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The Genesis Mini Will Include A Fan-Made Game [Update]

Illustration for article titled The Genesis Mini Will Include A Fan-Made Game [Update]
Screenshot: Sega

Sega has revealed the final batch of games on its Genesis Mini, and there’s one particularly surprising inclusion: a game that’s never been seen before on Genesis, seemingly made by a fan. It’s a beautiful-looking port of the 1987 Taito arcade shoot-em-up Darius, which never had a Genesis version back in the day.

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The developers of the Japanese Mega Drive Mini revealed the new game on a livestream early this morning, and Sega of America confirmed that it would also be included on the Genesis Mini as well. The livestream panel noted that this version of Darius uses a 32-megabit ROM size, which would have made for an incredibly expensive cartridge back in the late ’80s or early ’90s. (Its sequel Darius II, which was ported to Genesis back in 1990, used an 8-megabit ROM, which was considered large for the time.)

What Sega did not note on its livestream, or anywhere else, was the origin of this new version of Darius. The internet’s most knowledgeable Genesis nerds immediately recognized the port as the work of a hobbyist programmer named Hidecade, who had been publicly sharing updates about the unofficial project as recently as last year. Again, although it’s not confirmed that Hidecade’s port is the one being used here, it is exceedingly unlikely that there would be an entire second port of Darius. Also, the screenshots (including the HUD, which had to be redesigned for the Genesis screen) look identical. (Update, 9/3/19 12:00 p.m.: Sega has since officially confirmed that the game is based on Hidecade’s work.)

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Moreover, it seems that Hidecade has gone through and scrubbed all references to the project from his personal pages, including Twitter, his blog, and YouTube. In the livestream, Sega simply said that the game was being developed by M2, the developer of the Genesis Mini software, and supervised by Taito. (Kotaku has reached out to Sega and will update this story if it returns comment.)

Tetris for the Genesis Mini.
Tetris for the Genesis Mini.
Screenshot: Sega

While it’s disappointing that the apparent fan-based origin of Darius is not being announced publicly (or at least, not yet), it’s not that surprising. Hobbyists tend to work anonymously or under pseudonyms in Japan, so it’s possible that this situation is what is preferred for all parties involved. Either way, it’s very exciting to see a fan-made project embraced, made “official,” and released by the original copyright holder. It would be great to see this happen much more often.

The $80 Genesis Mini will be released on September 19. While Sega originally said that its mini console would have 40 games, today’s announcement actually brought it up to 42. The other surprise game was Tetris, which will not be the unreleased Genesis version from back in the day, but an all-new, better version. Here’s the final list, with this week’s new games at the end.

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  1. Sonic The Hedgehog
  2. Ecco the Dolphin
  3. Castlevania: Bloodlines
  4. Space Harrier 2
  5. Shining Force
  6. Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine
  7. ToeJam & Earl
  8. Comix Zone
  9. Altered Beast
  10. Gunstar Heroes
  11. Earthworm Jim
  12. Sonic The Hedgehog 2
  13. Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse
  14. World of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck
  15. Contra: Hard Corps
  16. Thunder Force III
  17. Super Fantasy Zone
  18. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master
  19. Streets of Rage 2
  20. Landstalker
  21. Mega Man: The Wily Wars
  22. Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition
  23. Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
  24. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle
  25. Beyond Oasis
  26. Golden Axe
  27. Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium
  28. Sonic The Hedgehog Spinball
  29. Vectorman
  30. Wonder Boy in Monster World
  31. Tetris
  32. Darius
  33. Road Rash II
  34. Strider
  35. Virtua Fighter 2
  36. Alisia Dragoon
  37. Kid Chameleon
  38. Monster World IV
  39. Eternal Champions
  40. Columns
  41. Dynamite Headdy
  42. Light Crusader

Update, 9/3/19 12:00 p.m. Eastern: Contrary to what Sega told Kotaku on the day that this story was originally published, it has since revealed that the version of Darius on the Genesis Mini is, indeed, based on the work of fan creator Hideki “hidecade” Konishi. As such, we have reverted the prior update below and restored this story to its original form.

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Update, 2:56 p.m. Eastern: Sega has told Kotaku that the version of Darius on the Genesis Mini is a totally new version ported by the developer M2, and not based on the fan work. However, since the Mini version bears striking similarity to the fan-created port, it still seems possible that there is a connection between them. We have updated the headline and first paragraph of this story.

Features Editor, Kotaku. Japanese curry aficionado. Author of the books Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life and Final Fantasy V from Boss Fight Books.

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DISCUSSION

merlin
Taliesin_Merlin

This is a fascinating list. We get the first two Sonic games (but not 3 or Knuckles), the first Golden Axe (but not 2), the first Ecco (but not 2), the first Shining Force (but not 2), the first Vectorman (but not 2), and the fourth Phantasy Star (but not 2 or 3). In general the system seems opposed to including more than one game for most series.

That said, it includes representative entries that (to my knowledge) haven’t been in a Genesis collection before: Road Rage II, Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition, Mega Man: The Wily Wars, and Contra: Hard Corps.

So the biggest value of this system is the representative variety of games that it presents. It has many genres, many series, and shows a version of the Genesis that is easy to forget with the collections of the past, which skew more towards first-party and towards the top series. It is more like the Genesis I knew, which had a messy variety of games, from shooters to beat-’em-ups to platformers to Disney to ports of games I played first on a Nintendo console to RPGs to puzzle games to the uncategorizable. About the only genre missing is one of the great sports series, like RBI Baseball or my favorite, Tony LaRussa Baseball ‘95.