|Fast facts on Sega 32X|
The Sega 32X (スーパー32X) codenamed Project Mars, is a hardware add-on to the Sega Mega Drive created by Sega. It is the second of two major add-ons for the system, the other being the Sega Mega-CD, and was released worldwide in late 1994. The 32X was designed to extend the Mega Drive's lifespan by giving it significantly more powerful 32-bit processing and texture-mapped 3D polygon capabilities. It was thus seen as a logical upgrade to the 16-bit processing and 2D capabilities of the Mega Drive and its main rival, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The 32X was succeeded by the Sega Saturn.
In the interests of simplicity, Sega Retro uses a simplified "Sega 32X" name for the unit, though the official name differs depending on regions of the world. In Japan, it was distributed under the name Sega Super 32X, in North America, the Sega Genesis 32X, in Europe, Australia and Asia, the Sega Mega Drive 32X, in Brazil, the Mega 32X and in South Korea, the Super 32X.
The Sega 32X is a large and heavy "mushroom-shaped" unit which plugs into the Mega Drive's cartridge slot. The 32X also plays its own cartridges which are designed to take advantage of the enhancements of the system - cartridges which will not physically fit in a standard Mega Drive. The 32X cannot function as an independent machine, but unlike the Power Base Converter it was designed to be a permanent addition to the Mega Drive setup, doubling up as a passthrough device allowing normal Mega Drive games to still be played. The 32X came with ten coupons and a plastic spacer, ensuring it can work with most versions of the Mega Drive console.
As an aside, the 32X's video encoder is of a slightly higher build quality than those usually found in later iterations of the Mega Drive, potentially resulting in a slightly clearer image when playing Mega Drive titles.
Numerous factors led to the criticism over the 32X, but one of the major issues is encountered before the system is even switched on. The device requires its own AC adaptor, and a second physical connection to the Mega Drive console from the back of the unit. If the user also has a Mega-CD, this means no less than three power adapters are required (plus a fourth for a television). Both the AC adaptor and 32X Connector Cable are bespoke units - the AC adaptor is more common as it is identical to that seen with the Mega Drive 2 (though is not often covered by universal AC adaptors), but the 32X connector cable is unique to the 32X and was not sold separately (though third parties variants exist).
Furthermore, Sega's AC adaptors of the day were designed so that the transformer was located around the plug area, resulting in several bulky units obstructing surrounding sockets. Due to the extra space required just to plug the console into the wall, Sega eventually released their own Sega Power Strip in North America.
The 32X brings significant visual upgrades to the Mega Drive, including being able to display more colors on-screen (32768 at once, which was an important requirement for games featuring 3D graphics and full-motion video and had hence been a common complaint with the Mega-CD), scaling and rotation, and significantly enhanced 3D graphics capabilities provided by its two Hitachi SH-2 32-bit RISC processors (also used for the Saturn) and 32X VDP.
Audio capabilities were also upgraded, including the addition of QSound technology, which enables multidimensional sound that allows a regular stereo audio signal to approximate the 3D sounds heard in everyday life (similar to binaural recording).
The 32X is compatible with the Sega Mega-CD, allowing the user to play one of six enhanced Sega Mega-CD 32X games.
North American marketing pitched the 32X as being 40 times more powerful than the Super NES and 6 times more powerful than the 3DO. This is true in terms of CPU performance, as the 32X's dual SH-2 are capable of processing nearly 60 MIPS, compared to the Super Nintendo's Ricoh 5A22 which processes 1.5 MIPS and the 3DO's ARM60 which processes 10 MIPS. In terms of 3D polygon performance, the 32X is capable of calculating and rendering 265,000 flat-shaded polygons/sec, and 50,000 textured polygons/sec. In comparison, the 3DO renders 20,000 textured polygons/sec, and the Super Nintendo's Super FX cartridge enhancement chip renders less than 1000 flat-shaded polygons/sec, thus the 32X renders more than 200 times as many flat-shaded polygons as the Super FX chip and more than twice as many textured polygons as the 3DO. Compared to other systems at the time, the Atari Jaguar renders 10,000 textured polygons/sec, while a Pentium 60 PC calculates 30,000–50,000 flat-shaded polygons/sec and renders 6000 textured polygons/sec. The 32X was generally the most powerful home system released to the Western world in 1994, since the more powerful Saturn and PlayStation were only released in Japan at the time.
Contrary to popular belief, the Sega 32X doesn't employ any regional lockout technology per se, instead relying on the region of the Mega Drive to determine the region of the unit. It does however have a set Genlock frequency which stops 50Hz (PAL) games from working on 60Hz (NTSC) units and vice versa. Due to the 32X only differentiating between frequencies and not region, the Japanese Super 32X and Genesis 32X are identical, and will work on either NTSC console. Much like region modifications on the Mega Drive and Saturn, this is easily changed with slight modifications to the unit, allowing for universal support of all games.
Games marked with asterisks(*) are enhanced versions of previous Sega Mega-CD-only games, taking advantage of the 32X's improved graphics, which require both the 32X and Mega-CD in order to be played (see Sega Mega-CD 32X).
US TV advert
US TV advert (with Chill E.B.)
US TV advert (with Chill E.B.) (2)
|Sega Mega Drive Hardware|
|Console Variations||Japan | North America | Europe | Brazil | Asia | South Korea | Australia|
|Add-ons||Mega-CD (Multi-Mega | Wondermega | CSD-G1M) | 32X (Mega-CD 32X)
Demo System DS-16 | ERX 308P | ERX 318P| Master Mega Converter | MD 8bit Converter | Mega/Master Adaptor | Mega-CD Karaoke | Mega Modem | Nomad PowerBack | Power Base Converter | Pro MegaMaster | Sprobe | Super Magic Drive
|Controllers||Control Pad | Six Button Control Pad | 6 Button Arcade Pad | Arcade Power Stick 6B | Konami Justifier | MK-1470|
|Network Services||Sega Channel | Sega Meganet (Sega Game Toshokan) | Tectoy Mega Net | Telebradesco Residência | XB∀ND|
|Misc. Hardware||4 Way Play | Action Replay | Cartridge Caddy | Cartridge Soft Pak | Cleaning System | Control Pad Extension Cord | Double Pro Fighter | Everdrive MD | Game Cartridge Organizer | Game Genie | Game Wizard | Genipak | Genesis Speakers | Interceptor Mega Disk | Magicard | Region converter cartridges | Mega Everdrive | Mega Anser | Mega Terminal | Miracle Piano Teaching System | Multi Game Hunter | Power Plug | Megaverter | RetroGen | RF Unit (Mega Drive 2) | SCART Cable (Mega Drive 2) | Sega Power Strip | Stereo Audio Video Cable | StuntMaster | Super Multi-play | Team Player | Tototek MD-Pro | Video Game Organizer | Video Entertainment Center | Video Entertainment Cabinet | Video Monitor Cable|
|Unreleased Hardware||Floppy Disk Drive | Mega Play 1010 | Video Jukebox|
|Consoles on a Chip||
Arcade Blast | Arcade Classic | Arcade Master | Arcade Motion Classic | Arcade Motion Dual | Arcade Nano Series | Arcade Portable | Arcade Ultimate | Genesis Gencore | GenMobile | Mega Drive Twin Pads
|Sega Home Video Game Systems|
|SG-1000||SG-1000 II||Mega Drive||Mega Drive II|
|SC-3000||Mega-CD||Mega-CD II||Genesis 3|
|Sega Mark III||Saturn|
|Master System||Master System II|