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

Genesis does what Nintendon't.
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After the Sega Master System failed to make a dent on the NES/Famicom, at least in North America and Japan (it did okay in Europe and South America), 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 Sega 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.

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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.

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What really captured the public's imagination instead was Altered Beast, 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. 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. 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. Nintendo eventually deployed their own 16-bit console in the form of the Super NES/Super Famicom.

The SNES and Genesis had a long and fierce rivalry in the west which is the best-remembered Console War of all. Sega brazenly championed 16-bits as a marketing point over the 8-bit NES: 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, Sega of America decided to change strategies and instead advertise the "Blast Processing" power of the Genesis, whatever that meant; it was actually a reference to the fact that 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) 

Not to be confused with the band Genesis, the web game Ge.ne.sis, the Genesis Device, the book in The Bible, or the Genesis game based on the book in The Bible with a soundtrack by Genesis.


Specs:

Processors

  • 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 68000 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 consoles 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.

Memory

  • 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

  • Sprites up to 32x32 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.

Display

  • 320x224 resolution.
  • 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 (nevermind 50Hz PAL region consoles), 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.

Audio

  • 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.
  • Texas Instruments SN76489 variant built into the VDP chip (often called a SN76496 due to the modification to allow stereo audio).
    • 4 Analog generators.
    • 3 squares one noise.
    • modded for stereo sound (the standard version of the chip can only do Mono)
  • Because there was no hardware timer to help the Z80 that controlled the audio hardware keep time, it could generate clean PCM audio without music, clean music, or a mix of music and distorted PCM sound.

Addons and peripherals

Power Base Converter: Also known as the Master System Converter in Europe. 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. It also won't work with a 32X unless it is modded.

Sega CD/Mega-CD: A CD-based add-on which would allow it to take advantage of a higher-capacity 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 conceived as the "Neptune", 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 playable. 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.


Notable Games/Series:

    open/close all folders 

    Sega Genesis/Mega Drive Games A-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 
  • Darius (originally a fan-produced ROM before being adopted by M2.)
  • 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.)

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.
  • 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 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.
  • Copy Protection, This is actually averted with the Sega CD. If you're able to burn a Sega CD ISO file to a CD-R and pop it into the system, the system will play it like it would any legitimate copy of the same game. To be completely fair, most early CD-based systems were in a similar boat, since CDs were expensive and difficult to copy at the time, and owning of a CD-R drive at the time meant you were very richnote , very nerdy, or both - but one suspects that this would've still massively bitten Sega in the ass if the Sega CD had actually taken off.
  • 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).
  • 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 the U.S. and U.K. 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.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: After Sega tried to match Nintendo with the Sega Master System (to great success in Europe and South America, but falling flat in Japan and North America), they decided to go in the opposite direction and become Nintendo's antithesis.
    • One of the 32X commercials had a console laying on a bed as the 32X descended and plugged itself into it. "All right, baby..."
    • "Can we see that again?"
    • Sega absolutely loves this gimmick. Quoth an ad for the Mega Drive in the UK, whose headline is The more you play with it, the harder it gets:
      You sit there, eyes glued to the writhing, arcade quality graphics, pulling and squeezing your knob. Now you're breathing heavily over the digital stereo sound. Now you're shooting all over the place, but it's no use... "GAME OVER." note 
  • Late Export for You: The Mega Drive was first released in Japan in 1988, but it didn't reach U.S shores until 1989 (and didn't go international until 1990).
  • Logo Joke: A number of MegaDrive/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.
  • Moe Anthropomorphism:
    • From the Neptunia franchise comes 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 the planet Pururut/Plutia (depending on the region) a.k.a. Iris Heart. Pururut 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 Pururut 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.
  • 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 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 lieu of adopting 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, 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?!"
  • Spell My Name with an "S": In Europe (particularly within the U.K.), Mega Drive is sometimes spelled as one word (Megadrive) rather than two.
  • 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.
  • 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: It was launched in 1988 and wasn't formally discontinued until '98. But there are still versions of the console on sale today (and impressively, many of these clones are made under official license from Sega), and there were actually a few new unlicensed games released for it in the last decade, the most recent of which came out in 2012.
  • 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.

"SEGA!"

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

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