Jun 01 2008

Sega Megadrive / Genesis

Jeremy @ 1:11 am

SYSTEM SPECS

Model Number: MK-1601 (r1), MK-1631 (r2)
CPU: Motorola 68000 at 7.61 MHz
ROM: 1 MByte (8 Mbit)
RAM: 64k (Sound RAM: 8k) (Video RAM: 64 K) (Colour RAM: 64 x 9-bits)
Co-processor: Z80 @ 4 MHz (Not Present in MK-1631) controls PSG (Programmable Sound Generator) & FM Chips
Colors Available: 512 Colors on screen: 64
Resolution: 320 x 224
Graphics: VDP – dedicated video display processor, controls playfield & sprites. 3 Planes, 2 scrolling playfields, 1 sprite plane
Sound: PSG (TI 76489 chip), FM chip (Yamaha YM 2612) 6-channel stereo, 8 K

Sega really hit the jackpot with this one, launched in the US in September 1989, with an ‘arcade perfect’ version of Altered Beast, the Megadrive was going up against the very well established 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System.

Although 16-bit and clearly far more powerful, it did not gain widespread acceptance until the release of certain blue and spiky Sega mascot.

Sonic The Hedgehog hit the games market like a – well, like a supersonic hedgehog. The gameplay was fast and furious with loads of attitude – in fact the perfect answer to Nintendo’s rather staid Mario the Plumber.


Highlight Games

Altered Beast - MegadriveAltered Beast.

At the time one of the more powerful arcade machines, its conversion and launch on the Megadrive was one of the first opportunities for the misuse of the term ‘arcade-perfect.’

Sonic the Hedgehog - MegadriveSonic The Hedgehog

Still one of the finest 2D platform games ever, Sonic caused a revolution in console gaming. Fast, colourful and very playable, Sonic would go on to sell millions of Megadrives.

Golden Axe - MegadriveRevenge of Shinobi

Ninja platforming at its finest. Special moves, incredibly hard and great level design.

Golden Axe

Sega’s use of its very successful arcade games for conversion continues to this day. The Dreamcast ports of Virtua Fighter 3 and Sega Rally 2 mirror Sega’s efforts on both the Megadrive and the Saturn.

Revenge of Shinobi - MegadriveGunstar Heroes

Frenetic platform-blasting from Treasure, an off-shoot of Japanese codeshop Konami. A brilliant combination of Strider and Turrican.

Columns - MegadriveColumns

Ranks along with Tetris and Bust a Move as one of the finest puzzle games ever. BTW Nintendo’s version is called Dr Mario.

Streets of Rage - MegadriveEA Hockey

With ‘liquid’ control and some great ice-inertia this made for one of the best sports games ever.

Road Rash - MegadriveRoad Rash

A beat-em-up on a motor bike, Road Rash had some of the most painful looking stacks in a video-game.

Streets of Rage series

The yet-to-be-bettered spiritual successor to Double Dragon, with an absolutely brilliant soundtrack.


Sonic RunningSega farmed out the character design to an external marketing design company who produced the leading image to one of the most successful videogame franchises ever. Trading cards, comics, TV shows, dolls, pens, mugs, badges and T-Shirts. You name it and Sonic was on it. Sega also introduced the bored character – Sonic would tap his foot impatiently if you left him alone too long.

Later successes included Virtua Racing, Columns, Aladdin, Streets of Rage, Road Rash, Gunstar Heroes & Revenge of Shinobi. Of course Sega’s arcade conversions went down a treat too. EA got in on the console scene here too with their EA Sports series beginning its branding here. EA Hockey was particularly good, in my opinion the best sports sim ever. (Although Konami’s ISS 98 gets very, very close) FIFA was a huge success in Europe and across the water Madden made his first videogame appearance. A number of best forgotten peripherals came and went too. The compulsory unsupported light gun – The Menacer, a strange, movement sensitive thing called the Activator? and EA released a four player multitap for their sports range and General Chaos but quickly took it out of circulation for some bizarre reason.

Nintendo’s 16-bit answer arrived three years later in the shape of the Super Nintendo and in November 1992 Sega replied with the Mega CD – an abortive attempt to move into the golden age of CD.

Relying on full-motion video rubbish like NightTrap was not the way to win the hearts of both the gamers and the press although the Mode 7 similarities did produce some excellent titles from Core Design (who later went on to do Tomb Raider) like Jaguar XJ220 and Thunderhawk, with Sega’s own effort – Sonic CD not living up to the machines potential.

The next try from Sega was the even more under supported Mega 32X – released in November 1994, it was a 3D accelerator for the Megadrive. With only about six or seven titles ever released including Doom, Star Wars, Virtua Racing 32X and a new Sonic, the addon spluttered and failed. This only served to enrage gamers even further and more and more people began to opt for the more stable Super Nintendo.

Overall a brilliant console with a superb title lineup, let down by poorly supported expansions.

2 Responses to “Sega Megadrive / Genesis”

  1. D.Pellas says:

    I’ll never forget the christmas of 1992, when I was the happiest six-year-old kid on my street, unwrapping my spiffy new Sega Genesis, and holding two new games: this, and Sonic 2. What fun gameplay and memories I was in for…
    As everyone and their mother knows, Sonic 1’s plot is that the evil Dr. Robotnik is not only capturing many small innocent animals and turning them into evil robots, but plans to take over Mobius (their planet) and turn it from forests and clean air to factories and smelly air (I’ll spare you the New Jersey joke). It is now up to Sonic to defeat Robotnik and make everything right again.
    Although Sonic 2 remains my favorite, this is without a doubt a close second. I know the graphics may seem somewhat dated today, but for 1991, this was pretty damn good. Bright, vibrant colors, and great atmosphere (love the city skyline in Star Light Zone). It goes from a bright, sunny atmosphere (Sun Light Zone) to a big industrial factory (Scrap Brain). Along the way, there are various icons that Sonic can smash open, and each one has a special power that Sonic can use to his benefit; 10 rings, super speed, temporary invincibility, a shield, and the holy grail of them all: the 1-up. The game also has catchy music. Okay, it’s 2004 now, and we can hear actual bands in our games, but back then, we had video game music, and it was good and easy to tune out if need be. Also, in this game, you must collect 7 chaos emeralds in these weird, spinning worlds, and defeat robot enemies by jumping on them.
    It’s a fun, classic game that brings back lots of memories for me (I remember how great it felt to finally get to the next zone). IT NEEDS TO BE RELEASED ON CD-ROM! Come on Sega, get cracking!
    Oh, and don’t think I’m insulting New Jersey or anything. I was born there so there you go.

  2. zorro says:

    I think this is probably spam but I liked it anyway…

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