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Sega Megadrive

Sega Megadrive (Japanese:メガドライブ) was a 16-bit video game console released by Sega.

For information on the North American version of the console, see: Sega Genesis

16-Bit personal machines like the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST, as well as 16-Bit arcade machines, were outpacing the 8-bit videogame consoles. Another problem was that Nintendo had 95% of the North American videogame market, and 92% of Japan's videogame market; Nintendo's 8-bit and 16-bit machines were not that successful in Europe. Sega knew the Sega Master System was not going to make it in North America and Japan, so they decided to make a new console.

Since the System 16 arcade games that Sega was making got very popular, Hayou Nakayama, then Sega's CEO, decided to make their new system a 16-Bit one. The final design worked great, and so they used three new arcade boards, being the Megatech, Megaplay, and the System C. Any of the games made for these systems could work on their new console.

The first name Sega thought of for their console was the MK-1601, but Sega decided to use 'Sega Megadrive' as the name. 'Mega' had the connotation of superiority, and 'Drive' had the connotation of speed and power. They went with that name for the Japanese, European, Asian, and Australian versions of the console.

When NEC released the PC Engine in Japan on 30 October, 1987, it posed a threat to Sega and Nintendo. While NEC overall did not have much of an impact in the Japanese market, the Megadrive initially had even less of an impact than NEC's system did.

The Sega Megadrive was released in Japan in 29 October, 1988 for 21,000. The European release was 30 November, 1990 in the United Kingdom, priced at 190

Unlike in the United States, the Japanese Megadrive was overshadowed by the Sega Saturn in its country. Just like its North American counterpart, however, the European Megadrive did better than the Sega Saturn in that locale.

The Megadrive initially competed against the 8-bit Famicom system in Japan and the Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe.

The Japanese audience was more fixated on the Famicom. When the Megadrive started to overtake the market, the Super Famicom came and overpowered the Megadrive in Japan. The Super Famicom had as much as 80% of the market in that country. The Megadrive ended up doing worse in that market than the PC Engine did, despite its superiority over the PC Engine and the Famicom.

The European NES market was very confusing, with different companies handling the NES in different markets. The Sega Master System, as well as the Megadrive had no problem excelling in Europe. The European Megadrive outsold all other consoles, including the Sega Saturn. The Megadrive was supported in that locale until 1998.

The Megadrive counterpart in Europe eventually competed with Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System, while the Japanese Megadrive competed with the Super Famicom, the Japanese version of the SNES.

Two add-on components had been released for the Megadrive. The Sega Mega-CD was released for all versions of the Megadrive. The Sega Super 32X came to the Japanese while the Europeans and the Australians got the Sega Mega 32X.

The Sega Megadrive 2 was the only redesign that the Megadrive got. The redesign reduced cost and size by consolidating chips, and integrated stronger region encoding (which broke compatibility with some older games.) The original console itself went through innumerable revisions, unknown to most users save the ones who owned one of the very first consoles, which had trouble playing a few of the newer games. A new version of the Sega Mega-CD, the Sega Mega-CD 2, was made to accommodate this.

One unlikely market that the Megadrive excelled in was Brazil. Brazil was also where the Sega Master System lived its absolute final days, to 1998. The Megadrive also held over until 1998 in that area. Tec Toy was Sega's Brazilian distributor and had sucess with both of those consoles. Sega had 75% of the Brazilian market.

A Sega Master System was available for the Megadrive. The Powerbase converter is on top of the console and plugs into the cartridge port. On the Master System, the pause button was on the front. All Master System accessories, including the light gun and 3D Glasses, can be used for this converter. A newer version for the Megadrive 2 was released in Europe, but the card port was removed. The Mega Master was a third party Master System converter distributed by Fire and Datel in the United Kingdom. It looked like the official Mega Drive 2 Converter, but the pause button was on the side as a toggle switch. Card games could not be played because of this.

Although Sega had talks about a Game Gear Converter, tentatively named the Mega Game Gear, Sega never made one.

Table of contents
1 Versions of the Sega Megadrive
2 Technical Specifications
3 External link

Versions of the Sega Megadrive

Technical Specifications

External link