Mega Drive games

From Sega Retro

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As the Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in North America) was Sega's most successful video game console, there were thousands of Mega Drive games released for the platform. In Japan, the console debuted in October 1988 with Space Harrier II and Super Thunder Blade as launch titles.

Many of Sega's early Mega Drive releases were aimed to steal as much market share from Nintendo as physically possible, with Sega porting many of its arcade hits such as Altered Beast, Golden Axe and Columns, as well as partnering with celebrities to produce Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, Pat Riley Basketball, Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf, James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing, Joe Montana Football, Tommy Lasorda Baseball and Mario Lemieux Hockey. Progress was still fairly slow until the release of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991, prompting Nintendo to step up support for the Super NES. Sega would then focus its efforts on attempting to beat the SNES on all fronts, releasing unsuccessful Mega-CD and 32X add-ons with their own set of games, and attempt to beat games such as Donkey Kong Country and Star Fox with titles such as Vectorman and Virtua Racing respectively.

Mega Drive games are still being released to this day, albeit in small numbers. Many games are bundled with plug-in-and-play systems, or through compilation packs or downloads. There have been some special releases, such as 2006's Beggar Prince, which was distributed on a cartridge.


TODO: merge/split/whatever Sega Mega Drive cartridges





Before the Mega Drive, Sega would do all manufacturing and distribution for both first-party and third-party games. Beginning with Technosoft's Thunder Force II, however, Sega allowed third-party developers to manufacture and distribute their own Mega Drive games, on the conditions that the publisher be a licensed one and that various rules needed to be followed (with some exceptions).

Unlike the Sega Master System, box designs for Mega Drive games were not consistant between regions and changed numerous time during the console's run, mostly in an attempt to reduce customer confusion in regards to other Sega platforms on the market - the Mega CD, 32X, Sega Game Gear, Sega Saturn and even the Sega Master System whose box art standards were being phased out by third parties during the 1990s. Initially Japan abolished strict box-art rules while the west adopted a grey-on-black grid-like pattern similar to the Master System. Shortly before the introduction of the Videogame Rating Council in North America, Sega Genesis games were given a red labelling scheme with white text, and after that, Europe saw a similar redesign using blue. Japan would see such a redesign in late 1994 to bring the design in line with the Saturn's new layout rules — however, Acclaim, who produced the most third-party games in this timeframe, still broke the rules on some occasions (like WWF Raw, which used the EU box layout).

Like the Master System, cartridge shapes differed depending on your location. In the west, they were all physically identical but often region locked, while in Japan, the carts were slightly less easy to reproduce and required a slightly different cartridge slot. Notably Electronic Arts refused to obide by these rules, producing their own "square" cartridges complete with yellow EA tab on the side. Codemasters went one step further, creating the J-Cart, allowing extra controllers to be inserted into the cartridge itself. Other companies, such as Ballistic, also used custom cart molds.

Mega Drive game packaging built one what was seen with the Sega Master System, bundling games in plastic "clamshell" boxes, which as well as protecting the cartridge, could house a manual and other documents if required. These boxes use the same dimensions as Western Master System games, however are slightly tweaked so as to hold the differently sized standard Mega Drive cartridge shape, and were used in all regions, including Japan, South Korea and the "Asian" region whose Master System titles were shipped in cardboard boxes.

While the use of plastic packaging was nothing new for Sega, it became something of a selling point with the Mega Drive, as Nintendo and its rival consoles favoured cardboard until the arrival of the Nintendo GameCube in 2001. Electronic Arts adopted similar packaging for its games, albeit customised for their bespoke cartridge shells.


North America

The release of the North American Mega Drive (Genesis) console in the August of 1989 brought with it a uniform packaging design similar to the Master System - a grey grid, this time on a black background (versus the grey-on-white seen in the earlier console). Unlike the early days of the Master System, detailed artwork was allowed to decorate the front of boxes, and game logos were usually used in place of the standard serif typeface used across Master System releases.

North America was arguably one of the least consistent regions in terms of packaging designs, however, as third-party publishers rarely stuck to Sega's packaging design philosophies in the beginning, with companies such as Electronic Arts and Renovation Products opting to use their own styles. Unlicensed publishers, such as Accolade's Ballistic label, also continued to use cardboard.

In 1993 to coincide with the redesigned Mega Drive 2 console, Sega radically changed its game packaging, opting for a red, diagonal striped design. This was more widely adopted by third-party publishers, though again it was not universal and many exhibit slight alterations to Sega's template.

Towards the end of 1994 Sega of America decided to start cutting costs, going back to flimsy cardboard boxes. Most third-party publishers, such as EA and Acclaim Entertainment, continued to use plastic.


Europe initially adopted a similar style to North America for its packaging, and while Sega were unable to enforce standards for third-party publishers, companies in this region were far more willing to copy Sega's designs to bring some consistency to the library.

Like North America, Sega Europe radically overhauled its packaging at some point in early 1994, using a blue design.


Brazil initially used cardboard before switching to plastic in 199x.

South Korea



Launch titles


North America



Sega Mega Drive
Topics Technical specifications | History | List of games | Magazine articles | Promotional material | Hardware comparison | Blast processing | Cartridges | TradeMark Security System
Hardware Japan | North America | Europe (West | North | South | Central and East) | South America | Asia | South Korea | Australia | Africa
EZ Games | LaserActive | Mega Jet | Mega PC | Mega Play | Mega-Tech System | Nomad | Teradrive | Mega Drive Mini | Mega Game II |"Consoles on a chip" | Unlicensed clones
Add-ons Power Base Converter | Mega-CD | 32X (Mega-CD 32X) | Mega Modem | Demo System DS-16
Controllers Control Pad | Six Button Control Pad | 6 Button Arcade Pad | Arcade Power Stick 6B | Konami Justifier | MK-1470
Action Chair | Activator | Arcade Power Stick | Keyboard | MegaFire | Mouse | Mega Stick | Menacer | Remote Arcade System | Ten Key Pad
Accessories 4 Way Play | Cleaning System | Control Pad Extension Cord | Genesis Speakers | HeartBeat Catalyst | Region converter cartridges | Mega Terminal | Miracle Piano Teaching System | Nomad PowerBack | NordicQuest | RF Unit (Mega Drive 2) | SCART Cable (Mega Drive 2) | Stereo Audio Video Cable | Team Player | Video Monitor Cable
Network services Sega Channel | Sega Meganet (Sega Game Toshokan | Mega Anser) | Tectoy Mega Net | TeleBradesco Residência | XB∀ND
Development tools ERX 308P | ERX 318P | Sprobe | SNASM68K | SNASM2 (Mega Drive) | SNASM2 (32X) | PSY-Q Development System (Mega Drive) | PSY-Q Development System (32X) | 32X CartDev | Sega Mars Development Aid System | Sega 32X Development Target
Unreleased Edge 16 | Floppy Disk Drive | Mega Play 1010 | Sega VR | Video Jukebox