Sega 32X

From Sega Retro

32X PAL logo.png
32X US.jpg
Fast facts on Sega 32X
Manufacturer: Sega
Release Date RRP Code
Sega 32X
¥16,800 HMA-0001
Sega 32X
$159.99 84001
Sega 32X
£169.99 MK-84201-50
Sega 32X
1,390[1]F MK-84201-50
Sega 32X
DM ? MK-84201-50
Sega 32X
29.900[2]Ptas MK-84201-50
Sega 32X
$349[3] ?
Sega 32X
R$399[4] 150000
Sega 32X
₩199,000 ?
Sega 32X
? MK-84202-07
Sega 32X
NT$? MK-84202-16
Sega 32X
?kr ?

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 (32,768 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 NES'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 rendering 160,000 flat-shaded polygons/sec and 50,000 textured polygons/sec. In comparison, the 3DO renders 20,000 textured polygons/sec,[7] while the Super Nintendo's Super FX 2 cartridge enhancement chip renders 4000 flat-shaded polygons/sec and 2000 textured polygons/sec, thus the 32X renders 40 times as many polygons as the Super FX 2 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,[8] while a Pentium 60 PC renders 30,000–50,000 flat-shaded polygons/sec[9] and 6000 textured polygons/sec,[10] and the Pentium 66 renders 3.6 MPixels/s[11] (compared to the 32X's 18–36 MPixels/s). 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.


Main article: 32X consoles.

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.


Main article: Sega 32X cartridges.

Technical specifications

See Sega Mega Drive specifications for base Mega Drive hardware specifications



  • Overlay/Underlay graphics processors:
    • Mega Drive VDP — 13.423294 MHz (NTSC), 13.300856 MHz (PAL), 8/16-bit data bus
    • Sega CD ASIC — 12.5 MHz, 32-bit (2x 16-bit) data bus
  • Overlay/Underlay Mega Drive VDP planes: 512–1536 color palette, 61–512 colors on screen
    • Sprite plane: 80 sprites/frame, 8×8 to 32×32 pixels/sprite, 16 colors/sprite, maximum 1280 sprite tiles/frame
    • Background planes: 2 tiled scrolling background layers, 8×8 pixels/tile, 16 colors/tile, 320×224 tilemaps, maximum 1808 tiles/frame
    • Fillrate: 6.934358 MPixels/s (read), 6.41376 MPixels/s (write), 6.934358–36.325644 MPixels/s (effective tile fillrate)
  • Overlay/Underlay Sega CD ASIC planes: Enhanced Mega Drive VDP planes, enhanced FMV plane
    • Sprite/Tile planes: 128–1536 colors on screen, sprite/tile scaling and rotation
    • FMV plane: Full motion video, 32,768 colors on screen
    • Fillrate: 6.934358 MPixels/s (read/write), 6.934358–36.325644 MPixels/s (effective tile fillrate)





  • Cartridge: Compatible with all Mega Drive models, JVC Wondermega can store save game/score information.
  • CD-ROM: If you have a Sega Mega-CD; speed same as Sega Mega-CD compatible with audio CD, CD&G, SegaCD and JVC WonderMega


  • I/O: Same as Mega Drive; 32X upgradable; can upgrade the 32X


Main article: History of the Sega 32X.


List of games

Main article: List of 32X 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).

Launch titles


North America


Magazine articles

Main article: Sega 32X/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Print advertisements

EGM US 062.pdfEGM US 062.pdf

Print advert in

Electronic Gaming Monthly (US) #62: "September 1994" (1994-xx-xx)

SegaVisions US 21.pdf

Print advert in

Sega Visions (US) #21: "October/November 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
also published in:

  • GamePro (US) #64: "November 1994" (1994-xx-xx)[55]

  • EGM² (US) #5: "November 1994" (1994-xx-xx)[56]

NextGeneration US 01.pdfNextGeneration US 01.pdf

Print advert in

Next Generation (US) #1: "Premiere Issue 1995" (1994-12-08)
also published in:

NextGeneration US 02.pdfNextGeneration US 02.pdf

Print advert in

Next Generation (US) #2: "February 1995" (1995-01-24)
also published in:

  • Game Players (US) Vol. 8 No. 2 "February 1995" (1995-xx-xx)[58]

  • Sega Visions (US) #23: "February/March 1995" (199x-xx-xx)[59]

SegaVisions US 24.pdfSegaVisions US 24.pdf

Print advert in

Sega Visions (US) #24: "May 1995" (1995-xx-xx)
also published in:

  • VideoGames (US) #77: "June 1995" (1995-xx-xx)[60]

  • Game Players (US) Vol. 8 No. 7 "July 1995" (1995-xx-xx)[61]


Print advert in

Mean Machines Sega (UK) #30: "April 1995" (1995-02-28)

CVG UK 169.pdf

Print advert in

Computer & Video Games (UK) #169: "December 1995" (1995-11-10)
also published in:

Joypad FR 036.pdfJoypad FR 036.pdf

Print advert in

Joypad (FR) #36: "Novembre 1994" (1994-xx-xx)

MegaForce FR 34.pdf

Print advert in

Mega Force (FR) #34: "Décembre 1994" (1994-xx-xx)
also published in:

  • CD Consoles (FR) #3: "Janvier 1995" (199x-xx-xx)[64]

ConsolesPlus FR 042.pdf

Print advert in

Consoles + (FR) #42: "Avril 1995" (1995-xx-xx)

Television advertisements


External links


  1. 1 operation per cycle[20]
  2. 39 cycles per divide[21]
  3. 46,022,720 DSP operations/sec, 1,180,069 DIVU divides/sec
  4. 96 adds/multiplies and 9 divides per polygon:[38]
    • 131,118 polygons/sec: 12,587,328 DSP operations, 1,180,069 DIVU divides
    • 134,397 polygons/sec: 32,255,280 SH-2 cycles (96 adds/multiplies, 144 divide cycles)[21]
  5. 128 adds/multiplies and 9 divides per polygon:[38]
    • 131,118 polygons/sec: 16,783,104 DSP operations, 1,180,069 DIVU divides
    • 103,160 polygons/sec: 28,059,520 SH-2 cycles (128 adds/multiplies, 144 divide cycles)
  6. 192 adds/multiplies and 9 divides per polygon:[38]
    • 131,118 polygons/sec: 25,174,656 SH-2 DSP operations, 1,180,069 DIVU divides
    • 58,535 polygons/sec: 19,667,760 SH-2 cycles (192 adds/multiplies, 144 divide cycles)
  7. 46,022,720 SH-2 cycles/ops per sec (23.01136 MHz per SH-2), 1,180,069 DIVU divides/sec, 23.01136 MHz 32X VDP
  8. 252 cycles (192 geometry adds/multiplies,[38] 30 SDRAM cycles, 30 raster ops) and 9 divides per polygon, 3 operations/scanline per polygon,[41]Media:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf[32] 264 cycles and 9 divides per 4-scanline polygon
    • 16bpp: 3 cycles per pixel, 369 SH-2 cycles and 9 DIVU divides per 32-pixel polygon
  9. Texture mapping:
    • Flat shading: 188 SH-2 cycles (128 geometry adds/multiplies, 30 SDRAM cycles for 40 bytes,Media:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf[39] 30 raster ops)[40][41] and 9 divides per polygon, 1 add per pixel,[42] 220 SH-2 cycles and 9 divides per 32-pixel polygon
    • Texture mapping: 132 SH-2 cycles and 41 divides per 32-texel polygon
      • 132 SH-2 cycles per 32-texel texture: 2 block moves, 2 cycles per texel (2 bytes per texel), 2 cycles access
      • 41 divides per 32-texel polygon, 9 divides per polygon, 32 divides per 32-texel polygon (1 divide per texel)[44]
    • Texture mapping: 352 SH-2 cycles and 50 divides per 32-texel polygon
      • 23,601 polygons/sec: 9,487,602 SH-2 cycles, 1,180,069 DIVU divides
      • 31,714 polygons/sec: 36,535,118 SH-2 cycles (1152 cycles per polygon)
  10. Texture Gouraud shading:
    • Gouraud shading: 369 SH-2 cycles and 9 divides per 32-pixel polygon
    • Texture mapping: 132 SH-2 cycles and 41 divides per 32-texel polygon
    • Texture Gouraud shading: 501 SH-2 cycles and 50 divides per 32-texel polygon
      • 23,601 polygons/sec: 11,824,101 SH-2 cycles, 1,180,069 DIVU divides
      • 25,379 polygons/sec: 33,018,079 SH-2 cycles (1301 cycles per polygon)


  1. File:PlayerOne FR 046.pdf, page 37
  2. File:HobbyConsolas ES 037.pdf, page 31
  3. File:Hyper AU 014.pdf, page 16
  4. File:SuperGamePower BR 013.pdf, page 5
  5. File:SuperGamePower BR 021.pdf, page 11
  6. File:SegaForce SE 1994 0708.pdf, page 37
  7. Need for Speed Comparison
  8. Atari Jaguar 64-bit (The Atari Times)
  9. 3D Misconceived (PC Graphics Report)
  10. Spatial Multimedia and Virtual Reality, page 145
  11. PC Mag, December 1993, page 39
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 54
  13. File:Hitachi SuperH Programming Manual.pdf, page 390
  14. File:SH-2A.pdf, page 2
  15. File:Sega Service Manual - Sega Saturn (PAL) - 013-1 - June 1995.pdf
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 File:SH7604 Hardware Manual.pdf, page 3
  17. 17.0 17.1 File:SH7604 Hardware Manual.pdf, page 22
  18. File:ST-103-R1-040194.pdf, page 23
  19. 19.0 19.1 File:SH7604 Hardware Manual.pdf, page 303
  20. File:Hitachi SuperH Programming Manual.pdf, page 31
  21. 21.0 21.1 File:Hitachi SuperH Programming Manual.pdf, page 155
  22. File:SH7604 Hardware Manual.pdf, page 219
  23. File:ST-103-R1-040194.pdf
  24. 24.0 24.1 File:Genesis32XUSManual.pdf, page 7
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 File:Genesis32XUSOverview.pdf
  26. 26.0 26.1 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf
  27. 27.0 27.1 File:Genesis32XUSOverview.pdf, page 7
  28. File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 49
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 50
  30. 30.0 30.1 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 55
  31. 31.0 31.1 File:TC511664B datasheet.pdf
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 76
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 File:Genesis32XUSOverview.pdf, page 9
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 53
  35. 35.0 35.1 File:Genesis32XUSOverview.pdf, page 51
  36. File:Genesis32XUSOverview.pdf, page 53
  37. File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 42
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 Design of Digital Systems and Devices (pages 95-97)
  39. 39.0 39.1 File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 77
  40. 40.0 40.1 Algorithms for Parallel Polygon Rendering (pages 33-36)
  41. 41.0 41.1 41.2 Transformation Of Rendering Algorithms For Hardware Implementation (page 53)
  42. 42.0 42.1 Algorithms for Parallel Polygon Rendering (page 35)
  43. Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA, page 154
  44. State of the Art in Computer Graphics: Visualization and Modeling (page 110)
  45. File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 51
  46. Sprite engine for the Sega 32X
  47. 47.0 47.1 File:Genesis32XUSManual.pdf
  48. File:32XUSHardwareManual.pdf, page 41
  49. File:32XUSHardwareManual, page 13
  50. 50.0 50.1 Dr. DevSter's Guide to The Sega 32X
  51. File:Genesis32XUSManual.pdf, page 17
  52. File:UPD4504161 datasheet.pdf
  53. File:Genesis32XUSManual.pdf, page 22
  54. File:Genesis32XUSManual, page 7
  55. File:GamePro US 064.pdf, page 185
  56. File:EGM2 US 05.pdf, page 48
  57. File:SegaVisions US 22.pdf, page 52
  58. File:GamePlayers US 0802.pdf, page 4
  59. File:SegaVisions US 23.pdf, page 8
  60. File:VideoGames US 77.pdf, page 4
  61. File:GamePlayers US 0807.pdf, page 4
  62. File:MeanMachinesSega40UK.pdf, page 2
  63. File:SegaPro UK 57.pdf, page 2
  64. File:CDConsoles FR 03.pdf, page 15

Sega Mega Drive
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