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During the heyday of Sega's famous Sega Genesis (Mega Drive to non-Americans), the company made a series of stabs at niche markets and add-on components to keep the Genesis competing with the 32-bit systems that stood between it and Sega's own Saturn. These include:


SG-1000: The "Mark I" to the Sega Master System's "Mark III". Released in Japan in 1983 (incidentally the same day as the Famicom) and sectors of Asia, Oceania, and Europe, but not America. A keyboard-equipped version, the SC-3000, was sold as a home computer. The hardware specs were almost identical to the Colecovision, using nearly the exact same chips and components, to the extent that one clone system, the Telegames Personal Arcade, could actually play both Colecovision and SG-1000 games. It had an updated model called the SG-1000 II (aka the "Mark II").

Sega CD and 32X: Described in further detail on the page for the Sega Genesis, these attempts to get in on the ground floor of technologies properly defined by the other Fifth Generation consoles fell flat due to the Genesis itself not having the processing power to realize their full potential (more precisely, only the 32X was an attempt to provide a transitional add-on for Genesis owners into the Fifth Generation; the Sega CD was originally released in 1991 for Japan, 1992 in America, and 1993 in Europe as a way to take the system's specs closer to the SNES). Plus, the 32X was released shortly after the Saturn's "surprise launch" in Japan, although it reached US first. The arrival of Play Station (again, incidentally released the same day in Japan), as well as Sega Saturn itself, nailed this add-on as well as Sega Genesis itself.

Sega Pico: An early childhood learning system like you'd find in the homes of parents too traumatized by the original batch of video gaming Moral Guardians to purchase a "legitimate" gaming system (think of it as the LeapFrog of its day, except not portable). Cartridges were book-shaped and could be turned page-by-page to advance the on-screen action, while interactive action was controlled with a "magic" pen and buttons. Debuted in 1993 and died out in America and Europe by 1997, but apparently still has Japanese "Storyware" published for it alongside its successor, the Advanced Pico Beena (created 2005, Japan-only).

Sega Mega Jet: The Mega Jet was originally a semi-portable, Game Gear-sized Mega Drive controller/cartridge slot hybrid for use with backseat monitors on Japan Airlines flights. A home port was released in Japan in 1994.

Sega Nomad: After the Mega Jet's release, Sega gave American consumers the Nomad, which at first glance might be written off as a Game Gear that takes Genesis cartridges. While the Game Gear's infamously-short battery life was magnified on the Nomad (six AA batteries now only provided 30 minutes of playtime), the Nomad's main draw was that it not only functioned as a portable system, but had the A/V ports and second controller port necessary to operate as a console (Player 1 used the Nomad's buttons, Player 2 used the port). But even the possibility of lugging a complete console around in your pocket couldn't stop the Nomad from sinking — a launch price of $180 and lack of compatibility with the Sega CD, 32X, and "Power Base" Sega Master System converter left it without sizable support.

Mashup Consoles:

Sega made a variety of deals with other companies to add Genesis functionality to their products or to have Genesis components manufactured on the cheap by a third party. Most were incompatible with the Sega CD and 32X unless they were built into them already.

  • Wondermega (X'eye in North America): Combination Genesis / Sega CD built by JVC which supported its own suite of add-ons and featured better sound capability. Never released in Europe.
  • Sega Multi-Mega (CD-X): A last-ditch effort to keep Sega CD support alive, this miniaturized Genesis / Sega CD hybrid could also function as a portable CD player, but was locked out of playing games while running on battery power.
  • Aiwa Mega-CD: A particularly rare variant of the above even in its exclusive market of Japan, this consisted of an Aiwa CD radio (which doubled as the Sega CD drive and audio output) with an extra deck on the bottom to handle the rest of the Mega Drive components. Unlike Sega's own CD deck, this used a connector cord to join the two rather than build the connection into their physical joining point.
  • Personal Computers with built-in Mega Drives: The Japanese-only TeraDrive kicked this odd marriage off with a 286 IBM that had a Mega Drive built in. Containing a VGA connector for its own monitor and RCA jacks for TV hookup, the TeraDrive was notorious for being able to use the Mega Drive and PC bits simultaneously — and have components from the two draw from each other's memory. The PAL region equivalent Amstrad Mega PC had slightly more power behind it (using an IBM-compatible 386 processor for its PC bits), but only had VGA output and was prohibitively expensive.
  • PAC-S1: A version of the Mega Drive capable of controlling the Pioneer LaserActive LD-ROM drive. (Each software title for the LaserActive required one particular add-on module, of which there were four in total {the other three being a Turbografx-16 system, a serial port to connect to a PC or Macintosh, and a program for karaoke laserdiscs}.)

Internet Services:

A variety of cable TV-based internet connections proliferated during the days of the Genesis and Saturn, and well into the life of the Sega Dreamcast.

  • Sega MegaNet: The first online hookup for Japanese Mega Drives began service in 1991, but folded after lackluster sales and a canceled American release as the "Tele-Genesis". Somehow gained a Short Run In Brazil in 1995.
  • Sega Channel: A joint venture with Time Warner Cable, this service started in 1994 for English-speaking Genesis / Mega Drive owners and used an adapter in the cartridge slot rather than the rear expansion port used by MegaNet (most American and European redesigns of the console's exterior omitted said port but kept the circuit board connections). Most famous for being the only way Americans got to play Mega Man: The Wily Wars.
  • SegaNet / Sega NetLink: A failed online attempt for the Sega Saturn due to high cost and lack of in-game support (only five games supported it, at least two of which are re-releases of games that originally preceded the NetLink, and all are uncommon at best and extremely rare at worst). Notable for allowing users to choose their ISP and being built on the XBAND modem technology that once governed third-party online play for the Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Also notable in that, unlike the Japanese equivalent that depended on now-defunct XBAND infrastructure, the NetLink uses a direct-dial system; if you can call someone on a home phone line, you can play with that someone to this very day.
  • Dreamarena: Bundled with European Dreamcasts, this service absorbed what was left of SegaNet's resources and took advantage of that system's built-in modem to provide free online play. Formally discontinued in 2003, but its DreamKey browser's latest updates allow users to input their own ISP data to continue supporting the Dreamcast's online functions.
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