X-CulT: Genesis - Megadrive Main Page
The Sega Mega Drive was a 16-bit video game console released by Sega in 1988 in Japan, 1989 in North America, and 1990 Europe. Sega, after failing to trounce the Famicom with its own Master System, decided to jump into the 16-bit video game market with a new system, the Mega Drive. Sega had learned that Nintendo already had plans for a new 16-bit video game system, and they wanted to be the first to release one, so production started immediately. Nintendo didn't know about the Mega Drive for a time, so they rested on the success of the Famicom hoping that it would keep them ahead. When the Mega Drive was released, it was not a very big success, mainly featuring re-releases of arcade games. The true potential of the Mega Drive was not seen until the creation of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. With the release of Sonic the Hedgehog, there was a landslide of developers that wanted to use the machine. The smooth graphics and crisp sound of Sonic sent a shockwave through the video game industry that is still being felt even today. Sega found that the Mega Drive's success could lead to other successes as well, which fueled the release of the Mega CD and 32x, both of which were ok as add-ons, but nothing could compare to the frenzy of excitement the Mega Drive had started. On technical side, the Mega Drive sports a M68k processor that runs at 7.61-7.67MHz, an 8-bit Z80 sound processor, which supported PSG and YM2612 sound. The Z80 even lead to the Base System Converter's creation due to the ability to use it as a main processor for Master System games. The Mega Drive had 64kb of main ram, and 64kb of video ram, giving it plenty of space for large scale games such as Sonic 3 & Knuckles. The Mega Drive supported 512 colors, 4 graphics planes, up to 80 sprites, 61 possible onscreen colors at a time, and supported up to 320x224(320x240 in PAL) screen resolution. The Mega Drive had 6 standard FM audio channels, PSG, and DAC support as well.