Sega Mega Drive

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Sega Mega Drive
Sega mega drive logo.svg
Sega Genesis logo
Sega Mega Drive PAL.jpg
Manufacturer Sega
Type stationary game console
generation fourth generation of consoles
JapanJapan October 29, 1988
United StatesUnited States January 9, 1989
EuropeEurope November 30, 1990
Main processor MC68000 @ 7.60 MHz (PAL)
Storage media Modules , with the mega-CD also CD-ROMs
Controller Control pad , start button and 3 action buttons (A, B, C)
later control pad, start button, mode selector and 6 buttons (A, B, C, X, Y, Z)
Online service Sega-Channel among others, mainly in the USA and Japan
Units sold about 30 million
Most successful game Sonic the Hedgehog
predecessor Sega Master System
successor Sega Saturn
Japanese logo of the Sega MegaDrive
Design of an unofficial game packaging, in this case from the game Legend of Wukong

The Sega Mega Drive ( Japanese メ ガ ド ラ イ ブ , Mega Doraibu ; marketed as Sega Genesis in North America ) is a 16-bit home video game console produced by the Japanese company Sega . It was launched in 1988 and later mainly competed with the Super Nintendo Entertainment System . In South Korea , the console was sold by Samsung under the name Super Gam * Boy . In 2019 Sega released the retro console Mega Drive Mini as a throwback .

Origin and career

At the end of the 1980s, 16-bit computers like the Amiga and the Atari ST , as well as 16-bit arcade devices, overtook the 8-bit video game consoles. In addition, Sega's competitor Nintendo held 95 percent of the North American video game market and 92 percent of the Japanese market. Only in Europe were Nintendo's 8-bit and 16-bit devices not as successful. Sega knew the Sega Master System would not be able to challenge this position in North America and Japan, so it was decided to begin manufacturing a new console.

Sega's System 16 slot machines made the company very well known, so Hayao Nakayama , Sega's CEO at the time, decided to produce the new console as a 16-bit device. The current design convinced, and so used to three new arcade boards: The Megatech , the Mega Play and the system C . All games made for these systems could work on the new console.

The first name that Sega considered for the new console was MK-1601 , however, in the end, the name Mega Drive was chosen . Mega exuded superiority, and Drive made the consumer think of speed and power. This name was used for the Japanese, European, Asian, and Australian versions of the console. For trademark reasons, the device was called Genesis (ancient Greek for "creation") on the North American market, which accounted for around half of total sales .

When NEC released the PC Engine in Japan on October 30, 1987, it appeared to be a threat to Sega and Nintendo. However, it caused little stir in the Japanese market, little more than the Mega Drive.

The Sega Mega Drive was released in Japan on October 29, 1988 at a price of ¥ 21,000  (about DM 295  , in today's purchasing power € 265). The European release was in Great Britain on November 30, 1990, priced at £ 190 (€ 435 in today's purchasing power).

The Mega Drive initially competed with the 8-bit Famicom system in Japan and its equivalent Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe and North America.

The Japanese players were more fixated on the Famicom . As the Mega Drive started to take over the market, the Super Famicom came along , outperforming the Mega Drive in Japan. The Super Famicom held about 80 percent of the market there. The Mega Drive suffered a worse fate than the PC Engine in the Japanese market, despite its technical superiority over the PC Engine and Famicom.

The European NES market was very confused, with different companies selling the NES in different markets. Like the Sega Master System, the Sega Mega Drive had no problems establishing itself in Europe. In contrast to other markets, Sega did not rely on a direct confrontation with Nintendo's aging system in terms of marketing. Due to the late release of the Mega Drive on the European market, it was more in competition with Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System .

One unusual market in which the Mega Drive was successful was in Brazil, where it was released in 1990, just a year after the Sega Master System. Both systems were able to hold their own there until 1998 and beyond. Thanks to Tec Toy , the Brazilian sales company, both systems held 75% of the market there. And the Mega Drive is still not dead, because it wasn't until December 2007 that Tec Toy released a new portable version with 20 built-in games. A licensed replica of the company BLAZE with 15 games and 2 controllers has been available from the Pearl mail order company since November 2009 . This is compatible with all modules of the Mega-Drive and Genesis consoles from all regions.

Since 2006 some new mega-drive games have been released on module. It all started with the role-playing game Beggar Prince , which is an English translation of Xin Qi Gai Wang Zi developed in Taiwan in 1996 . This release by Super Fighter Team was the first commercial game for the console to be released outside of Brazil since 1998. In 2008, Legend of Wukong, another translation of an older game from Taiwan by the same manufacturer, was the company's first game with Star Odyssey of Japanese origin. The homebrew development scene has also pushed the release of new games in recent years. Frog Feast was the remake of an Intellivision game in 2007 , and in 2010 Pier Solar and the Great Architects released the most extensive game for the console to date with 64 megabits after six years of development . In addition, this fan development was able to come up with the innovation of functioning for the first time as a combination between module and CD-ROM . If the optional CD is inserted into the mega-CD, the PCM music is played from there while the rest of the game comes from the module. If there is no CD or no mega-CD hardware, however, the music is played normally via the sound chip of the mega drive.

In 2016, the Brazilian company Tectoy received a license from Sega to manufacture the Mega Drive. The re-released console will be distributed with games from Sonic and Alex Kidd . The new Mega Drive has an SD card slot.

Extensions and peripherals

Original 3-button controller and later 6-button controller

Several expansion components appeared in Japan for the Mega Drive, some of which also appeared in other markets. The Sega Mega CD was released worldwide for all versions of the console, but the North American version was marketed under the name Sega CD . The 32X , the 32-bit extension of the Mega Drive, which was later described by many as Sega's biggest flop and which could not hold its own against the 32-bit Sega Saturn and PlayStation consoles , was launched worldwide.

The original console was slightly changed shortly after its market launch, including removing the EXT port (connection for the Meganet modem) on the back and adding a patented startup sequence to the BIOS, which meant that only licensed games could be started. In 1993, the console was redesigned with the Sega Mega Drive 2. It reduced costs by compacting chips, shrinking the board, and removing the headphone jack. Shortly thereafter, a cheaper version of the Mega-CD was released, the Mega-CD 2 (or Sega CD 2 in North America). The front loader became a top loader, which was no longer completely under, but partly next to the main device.

With the Mega Drive 2, 6-button controllers became standard, but all games continued to support the existing 3-button controllers.

A master system adapter was available for the Mega Drive. The Powerbase converter is plugged into the module slot of the console. As with the master system, the pause button was not on the controller, but on the device. All master system accessories including light gun and 3D glasses are compatible with this converter. Due to the design, this adapter no longer fit the Mega Drive 2, a newer version appeared in Europe. Here, too, savings were made, the card slot was removed so that only module games could be used. The Mega Master was a Fire and Datel master system converter that appeared in England. It looked like the official Mega-Drive-2 converter, but the pause button was on the side as a switch.

Although Sega had a game gear converter under discussion ("Mega Game Gear"), it was never produced.

Versions and variants

Original Japanese Mega Drive Original PAL Mega Drive Original Sega Genesis with High Definition Graphics logo Majescos Sega Genesis 3 AtGames' Sega Firecore
JP Mega Drive PAL Mega Drive Sega Genesis Sega Genesis 3 Sega Firecore
JP Mega Drive model 2 PAL Mega Drive model 2 Sega Genesis model 2 Sega Multi Mega Sega Genesis Nomad
JP Mega Drive 2 PAL Mega Drive 2 Sega Genesis 2 Sega multi-mega Sega Nomad

In the life cycle of the Sega Mega Drive, there were a number of different versions and variants. From the removal of the 9-pin EXT port on the back to the new design known as the Mega Drive 2 to independent third-party developments such as the Mega PC from Amstrad, there is a relatively large range of products. In addition, otherwise identical devices differ a little in the different markets.

Technical specifications

Mega Drive motherboard
  • Primary CPU : 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor with 7.67 MHz ( NTSC ) or 7.60 MHz ( PAL )
    • The processors came from Motorola and Hitachi, and initially from Signetics.
  • Secondary CPU : 8-bit processor Zilog Z80 A with 3.58 MHz (NTSC) or 3.55 MHz (PAL)
    • Due to the limited communication with other components, the Z80 is used almost exclusively as a sound processor.
    • In the Mega Drive 2 it was installed as a " custom chip ".
  • ROM : Maximum 32 Mbit, more with bank switching
  • 68K RAM : 64 KiB
  • Graphics : VDP (Video Display Processor) for Playfield and Sprite Control
  • Video RAM : 64 KiB
  • Color RAM : 64 × 9 bit
  • Color palette : 512 colors (RGB, 3 bits per color channel)
    • Maximum colors at the same time : 64
  • Maximum sprites : 80
  • Resolution : 320 × 224 (NTSC), 320 × 240 (PAL), 40 × 28 text mode
    • 4 planes: 2 scrolling playfields, 1 sprite plane, 1 window plane
The YM2612 was responsible for most of the tone generation.
  • Main sound chip : Yamaha YM2612 6 channel FM @ 4 MHz
  • Additional sound chip : 4-channel Texas Instruments PSG (Programmable Sound Generator) SN76489
  • Signal / Noise Ratio : 54 dB (YM2612), 36dB (PSG)
  • Z80 RAM : 8 KiB (total address space for the Z80, often used as sound RAM)
  • Inputs / outputs :
    • Mega Drive 1 only:
      • Stereo headphone output on the front
      • Antenna output
      • 8-pin DIN socket for RGB video and mono audio
      • 9-pin EXT port (only in the earlier original version)
    • Mega Drive 2 only:
      • 9-pin mini-DIN socket for RGB video and stereo audio
    • Expansion port on the right for Sega Mega-CD
    • two 9-pin joypad connectors on the front

Web links

Commons : Sega Mega Drive  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. David X. Noack: 28-year-old Japanese console is experiencing revival in Brazil , November 9, 2016.
  2. Tectoy bet on nostalgia in the console Mega Drive Recovery ( Memento from November 11, 2016 in the web archive ),, November 1, 2016.
  3. Mike Wehner: The Sega Genesis is officially back in production , November 7, 2016.