Everything's getting smaller; nuclear missiles, the moral integrity of US presidents... and the games machines we grew up playing. We've had two mini Nintendo plug-and-play machines, the C64 Mini, and now it looks like we're getting a proper Mega Drive Mini. This is good. This is almost exactly what I want.
There have been countless other machines which have tried to emulate the Mega Drive experience (for example, the Mega Drive Flashback from the makers of the Mega Drive Mini), but - to date - they've all felt a bit cheap-and-cheerful. Hopefully things will be different this time, given the precedent set by Nintendo, and that Sega will be working closely with manufacturer AtGames to ensure its integrity.
The Mega Drive Mini wasn't the only Sega retro news to ooze out of the spout last week; a remastered Shenmue 1 & 2 package is swaggering towards the PS4, Xbox One and PC, and classic Sega games (starting with the Mega Drive, but later expanding to include Saturn and Dreamcast titles) will begin surfacing on Nintendo's Switch eStore later this year.
Add all this to the fruity reception which embraced last year's defiantly old-school Sonic Mania, and it feels like there is, at last, enough fresh air since Sega was forced out the hardware game for people to start looking more fondly at its antediluvian "bulge".
To be honest, it's overdue.
I was - and to a point still am - a Nintendo fan. I slightly hesitate to call myself a "fanboy", because that implies I love everything Nintendo does without question.
I certainly don't; I became a Nintendo fan because I thought quite genuinely that the Super NES was brilliant, and Nintendo's games for it were brilliant. They were, and still are. But at the same time, there has been a lot that Nintendo has done which I felt was wrong-headed. And by "a lot" I mean "the Wii U", and, to a lesser extent - get ready for some sweeeeet heresy - the Nintendo 64.
In political terms, I've learned recently that this perverse, free-thinking, ability to question things I generally support makes me a "centrist" - which is, apparently, the worst thing in the world that anybody can be. Remember, kids: it's really important to be utterly inflexible when it comes to whichever belief system you've decided to back! Absolutes are the new black (and white).
Furthermore, I've been gallivanting through the SNES and Mega Drive back catalogues of late, and something has struck me; the SNES has more terrible games than I remember, and the Mega Drive has more great games than I remember.
Particularly in the latter case, a lot of those really, really great games came late in the Mega Drive's life. It appears that developers took a while to really get to grips with the hardware, and by the time they did... Sega was releasing the Mega CD and 32X, and implying that the Mega Drive was no longer fit for purpose. It's like reaching the altar on your wedding day, and trying to demonstrate to your betrothed that you're only human by deciding suddenly to defile your underwear.
"Nnnng... I'm not perfect, you know!!! I'm.... ng-nnnggg.... I'm pooing in my pants, Linda!!"
I think my memory of those first-party SNES games, and the way Sega mishandled its consoles, specifically the Mega CD-to-32X-to-Saturn debacle - and Sega's annoying marketing of the Mega Drive as the "cool" console - coloured my feelings.
It had prejudiced me against the company, and that's a shame. I mean, it was too little too late, but I believe the Dreamcast was a genuinely wonderful system, with a bunch of genuinely great games, and I bought a Mega Drive almost as soon as it was released in the UK. I was very, very happy with it... and had no reason to question my choice... until the SNES came along.
But now it seems that my feelings, and those of others - including Sega's own - are changing.
Sega is in a weird position these days. Whereas Nintendo and Sony - who, lest we forget, had as much to do with the downfall of Sega as Sega itself did - have managed to remain relevant, Sega might as well not exist anymore as a modern games publisher. It has been hard to get a clear handle on the identity of Sega as it exists now.
There does, however, seem to be steps from Sega towards more firmly embracing its role as a sort of "heritage" publisher. Certainly, Sega could simply continue to license out its back catalogue. However, what I'd really like to see are more games like Sonic Mania; relatively low-budget, low-risk, re-workings of classic Sega titles by developers who are fans.
You could think of it like the way Star Wars is now being made by people who grew up with it. Or the way in which Doctor Who, since it returned, has always had a showrunner drawn from its hardcore fanbase (admittedly, to diminishing creative returns). We're living in an era where people don't want the things they loved from childhood to stay in the past; we want them to be ongoing. I mean, just look at this stupid bloody site for one thing.
Sega needs to find a way to get beyond the reality that its games are freely and easily (not to mention illegally) available via emulation. It needs to offer something extra, building on its heritage rather than merely re-releasing it un-fiddled-with.
And get this: I have a real good idea.
IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE
Imagine a Streets of Rage Mania or Gunstar Heroes Mania. Heck, you could almost re-release Ristar with just a few enhancements and it'd still stand up.
There are so many new games being released which are inspired by classic Sega games - just look at the brand new, and brilliant-looking, Mega Drive game Tanglewood - that Sega has an opportunity to work with some of the people behind them. Set them loose on new old-style games featuring its classic brands. Give them access to the original code, sound and artwork assets. Let them go to town with it.
And I'm not just talking Mega Drive games; we forget that Sega had a long history in the arcades before it moved into home gaming. Let's see some of those brought back in a way that's new, while honouring the pixellated heritage; OutRun, Power Drift, Zaxxon, Bonanza Bros...
Then release a brand new Sega console; the Super Mega Drive, or whatever, which looks similar, but not identical to the old Mega Drive. A design which builds on those weird, industrial, shapes. Perhaps it's even a handheld hybrid like the Switch (so long as it's affordable)
Make all these new-old games available for that, maybe via download only, but also available on the PS4, Xbox One, Switch, Mac and PC for those who don't want to buy new Sega hardware. It would be a completely unique proposition, appealing to those with a fondness for nostalgia, while also being something new... and - importantly - relatively low-risk. I mean, heck, crowd-fund it if you need to. Let people show you that they want it. The audience is out there.
We're at a moment in history now where Sega has an opportunity to capitalise on its past - and help pave the way to a healthier future, and this window might not stay open forever.
Sega deserves better than where it's at; publishing games which feel entirely at-odds with the Sega we remember it as. It has an opportunity to embrace who it is... because we've not forgotten, and we're all ready to welcome it back.