Sega Pico

From Sega Retro

Pico logo.png
Sega Pico
Manufacturer: Sega (until 1998), Sega Toys (since 1998)
Release Date RRP Code
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico
Sega Pico

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The Sega Pico, known in Japan as the Kids Computer Pico (キッズコンピューター・ピコ) and later the Kids Communication Pico (キッズコミュニケーション・ピコ), is a video game console developed and manufactured by Sega and Sega Toys. Aimed at young children between the ages of 2 and 8, the Pico was one of the first education-oriented game systems, and the first to gain mass market appeal. It is also the first system to use touch controls as the default control scheme.

Released in Japan in 1993, and the United States and Europe in 1994, the Pico platform was officially supported in Japan as late as 2005 when its successor, the Advanced Pico Beena was released. Though obscure in the eyes of some, the Pico stands as one of the most successful devices of its kind, being the first educational console to ship globally and the primary inspiration for future educational devices from LeapFrog and VTech.


The Pico can be seen as a hybrid between a traditional cartridge-based video game console, a graphics tablet and an electronic book reader. It is a sturdy yet colourful device designed to both appeal to and "survive" the torment of young children. Though not invincible, Picos can cope with small bumps and spillages with greater ease than mass-market consoles, and feature no small parts or hazards unsuitable for small children.

All Picos are built similarly to modern day laptops, in that they are devices made up of two, foldable halves allowing for portability and easy storage. The bottom half rests on a flat surface and acts as the primary source of input, while the top is held at a 90-degree angle, supported by a support at the back. Also included is a handle for easy transportation, and with the exception of TV and power connectors, everything is built-in to the unit.

The Pico has five, unlabeled face buttons on the bottom left - one large Red button (often mistaken for a d-pad), and four smaller White, Green, Orange and Purple buttons. Most notably, the Pico has a "touch pad" and a hard-wired "Magic Pen" for manipulating this pad (the Magic Pen also acts an extra button when pressed down). Picos also have an expansion port on the right hand side, and in early models, a DE-9 port, which is presumed to have gone unused.

Picos, like most home consoles, connect to televisions. Interestingly the Pico relies on composite video for its display, as opposed to the then-standard RF technology, providing better image quality than many other systems of the era. The Pico also needs an AC adaptor, similar to those used with the Sega Mega Drive Model 2 and Sega 32X.

Pico cartridges are affectionately called "storyware", with each cartridge shaped like a book with multiple "pages". Cartridges plug into the top half of the system and pages open out to fill the space, with games recognising which pages have been turned and changing the TV display accordingly. The Pico's cartridge slot "pivots", meaning cartridges can be placed in the system at an angle and locked into place when in use. The last "page" of each cartridge can also be manipulated by the Magic Pen, effectively creating two touch pads.

Much of the Pico's success came from its ability to support extra peripherals. For example, the Drive Pico mounts a large, plastic steering wheel on top of the touch pad, and gives the user an alternative way to play specific games. Though no such peripherals were released in North America or Europe, dozens were released in Japan and markets such as South Korea, particularly towards the end of the system's lifespan.

From a technical perspective, the Sega Pico uses hardware derived from the Sega Mega Drive, lacking only a Zilog Z80 and a YM2612 for driving FM Sound. Also, strictly speaking the touch pad technology uses electromagnetism to send signals, and therefore does not need to physically touch the device in order to operate.

It was also the earliest known device to use active digitizer technology.


Main article: Sega Pico Models.

Aside from cosmetic changes, Pico consoles remained unchanged throughout their lifespan. The system is also region-free, though NTSC/PAL differences must be considered. Later editions, such as the Beena, add basic internet support. All Pico software is compatible with all Pico hardware, with the exception of software designed for Yamaha's Mixt Book Player Copera hardware variant, which will not function correctly in standard Pico systems.


Because the Pico’s hardware is based upon that of the Mega Drive, several Mega Drive emulators (e.g. Kega Fusion) can in fact run Pico ROMs. However, support for non-hardware elements of the Pico experience, most notably game books, is dependent upon the programmer specifically adding support for these – as well as the person who created the backup of the game including all necessary files, chiefly scans of the storyware cartridge’s pages. Thus, Pico emulation has become notorious for being difficult, chiefly because of the need to scan and digitally represent each page of the game.

In May 2008, a PC-based emulator capable of emulating the controls and games of Pico was released, under the name of PicoDrive. It came about due to the release of several prototype Pico ROMs, which were released by sonic:drx just over 2 months earlier.


Main article: List of Pico games.

List of games

Magazine articles

Main article: Sega Pico/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Main article: Sega Pico/Promotional material.




Sega Pico
Topics Technical specifications | History | List of games | Magazine articles | Promotional material | Hardware comparison | Storyware
Hardware Pico consoles
Mixt Book Player Copera
Accessories Anpanman Pico | Cooking Pico | Dance Pico | Doubutsu Pico | Drive Pico | Fishing Pico | Kangofusan Pico | Keyboard Pico | Kitchen Pico | Moshi Moshi Pico | Mouse Pico | Oekaki Pico | Oshare Pico | Plarail Pico | Rhythm Pico | Space Pico | Tomica Pico | Ultraman Pico | Utatte Pico | Pri Fun
Sega Home Video Game Systems
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SG-1000 SG-1000 II Mega Drive Mega Drive II
SC-3000 Mega-CD Mega-CD II Genesis 3
Sega Mark III 32X Dreamcast
Master System Master System II
AI Computer Game Gear
Pico Beena