Sega Mega CD System

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An add-on device for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis video game console, the Sega Mega CD was designed and produced by Sega. The device adds a CD-ROM drive to the console, allowing the user to play CD-based games and providing additional hardware functionality. It also allows playing of audio CDs and CD+G discs.
The development of the Mega-CD was confidential; game developers were not made aware of what exactly they were working on until the add-on was finally revealed at the Tokyo Toy Show in Japan. The Sega Mega-CD was designed to compete with the TurboGrafx-16 PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16) in Japan, which had a separate CD-ROM drive.

This first version of the system sat under the Mega Drive console and loaded CDs via a motorized tray. It was costly to produce, and has become unreliable with age without maintenance.

The second version of the, dubbed Mega-CD 2, had the CD-ROM drive relocated to the right of the Sega Mega Drive system, changed to a top-loading CD-ROM drive with a lid, and was meant primarily to be used with the redesigned Sega Mega Drive 2.

However the original model of the Sega Mega Drive could still be used with the addition of an extension that allowed the system to firmly sit on the add-on without overhanging the edge.

The machine was costly at launch, £229.99, and tested the patience of those waiting for the new experience with frequent delays. Although adding many new hardware features, such as scale and rotation, the graphics were hampered by not having a greater colour palette than the Mega Drive.

Soon the price would drop due to lack of sales, and bundle packs with extra software would appear. The machine was catering to the new craze of full motion video in games, and while some could be fun in the short term, the experiences were not great as the machine could only output quite grainy FMV at a low frame rate, and in a small window, the system was home to some great software, but these games were not promoted to the same degree as the FMV titles.

Also the Japanese, US and PAL regions have exclusive games to each region due to the cost of localising and developing software for the system. This meant some regions lost out on some very good titles, as the machines were region locked. Many players would have their consoles modded to allow these titles to run.

Time has now been much kinder to the Mega CD, with more of the library that did not involve video becoming acclaimed over the years. Titles such as Keo Flying Squadron, and Wonderdog showing the potential of the machine for expanding the gameplay experience, with orchestrated music and good cut scenes. It has now become a rather sort after peripheral, and games prices have been rising steadily.

Despite most games not finding success on the system at the time, one exclusive game that did garner praise at the time for the Mega CD is Sonic the Hedgehog CD. Sonic CD is praised for having good graphics, superior CD quality sound to the Genesis games, and an innovative style of stages, having four versions of each of the three zones in each stage. Many fans praise the game as the best of the series for these reasons.

Manufacturer: Sega
Date: 19th April 1993

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Sega SC-3000 Sega 1983
Sega MegaTech Arcade Cabinet Sega 1986
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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH65974. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Sega Mega CD System

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