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Platform / Sega Genesis

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Japanese model 1 Mega Drive on top;
North American model 2 Genesis on bottom.

Genesis does!
(What Nintendon't!)

While the Sega Master System was a decent success in Europe and South America (mostly in Brazil), it failed to make any strong dents in the North American and Japanese markets. The hold of the NES/Famicom was too strong, and the Master System wasn't advanced enough to topple the juggernaut. So Sega decided to just top it. Nintendo were complacent with their success and dragging their feet on developing a 16-bit system, which was the arcade standard at the time. They were already being impacted in Japan by the sudden success of NEC's PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16 in the West) which, while not actually 16-bit, was a noticeable technical improvement from the Famicom, which was underpowered even for its time. Thus, Sega decided that they would beat Nintendo to the punch with a console based on their System 16 arcade board (codenamed "Mark V").

Enter the Mega Drive or, as North Americans refer to it, the Sega Genesis,note  released in 1988 in Japan, 1989 in North America, and 1990 elsewhere.

For the most part, it worked. Outside of Japan, anyway. It was nursed along by Nintendo's region lock policy, which was viewed by some developers as a violation of anti-trust regulations. Those same developers flocked to Sega due to the latter's apparent laxity; Sega were angling toward the same kind of lockout policy until Electronic Arts broke the mechanism and then, characteristically, threatened to leak the details out to other third parties unless Sega agreed to more favorable terms. At any rate, Nintendo voluntarily dropped a lot of these policies later.

What made this console such a hit in the West was a shift in Sega's target audience early in its lifecycle. During the Master System era, Sega made a grab for the same kiddie demographic as Nintendo. The Genesis/Mega Drive initially did the same, as evidenced by their original mascot platformer Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, a sequel to the Master System's Alex Kidd in Miracle World. However, Enchanted Castle was a severe critical and commercial failure, especially in western countries.

What really captured the public's imagination instead was Altered Beast (1988), a hastily-made but fairly-accurate port of Sega's arcade hit which came bundled with most of the consoles. A few months later, the system had its first standalone hit, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker, adapted from the 1988 film of the same name and driven by the sheer star power of its lead figure at the time. It was obvious to Sega that they weren't going to get anywhere trying to appeal to Nintendo's audience, and that the answer lay in the burgeoning demographic of teens and young adults with disposable income, who largely preferred home computers before the console's launch. Many early titles had complex gameplay and/or nightmarish imagery one wouldn't expect of any other console game. The kerfuffle with EA would also wind up paying dividends, as the Genesis version of John Madden Football attracted sports fans to the system and gave the console another edge over the NES.

Sega gathered the minds behind Alex Kidd and tasked them with coming up with a replacement mascot who could appeal to this older audience. The design process was lengthy and involved extensive market research, on-the-street interviews and polls, some of them conducted in the United States. In the summer of '91, they finally managed to come up with a Killer App known as Sonic the Hedgehog, which was made the Genesis's pack in and truly kickstarted its success. The following year's sequel, Sonic 2, was even more successful and cemented Sega as a force to be reckoned with in the console market. Its biggest breadwinners ended up being their family-friendly fare, namely the Sonic series and Virgin's Aladdin. The Mickey Mouse game Castle of Illusion was another early hit for the console, and there were plenty of other E-rated and below exclusives coming down the pipe, like a Barney the Dinosaur edutainment game and Treasure's McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure (the latter has no business being as good as it is). The Genesis/Mega Drive sold 40 million units, with miniaturized versions and handhelds still on the market today.

Although the Mega Drive flopped in its home country, which was already embroiled in a war between the Famicom and the PC Engine, Sega of America's and Sega of Europe's adept marketing broke Nintendo's stranglehold on the Western market (while the TurboGrafx-16 was squeezed out of the market by both competitors there), redefining the landscape for both companies and consumers and giving the Big N its first real competition in the home console business, the Genesis also got success in Europe thanks to European-heavy IPs at that time. Nintendo eventually deployed their own 16-bit console in the form of the Super NES/Super Famicom.

The Genesis and SNES had a long and fierce rivalry in the west which is the best-remembered Console War of all. Sega brazenly championed the technological superiority of 16-bits as a marketing point over the 8-bit NES: a "16-bit" nameplate was loudly plastered on the console, and their port of Strider was advertised as one of the biggest games of its day due to the fact that it was the first Sega game to use an 8-Megabit cartridge. After Nintendo upgraded to their own 16-bit console that was technically superior to the competition in many respects, Sega of America decided to change strategies and instead advertise the "Blast Processing" power of the Genesis, whatever that meant; it was just a marketing ploy to spin how the console had a faster processor than the SNES. Sega even planned Sonic 3 & Knuckles to be a then-staggering 34-Megabit cartridge, but when it became far too expensive for them to manufacture (along with the game being rushed down the pipeline due to a tie-in deal with McDonald's), they were forced to split the game in half; the latter release had a specialized Lock-On Technology cartridge which allowed the game to be played in its intended length.

After the roaring success of Donkey Kong Country and the Super FX chip powering Star Fox and Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island put the SNES over the top, Sega were spooked into green-lighting Sonic 3D: Flickies' Island and Vectorman, along with a console port of Virtua Racing. The latter came with the Sega Virtua Processor, Sega's own take on the Super FX chip, which allowed for more-complex polygonal rendering. It was in fact more powerful than the Super FX chip. Virtua Racing also happened to be the most expensive cartridge ever produced for the console, and the disappointing sales convinced Sega's marketing department that there was no future in it.

Aside from the Sega-Nintendo rivalry, there was also a Sega-NEC corporate rivalry going on: See Johnny Turbo for more.

The very same Nintendo/Sega rivalry would find a new light in 2019 when Sega responded to Nintendo's release of Classic Mini Plug 'n' Play Game systems with their own Sega Genesis Mini (called the Mega Drive Mini outside North America). The system would release worldwide on September 19, 2019. List (exclusives in bold) In 2021, Nintendo introduced an Expansion Pack for its Nintendo Switch Online service, which includes a library of Sega Genesis games. New games are added to the library every so often. Nintendo also introduced a replica three button Genesis controller that can be used with the Switch. In 2022, following the Mini's massive success, Sega revealed the Sega Genesis Mini 2 (again named the Mega Drive Mini 2 outside North America), modelled after the Genesis Model 2 and featuring another 50+ games, including a number of Sega CD gamesList (exclusives in bold), which was released natively in Japan and via import in North America and Europe on October 27 of that year.



  • Like the Sega Master System, the Genesis/Mega Drive has a master clock speed of 53 MHz, which is divided down to different clock speeds for the various processors and components.
  • The console has a 16/32-Bit Motorola 68000note  that runs at 7.68 MHz (varies per region). The 16-bit part was prominently used as a marketing point over the 8-bit NES. Its arithmetic and logic unit is 16 bits wide, but its registers are 32 bits wide. This CPU uses microcode to emulate 32 bit instructions in hardware slower than a full 32 bit processor, but faster than emulating the 32 bit instructions in 16 bit software.
    • Along with the TurboGrafx-16, the console's brazen marketing of the 16 bit mantra (even proudly displaying it on the first model of the console) started the rather unfortunate misconception that "Bits=Better Graphics/The Power of the Console". While it does have a grain of truth in it, it's also a gross oversimplification of how bits work.
  • Graphics generated by the Video Display Processor (VDP), which is a further customized and beefed up version of the Texas Instruments TI9928 GPU used by the Master System. It is more advanced than the one used the Master System but retains most if not all backwards compatibility. The Genesis/Mega Drive VDP is clocked at 13 MHz.
    • The system was heavily marketed for its ability to render objects faster than the SNES, a feature for which the Sega marketing division coined the term "Blast Processing". The higher performance allowed the console to be able to render 3D polygons even without any special chips, like with Hard Drivin' and Star Cruiser.
    • Like the NES and SNES, it could expand through chips on the carts. Unfortunately, incorporating it was a lot more expensive than an SNES chip, and it was only ever used by the Virtua Racing port. The SVP version of Virtua Racing was supposedly a beta product; Sega had plans to spin the SVP off into a separate console add-on if VR was successful. That never came to pass, but it didn't stop Sega's R&D from trying again with the 32X, however: Sega’s accountants probably deduced that the problem was due to the SVP chip being totally proprietary and thus expensive to manufacture. Unlike the SVP Virtua Racing cartridges, the 32X was built using off-the-shelf components and had lots of kludges to balance out the price.
  • It also has a 2nd CPU, a Zilog Z80 running at 3.58 MHz, used for the Sound chips's CPU and Master System play back.


  • 64 KB of main Random Access Memory and 64 KB of Video RAM (VRAM). The main RAM bus is clocked at 5.26 MHz and the VRAM bus is clocked at 8 MHz.
  • 8 KB of sound RAM. The sound RAM bus is clocked at 3.58 MHz.
  • 8 KB of extra RAM for backwards compatibility with the Master System, although that requires an adapter.
  • Games ranged from 128KB (Columns, Ms. Pac-Man) to 5 MB (Super Street Fighter II). Keep in mind that these were advertised by their bit size, not their byte size, so they would be listed as 1 megabits to 40 megabits. The largest homebrew game is Pier Solar and the Great Architects, which has an 8 MB (64 megabits) cartridge.


  • Sprites up to 32×32 pixels. As on other systems, multiple sprites were placed side by side to form the large characters in games like Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat.
  • Up to 80 sprites on screen, not including background layer textures which could also appear animated, with a maximum of 20 sprites or 320 sprite pixels per scanline.
  • Two background layers in addition to the sprite layer. Due to the GPU offering very precise control over individual scanlines, however, it was possible to simulate the appearance of many more background layers, something which is very noticeable in the mainline Sonic titles.
  • Could not do scaling and rotating sprites in hardware, but the faster CPU could allow developers to program the effect in software by resizing sprite data.
  • While the main console had no dedicated 3D hardware, it was just barely powerful enough to create real time polygons in-software without the help of add-ons or enhancement chips, as proven by the games Hard Drivin, Res Q and Star Cruiser, among others.


  • 320×224 pixel resolution. This is one of the few areas where the Genesis's hardware was superior to the SNES, as the latter would display most games at 256×224.
  • 64 colors on screen (divided into four 16-color palettes), 512 total.
    • There is a hack called Fantom Bitmap(sic) which allows an astonishing 4096 colors on screen. This is achieved through precision-timed DMA writes of only the background color to the color RAM with the RAM increment pointer disabled, effectively allowing the software to "stream" the graphics pixel-by-pixel to the screen, and then combined with color-flipping (i.e. a pixel is flipped between two different colors 60 times a second) to mix two colors and achieve the unbelievable color fidelity. However, it was really cumbersome to set up as it relied on the precise timing of the Genesis'/Mega Drive's clock crystal; Sega's use of cheaper crystal oscillators as a cost-cutting measure also meant that no two Genesis/Mega Drive consoles run precisely at the same speed (never mind 50Hz PAL consoles for release in Europe and Australia), necessitating a "tuning" process before the game can be played. As a result, it was only used in demos and never in real games.
    • There is another method used in the Overdrive demo that uses a similar method to achieve access to all 512 colors, this is done again by precision timing and blasting a new color palette every scanline.
    • Likewise, few emulators support both features (they were undocumented, and while they were well known of since the early 90s, they were never used in commercial games, as such no emulators supported these modes until recently when accuracy became an important factor in emulators).
  • Video cable support is identical to the first model of the Sega Master System, allowing for RF, composite, and RGB, with support for standard SCART/JP-21 cables in the latter's case as opposed to competitors' usage of proprietary cables.


  • Yamaha YM2612 (OPN2)
    • Six concurrent FM channels (voices).
    • Four operators per channel.
    • Two interval timers.
    • Stereo sound.
    • Sixth FM channel can switched to PCM mode (sampled audio).
  • Texas Instruments SN76489 variant built into the VDP chip (often called a SN76496 due to the modification to allow stereo audio).
    • Four analog generators; three square wave channels and one noise channel.
    • Modded for stereo sound (the standard version of the chip can only do mono).
  • Because the Z80 that controlled the audio hardware didn't have a hardware timer to help it keep time, it could generate clean PCM audio without music, clean music, or a mix of music and distorted PCM sound. Clever programming could allow the Genesis to play sample-based music by streaming it all directly to the PCM, as was done with Toy Story.


  • The console had two DE9 controller ports that were backwards-compatible with Atari 2600 and Sega Master System controllers. A 2600 joystick's button would be treated as button A; a Master System controller would have button 1 treated as button A, and button 2 as Start.
  • The original stock controller provided had a D-Pad and three action buttons — marked A, B, and C — plus a separate button marked Start. It was one of the first gamepads to be contoured to fit in the player's hands, as opposed to the boxy shape of earlier gamepads.
  • Sega also released six-button controllers meant for Fighting Games, adding X, Y, and Z buttons, plus a Mode button to toggle between 3-button and 6-button modes. Holding down the Mode button as the console started up made the controller act as a stock three-button controller for games that did not support the six-button controller. The controller was originally released with Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition. A later version added a turbo switch.
    • A wireless version of the 6-button controller was also sold, with an infrared receiver that took up both controller ports and was able to work with two wireless controllers at once.
  • Sega released two models of an arcade stick, one acting as a three-button controller and one acting as a six-button controller. Both sticks had separate turbo switches for each button.
  • The Activator was an octagonal ring that the player would stand in the center of; each segment of the ring corresponded to a direction on the D-pad or a button. Beams of light would detect the player punching or kicking over a segment, triggering that button. Due to impracticality and unreliability, it flopped and was discontinued, with a few fighting games explicitly supporting it.
  • The Menacer light gun was intended to compete with the Nintendo Super Scope, and was a modular design of a pistol with add-on shoulder stock and scope. It connected to the console with an infrared receiver.
  • Sega released a mouse and ten-key pad for the console, although they weren't widely supported. A keyboard was developed but never released.

Different Versions

As there exists no less than ten fully authorized versions of the Genesis/Mega Drive, it's worth taking a look at the differences between them.

Genesis/Mega Drive Model 1: The OG. Easily identified by the volume slider, headphone jack, and reset button (blue on the Japanese model, white everywhere else) on the top of the system; and the huge (really huge in Japan) "16-BIT" plate below the cart slot. Compatible with both models of the Sega CD, Power Base Converter, and the 32X (with the provided adaptor). Generally the preferred model among collectors thanks to full compatibility and sound quality.

Genesis Model 2/Mega Drive II: Slimmed-down version of the Model 1, giving it about the same footprint as the SNES. Retailed for only $99 but lacked the headphone jack and volume slider, sadly the "16-BIT" was also the victim of budget cuts. Probably the most common Genesis/MD out there. Compatible with the both models of the Sega CD and the 32X, incompatible with the Power Base Converter unless it's modded, as it will block the A/V ports. A Power Base Converter II that works with the Model 2 Genesis/MD was released in Europe but will work on any Genesis/MD.

Genesis Model 3: Produced under license by Majesco and released in North America (with clones produced elsewhere) in 1998 for $50. Incompatible with all add-ons mentioned above as it lacks the necessary ports. Also incompatible with the Game Genie and any game that has extra chips in the cartridge, such as Virtua Racing.

Genesis Nomad: Portable Genesis, only released in North America. Had the same battery life and screen issues as Sega's Game Gear. Same compatibility issues as the Model 3.note  Released after the Saturn was on the market and flopped.

Sega CDX/Multi-Mega: Combination Genesis/Sega CD/portable CD player. Only released in North America & Europe, and with only 5,000 made is pretty rare (in other words, expensive in the aftermarket). While the CD player is powered by batteries it needs to be plugged into a wall to play games. Despite Sega's insistence to the contrary it works just fine with the 32X, though it doesn't support the Power Base Converter. In Japan, Sega licensed the CDX design to the Japanese branch of Linguaphone, which gave permission from them to distribute the CDX as the Linguaphone Education Gear.

JVC X'Eye: Combination Genesis/Sega CD with enhanced sound capabilities, known as the Victor Wondermega in Japannote . JVC made the sound chips for the Sega CD and as a result got to manufacture their own consoles under license. The enhanced sound allowed karaoke programs and MIDI output with a keyboard peripheral. Retailed for $499note  and sold about as well as the CDX. Compatible with the 32X (though it blocks the CD door), not compatible with the Power Base Converter (unless it's physically modded to fit). Supposedly a version exists with a redesigned CD door that opens with the 32X attached.

Mega-LD PAC: Ironically an add-on for another "console", this gave the Pioneer LaserActive the ability to play Genesis and Sega CD games, along with special "Mega-LD" games that made use of the LaserActive’s laserdisc player. At an absurd $600, and needing a $900 LaserActive to work, these obviously saw a very limited release (mainly in Japan, where Laserdiscs were far more popular than in North America), and as such are stupidly expensive today. Incompatible with the 32X and Power Base Converter. A similar device, the LD-ROM PAC, allows the LaserActive to play PC Engine and PC Engine CD games, along with their own laserdisc games.

Mega Jet: Japan-only Mega Drive with the console and the controller in one unit, for rental use on commercial airlines. Basically a Nomad without a screen, or more accurately the Nomad is a Mega Jet with a screen, as it's based on the Mega Jet. Incompatible with all add-ons and many peripherals.

Aiwa Mega-CD: Combination Mega Drive/CD/boombox.note  Only released in Japan, and barely released there as production numbers might have not cracked 4 digits. Much like the CDX the CD player and radio can run off batteries but it needs AC power to play games, and the console has the very odd design quirk of only outputting the video signal to the TV - all game audio will come from the boombox speakers. Technically works with the 32X (if you lay the Mega-CD on its side) but it's not recommended, doesn't support the Power Base Converter. They go for about the price of a decent used car today.

TeraDrive: Combination Mega Drive/IBM PC. Only released in Japan and completely bombed thanks to the PC end being about a decade out of date, though with the right software it could act as a dev kit. Incompatible with all add-ons. Incredibly rare, and even more rare is the European/Australian version released by Amstrad.

Sega Neptune: Combination Genesis/32X. Announced for a late 1995 release but canceled when the 32X flopped, it would have looked very similar to the Model 2. Only one known prototype is known to exist (and even that is likely just an empty shell), any rumors stating otherwise are probably just going off a 2001 April Fools Day prank by EGM that claimed a warehouse full of retail units was found. Likely would have been compatible with the Sega CD.

There's also way too many clones, authorized and unauthorized, to list here. Especially in South America, where the Genesis was the #1 console well into the 2010s, and maybe even to this day (TecToy finally stopped producing it in Brazil in 2023.) Following in Nintendo's lead, a miniature version of the console with a built-in selection of games called the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini was released in 2019. A follow-up called the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini 2, now including Sega CD games, was released in 2022.

Add-ons and peripherals

Power Base Converter: Also known as the "Master System Converter" in Europe and as the "Mega Adaptor" in Japan. An add-on which allowed the console to play all but a very select few Master System gamesnote , either of the cartridge or the card variety, and included support for the SMS's SegaScope 3D glasses. The add-on was designed around the form factor of the original model of the Genesis, so it doesn't work with most revisions other than the second model (and even then the original Convertor had issues, so a new convertor was issued, albeit in Europe only; that version also lacked card support). It also won't work with a 32X unless it is modded.note 

Mega Modem: A modem created by Sunsoft that allowed the console to connect to the internet via telephone lines for online play and gave access to the Meganet service. Only released in Japan, though an American launch under the name "Tele-Genesis" was planned. The modem was slow even for its time period, difficult to use, and online play was extremely limited, supporting very few games.

Sega CD/Mega-CD: An add-on which would allow the console to take advantage of the higher-capacity CD storage medium, enabling features such as Full Motion Video and Red Book CD sound. Unfortunately, the Genesis'/Mega Drive's own processing power wasn't quite enough to take advantage of these features to the fullest. Commonly believed to be a flop, the add-on actually sold well enough to be incorporated into some models of the console (the JVC Wondermega/X'Eye the CDX/Multi-Mega), though it never found the sort of popularity that NEC's CD add-on for the PC Engine did in Japan.

Sega 32X: Originally codenamed as "Mars"note , a cartridge-based 32-bit system to go along with their second CD-based system, the Sega Saturn. The add-on boasted two 32-bit processors and primitive 3D graphics capabilities, and was marketed as an opportunity for consumers to get a head start on the 32-bit generation. Unfortunately, both consumers and developers saw that the superior Saturn was just around the corner—although Sega deluded themselves into believing the 32X and Saturn could co-exist, with casual gamers gravitating towards the cheaper 32X while the Saturn was reserved for the hardcore crowd. Titles for the add-on were few and far between, and many of the games that were released ended up Christmas Rushed. Some earlier CD games were also re-released on the 32X to take advantage of the system's improved processing; those games require both the 32X and CD accessories to be present to be playablenote . Madness.

In short, the Genesis/Mega Drive could at least come close to the SNES in total power, and could match it with extra chips. The only major limitations that the system faced, no matter what, was its limited color output and smaller sprite size.


    open/close all folders 
    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games #-D 

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games E-H 

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games I-L 

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games M-P 

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games Q-T 

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games U-Z 

    Sega Genesis Mini Games 
  • Exclusive to the original Genesis Mini:
    • Tetris (more specifically, a port of Sega's 1988 arcade version. Not based on the unreleased Mirrorsoft prototype as claimed by the info screen for the game, but rather made from whole cloth by M2)
  • Exclusive to the Genesis Mini 2:
    • Devi & Pii (an unreleased game developed primarily by at-the-time rookie Takashi Iizuka as part of his employee training)
    • Fantasy Zone (a port of the arcade version produced by the same developer as the aforementioned Darius ROM)
    • Party Quiz Mega-Q 2022 and Party Quiz Sega-Q (updated versions of Party Quiz Mega-Q exclusive to the Japanese version of the Mini 2; the former updates the questions to be more contemporary, while the latter is entirely Sega-themed and features Daytona USA composer/singer Takenobu Mitsuyoshi as the host)
    • Space Harrier (a new port included as a bonus alongside the Mini 2's upgraded version of Space Harrier II, which adds smooth sprite scaling amongst other improvements that bring it more in line with the arcade original)
    • Spatter (a previously-unreleased port of a 1984 Sega arcade game developed by M2)
    • Star Mobile (a completed 1992 conversion of a puzzle game orignally released on the Sharp X68000 and PC Engine CD that was never announced or released)
    • Super Locomotive (another previously-unreleased arcade port developed by M2)
    • VS Puyo Puyo Sun (a demake with new tweaks, adjustments, and rulesets; this only contains the 2-player vs mode due to time constraints)

Tropes related to the system and its add-ons:

  • American Kirby Is Hardcore: The reason behind the Big Word Shout ("SEGA!"), plus the passive-aggressive marketing push in North America. It was all meant to appeal to that edgy 90's gaming market. Japan went for a less in-your-face ad campaign.
  • The Artifact: In the early days of the Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega kept the Master System's Alex Kidd around as their mascot. But when Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle flopped with critics and retail, Sonic turned out to be their real cash cow. Sega mostly retired Alex Kidd from their Genesis/Mega Drive, Saturn, and Dreamcast libraries, with Alex being relegated to very-sporadic cameos in later works, such as Mascot Racers and the comics.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Genesis itself was a major hit that really pushed back against Nintendo's hold on the video game market in the 90s. It's addons, however? While they seriously expanded the Genesis' capabilities, the price point for both the CD and the 32X turned most consumers off. While cheaper than buying a new console outright, they could still be fairly pricy, with many finding it hard to justify buying an addon over a new console. The CD barely had half an attach rate to the Genesis itself, and the 32X received significant backlash due to being release shortly before the Saturn itself would drop. This resulted in a negative feedback loop where developers didn't want to give the addons serious support due to not many people owning the addons, and people not buying the addons due to there not being many worthwhile games for them. While the Genesis is fondly remembered, it's addons are largely used as an example why console addons just don't work outside of being a gimmick, a fact that was quickly taken to heart, as console addons had largely disappeared after this generation ended.
  • Big Word Shout: "SEGA!" in the ads. A digitized version can be heard in a handful of consoles games, with the harmonious choir singing it in the Sonic titles, and the T-Rex hilariously 'speaking' in the first Genesis/Mega Drive Jurassic Park tie-in.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • Nintendo famously edited out the blood and gore in Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat, whereas Sega didn't, at least not entirely (see below). However, Sega did draw the line at nudity. When the computer game Stormlord was ported to the Genesis/Mega Drive, Sega forced Razor Soft to give the fairies clothing (in the original game, they were nude). Oddly enough, Mystic Defender, an early game for the console, had a very brief bit of female nudity at the end.
    • The Genesis port of Mortal Kombat kept the arcades' beloved blood and gore intact—kind of. You need a cheat code to turn them on (the Genesis/Mega Drive port got an MA-13 rating while the Sega CD/Mega-CD version, which had the gore uncensored right off the bat and needed a code to turn the gore off, got an MA-17 rating instead). The SNES port, by comparison, was heavily-censored with blood being replaced with 'sweat' and most fatalities being changed to the point where you're never quite clear on how you killed someone.
    • With the brief adoption of their Video Game Rating Council system in 1993, Sega started bringing down the axe on certain content. Rise of the Dragon and Snatcher had some mature images edited out despite both games getting an MA-17 rating from Sega.
  • Competing Product Potshot: The Genesis was known for its famous advertising campaign "Genesis Does What Nintendon't," targeting the leading competitor, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. They eventually softened up and dropped the slogan sometime into the 1990's; instead, they pushed that the Genesis had "Blast Processing" that made Genesis games feel faster than their Super Nintendo counterparts. The gameplay of Super Mario Kart as was used as an example of how "slow" Nintendo's games were.
  • Country Switch: It was found that many early region-free games actually does this. Depending on the game, changes may be as subtle as removing or adding a trade mark symbol to a complete overhaul (for example, Mystic Defender revealing itself to actually be a Peacock King game and reverting certain elements to its uncensored state).
  • Divorced Installment: As with the Sega Master System, many early games were based on popular Anime and Manga franchises; these tended to be released in America and other Western markets without their original licenses. Examples include the aforementioned Mystic Defender and Decap Attack (originally a game based on the anime Magical Hat).
  • Dueling Works:
    • Super Mario Bros. 3 vs. Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, which ended very poorly for Alex.
    • Super Mario World vs. Sonic 1.
    • Art Alive!, Sega's (very) weak answer to the then-upcoming Mario Paint, minus a mouse. Even the cameos by Sonic, ToeJam & Earl couldn't save this one.
    • Final Fight (Capcom) vs. Streets of Rage.
    • Fire Emblem vs. Shining Series.
    • Killer Instinct vs. Eternal Champions.
    • Different games made by different companies under the same title were quite common in that era. You wanted a game on multiple platforms, but the team you wanted only knew how to develop for one platform. So you contracted other teams to develop the game for other consoles. With little-to-no communication between developers, you wound up with very-different games that still kept to the brief given by the owner of the IP. It still happens to a degree in the modern day, albeit for different reasons. Many cross-platform games have levels that might differ from other consoles quite a lot (as was the case quite often during the transitional period for the PlayStation 2 after the PlayStation 3 came out), or games that differ completely due to different input methods (Nintendo DS and Nintendo Wii).
      1. Virgin Games produced a pair of Aladdin games that were pitted against each other.
      2. Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster Busts Loose! (SNES) versus Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure (Genesis), both developed by Konami.
      3. Two Action RPGs based on Shadowrun. See the dedicated article.
      4. Jurassic Park was the same way: completely-different games on separate platforms.
  • Embedded Precursor: The system's hardware was specifically designed to be backward compatible with the 8-bit Master System, so Sega included the hardware of a fully-functional Master System inside the original Genesis/Mega Drive model, with the only lockout being the difference in cartridges. Sega released an adapter called the Power Base Converter which allowed Master System games to be played on a Genesis/Mega Drive to compensate. Unfortunately, it was incompatible with the model 2 Genesis, and although Sega did release an updated Power Base Converter which fit snugly onto a model 2, it was only given a limited release in Europe. Said update also lacked compatibility with the Sega Cards, therefore no SegaScope 3D support.
  • Fan Nickname: A Genesis/Mega Drive with every possible add-on: Power Base Converter, CD add-on, a 32X, a lock-on Sonic & Knuckles cartridge with Sonic 2 or 3 hooked in, the cleaning cartridge, and possibly (if you're feeling bold) a Game Genie (as seen here). Nicknames for this setup include the "Tower of Babel", the "Tower of Power" or the "Doom Tower."
  • Fun with Acronyms: The commercials (including the one for Sonic the Hedgehog) featuring Denita Stokes, the president of "Humans Against Genesis".
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Mega Drive was never a big success in Japan compared to the PC Engine or the Super Famicom, but the console was popular in the rest of the world, especially North America and Europe. It was released two years before the SNES and outsold it in North America and Europe. The only reason the SNES was able to outsell the Genesis in North America during its dying days was due to the release of Donkey Kong Country. In Russia, the Mega Drive was (and in many cases still is) the only 16-bit console. The Russian video game market in the '90s was mainly based on bootlegging and piracy, and the SNES was nearly impossible to clone at that time; it was much easier and cheaper for video game stores to import countless unlicensed Mega Drive clones and cartridges. Before the rise of the internet, many people in Russia didn't even know the SNES existed. Much like its predeccesor the Master System, it was also hugely popular in Brazil, with both systems being supported by third-party manufacturers to this day.
  • Inconsistent Spelling: In Europe (particularly within England), Mega Drive is sometimes spelled as one word (Megadrive) rather than two.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Aside from the "blast processing" we're all familiar with, the earlier versions of the console were badged with hyped-up words on the "ring" surrounding the cartridge port. The Japanese Mega Drive had "AV Intelligent Terminal" and "High Grade Multipurpose Use", while the American Genesis had "High Definition Graphics"; the European model added "Stereo Sound" to the American words, and later revisions dropped the words entirely.
    • On a smaller note, the original three-button control pad referred to the buttons as "triggers"; this also fell out of use fairly quickly.
  • Late Export for You: The Mega Drive was first released in Japan in 1988, but it didn't reach North American shores until 1989 (and didn't go international until 1990).
  • Logo Joke: A number of Mega Drive/Genesis games has a gag splash screen where some of the game characters do something around or to the Sega logo.
  • Mascot with Attitude: The console was more-known for its big-name sports titles and arcade ports before Sonic gave it a face in '91. He kick-started an entire trend in the nineties (anybody remember Jazz Jackrabbit?). Sonic isn't the only example on the console either, as he had many shameless imitators such as the similarly eco-friendly Awesome Possum, ToeJam & Earl, Treasure's Dynamite Headdy, and Sparkster the Rocket Knight.
  • Meaningful Name: The North American name came about from being not only the "genesis" of 16-bit home consoles (at least in America), but also the fact that Sega were determined to establish themselves as a big player in North America—the genesis of their success.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Received two: The Sega CD and the Sega 32X. The whole mess together (along with other add-ons)was referred to as the "Tower of Power" by fans.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism:
    • From the Neptunia franchise comes its protagonist Neptune a.k.a Purple Heart, who is technically based off the unreleased Sega Neptune console that would become the Sega 32X add-on. Neptune is a Brilliant, but Lazy slacker who would rather goof off and eat pudding than actually do any work, but when she transforms into her goddess form she matures both physically and mentally into a serious Lady of War. It's something of an open question how much of either personality is a facade, however. The duality of her personalities might reference Sega's own shift in policy from kid-friendly to more serious works during the Genesis' lifetime. She's also a wise-cracker who very much is aware of how she's the protagonist of her own series, an attitude rather remiscent of Sega's own Sonic the Hedgehog.
      • Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory introduces Plutia/Pururut (depending on the region) a.k.a. Iris Heart. Plutia is a cute girl who speaks very slowly, is very lazy, but is a sweet girl... but when she transforms into her goddess form Iris Heart, she becomes a Dominatrix who punishes foes and allies alike (the latter only when they disagree with her). Iris Heart's violent personality might be inspired by Sega's attitude towards Nintendo in the mid-90s.
    • The Mega Drive is one of the Sega Hard Girls, a group of girls based on Sega consoles and handhelds. A Cute Bookworm with her trademark 16-Bit Book which contains information of anything regarding the console and its games. Her unpopularity references the console's middling success in Japan. Both Plutia and Mega Drive appear in the crossover game Superdimension Neptune VS Sega Hard Girls as each other's rival/counterpart. Mega Drive has also an "American" counterpart, the cowgirl cousin of Mega Drive named SEGA Genesis, a girl who has studied overseas and become an Americophile.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology:
    • Had an adaptor for SEGA Master System carts that was unpowered, and a 32-Bit module that slotted into the cartridge port and a CD-drive that slotted into the expansion port produced as add-ons near the end of its lifespan. Zig-Zagged, however, in that each expansion pack (minus the SMS cartridge adaptor) needed its own power converter, to the point Sega produced a power strip to run them all on. It was also itself produced as a module for a Laserdisc player.
    • Sega Genesis controllers work with the Atari 2600.
  • Porting Disaster: The Sega Genesis Flashback. The library was solid but lacked the top-drawer titles like Earthworm Jim, Flashback, or Gunstar Heroes; the rest were plagued with slowdown and mangled soundtracks.
  • Product Facelift:
    • The Mega Drive went through the most redesigns of any video game console in history barring the competing PC Engine.
      1. First, you have the original model, which also has a link port (meant for the cancelled Meganet) in the very earliest models.
      2. The more famous, streamlined Model 2 Genesis.
      3. The Genesis CDX (Multi-Mega in Europe) which was a clever but expensive hybrid of the Genesis/Mega Drive and its CD add-on.
      4. The JVC X'Eye/Wondermega which was similar in concept to the CDX and also had enhanced sound capability (and a $500 price tag to match).
      5. The Model 3 Genesis from Majesco (released only in North America), which was as big as the controller.
      6. And then there's the Mega Jet and Genesis Nomad (see below), both of which are portable Genesis consoles.
      7. There is even a licensed version of the Mega Drive, first released in Europe, the AtGames Sega Mega Drive 20-in-1 Game Console, which contains 20 games built into the console and is fully region- unlocked. It's even smaller than the Model 3 Genesis, and has unofficially been dubbed the "Model 4 Genesis". This version made it to the United States shortly thereafter, and comes packed with 80 games.
      8. The Sega Pico contained pretty much the same main components as the Genesis/Mega Drive, save replacing the OPN2 synthesizer with a uPD PCM DAC. A later Yamaha-made spinoff of the Pico reinstated the OPN2 synthesizer.
    • There were two different types of Mega Drive controllers. The first is the standard three-button control pad, and the second is a six-button control pad (known as the Fighting Pad 6B in Japan and the Six-Button Arcade Pad in North America) made specifically for fighting games, of which there were plenty in the mid-nineties. The Arcade Pad later got a redesign by Majesco released in conjunction with the Genesis 3 console (same button layout, but with gumball joysticks and turbo options).
    • Other peripherals include the Menacer light gun (Sega's answer to Nintendo's Super Scope) and the Activator motion sensor pad (which did not work as well as it was advertised).
    • The Sega Nomad. While it's a near-fully functioning portable version of the Genesis/Mega Drive, it suffers from a truly horrific battery life (six AA's, from which you'd be lucky to get two hours of playtime), lacks a reset button (which makes certain games such as X-Men impossible to complete, as they require pressing the button at certain points), and is incompatible with the CD and 32X add-ons - although it would utterly defeat the point of it's portability if it was intended to connect to a Mega CD. Not to mention that if you shake it too much while playing, your game will freeze, typical for most cartridge based systems. And you can pretty much forget about playing on the Sonic & Knuckles lock-on cartridge without a mishap at some point. An official chargeable battery pack was made for the handheld, and the Nomad is also compatible with the same AC adapter as the Sega Genesis model-2 and Game Gear. It was actually quite a powerful handheld for its time, featuring a backlit screen and the ability to connect with a TV to function as a traditional Genesis/Mega Drive. The concept of having a screen on your controller while also playing on the television would ironically become the main gimmick of Nintendo's Wii U more than a decade later, and the idea of a unit that could function as both a portable and home console would become the gimmick of the Nintendo Switch.
    • The success of the NES Classic was followed by the Sega Genesis Flashback. The 2017 model failed to impress. Sega authorized AtGames to develop Genesis plug'n'plays many years earlier, but they later teamed up with developer M2 to produce the Sega Genesis Mini.
  • Rated M for Money:
    • Sega aimed more towards the 13+ crowd, so they were more lenient with censorship than Nintendo (to say nothing of Sega's more-genial Master System).
    • Ironically, Sega briefly started their own rating system (the Video Game Rating Council) to combat bad PR from the raunchy games they tended to release. It was quickly phased out in '94 in favor of the ESRB rating system.
    • To show they weren't bluffing, instead of a colorful, kid-friendly platformer like Alex Kidd being the console advance man, the first pack-in game, Altered Beast 1988, was an arcade Beat 'em Up with muted colors, ghouls, and a slightly-disturbing transformation sequence which would never fly on the NES. This would be followed up with games like Techno Cop, which showed blood spraying from enemies and victims you shot (including children), and the ultra-violent Splatterhouse trilogy.
    • Take SNES Aladdin vs. Genesis/Mega Drive Aladdin: chucking apples at guards, parkouring off their heads, and sliding down clotheslines is a lot truer to the spirit of the movie than "Al" hacking them to death with a scimitar the whole game.
    • Even their advertisements were a stark contrast from Nintendo's carefully stage-managed, wholesome image.
  • Scary Black Man: The most famous of the Sega CD commercials had one. "HEY!! You STILL don't have a Sega CD?!"
  • Sprite/Polygon Mix: Some of the later games for the system.
  • Tag Line: The console had several.
    • "Welcome To The Next Level" (sometimes stylized as Welco metot henex tlevel when the lines were stacked vertically).
    • "Genesis Does What Nintendon't" in North America.
    • The "SE-GA ♪" chime and the "SEGA!" scream. The former is easily the most famous of Sega's classic taglines.
    • "To be this good takes AGES, To be this good takes SEGA."
  • Take That!: The ad campaign in America took heavy pot-shots at Nintendo, whether by comparing the Genesis' Blast Processing (represented as a drag race car) to a broken-down ice cream truck with Mario Kart playing on it, or comparing Nintendo to a bloodsucking mosquito because they charged an extra $10 for certain games on the SNES. They also took a swipe at the 3DO in one of their 32X ads. They also successfully sabotaged the TurboGrafx-16 launch in North America by airing ads of this kind in the select markets the TG16 was going to be tested in.
  • Troubled Production: Sega went through a lot of grief when producing a CD add-on. Technical hurdles involved getting it to work with the console, as well as paranoia about the capabilities of competing hardware. The dev team were pressured to continually beef up the specs to the point where it became too exorbitant for most gamers. Adding to the mess was the competition between Sega's eastern and western branches, which would go on to derail another console (the Saturn): Sega of Japan refused to send prototypes to Sega of America or Sega of Europe, which neutered their ability to promote the add-on prior to release. When units finally arrived at Sega of America's doorstep, they found it plagued with manufacturing defects, up to and including spontaneous combustion. They scrambled to get the hardware out the door, which meant that Sega couldn't properly solicit game developers for the system; the CD library consisted mainly (though not entirely) of laughable FMV games, with only a few titles making innovative use of the system specs, such as Lunar and Snatcher.
  • Video Game Long-Runners: The Genesis was launched in 1988 and wasn't formally discontinued until '98. Even then, third-party versions of the console have still been sold well past its official discontinuation (impressively, many of these clones are made under official license from Sega), and working unlicensed physical cartridges have released for the console even into The New '20s.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • The Genesis/Mega Drive was going to be the first console to receive a VR headset accessory. Sega's lawyers put a kibosh on the plan after it was found that the beta testers were getting motion sickness due to the console constantly lagging. The technology wasn't ready yet. If they had tried again after launching the 32X which granted the console more processing power, they could've succeeded.
    • The console originally had an internet modem designed for it called the Sega Meganet, though it was rather short-lived. Sega tried it again with the Sega Channel in the mid-90s with modest success. There were also plans for an online multiplayer peripheral called the Edge 16, which was designed with fighting games like Ballz in mind, but it never saw release.
    • The SVP chip port of Virtua Racing for the Sega Genesis was supposed to be a market test and Sega had plans to re-release the SVP as a standalone add-on cartridge that other games that needed it locked-on to it, along with plans to re-release Virtua Racing for the add-on along with a port for Virtua Fighter. Three things caused this to fall through: 1. The poor reception to the high price of the Virtua Racing cartridge convincing Sega that there was no money in this upgrade, 2. The fact that Sega's Japan branch was actively objecting the development of the add-on and pushing hard for the development of a new console instead, and perhaps most importantly 3. A patent filed by Code Masters coincidentally detailing the design for such a device hitting the USPTO just days before Sega tried to file their patent. However, even if the SVP add-on did happen, impact would've been minimal and it would've been overshadowed by the 32X anyway.
  • World of Ham: Pretty much anyone who appears in Sega's commercials.
  • "X" Makes Anything Cool: The Sega CDX, and the Sega 32X.


Alternative Title(s): Mega Drive, Sega Mega Drive