Sega Megadrive

The Sega Megadrive was released in Japan in November 1988 and was the first 16-bit video games console. The Sega Master System (the predecessor to the Sega Megadrive) had declined in popularity due to the increase in 16-bit computers such as the Atari ST and the Commodore Amiga, and Sega had lost the battle with the Nintendo Corporation and its Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Having already enjoyed considerable success with 16-bit arcade games such as Space Harrier and Outrun, Sega decided to rush out the new Megadrive console ahead of their rivals Nintendo, and the Super Famicom (Super Nintendo) which they had been secretly developing.

Released almost one year later, in October 1989, the Sega Megadrive was known as the Sega Genesis in the USA and Canada. A further year later, just in time for Christmas the Sega Megadrive landed in Europe and the whole world had now been introduced to 16-bit console gaming. However, despite being first off the mark with its next generation console, and having reasonable sales in early 1991 Sega was still losing out to the still popular NES. That was until a Spiky haired blue hedgehog made an appearance and changed everything!

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The demand for the Sega Megadrive hit the roof as everyone wanted to play the latest game - Sonic the Hedgehog. For the first time, Sega had knocked Nintendo off the number one spot in the video game markets of Europe and North America. Nintendo responded by rushing forward the release of its Super Nintendo (SNES) but it was too late and the Sega Megadrive had established itself as the number one choice of video games console. Nintendo still remained more popular in Japan - which had always been considered its stronghold, but the shake-up in the western markets was a considerable embarrassment for the video games giant.

The Sega Megadrive underwent a transformation a few years later and the Sega Megadrive 2 was released. The console was smaller, and had the headphone jack and volume control removed. In addition to this the TMSS (Trade Mark Security System) was introduced which prevented the playing of imported cartridges through a series of hardware and software checks.

The Sega Mega CD went on sale in Japan in December 1991. It had an additional processor, more RAM, a new Sound Chip and an (obvious) bonus was the ability to play normal music CD's as CD players were still relatively new at this time. As usual, one year later, the unit went on sale in the US, with a slightly better game line up which included the excellent Sewer Shark. Unfortunately for Sega, it was the price of the consoles that prevented them from gaining popularity, despite the fact that many excellent RPG's went onto Mega-CD only, compared to the Sega Megadrive the unit had very limited worldwide success.

In 1993 Sega started to fall behind Nintendo in the 3D development field. Nintendo had wowed the world with Starwing (Starfox in the US) and the SuperFX Chip. Initially Sega had developed the SVP Adapter (Super Virtua Play) with Hitachi, and this had been incorporated into many new arcade releases including the massive hit, Virtua Fighter. Virtua Racer, released in 1994, was the only 3D polygon game that made it to the Sega Megadrive and had the SVP Adapter incorporated into the game cartridge - similar to the SuperFX chip on the Nintendo.

Sega released the Sega 32X add-on in 1995 which incorporated the SVP capabilities into the new base unit via twin Hitachi processors and an overhaul of the internal architecture. The unit plugged into the existing cartridge slot, and had it own power supply and video feed. Existing games could be played in the new slot, as well as beefed up 32X games which now featured 3D processing, better graphics, better sound and faster game play. The best of the bunch were Star Wars Arcade, Knuckles Chaotix and Virtua Fighter.

Despite this last ditch attempt by Sega to save the Megadrive, its popularity dwindled - largely due to the overwhelming success of the Sony Playstation. The machine was officially discontinued in 1998, and was replaced by Sega's true 32bit machine, the Sega Saturn. Although the Sega Megadrive never matched the Super Nintendo's worldwide success, it certainly gave it a run for its money, especially in the United States and Great Britain. Boasting a ten year history and a back catalogue of more than a thousand games including the Sonic series, Ecco the Dolphin and Streets of Rage games, the Sega Megadrive is certainly a console which will not be forgotten for many years.


688 Attack Sub


You pilot the 688, a Los Angeles class attack submarine, tracking Soviet Alfa subs. Sonar reports a submerged contact - you load and arm your Mark 48 torpedoes, set a waypoint and move slowly in for the kill.

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