dimensions as it would have been if only they had left the outward box intact. Go figure. It was tripled bubble wrapped then taped, shipped.
You can use the original Sega controllers which is a big plus. But it also comes with a couple of 2.4ghz RF wireless six button controllers. I put these controllers to the ultimate test this week. I pulled out all my Genesis shoot’m ups, including Gunstar Heroes, and some platforming. Responsiveness was spot on and I did not detect any lag. I set 15 feet from the console. The controllers, themselves, felt good in my hands, but they are noticeably smaller than the original. Buttons, for some reason, set high, clicky, and the directional, a bit floaty. Other than those oddball quirks, it played well, I had no trouble using them, and never thought about those things, which might be annoying for some. There was one other controller that was included in the package that was close to the size of the original, wired. There is a switch on the bottom that I have no idea what it is for. It also has the feature of attaching an arcade stick to the middle of the directional button. The directional button has this annoyance, for me, of being able to push down into the controller. What is up with that? None of the included controllers are like what you have grown to love about the original. But that is what is nice about being able to hook up your tried and true favorite Genesis controller. I, personally, will use the wireless, for now, just because I want to get the feel for them and I like the idea of having wireless for the Genesis. At one point I will return to the original controller, maybe, for certain games.
As for playing the games in HDMI? You have to keep in mind that these games were made to work on the old CRT televisions which depended on the scan lines for them to look good. They are pixel, sprite graphics which have a tendency to look a bit blocky with jaggies. If you hook the original Genesis to your HD flatscreen, this is what you see, stands out, and shocks most diehard retro gamers. Or it concerns them and is what retro gamers find offensive. With the HDMI hookup on this console there seems to be a smoothing effect, sort of like there is some anti-aliasing going on in the output. I am speculating, but, I am thinking that they have done that, there is some sort of up conversion going on. This makes everything look softer and pleasing to your eye. There are those games in which it works better than others.
I have tried Phantasy Star IV. It read the saved game and saved back to that file with no problems. I saw a bit of shredding in the graphics of one of the sub boss sprites in Grind Stormer. But over all it played everything that I have thrown at it so far, including reproduction carts and the Sega Everdrive China version. Played games like, Soldiers of Fortune, Street Fighter 2 the New Challengers, Gauntlet 4, Sub Terrania, Contra Hardcorp, Ms. Pacman, Lightening Force, with basically no issues. I did have problems pulling off fire balls in Street Fighter with any of the supplied controllers. Switched to my original controller and had no problem. That directional button made all the difference. Ha-Do-Ken!!!
The Japan Mega Drive game cart is the one on the top. This was part of the region lockout used on the Sega 16-bit consoles.
I have tried a good chunk of games, but I have not played anything completely through. Did not have Virtua racing out, I usually play that game on 32X. If I can’t find it, I will purchase it. I want to know.
What is the best way to play your Sega games? Simple, on the original hardware. You can pick up a Sega Genesis or Mega Drive cheaper, or close to the same price as I paid for this clone, $60USD range. There is that concern of playing your games on an HD TV. This is only one alternative, there are others. And it is not that bad, IMO. On the down side, you are limited to using only the game carts. Personally, I have been more satisfied with this clone, more so, than any other Sega clone. If you don’t mind the cons with this console, this might be for you. The plus side is the HDMI, wireless controllers, and the ability to play both Japanese and US games. What is my recommendation? I will let you decide. So just set back and think real hard about what you can live with and be satisfied.
Major Update: This system does not boot Virtua Racing. All I get is a green screen as with other clone systems.