The capabilities of Android TV as a platform do seem to be endless. While it is already clear that this is a platform built for gaming (as much as anything else), it still can be surprising just how much you can do with an Android TV device. Although, the extent to the experience encountered often does depend on what Android TV device you have in the first place. At present, the NVIDIA SHIELD is the benchmark Android TV device and now is another example why.
This week Sega (through Sega Forever) announced that it was opening up a number of its games to be played for free on Android devices. At present, the collection only consists of five games (Sonic, Altered Beast, Phantasy Star 2, Kid Chameleon, Comix Zone) but the collection is due to grow with Sega stating new games will be released each month. Now it is clear that this is primarily made for mobile Android, but with Android being what it is, there are usually ways and means to get something working on other forms of Android – like Android TV. Which is the case for Sega Forever. Your mileage will vary with this depending on the Android TV device you have, as the Sega Forever collection is not quite optimized for Android TV yet. For instance, Sonic works very well and will likely work on most, if not all, Android TV devices, while the others – not so much.
However, if you own the NVIDIA SHIELD, then you should be able to get the others to work. The reason they run in to problems at the moment is due to an issue when any of the games (other than Sonic) first launch. As when a game does start up you need to be able to click away from the Sega pop up announcements/notifications/ads, and the normal Android TV controllers will not engage with these overlaid aspects. There does seem to be some cases where the SHIELD Controller's in-built mouse navigation (right stick) works, but this does not seem to be a solid solution. That said, you can bypass the issue completely by using a dedicated wireless or Bluetooth mouse. When the mouse is connected to the SHIELD, you can close the additional windows and at which point you will be able to start and play the Sega Forever games. Altered Beast is shown below.
So whether you will get the games working on you system will largely depend on whether you can connect a mouse or not to your Android TV system. If you can, then there should be no issues at all. If not, then you will likely need to wait for more integrated Android TV support to be made available. Which does seem very likely to be happening. As the Google Play Store listing for each game does clearly show compatibility with all Android TV devices. Likewise, when installed, game icons do show up on the leanback launcher – which is usually a clear identifier that Android TV support is included. So chances are these games will become much more accommodating to Android TV in the future. For now though, they do work and although they take a little legwork at first, you can play these Master System and Genesis (Mega Drive if you are in the UK) games for free. It worth noting that the free versions of the games are ad-supported, although you can purchase an ad-free version of each game for $1.99 if you prefer.