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History of video games/Platforms/Sega Genesis

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History[edit | edit source]

Development[edit | edit source]

The system was preceded by the Sega Master System.

Sega approached Atari about bringing the MegaDrive to the American market.[1] After negotiations broke down Sega decided to launch the console in the United States on their own.[1]

Following development of the base console a number of add on devices were developed. Development of the Sega CD was particularly problematic, with drive motors occasionally catching on fire in pre production units.[2][3]

Launch[edit | edit source]

People playing a Sega Mega Drive in 1993.

Japan[edit | edit source]

In October of 1988 the Sega Mega Drive was released in Japan at a cost of 21,000 yen.[4]

North America[edit | edit source]

The Sega Genesis was launched in North America in 1989.[5] Notably, future president of the United States Donald Trump attended the 1989 Genesis launch in Manhattan.[6]

The Genesis did very well in North American gaming market. This is especially impressive, as at launch time rival Nintendo held over 80% of the market for home video games in the United States of America,[7] and by 1990 would control over 90% of the American game market.[8] By launching quality first party exclusive games, courting unique third party developers with fewer artistic restrictions, listening to consumer feedback, and launching aggressive marketing campaigns, Sega was able to take on an entrenched industry titan and become one itself by briefly taking over half of the market for itself, An event widely considered to be one of the gaming industry's most important upsets.[9][10][11]

Worldwide[edit | edit source]

The Mega Drive saw a European release in 1990.[4]

Refresh[edit | edit source]

To make the platform more competitive, Sega would release two major add ons to expand the system's capabilities. The Sega CD was released in 1992,[12] and gave the system a CD drive with massively improved storage capacity as a result. The Sega 32x was released in November 1994 for $160,[12] and massively increased the system's raw power, though not nearly enough to be competitive with the new consoles it was meant to fend off. Both add ons would have exclusive games that could not be played on a standard Genesis or Mega Drive.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The Genesis influenced a number of contemporary systems. The Sega Genesis was directly followed by the ill fated Sega Saturn. A portable Genesis was also made as the Nomad. A Mega Drive module was also produced for the Pioneer LaserActive.

The Sega Genesis was discontinued in 1997 outside of Brazil.[13] However the console continued to be a popular choice in certain markets after this date. Sega partner Tectoy was still selling 150,000 consoles annually as of 2016.[13] In 2016 Tectoy began taking preorders for a 2017 revision of the console for the Brazilian market at a cost of 399 Brazilian real.[14][15] In 2010 Mega Drive gaming was still popular in Egypt.[16] 29 million Sega Genesis consoles were sold.[17]

Technology[edit | edit source]

Compute[edit | edit source]

The Genesis is powered by a primary 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor clocked at 7.6 megahertz.[18] A secondary 8-bit Z80 coprocessor was clocked at 3.5 megahertz.[18]

The Genesis has 64 kilobytes of RAM dedicated to the primary processor, and 8 kilobytes dedicated to the Z80 coprocessor.[19][18]

Some games used cartridge based chips to allow for 3D graphics.[20]

The Sega Genesis was initially considered easier for developers to use then the competing SNES due to it's straightforward design instead of reliance on support hardware.[21]

Graphics[edit | edit source]

The Genesis uses a custom chip called the Video Display Processor (VDP) clocked at 13 megahertz for rendering graphics.[18] The VDP has 64 kilobytes of RAM, 128 bytes of color RAM, and 80 bytes of vertical scroll RAM.[22][18] The Genesis could render 80 sprites and 64 simultaneous colors from 512 total colors.[23]

Blast Processing was technically a feature supported by the Genesis VDP, though it was simply a technique used to generate images with more colors and was never widely used on official Genesis games.[24][25][26]

Storage[edit | edit source]

Genesis cartridges typically maxed out at 4 megabytes, though a few 5 megabyte cartridges exist.[27]

Cartridges were region locked through a combination of software and hardware methods, with mixed results and variations on usage while the console was on the market.[28]

Networking[edit | edit source]

The Sega Channel was an expensive service that allowed games to be temporarily downloaded over a cable connection.[29]

The third party X-Band service allowed some games to be played online.[30]

Notable Games[edit | edit source]

Mega Drive games being sold in a retro games store in 2016.

1991[edit | edit source]

Zero Wing[edit | edit source]

A reference to Zero Wing on the side of a highway in 2004.

Originally released as an arcade game in 1989.[31]

The Japanese version of Zero Wing had 35 different endings, a notable feat for the time.[32]

The poor English translation of Zero Wing sparked the early 2000's internet meme "All your base are belong to us".[33]

Read more about Zero Wing and All your base are belong to us on Wikipedia.

1992[edit | edit source]

Ecco the Dolphin[edit | edit source]

Game creator Ed Annunziata was a prolific reader of the works of scientist John C. Lilly, who closely studied dolphins.[34][35] Annunziata is also said to have been influenced by the work of musician Pink Floyd.[35]

Read more about the original Ecco the Dolphin game on Wikipedia.

1993[edit | edit source]

1994[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Genesis Consoles[edit | edit source]

Controllers & Accessories[edit | edit source]

Games[edit | edit source]

Genesis Internals[edit | edit source]

Development[edit | edit source]

There is a WikiBook on Genesis Programming.

External Resources[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b "Feature: Remember When Atari Turned Down Nintendo And Sega?". Nintendo Life. 3 February 2020. https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2020/02/feature_remember_when_atari_turned_down_nintendo_and_sega. Retrieved 23 October 2020. 
  2. "I’ll Never Love a Console Like I Loved the Sega CD" (in en). https://www.vice.com/en/article/gqmj3b/ill-never-love-a-console-like-i-loved-the-mega-cd-758. 
  3. McFerran, Damien (22 February 2012). "The Rise and Fall of Sega Enterprises" (in en). https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-02-22-the-rise-and-fall-of-sega-enterprises. 
  4. a b "HISTORY SEGA 60th Anniversary" (in en). https://60th.sega.com/en/history/. Retrieved 18 November 2020. 
  5. "The Launch of the Sega Genesis (1989)". 12 December 2016. http://www.cgquarterly.com/2016/12/12/the-launch-of-the-sega-genesis-1989/. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  6. "The time President Donald Trump attended the SEGA Genesis launch in 1989". http://segabits.com/blog/2018/03/26/the-time-president-donald-trump-attended-the-sega-genesis-launch-in-1989/. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  7. McGill, Douglas C. (29 June 1989). "Market Place; Nintendo Courts U.S. Investors". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/1989/06/29/business/market-place-nintendo-courts-us-investors.html. 
  8. "Sega v Nintendo: Sonic, Mario and the 1990's console war". BBC News. 12 May 2014. https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27373587. 
  9. "How Sega conquered the video games industry – and then threw it all away" (in en). The Independent. 31 March 2020. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/games/sega-sonic-hedgehog-nintendo-sony-video-game-a9334771.html. 
  10. "The Radical Environmentalism of the Sega Genesis" (in en). www.vice.com. https://www.vice.com/en/article/wnzdk9/the-radical-environmentalism-of-the-sega-genesis. 
  11. Krisch, Joshua A. (13 May 2014). "How Sega vs Nintendo Became a Billion-Dollar Rivalry". Popular Mechanics. https://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/gaming/a10516/how-sega-vs-nintendo-became-a-billion-dollar-rivalry-16787174/. 
  12. a b Forsythe, Dana (19 June 2019). "Sega's 32X was one of video gaming's biggest disasters" (in en). https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/segas-32x-was-one-of-video-gamings-biggest-disasters. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  13. a b "Sega's Genesis (known outside of North America as the Mega Drive) to re-enter production". https://www.techspot.com/news/66951-sega-genesis-known-outside-north-america-mega-drive.html. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  14. Hall, Charlie (9 November 2016). "Temper your enthusiasm for the new Sega Genesis" (in en). https://www.polygon.com/2016/11/9/13564880/sega-genesis-brazil-replica-hdmi. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  15. "TecToy unveils its new limited edition SEGA Genesis | SEGA Nerds". http://www.seganerds.com/2016/10/31/tectoy-unveils-its-new-limited-edition-sega-genesis/. Retrieved 14 November 2020. 
  16. "Videogames of Egypt". http://blog.hardcoregaming101.net/2010/03/videogames-of-egypt.html. Retrieved 8 November 2020. 
  17. "Genesis vs. SNES: By the Numbers - IGN" (in en). https://www.ign.com/articles/2009/03/20/genesis-vs-snes-by-the-numbers. Retrieved 13 November 2020. 
  18. a b c d e "Mega Drive Architecture A Practical Analysis" (in en). 18 May 2019. https://www.copetti.org/projects/consoles/mega-drive-genesis/. Retrieved 7 November 2020. 
  19. "Winning The Console Wars – An In-Depth Architectural Study". Hackaday. 6 November 2015. https://hackaday.com/2015/11/06/winning-the-console-wars-an-in-depth-architectural-study/. Retrieved 28 October 2020. 
  20. "The Great Polygon Mystery". http://www.gamezero.com/team-0/articles/features/polygon.html. Retrieved 21 November 2020. 
  21. "It's no SNES". http://www.gamezero.com/team-0/articles/features/no_snes/. Retrieved 21 November 2020. 
  22. "First steps with the Sega MegaDrive VDP Marc's Realm". https://darkdust.net/writings/megadrive/firststeps. Retrieved 7 November 2020. 
  23. "WAR! - Nintendo Vs. Sega". http://www.gamezero.com/team-0/articles/features/war/. Retrieved 21 November 2020. 
  24. Linneman, John (31 March 2019). "Sega's legendary Blast Processing was real - but what did it actually do?" (in en). https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/digitalfoundry-2019-blast-processing-retro-analysis. Retrieved 7 November 2020. 
  25. Life, Nintendo (20 November 2015). "The Man Responsible For Sega's Blast Processing Gimmick Is Sorry For Creating "That Ghastly Phrase"". https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2015/11/the_man_responsible_for_segas_blast_processing_gimmick_is_sorry_for_creating_that_ghastly_phrase. Retrieved 7 November 2020. 
  26. Life, Nintendo (4 May 2020). "Sega's Blast Processing? We Did It On The SNES First, Says Former Sculptured Software Dev". https://www.nintendolife.com/news/2020/05/segas_blast_processing_we_did_it_on_the_snes_first_says_former_sculptured_software_dev. Retrieved 7 November 2020. 
  27. "A Brief and Abbreviated History of Gaming Storage – Techbytes". https://blogs.umass.edu/Techbytes/2014/02/10/history-of-gaming-storage/. Retrieved 18 October 2020. 
  28. "Trademarks and Region Locks on the Sega Genesis". https://nicole.express/2020/trademarks-and-region-locks.html. 
  29. "The Sega Channel Blew My Ten-Year-Old Mind" (in en-us). Kotaku. https://kotaku.com/the-sega-channel-blew-my-ten-year-old-mind-1792825606. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  30. "X-BANDing". http://www.gamezero.com/team-0/articles/features/x-banding/. Retrieved 21 November 2020. 
  31. "“Gameography” in “Metagaming” on Manifold @uminnpress". https://manifold.umn.edu/read/metagaming/section/961c02b1-ddaa-4e79-9194-6018a4585562. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  32. "The "All Your Base" Game Had 32 Secret Japanese Endings" (in en-us). https://kotaku.com/the-all-your-base-game-had-32-secret-japanese-endings-1788642574. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  33. "25 years later, 'All Your Base Are Belong to Us' holds up". 4 June 2016. https://www.dailydot.com/unclick/all-your-base-are-belong-to-us-25th-anniversary/. Retrieved 27 October 2020. 
  34. "The Ketamine Secrets of ‘Ecco the Dolphin’" (in en). www.vice.com. https://www.vice.com/en/article/exmjpz/the-ketamine-secrets-of-segas-ecco-the-dolphin-347. 
  35. a b Jex, Shaun (19 January 2019). "A Momentary Lapse of Reason: The Story of Ecco - Old School Gamer Magazine". https://www.oldschoolgamermagazine.com/a-momentary-lapse-of-reason-the-story-of-ecco/. 
  36. "J-Cart" (in en). 28 January 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J-Cart.