It Will Be One Of them – The Question Is Which

The world at large is focused on the forthcoming PlayStation 5 and XBox Series X releases and amid all of the preorder frenzy, Sega quietly suggested that its next retro mini classic system is in the works.

Sega creative producer Yosuke Okunari spoke about the future of the company’s mini consoles in a Famitsu interview following the release of the Japan-only Game Gear Micro.  Putting to rest consumer fears that the next new old project to come out of the Sega camp would follow such restrictions, Okunari went on in the interview to say that the project scope for the next one (like the Genesis Mini before it) will once again be global.

While it seems hopeful fans the world over immediately suspected it to be a Dreamcast Mini being hinted at in the discussion, Okunari went on to throw a clever curve:  “I think for the next one, we may go with a concept close to the Mega Drive Mini.  If I have to say some names, it could be an SG-1000 Mini or a Dreamcast Mini.”

In the event that you aren’t up on your Sega company portfolio, the SG-1000 was the company’s first official home console and the Dreamcast was their last.  In short, Okunari was simply stating in so many words that it could be any of Sega’s consoles being considered for the next one.  The big takeaway though, is that there is indeed going to be a next one.

So which is it going to be?  The internet is guessing Dreamcast but would it be wise for Sega to jump from the Genesis Mini directly to the last console the company ever produced?  Let’s look at the possibilities.

Sega SG-1000

The SG-1000 is a home video game console manufactured by Sega and released in Japan, Australia,and other markets in 1983. It was Sega’s first entry into the home video game hardware business.

Likelihood: Very Unlikely

Okunari himself stated Sega would again be targeting the whole world with this next one just like they did with the Genesis Mini.  It wouldn’t make sense to develop a mini that wasn’t even officially released to North America.  Plus the original only moved 160,000 units total.

Sega Master System

The Master System is Sega’s third-generation 8-bit home video game console. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, which itself was the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of consoles.  It was released in Japan in 1985 and featured enhanced graphical capabilities over its predecessors. The Master System launched in North America in 1986, Europe in 1987, and Brazil in 1989.

Likelihood: Moderate

If Sega were doing it to keep up with the dominance Nintendo has demonstrated with the Classic Mini scene, they would have had a Master System Mini packaged up and ready to go shortly after Nintendo burned through its NES Classic inventory in mere milliseconds back in 2016.  There would still be a strong market, feeding on the retro movement now but for Sega it would seem an odd move to go from their 16-bit offering (2019’s Genesis Mini) back to the far less popular 8-bit hardware as the followup.

Sega CD

The Genesis had a mountain of peripherals and add-ons to enhance the gaming experience but perhaps none more unique and certainly none as successful as the Sega CD attachment.  The Sega CD is, as the name suggests, a CD-ROM accessory for the Genesis designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released in 1991 in Japan, 1992 in North America, and 1993 in Europe.

Likelihood: Fairly Unlikely

What holds this one back from being a major consideration is the simple fact that it would have likely been designed and marketed as a fairly quick followup to September of 2019’s Genesis Mini.  Since, technically, it was never a stand-alone console in the first place, it would have worked best as an alternative Genesis Mini package, possibly in limited edition.  Completionists and nostalgia junkies alike would have bought up inventories in a fever pitch.  Since Okunari said it could be anywhere from one to two years before the release of the next Mini, the Sega CD seems a more distant candidate than it would have been initially.

Sega Saturn

The Sega Saturn is Sega’s fifth generation video game console and successor to the highly successful Genesis. Developed and manufactured by Sega, the Saturn released in Japan in 1994,  North America and Europe in 1995.  Boasting dual-CPU architecture and eight processors working in conjunction, it was one of the most powerful but underutilized architectures of the generation.  Its game library contains several near identical ports of arcade games as well as a plethora of original titles.

Likelihood: Very Likely

Contrary to common misconception, while the Saturn may have gotten destroyed by contemporary rival Sony with the original PlayStation (then later that generation by Nintendo with the N64), the truth is 9.6-million units moved globally compared to the Dreamcast’s 9.13-million makes it Sega’s most successful piece of hardware in North America behind the Genesis.  A Dreamcast Mini makes sense but almost like the askew logic of releasing the 16-bit Genesis Mini then trying to go back and release an 8-bit Master System Mini, Sega might be wise to keep things in order by releasing a Saturn Mini before a Dreamcast Mini.

Dreamcast

Released in 1999 as first in the sixth generation of video game consoles (preceding Sony’s PlayStation 2, Nintendo’s GameCube, and Microsoft’s Xbox).  The Dreamcast would become Sega’s final home console, marking the end of the company’s eighteen year run in the home console market.  In contrast to the expensive and complex hardware of the Saturn, the Dreamcast was designed to reduce production costs and retail pricing by running “off-the-shelf” components, including a Hitachi SH-4 CPU and an NEC PowerVR2 GPU.  Sega ended up pulling the plug only two years after release (2001), making the Dreamcast one of the shortest-lived major console life cycles in the history of home video gaming.

Likelihood: Extremely Likely

If fans had their way, the Dreamcast Mini would be the candidate hands down.  And while it makes a lot of sense to release such a console while the demand is high, the only downside is that it doesn’t leave Sega a whole lot of places to go from here.  Nintendo paved a very clear and successful path with the retro mini segment by starting with their earliest offering (the NES) then following it up with the 16-bit SNES Classic.  If the company decides to continue, it makes sense that they would release the systems in their original order.

Sega has already painted themselves into a bit of a corner by starting with their 16-bit Genesis but that’s not to suggest they can’t buck the trends and bounce all over their hardware catalog as they see fit.  We’d like to see all of the above consoles get another chance to shine but if we had to pick just one, we’d say the Dreamcast has probably got the best shot at being Sega’s next retro mini system.  However, unlike the first time around, we hope it won’t end up being their last.

Jason Russell Jason Russell (20 Posts)

Jason Russell has been working in video game journalism since the early 1990s before the internet existed, the term "fanzine" had meaning and sailors still debated as to whether or not the earth was flat. The first time. More recently he has been the guy responsible for Thunderbolt Games' Under the Radar column as well as scribes for Game Skinny on a plethora of video game topics. He's somehow managed to author nine novels, writes and runs the blog CG Movie Review in his spare time. And sometimes, when the planets align and the caffeine has fully left his system, it's rumored he sleeps.