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Sega Genesis

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The Genesis, also known as the Mega Drive[lower-alpha 2] outside North America, is a 16-bit fourth generation home video game console developed and sold by Sega. It was Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it in 1988 in Japan as the Mega Drive, and in 1989 in North America as the Genesis. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tectoy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung Electronics as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.[lower-alpha 3]

Quick facts: Developer, Manufacturer, Type, Generation, Re...
Sega Genesis / Mega Drive
North American logo
European/Australasian logo
The original Japanese Mega Drive
Model 2 Genesis with 6-button controller
  • Top: Original Japanese Mega Drive
  • Bottom: Genesis Model 2
  • Other variations are pictured under Variations below.
TypeHome video game console
Release date
  • JP: October 29, 1988
  • NA: August 14, 1989
  • KOR: August 1990
  • PAL: September 1990
  • BRA: September 1, 1990
  • IND: April 1994[1]
  • 1988–1997 (Sega)
  • 1998–1999 (Majesco)
Introductory price¥21,000 (equivalent to ¥24,600 in 2019)
US$189 (equivalent to $450 in 2022)
£189.99 (equivalent to £460 in 2021)
Units sold
  • Sega: 30.75 million
  • Majesco: 1.5 million (projected)
  • Tectoy: 3 million
MediaROM cartridge
Memory64 KB RAM, 64 KB VRAM, 8 KB audio RAM
  • Progressive: 320×224, 256×224 (NTSC) or 320×240, 256×240 (PAL) pixels, 512 color palette, 61 colors on-screen
  • Interlaced: 320×448, 256×448 (NTSC) or 320×480, 256×480 (PAL)
Online services
Best-selling game
Master System[lower-alpha 1]
PredecessorMaster System
SuccessorSega Saturn
RelatedSega CD

Designed by an R&D team supervised by Hideki Sato and Masami Ishikawa, the Genesis was adapted from Sega's System 16 arcade board, centered on a Motorola 68000 processor as the CPU, a Zilog Z80 as a sound controller, and a video system supporting hardware sprites, tiles, and scrolling. It plays a library of more than 900 games on ROM-based cartridges. Several add-ons were released, including a Power Base Converter to play Master System games. It was released in several different versions, some created by third parties. Sega created two network services to support the Genesis: Sega Meganet and Sega Channel.

In Japan, the Mega Drive fared poorly against its two main competitors, Nintendo's Super Famicom and NEC's PC Engine, but it achieved considerable success in North America, Brazil, and Europe. Contributing to its success was its library of arcade game ports, the popularity of Sega's Sonic the Hedgehog series, several popular sports franchises, and aggressive youth marketing that positioned it as the cool console for adolescents. The 1991 North American release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System triggered a fierce battle for market share in the United States and Europe known as the "console war".[4][5] This drew attention to the video game industry, and the Genesis and several of its games attracted legal scrutiny on matters involving reverse engineering and video game violence. Controversy surrounding violent games such as Night Trap and Mortal Kombat led Sega to create the Videogame Rating Council, a predecessor to the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

30.75 million first-party Genesis units were sold worldwide. In addition, Tectoy sold an estimated three million licensed variants in Brazil, Majesco projected it would sell 1.5 million licensed variants of the system in the United States and smaller numbers were sold by Samsung in South Korea. By the mid-2010s, licensed third-party Genesis rereleases were still being sold by AtGames in North America and Europe. Many games have been re-released in compilations or on online services such as the Nintendo Virtual Console, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, and Steam. The Genesis was succeeded in 1994 by the Sega Saturn.

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