Jun 01 2008
SYSTEM SPECSModel 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.
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.’
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.
Ninja platforming at its finest. Special moves, incredibly hard and great level design.
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.
Ranks along with Tetris and Bust a Move as one of the finest puzzle games ever. BTW Nintendo’s version is called Dr Mario.
With ‘liquid’ control and some great ice-inertia this made for one of the best sports games ever.
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.
- Sega 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.