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Sega Mega Drive

October 1988 saw the release of the Sega Mega Drive in Japan after two years of development.  A few months later it was released in the US under the name Genesis.  The Mega Drive's only competitor was NEC's Turbografx-16, however, that didn't last for long as Sega managed to get more and more third party software developers to sign up with them and write quality games for the console.  Golden Axe and After Burner were just some of the hits on the console.  The result was a 16-bit console with top-notch games and a strong lineup of third-party developers.  The Mega Drive was the king of 16-bit consoles!

Then enter the SNES, which had been delayed until 1991 because the NES was still doing good and new games were still being released for it.  The way Sega tackled the potential threat of the SNES was by heavily advertising its console and attractive line-up of quality games.  Sega also played heavily on the SNES's slow processing speed in its favor.  The release of Sonic The Hedgehog in 1992 did wonders for the Mega Drive.  It gave Sega a mascot and an icon to use in its marketing, and also pushed the Mega Drive to its limit by showcasing beautiful graphics and sound coupled with blazing fast gameplay.

Sega developed the Sega Virtual Processor (SVP) with the help of Hitachi in 1994 in answer to the SNES's Super FX chip, allowing games utilizing it to make use of polygons and render graphics in 3D.  It was included on the cartridge's PCB as opposed to on the console's board.  Unfortunately, only one game ever supported the chip: Virtua Racing.

The Mega Drive was discontinued by Sega in 1997, after years of being the best console in the market.  It fought well against the SNES and had games like Mortal Kombat that gave it an image of being a hardcore gamer's machine as opposed to Nintendo's kiddy releases and cut versions of games.  It retailed for $189.

Technical Specs:

CPU: 16-bit Motorolla 68000 (7.68MHz)
Co-processor: Z80 Zilog (4MHz)
Graphics: Dedicated graphics processor
Colors: 512 (64 on screen)
Sprites: 80
Resolution: 320x224 pixels
Sound: 6 channel stereo.  TI 76489 PSG, Yamaha YM 2612 FM chips

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