Sega Genesis

The Sega Genesis is the fourth generation of game consoles developed by Sega. It was also known as the Sega Mega Drive released in Japan on October 29, 1988. It was released in other regions as the Sega Genesis. In the US, New York and Los Angeles were the first cities to get the console on on August 14, 1989 in. On September 15, 1989 it was released to the rest of North America. It was released in Europe as the Mega Drive on November 30, 1990. It was also released in Brazil in 1990 as the Mega Drive. On December 5, 2007 a portable version of the Mega Drive was released in Brazil with 20 built in games.

Sales of the Sega Genesis were low in the US because Nintendo owned most of the game title rights. Sega created a game library featuring celebrity and athlete names in their titles in hopes of boosting sales, but still fell behind Nintendo in the video game market. In the mid 1990s a new CEO was hired who developed a four-point plan: cut prices, develop games for the American market, aggressive advertising, and replace the bundled game Altered Beast with Sonic the Hedgehog. This move boosted the Sega Genesis sales and allowed it to overtake Nintendo in the console market. The Mega Drive also was the leader in sales in Europe and Brazil.

A couple add-ons for the Sega Genesis were produced. The Mega-CD released in Japan in 1991 and in North America in 1992. This add on had a faster CPU, more memory, an additional sound chip, and enhanced graphics. In June 1994, Sega presented the 32X at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) as the “poor man’s 32-bit machine”. Both of these add-ons were discontinued in 1996.

The game consoles were discontinued by 1998 and replaced with the Genesis 3 and bundled with Frogger, which became the last licensed game released in North America. In 2004 a plug-and-play version was released that had no cartridge slot but contained six built-in games. This device was used with a subscription service called Game Tap that included several hundred available games.

Although the Mega Drive has been discontinued in most of the world Brazil still produces the console. The latest version is the “Mega Drive Guitar Idol”, it contains 87 built in games. Other companies around the world are still producing variants of the Mega drive that will play Mega Drive games.

In North America two Genesis consoles were released in 2009 by ATGames: the Firecore and the Gencore. Two Genesis portables were also released: the Retrogen and the Genmobile. The Genmobile unit has 20 built-in Genesis game titles, while the Retrogen has 20 homebrew games built-in.

The Sega Genesis has a 7.67 MHz CPU, with a 3.58 MHz co-processor. The memory is 64KB RAM, 64KB video RAM, and 8KB working RAM. The unit has two sound chips, with stereo sound only through a headphone. The front of the console has two 9-pin controller input slots and a EXT port on the rear of the unit. There is also an expansion port (not on the Genesis 3 model) for connecting an add-on unit, located on the right hand bottom.

The Sega Genesis is compatible with its previous console: the Sega Master System. Many converters are also available to interchange game cartridges between the different models and different versions.

The standard controller for the Genesis and Mega Drive has a rounded shape with three main buttons and a start button. In 1993 a six button controller was released. Other controllers include a light gun, the Sega Mouse, a bat and a golf club. Also in 1993 the Sega Activator was released that was a floor mat simulator for certain fighting games. Multitaps are also available for allowing more than two players to play games at the same time.

There are currently 915 released games for the Sega Genesis and the Sega Mega Drive. The list does not include unlicensed games or prototypes.

Image Caption: The Sega Mega Drive (Japanese version of the Genesis). Credit: Evan-Amos/Wikipedia