From Sega Retro
|Manufacturer: King-Wei Electronics|
|Distributor: Electrolab, Universe Electronic S.A, Bitman, Interactive Enterprises, Bobmark International, Samurai Software, Wywy Group, NKH (?), H.H.Lin Hoovers Video Shop, Anova, Archon Computer Products|
The KW-501 is an unlicensed Sega Mega Drive clone manufactured in Taiwan by King-Wei Electronics, Inc (慶威電子) and distributed across various countries during the 1990s. It was the successor to the KW-500 and was built as a more affordable alternative to Sega's official offering, and was one of the first (and perhaps most prominent) Mega Drive clones released to the general public. The KW-501 was predictably challenged by Sega in many markets, but saw recognition by Sega in countries where presence was difficult.
The original version of this console is believed to be the Zhan Shen (戰神) which was sold in Taiwan, however numerous companies distributed the KW-501, rebranding the unit to suit their needs. There are many slight variations of the console, including the Scorpion XVI (by Interactive Enterprises), King-500 (by Anova), Froggy System 16, MG-16 (by Electrolab), Turbo Aito (by Universe Electronic S.A), Magic 2, Speedy Boy, MG-2 (by Kinyo), Super Bitman (by Bitman), Power Pegasus (by Bobmark International), Samurai MG-16 (by Samurai Software), Micro Genius (by Micro Genius), King Karol, Hitex, KW-II, Kowi 96' and Kowi 97' (by Kowi) as well as the Saba Super Mega 16 Bit which is the English version of the Zhan Shen. The first models in this series continued to appear under the name of the KW-500. The console also had a modified version called KW-501U, which did not differ from the first one in appearance.
All KW-501 consoles are presumed to be internally identical, with minor cosmetic alterations and swapped RF adaptors for differing markets.
- 1 Hardware
- 2 History
- 3 End
- 4 Magazine articles
- 5 Photo gallery
- 6 Promotional material
- 7 Physical scans
- 8 External links
- 9 References
The KW-501 functions as a regular (original model) Mega Drive, complete with volume slider and support for the Sega Mega-CD via the expansion port underneath the unit. Furthermore its controller port positioning lines up with a real Mega Drive, meaning the Remote Arcade System is compatible. The unit is not, however, compatible with the Sega 32X, as the add-on's connection cable will not physically fit in the system - minor modifications to the circuit board can re-enable this functionality.
New to the KW-501 are two switches located next to the expansion port for determining both region and refresh rate, making the system compatible with the vast majority of Mega Drive games. The KW-501 was also designed around the concept of a built-in Mega Drive game - below the unit lies a second cartridge slot which the unit will default to if no cartridge is detected on top. Any regular Mega Drive game can be inserted here, however only the PCB will fit - the game must therefore be removed from its protective shell. Some models, such as the Kowi 96' lack this second port.
The build quality of the KW-501 is predictably lower than the official Sega Mega Drive, but the system usually shipped with two six button controllers.
All KW-501s were manufactured in Taiwan for export across the world.
The KW-501 is known to have been released in Taiwan as the Zhan Shen (戰神) and Saba. Both consoles had a trademark registered in Taiwan by King-Wei Electronics.
Under its Scorpion XVI name, the KW-501 became infamous in the United Kingdom, where it gained widespread press coverage and undercut Sega's official Mega Drive console by a considerable margin. Though presumed to have been forced out of the market shortly afterwards, the Scorpion XVI stands as one of the few clone consoles of this nature to make gains in the region and is now a valuable collectors item. The console was distributed by Interactive Enterprises as a successor to the Scorpion 8, which was a famiclone. The first models were sold in a black box with the number KW-501, while the later were sold in a yellow box with the number KW-501U.
Predictably the Scorpion XVI did not see a widespread release, however is known to have retailed at branches of Beatties for about £70.
South America (Argentina)
The majority of KW-501 consoles appear to have been sold in South America in PAL-N regions (and thus were mostly found in Argentina). Consoles are known to have crossed the border into Brazil, but were met with stiff resistence by Tectoy. It is assumed some systems also crossed over to Uruguay and Paraguay, which also use the PAL-N format.
MG-16s distributed by Electrolab are perhaps the most common unit to be seen in Argentina, although systems by Kinyo and Kowi were also sold there. Given the extent of Mega Drive piracy in the region, is difficult to gauge the success of the KW-501 - given the rarity of the Sega Mega-CD and its games, there were likely many cheaper alternatives to this unit. This console has a successor under the name MG-16R and MGW-16 modeled on KW-503.
KW-501 was also distributed here under the name Turbo Aito by Universe Electronic S.A.
The first available clone of this type in Russia was Magic 2 which appeared in 1994.
Later, the Bitman released KW-501 in the form of the Super Bitman, a presumed successor to the "Bitman" Famiclone distributed by them in the region. Similar to the above it was likely undercut by cheaper Mega Drive clones. After Bitman became a Sega distributor, the console was called the official clone  similar to Mega Game II in Portugal, Power Pegasus in Poland and Magic 2 in South-East Asia. This console have also a version modeled on KW-503.
KW-501 was released as the Power Pegasus and was distributed by Bobmark International as a successor to the Pegasus console. It was originally announced on Play Box 95 where they promised to release it before Christmas 1995 but judging by the date of shipment under console, it was released in September 1995. Bobmark was a Sega distributor in Poland, so it could be assumed that the product was released with the permission of Sega, just like Mega Game II in Portugal, Super Bitman in Russia and Magic 2 in South-East Asia. Using the well-known Pegasus brand was supposed to attract to Sega, players who played on 8-bit famiclone. Although the console cost 300 PLN and was cheaper than the original models (Mega Drive cost around 350 PLN), did not gain as much popularity as it predecessor and one of the reasons for the failure was the lack of advertising, which resulted a disappearance among others Mega Drive clones and officially available consoles. In April 1996, Power Pegasus could be bought for 260 PLN. Eventually there was also new model called KW-501U which is even more rare than standard KW-501.
Serbia and Montenegro
In this region, the KW-501 was available in two variants - Power Pegasus (successor to Pegasus 8-bit) and Saba.
There are rumors that around 1996, Power Pegasus appeared in Bosnia.
Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei
As in Poland and Russia, the version of the KW-501 named here Magic 2 was sold by Wywy Group the official Sega distributor in this country, along with the Sega sticker under the console.
Rumors says that King-Wei contacted NKH - official Sega distributor in Algeria and offered them production of 16-bit Sega consoles with official trademark's sticker or with changed name and supposedly distributor accepted this and sold clone in the region.
The KW-501 was distributed here as the Samurai MG-16 by Samurai Software, associated with the Samurai Electronics company which in 1987-1994 distributed Nintendo consoles in India under the name Samurai. The KW-501 has been on sale since 1996 with a registered trademark in India on October 7, 1996.
King-Wei ceased operations in April 1998, which meant the end of KW-500s brand. Rumors say that Sega sued King-Wei and won it in 2000.
- Main article: KW-501/Magazine articles.
King Karol brand model
|Mega Drive, (King-500)|
|Mega Drive, (Samurai MG-16)|
|Mega Drive, (MG-2)|
|Mega Drive, (Speedy Boy)|
|Mega Drive, (Froggy System 16)|
|Mega Drive, (King Karol)|
|Mega Drive, (Micro Genius)|
|Mega Drive, (Aito) alt|
- Aktueller Software Markt, "September 1993" (DE; 1993-08-09), page 59
- https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/233963 (Wayback Machine: 2016-08-13 18:50)
- Svet Kompjutera, "Februar 1996" (YU; 1996-xx-xx), page 84
- Action Games, "Marzo 1995" (AR; 1995-xx-xx), page 68
- Action Games, "Abril 1995" (AR; 1995-xx-xx), page 68
- Action Games, "Mayo 1995" (AR; 1995-xx-xx), page 68
- Action Games, "Junio 1995" (AR; 1995-xx-xx), page 68
- Action Games, "Marzo 1995" (AR; 1995-xx-xx), page 7