Review: Blaze Mega Drive

For many years, clone systems have provided an opportunity for players to relive their gaming memories without having to hunt down the original hardware. Usually these systems are unauthorised efforts, but that’s not the case with the Blaze Mega Drive, which bears the official endorsement of Sega.

The Blaze Mega Drive is hardly new, with the first models hitting in early 2009. It’s actually a rebranded version of the ATGames Firecore. The only difference between the two machines is that the Firecore has more games built in. Blaze has a tendency to switch the games so as to have multiple models on store shelves.

For $AU49.95, you get a small console with AV-Out, two 6-button pads and 15 built-in games Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Alien Storm, Altered Beast, Arrow Flash, Bonanza Bros., Columns, Crack Down, Decap Attack, ESWAT, Fatal Labyrinth, Flicky, Gain Ground, Golden Axe, Shadow Dancer (i.e. the usual suspects Sega digs up for collections) and Sonic & Knuckles.

There is also a “limited Streets of Rage edition” console that has only ten games, adding Streets of Rage, Streets of Rage 3 and Sonic Spinball while dropping Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Arrow Flash, Bonanza Bros, Crack Down, Decap Attack, Flicky, Gain Ground and Sonic & Knuckles.

If you’re looking at these Mega Drives on the shelves of your local K-Mart and expecting anything close to the real thing, prepare to be disappointed.

Sega endorsement or not, the Blaze Mega Drive is a fairly typical clone system. The standard incompatibilities apply – no support for Virtua Racing, EverDrive, Master System adaptors, Mega CD or 32X here.

The build quality on the system feels extremely cheap –it feels like it could very well crumble in your hands. The 6 button controllers are a neat touch – ensuring full playability of the major fighting games on the system, but they too feel cheaply made.

The worst part is the sound – the Blaze Mega Drive uses a ARM chipset with poorly coded emulator on board, so accuracy is a major issue. The games generally look fine – there are the occasional visual glitches – but the sound is atrocious. It can vary from game to game, but the overall experience leans substantially toward the negative. The rich melodies of Sonic & Knuckles are reduced to sounding more the wailing calls of a distressed cat.

Given that you could get an original Mega Drive system and most of the games on offer here on the secondary market for the same price, the only thing the Blaze Mega Drive really has going for it is convenience.

Advantages Drawbacks
  • 6 Button Pads that will work on any Mega Drive
  • AV-Out
  • Region free
  • Cartridge slot so you can use your original games
  • Utterly atrocious sound quality
  • Some graphical glitches
  • Extremely cheap/tacky build quality
  • Most of the built-in games are crap
  • Cheaper to get a second hand original system and a handful of carts