Sega Megadrive / Genesis
|4th Generation Competitors|
|Neo Geo CD||PC Engine||Super NES||Neo Geo AES||CDTV||Philips CDI||NEC SuperGrafx|
|Region||Release Date||Discontinued||Lifetime Sales|
|Japan||29th Oct 1988||1997||35M|
|North America||14th Aug 1989||Ongoing|
Sega knew they had to try harder to beat Nintendo in the next generation, part of which was getting out first. To this end they took their System 16 arcade board, home to such classics as Altered Beast, and made a living room friendly version.
The Megadrive was born, it sold well in Japan eventually, but the launch was disrupted slightly by the release of Mario Bros. 3 on the Famicom a week before. Positive reviews helped build sales but they still only sold 400,000 units in the first year.
They needed to go international quickly, after two mis-steps, a deal with Tonka toys and a deal with Atari, they opened a North American office and hired a staff. Unfortunately, due to a trademark dispute the Megadrive had to be renamed to Genesis in North America. The Sega America team wasted no time and got some hard hitting adverts out.
The Megadrive sold well, it was eventually overtaken by the Super Nintendo, but it’s sales were easily strong enough for Sega to consider it a success.
Sega attempted to prolong the life of the Megadrive by adding a number of peripherals. The first, the Mega CD, added CD capabilities to the Megadrive. It was a nominal success, but the need for a separate power supply made for a messy living room though.
The next add-on was far less successful. Because Sega were still developing their next console they were keen to string the Megadrive along even more. They introduced the 32X, a device that added a new set of processors to the Megadrive that could be used alongside the existing hardware.
It was expensive and added yet another power supply. Owners of the console weren’t sold and only a few games were made. But the introduction caused a lot of confusion and caused Sega to rush the introduction of the Saturn.
There were numerous versions of the console.
- A compact version was released with slightly cost reduced components. This also had a revised version of the MegaCD which sat next to it instead of on top.
- TecToy are still creating versions of the Megadrive and games for the Brazilian market.
- Sega released a combined Megadrive and MegaCD called the CDX, which could also be used as a portable CD Players.
- Victor released a combined Megadrive and MegaCD in Japan called the Wondermega. JVC released a restyled version called the X’eye in North America. Neither were popular.
- Amstrad released a combined PC and Megadrive for the European market, called the Mega PC. It was similar to Sega’s own Terradrive, but considered better built.
- Pioneer released a MegaDrive module for it’s LaserActive laser disc player.
|Processor||Motorola 68000 @ 7.6MHz, Zilog Z80 @ 3.58MHz|
|Custom Chips||2 x SH2 32bit Risc chips @ 23MHz (32X)|
|Video||61 colours from a palette of 512
32,768 Colours on screen (32X)
|Audio||6 x Stereo FM Synthesis Channels|
|Removable storage||MegaCD addon Single Speed CD|