Sega Mega Drive

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Fast Facts on the Sega Mega Drive

Made by: Sega

Release Date RRP Code
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis JP 1988-10-29 ¥21,000 HAA-2510
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis US (NY/LA) 1989-08-14 $200.00 MK-1600
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis US (Nationwide) 1989-08 $200.00 MK-1600
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis UK 1990-09 £189.99 1600-05
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis FR 1990-09 1890FF 1600-09
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis DE 199x  ?DM  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis ES 199x  ?Pts  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis IT 199x  ?£  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis PT 199x  ?  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis NL 1991 ƒ399  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis BR 1990-12 R$? 010300
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis KR 1990-05 ₩154,000  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis IN 1995 ₹18,000  ?
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis TH 199x ฿?  ?


The Sega Mega Drive (メガドライブ), called the Sega Genesis in North America and Super Gam*Boy (수퍼겜보이) (later Super Aladdin Boy (수퍼알라딘 보이)) in South Korea, is a video game console developed by Sega in 1988. The Sega Mega Drive is Sega's fifth home console, following the SG-1000, SG-1000 II, Sega Mark III and Sega Master System. It was codenamed the Sega Mark V during development and is part of what is now known as the fourth generation of video game consoles.

The Mega Drive is widely considered to be Sega's most successful video game console, with a reported 35.3 million consoles sold worldwide and over one thousand games released for the system in total. As well as competing with Nintendo's NES and later SNES for market control, Sega also found itself fighting against NEC's TurboGrafx-16 (PC Engine in Japan), SNK's Neo Geo, the Atari Jaguar and numerous home computers in one of the biggest "console wars" of all time. It would be succeeded by the Sega Saturn and later Sega Dreamcast.

Hardware

The Mega Drive was envisioned at the next technological step over other video game consoles available at the time. It is a "16-bit" machine, named after its use of a 16-bit CPU (in this case, the Motorola 68000), and was marketed as being superior to popular "8-bit" consoles dominating the market at the time, usually the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) but sometimes its immediate predecessor, the Sega Master System. 16-bit CPUs had been gaining popularity since the mid-80s and were almost expected to be found in new home computers and arcade machines - it was therefore considered logical that the next "generation" of dedicated video game consoles should follow suit.

The Mega Drive builds on technology found in the Master System (and with adaptors, is fully backwards compatible), though as well as upping the technical specifications for more demanding gameplay, sound and graphics, makes a number of cruicial changes to the design of consoles which continue to this day. Firstly it added a third face button, C, to the (now ergonomically designed) control pad. The Mega Drive outputs sound in stereo, and makes an attempt to region lock games through software. Also, when utilising the right cables, the Mega Drive is natively able to produce a clearer image than its rivals (on top of its already higher resolution 320x240 display).

All Mega Drives ultilise a top-loading design (as opposed to the cumbersome VCR-style cartridge loading of the Western NES), while having removable controllers (unlike the Famicom). It was designed from day one to allow hardware expansions, and its use of dark plastic means that the "yellowing" of older systems (from bromine-based flame retardants reacting with oxygen) is less of an issue.

Official Variants

Main article: Sega Mega Drive Models

Mega Drive

The original Mega Drive measures 28 cm×21.2 cm×7 cm. The top of the unit is split into two components: a circular emboss with the cartridge slot and a tagline (which was omitted on later versions), and a control panel containing the power and reset buttons and the volume slider for the headphones jack. Audio output through the original model was mono through the A/V port, while the headphone jack was used for stereo sound. A third DE-9 port on the back of the unit provided additional peripheral support, though was removed from later revisions.

Asian, Japanese and South Korean models have a cartridge locking mechanism which prevents cartridges from being removed when the power is on (which is why "Eastern" cartridges, as well as the Sonic & Knuckles cartridge and various others, have a cut-out on their left sides). Later runs included the TradeMark Security System, missing in early builds causing small compatibility issues, despite the feature having been planned early on.

Mega Drive 2

1993 saw this cost-reduced redesign (known as the Mega Drive II in Europe, and not explicitly referred to as anything other than "Genesis" in North America), at 22 cm×21.2 cm×5.9 cm, being introduced internationally. One of the major revisions from the original model was the removal of the headphones jack in favor of stereo output through a redesigned 9-pin A/V port. American and European models used a momentary switch for power while non-western models used a left-right switch. Furthermore, the audio mixing circuitry was modified, resulting in noticeably different quality audio output — here is a page with audio samples, provided by little-scale.

A common myth is that the Mega Drive 2 lacks a Z80 — the truth is that it lacks a Zilog Z80. During the Mega Drive's lifetime, Sega received various off-the-shelf chips from different manufactuerers, and sometimes would rebrand chips as their own or make them themselves, which is what happened here (and which is why each Mega Drive has a different manufacturer for its 68000). If the Z80 was missing, most games would have no sound (or not all sound). In later revisions, the Z80 was integrated into a custom ASIC which also incorporated the major chips of the system.

Genesis 3

Main article: Genesis 3
A Genesis 3.
The Genesis 3 was a small version manufactured by Majesco in 1998 for the American market, which they had been manufacturing for until then. It is much smaller than its predecessors and lacks all expansions and fixes memory controller bugs — both rendering some games unplayable and the Sega CD and 32X unusable.

Portables: Mega Jet and Nomad

Main articles: Sega Mega Jet and Sega Nomad

The Mega Jet and Nomad were portable Mega Drive systems released near the middle/end of the system's lifetime. The Mega Jet, released in 1994, was originally designed for use on JAL airliners but was later released for Japanese consumers. The Mega Jet is a semi-portable system; the system has a built-in controller but requires an external power supply and a TV. The Nomad was a full portable in its own right, having an integrated screen and sound capabilities, in addition to a battery pack.

Arcade Hardware: Mega Tech, Mega Play, and the System C

Main articles: Mega Tech, Mega Play, System C

The Mega Drive hardware was adapted for arcade use several times over the course of its life. The Mega Tech and Mega Play allowed arcade operators to provide somewhat modified versions of popular Mega Drive games for arcade play — these systems use special cartridges containing games and players can choose from the games plugged into the system. The System C is a different board built from modified Mega Drive hardware, boasting improved color abilities and (in later revisions known collectively as the System C2) improved sample playback. The System C was primarily home to puzzle games — Columns and Puyo Puyo were released on this hardware.

Data East is also known to have licensed Mega Drive hardware for an arcade version of High Seas Havoc; not much is known about this board.

Mega CD Combos: JVC Wondermega/X'eye, Pinoeer LaserActive, Sega Multi-Mega, and Aiwa Mega CD

Main articles: Wondermega, LaserActive, Sega Multi-Mega, Aiwa Mega CD

Combination Mega Drive/Mega CD units were developed over the course of the Mega CD's lifetime. The Wondermega and LaserActive are standalone consoles; the LaserActive also plays Laserdiscs. The Multi-Mega is a portable audio CD player that can play Mega Drive and Mega CD games when plugged in to wall power and a TV. The Aiwa Mega CD is a Mega Drive/Mega CD packed into Aiwa's consumer-level portable CD stereos.

Computer Combinations: Sega Teradrive, Amstrad Mega PC, al-Alamiah Units

Main articles: Sega Teradrive, Amstrad Mega PC, al-Alamiah AX-330, al-Alamiah AX-660, al-Alamiah AX-990

The Teradrive and Mega PC are combination Mega Drive/IBM-compatible PCs made for the Japanese and UK markets, respectively. The three al-Alamiah computers are combination Mega Drive/MSX computers for the Arabic market.

Modern System-on-a-Chip Compilations

A variety of companies now make licensed system-on-a-chip units in a variety of fashions that contain single-chip Mega Drive implementations and several licensed ROM images. TecToy-made SoaCs also contain several "new" MD games, however these are believed to be — and likely are — Java 2 Mobile Edition games running on additional hardware. For a full list of SoaCs, see the template at the bottom of the page.

Cartridges

The Mega Drive runs games housed in plastic cartridges uniquely shaped to fit the system. Though the technology exists to run Sega Master System games, the Power Base Converter is required to convert between the differing pin connections and slot sizes.

Official Mega Drive cartridges are generally smaller than their Master System/Mark III counterparts, with rounded edges and, in the case of "western" systems, bigger labels layered over the top and front of the cartridge. Region locking exists, albeit in a selection of rather crude forms - the TradeMark Security System, which is missing in many early Mega Drive systems, through software checks implemented manually by developers (which did not begin to feature in new releases until 1993), and differences in cartridge shape. Region locking is easily circumvented through the use of adapters - troubles only arise when dealing with 50Hz/60Hz differences between NTSC and PAL systems, leading some games to run too slowly while others, too fast.

As with the Master System, Sega-manufactured Japanese, Korean and Asian cartridges are shaped differently to those seen in North America, South America, Europe and Oceania, however the differences largely concern the aesthetics - "Eastern" Japanese-style cartridges opting for a more rounded approach with ridges, while "Western" cartridges being more angular and simplistic. Unlike the Master System, the Mega Drive has end-labels for easier reading and storage in western regions.

Pin layout is the same between the two types, however the base of the cartridge determines whether it can be safely inserted into the system - two extra pieces of plastic prevent Japanese cartridges from being inserted in western systems - these can be removed with modification, or as mentioned above, circumvented with adapters. This extra plastic is not present in systems such as the Genesis 3 and Sega 32X, nor does it exist in Japanese Mega Drives.

One interesting feature of Japanese cartidges is a inclusion of a cartridge "lock", which prevents the cartridge from being removed when the system turns on. A plastic piece from the system is slid across to a gap on the left hand side of a Japanese cartridge, securing it in place when the power switch is moved (similar tricks can be found in Super Nintendo consoles and the TurboGrafx-16). This locking mechanism is only present in Japanese Model 1 Mega Drives and is absent in all western models - the vast majority of western cartridges lack the gap required for cartridge locking, with exceptions being the likes of "special" cartridges, e.g. Sonic & Knuckles.

The lack of cartridge lock can be exploited, for example, to gain access to the level selection screen in Sonic 3D Blast.

Official Cartridge Designs

Cartridge designs for Altered Beast - though labels would change dramatically over the console's run, the physical shape would remain consistent.

Alternative Cartridge Designs

Though Sega manufactured the bulk of Mega Drive cartridges, many were created externally by the likes of Electronic Arts, Accolade, Sunsoft and Codemasters.

Technical Specifications

  • Main CPU: Motorola 68000 running at 7.67MHz NTSC/7.61MHz PAL
    • The 68000 has a 24-bit address space, allowing access to up to 16MB of memory. Sega's memory map for the Mega Drive allowed games to be up to 4MB without the use of a memory mapper; games that tried to go up to 10MB would find their memory maps crushed by the Sega CD (which took the second 4MB block) and Sega 32X (which took 2MB of the third 4MB block). All devices are memory mapped.
      • Games using save memory also needed to have the memory in the cartridge map; larger games, such as Phantasy Star IV, used a mapper to swap out cart space for SRAM during a save.
  • Main RAM: 64KB (repeated over the upper 2MB of address space)
  • Graphics: "Video Display Processor," or "VDP:" modified Texas Instruments TMS9918 based on the modifications made for the Master System; all TMS9918 modes were removed and replaced with several new modes.
    • Screen resolutions: 320x224, 256x224, 320x240 (PAL only), 256x240 (PAL only)
    • "Interlaced mode" doubles the height of all four; it was used by some games, such as Sonic 2 for two-player mode
    • Four graphics layers: two tile planes (just a grid of tiles), a "window" tile plane (cannot be transparent), and a sprite plane
    • 64KB internal VRAM — used to store graphics tiles, mappings for all layers, and horizontal scrolling
    • 64 9-bit words of internal CRAM — used to store the color palette
      • 64 colors split into four 16-color lines; each tile can be drawn with one of these four color lines
      • The first color in each line is transparent and any color of the entire palette can be used as a "background color" (when no pixels are drawn at a location); consequently the Mega Drive can display 61 colors on screen at once (unless raster effects or the Shadow/Highlight modes are used, in which case this number increases depending on the extent used)
      • Colors are 9-bit RGB with 3 bits per color component, allowing for 512 colors
        • When writing CRAM values to the VDP, however, they are word adjusted to 16 bits
      • Shadow/Highlight modes increase color gamut
    • 80 bytes internal VSRAM — used for vertical scrolling
  • Sound:
    • Sound CPU: Zilog Z80 running at 3.58MHz NTSC/3.55MHz PAL
      • Some games did not use the Z80, other games used it only for sample playback, but most used it for sound processing
      • 8KB program RAM which the 68000 and the Z80 can freely write to (though the 68000 must request the Z80 bus)
      • Can access 32KB of the 68000 memory map at once (while it should be used for accessing the cartridge, setting the bank register elsewhere can work on some hardware)
    • Yamaha YM2612 clocked at the 68000 clock speed
      • 6 channels of FM synthesis, Operator Type-N
      • The third channel can enter a Special Mode, or multifrequency mode, where each individual operator has a different frequency
      • The sixth channel can enter a DAC mode where the sound program constantly streams 8-bit unsigned PCM data to mix directly into the output waveform
      • Mapped to the Z80 address space — 68000 must request the Z80 bus to use
      • Some Mega Drive 2s actually use the core from the chip's CMOS equivalent, the YM3438
    • Texas Instruments SN76489 clocked at the Z80 clock speed and built into the VDP — same as with the Master System
      • Three channels of pure square tones and one noise channel
      • The noise channel can play either white noise or "periodic noise" either at one of three preset frequencies or using the frequency of the third tone channel (consequently, that channel will be mute)
      • Can be freely accessed by both the 68000 through the VDP and the Z80 through its memory map
    • The cartridge connector has two pins which allow stereo sound mixing directly from cart. No game used this, however the 32X uses it for its PWM audio.
    • The Mega Drive 1 has mono audio output from the TV output and stereo output from a built-in headphone jack, plus a built-in volume control. Future models drop the headphone jack and do stereo output from the TV output
  • Controller input: Two male DE-9 controller ports; one female DE-9 expansion port (early MD1s only)
    • Controller ports support two modes: parallel and serial
    • Parallel supports 7-bit bidirectional, with the console setting the direction of each bit.
    • Parallel also supports optional active-low interrupts on the TH line. (mapped to 68000 IRQ 2)
    • Serial mode supports up to 4800 bps. (used by the Mega Modem on port 3)
  • Expansion port: Used for Sega CD.
    • Provides access to /FDC ($A120xx) and /DISK to indicate Sega CD presence.
    • Maps Sega CD PRG RAM to $000000 when no cartridge is present, $400000 otherwise.
Memory Map
Mega Drive Memory Map
Start End Size Description
$000000 $3FFFFF $400000 ROM Cartridge
$400000 $7FFFFF $400000 Expansion Port Area (used by the Sega CD)
$800000 $9FFFFF $200000 Unallocated (used by the Sega 32X)
$A00000 $A0FFFF $10000 Z80 Memory
$A10000 $A10FFF only various meaningful System registers
$A11000 $A11FFF only $A11100 and $A11200 meaningful Z80 control (/BUSREQ and /RESET lines)
$A12000 $AFFFFF only several meaningful Assorted registers
$B00000 $BFFFFF $100000 Unallocated
$C00000 $DFFFFF $1F; mirrored VDP
$E00000 $FFFFFF $10000; mirrored Work RAM (games usually only use the uppermost mirror, at $FF0000)


History

Background

The 1980s was an experimental period for the video game industry, but also one of great importance. At the beginning of the decade dozens of companies were getting in on the video game craze, but by the end, video gaming was often associated with just one name - Nintendo.

With very little competition on the home console front, Nintendo and their Nintendo Entertainment System (NES; Famicom in Japan) had dominated the video game market. In the US they had tied up developers and regulated the industry on their own, and it seemed that nothing could unseat the Japanese powerhouse. But as time moved on, many began to question what the future of Nintendo's system held - arcades were entering their golden age, and a once-revolutionary system was starting to look dated.

A frustrated Sega had had two major attempts at unseating the NES. Once with the noticably inferior SG-1000, and again with the Sega Master System, which despite having built a following in Europe, had failed to resonate with the Japanese or North American public. But as arcade hardware manufacturers began to create games with more complex visuals and soundscapes than the NES could provide, Sega saw an opportunity for success — using scaled down versions of commonplace arcade components that would fit more easily in a consumer's budget, the plan was to create a console capable of providing a closer arcade experience at home.

Development

Sega began working on its Mark V shortly after the release of the Mark IV (aka Master System). As was now tradition, the Mega Drive was built on Sega's existing Sega Master System hardware to keep manufacturing costs down. Hardware and software would be made backwards compatible, and the foundations for possible expansions would be laid to cover all bases.

Sega's then CEO, Hayao Nakayama contributed several ideas to the Mega Drive project, deciding that the console should be based on the company's successful Sega System 16 arcade architecture. "16-bit" processors were almost a requirement for major arcade releases, and so it made sense to bring this technology to the home. Though not the first home machine to contain a 16-bit processor, the Mega Drive was the first to print the words "16-BIT" in big, gold lettering onto the console itself, thus starting what is often named as the "bit wars", something featured heavily in advertising campaigns up until the Nintendo 64 in the mid-1990s.

Nakayama claims to have officially named the console "Mega Drive", with "Mega" representing superiority over rival machines, and "Drive" representing the speed of the chosen Motorola 68000 processor - the heart of the console. Unfortunately for Sega, the "Mega Drive" trademark could not be registered in North America and had to be replaced with the name "Sega Genesis". The trademark was held by a company known as "Mega Drive Systems", who specialised in creating storage devices for home computers.

Release

Japan

The Sega Mega Drive was first released in Japan on October 29, 1988 with two launch titles, Space Harrier II and Super Thunder Blade, and retailing at ¥21,000. Life was difficult for Sega - Nintendo's Famicom held a monopoly on the market, while NEC's PC Engine had already established the groundwork for a new "16-bit" generation a year prior, growing ever more popular by the day. From a home computer perspective, the MSX2 was continuing its dominance similar to its predecessor (also still supported at this point), the MSX1. The NEC PC-9801 and the still relatively new Sharp X68000 were also fighting for the "professional" computer market, though these were out of reach of many Japanese consumers at the time.

Most major Japanese developers and publishers of the day were in the pockets of Nintendo, NEC and Microsoft/ASCII, with Sega fighting an up-hill battle from day one. The Mega Drive found itself following the trends of arcade games at the time — shoot-'em-ups — and Sega also tried to woo over home computer developers (especially Sharp X68000 developers), establishing strong links with the likes of Toaplan and Telenet Japan, as well as initially gathering interest from Namco and Capcom.

Sega's catelogue of arcade ports kept the system alive, but the talk and subsequent launch of the Super Famicom in late 1990 kept Sega in third place (behind the PC Engine) for most of the generation. The release of SNK's Neo Geo AES may have also had an impact in the console's runnings. However, the situation could have been bleaker, as releases like the Shining games, Langrisser, Puyo Puyo, and the Sega Mega-CD kept the console from fully dropping out early.

The Mega Drive was axed in Japan by the end of 1995, with Sega releasing its last first-party game in December and Compile releasing the last game for the region the following year. Sega were very much keen on backing their Sega Saturn console instead, a move which saw it achieve much greater success than the Mega Drive in the years that followed.

North America

Having achieved very little progress in cracking the American market with the Sega Master System, Sega's plans for the Mega Drive (renamed "Genesis") were far bolder, with aggressive marketing tactics in place from day one which openly criticised Nintendo and their Nintendo Entertainment System, which, much like Japan, dominated the video game console market. The Genesis launched in late 1989, and although had struggled against the PC Engine in Japan, quickly eclipsed the US-variant, the TurboGrafx-16.

The early Genesis game library and marketing campaigns in North America focused on the arcade-at-home stance, although Sega also took the decision to create celebrity-sponsored sports titles (as well as the famed Michael Jackson's Moonwalker), a tactic which proved reasonably successful. Sega also partnered with Disney to create platformers such as Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse and QuackShot, the relationship running for several years into the mid-90s.

Most notably was Sega's strong ties with Electronic Arts, which saw rapid growth on the Mega Drive not least due to John Madden Football. EA stemmed from their history as computer game publishers during this period and turned in to a major player of the video game landscape, eventually becoming the world's largest video game publisher.

The Genesis made huge gains over Nintendo during the console's first couple of years, although for many it was assumed that the successor, the Super Nintendo, would reclaim its crown upon release. Though this eventually did occur, Nintendo's plans were set back dramatically by the release of Sonic the Hedgehog on that day, June 23, 1991, as well as a wealth of high quality titles and strong advertising campaigns depicting the SNES, much like the NES, as the weaker system. Though damaged, Nintendo never truly went away - a number of strange Sega marketing blunders in 1994/1995 and the extended lifespan of the SNES (not to mention the strong support coming from Japan) meant that in the end, the Super Nintendo was able to take a victory.

Sega became disinterested in the Genesis by the mid-90s, focusing instead on the Sega Saturn. It did, however contract Majesco to continue manufacturing Mega Drives in the US through 1997 and 1998, and the few third party developers and first party studios that stayed on board produced games like Vectorman 2 and Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island and many compilations. In an ironic twist of fate, a straight port of Frogger would be the last officially released Mega Drive game released in the country - Frogger had been a series Sega held a license over for much of the 1980s, and coincidentally was one of the last SNES releases in the region too.

Europe

Sega did not form any direct distribution channels in Europe until the mid-1990s, so the Mega Drive's launch in Europe was somewhat disorganised. For one, the PAL Mega Drive was delayed - originally set to be released in 1989, it was pushed back to March 1990 due to manufacturing issues, and did not reach consumers until later in the year. By the time the Mega Drive hit places like Spain, for example, it was almost on its last leg in Japan. The late release saw a handful of games, primarily those released in 1990 in Japan or North America (most notably games released by Renovation Products), skip the European Mega Drive altogether, although this would be made up for in later years by more local releases.

"Europe" itself was not treated as one region until the late 1990s, so each country received games and hardware at different points in time (although only weeks and months, as opposed to years, separated launches). In the United Kingdom, the Mega Drive launched in September 1990 during the European Consumer Electronics Show (ECES) for the price of £189.99 (complete with Altered Beast), however the delay meant that many keen gamers had imported systems prior to this date (and magazines were reviewing imported games).

Virgin Mastertronic distributed the console in the UK, as they had with the Master System though also extended their reach to France and Germany. Sega bought the Mastertronic side of the company in September 1991 and began distributing consoles and software themselves, thus establishing Sega Europe.

Success of the Mega Drive was initially somewhat hard to measure, not least because in much of Europe, consoles were not particularly popular. Whereas Japan and North America had opted for dedicated video game consoles during the 1980s, the rest of the world was content with home computers, of which 16-bit varieties (the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST) had been launched around 1985-1987. Many consumers therefore saw no need for the Mega Drive - it was more expensive to adopt, yet less functional than a 16-bit computer, and was thus seen as a novelty item for wealthier families or something engineered for kids.

Though Nintendo had had a similar problem with the NES (and would continue to do so with the SNES, released very late in 1992), Sega reversed their fortunes with the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, on the same date as the US, June 23, 1991 (though some magazines thought it had a July release). This attracted numerous big software houses (such as Virgin Games, Acclaim Entertainment, and Ocean Software) and building a strong portfolio of games. Much of this success was built on the Sega Master System, which although had faced huge competiton from computers, had a respectible install base and was the most successful home console in much of Europe.

Like North America, the Mega Drive was replaced, perhaps prematurely, by the Sega Saturn in 1995 and discontinued in 1998 after 8 years in the European market. However, during its half-decade of service had become not only the most successful console of all time, but had began to change opinions on gaming as a whole. The IBM PC was putting traditional 16-bit computers out of action, with mice and keyboards being favoured over joysticks - games built for joysticks, which had once thrived on machines by Atari, Sinclair, Amstrad and Commodore found themselves on consoles instead. The Mega Drive also helped launch the hugely popular FIFA series, which continues to exist to this day.

The Mega Drive was the system of choice in the United Kingdom (there, it was known as the #1 retro games console of all time), and likely extended its dominance to France, Germany, Spain and Portugal. It was also big in Italy, Greece and Scandinavian countries, although much of the story is undocumented. Australia, though not in Europe, relied much on European stock, with the Mega Drive being a relatively successful console there.

Brazil

In Brazil, the Mega Drive handled by TecToy, who was also responsible for the Master System's distribution in the country, where, similar to the Master System, it became the system of choice throughout much of the 1990s. TecToy tried to produce a number of original titles in 1996 and following, presumably ending at Show do Milhao 2 (2001?), part of a partnership with a popular regional game show.

South Korea

In South Korea, the console was distributed by Samsung.

Asia

Mega Drives were also sold in "Asia" too.

Legacy

Despite successes in North America and being the console of choice for Europe, Brazil and many smaller markets, the Sega Mega Drive ultimately failed to woo its homeland of Japan, which was the deciding factor when developing the console's successor, the Sega Saturn, which ironically flopped in most regions aside of Japan. Despite this, the Mega Drive is often used to represent Sega's "glory years", with numerous compilations and emulators released by the company since the late 1990s.

The Mega Drive also saw Sega play the console add-on game with the Sega Mega-CD, which impressed gamers in Japan with a rich variety of games released on the new compact disc technology, however overseas, marketing focused on "full motion video" games that continuously failed to impress. Sega also tried various forms of online gaming several times — the first-party Sega Meganet and Sega Channel and third-party XB∀ND. Various other add-ons would be made over the years.

Finally, in a combination of poor communication between Sega of America and Sega of Japan and the desire to keep the Mega Drive afloat, Sega of America released the Sega 32X, an add-on which added its own additional capabilities to the Mega Drive, such as a larger color palette and a two fast CPUs to facilitate higher quality 3D rendering than what was seen on the Mega Drive (which went as advanced as F1 unaided). The 32X was released too late, had manufacturing errors at launch, and was too expensive to impress, and promptly fell flat on its face.

Selected Mega Drive games are available through the Wii's Virtual Console service, Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network. In addition, many PC compilations have been released. AtGames currently holds a license to reproduce legacy Sega hardware and has released a number of Mega Drive "consoles on a chip", some even containing cartridge slots. The Sega Mega Drive is also a top choice of platform for emulation, with a number of free Mega Drive emulators available to the public. Some, such as KGen are known to have been used by Sega themselves.


Development Systems

A ZAX ERX 308P Z80 emulator.

ZAX ERX 318P

The ZAX ERX 318P is a Motorola 68000/68010 hardware emulator licenced by Sega for use in the development of software titles for the Mega Drive. The default configuration consists of a Mega Drive unit, a card which connects through an ICE interface to the ERX 318P unit, which then has an SCSI connection to a proprietary host SCSI card used in a DOS/Windows 9x machine with the SegaDev32 development software.

ZAX ERX 308P

The ZAX ERX 308P is a Zilog Z80 hardware emulator licensed by Sega for use in the specific development of Z80 code, namely audio software, for the Mega Drive. The default configuration consists of a Mega Drive unit, a card which connects through an ICE interface to the ERX 308P unit, which then has an SCSI connection to a proprietary host SCSI card used in a DOS/Windows 9x machine with the SegaDev32 development software.


Games

List of Games

Main article: List of Mega Drive Games

Launch Titles

A Japanese Sega Mega Drive (Model 1) overloaded with add-ons including the Sega Mega-CD (Model 1), Sega 32X, Remote Arcade System and Mega-CD Karaoke.

Japan

North America

Europe

Gallery

Promotional Material

Sega Mega Drive Hardware
Console Variations Japan | North America | Europe | Brazil | Asia | South Korea | Australia

EZ Games | Heartbeat Personal Trainer | LaserActive | Mega Jet | Mega PC | Mega Play | Mega-Tech | Nomad | Teradrive

Add-ons Mega-CD (Multi-Mega | Wondermega | CSD-G1M) | 32X (Mega-CD 32X)

Demo System DS-16 | Master Mega Converter | Mega-CD Karaoke | Mega Modem | Nomad PowerBack | Power Base Converter | Super Magic Drive

Controllers Control Pad | Six Button Control Pad | 6 Button Arcade Pad | MK-1470

Action Chair | Activator | Arcade Power Stick | Keyboard | MegaFire | Mouse | Mega Stick | Menacer | Remote Arcade System | Ten Key Pad

Network Services Sega Channel | Sega Meganet (Sega Game Toshokan) | Tectoy Mega Net | TeleBradesco | XB∀ND
Misc. Hardware 4 Way Play | Action Replay | Game Genie | Mega Anser | Power Plug | StuntMaster | Super Multi-play |Team Player | Tototek MD-Pro

Video Game Organizer | Video Entertainment Center | Game Cartridge Organizer | Video Entertainment Cabinet

Unreleased Hardware Floppy Disk Drive | Video Jukebox
Consoles on a Chip

Arcade Legends Sega Mega Drive | Mega Drive Volume II‎ | Mega Drive Volume 3 | Street Fighter II': Special Champion Edition‎ | Menacer | OutRun 2019 | Sensible Soccer Plus

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

Mega Drive 3 (2007) | Mega Drive 3 (2008) | Mega Drive 4

Mega Drive 3 (2000) | Micro Drive | Sega Zone

Sega Game Systems (by console generation)
2nd Gen   SG-1000 | SG-1000 II | SC-3000
3rd Gen   Mark III | Master System | Game Gear
4th Gen   Mega Drive/32X/CD | Pico
5th Gen   Saturn
 6th Gen   Dreamcast