Retro Video Games and Consoles
Megalong Games > Sega Megadrive
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. In the USA the Megadrive was known as the Sega Genesis.
When NEC released the PC Engine in Japan on October 30, 1987, it posed a threat to Sega and Nintendo. Despite the fact that NEC had a lot of potential for their console, the console did not do too well in Japan.
The Sega Megadrive was released in Japan in October 29, 1988 for ?21,000. The European release was November 30, 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 initally 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 accomodate this.
A Sega Master System was availible 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