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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 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 traction in countries where Sega's presence was limited, particularly in Asia and South America.
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, 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) and KW-II and Kowi 96' (by Kowi) as well as a (presumably) unnamed KW-501 unit by Saba. A King-500 unit was advertised for sale in Germany though it is not known if any were sold.
All KW-501 consoles are presumed to be internally identical, with minor cosmetic alterations and swapped RF adaptors for differing markets.
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).
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. Some Scorpion XVIs use Aito branding, while others were sold with Magic 2 branding.
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 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.Turbo Aito was distributed by Universe Electronic S.A.
The KW-501 is known to have been released in Russia in the form of the Super Bitman, a presumed successor to the "Bitman" Famiclone distributed by Bitman in the region. Similar to the above it was likely undercut by cheaper Mega Drive clones.There was also a version modeled on Songa II
Poland,Bosnia,Serbia and Montenegro
In these countries the KW-501 was released as the Power Pegasus, a "successor" to the Pegasus console, a popular Famiclone found in the region. In Poland was published by Bobmark International for Christmas 1995. The company probably got permission to promote the console from Sega , because it was a distributor of Sega in Poland. Using the well-known brand Pegasus was supposed to attract to Sega , players who played on 8 bit famiclone.There are also rumors that around 1996, the console appeared in Bosnia, Serbia and Montenegro.
In Serbia and Montenegro, Saba was another available console.
- Main article: KW-501/Magazine articles.
|Mega Drive, (Speedy Boy)|
|Mega Drive, (MG-2)|
|Mega Drive, (KW-501)|
|Unlicensed Sega Mega Drive hardware|
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|1990s||AX-660 | AX-990 | EZcom | Game Dunk | HK-986 | KW-501 | Megavision | Modern Mate | New 16 Bit | SB-16C | Songa II | Super 16 Bit | TW-168|
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