The Mega Drive’s technology was derived from Sega’s own ‘System 16’ arcade board. It utilises the proven Motorola 68000 CPU, backed up by a secondary Zilog Z80.
Sega’s Mega Drive also represents the first platform that a Sonic the Hedgehog game appeared on. Sonic inevitably became Sega’s mascot and formed part of a bundle with the Mega Drive that became a strong system seller.
Competing directly with Nintendo’s SNES, the system was hugely popular worldwide. Although selling less across the world than Nintendo, the Mega Drive sold c. 30 million units vs. the SNES selling 49 million. The system as expected based on the Master System’s performance, outsold the SNES in Europe but was still behind in the US and Japan.
The Mega Drive had two add-on systems/peripherals in an attempt to extend its life. The Mega CD/Sega CD was released in 1991 and the 32X in 1994. Both did not perform that well, especially the 32X which is considered the beginning of Sega’s downfall from producing hardware.
Their Mega CD however performed modestly but was still not really considered an overall success. Sega was part of the pioneering few who were embracing CD-ROM technology for consoles. Perhaps they paid the price for jumping on board too early. The real nails in the coffin though were still to come after the Mega CD with the 32X and Sega Saturn.
Sega ceased retailing the Mega Drive in 1997, licenced variations continued with other international sellers. Sega’s successor, the Sega Saturn launched in 1994.
How To Emulate This System?
Sega Mega Drive emulation is reasonably well catered for, we recommend taking a look at RetroArch if you are seeking an all-in-one solution. RetroArch emulates a large number of systems including the Sega Mega Drive. RetroArch is a front end that utilises emulator ‘cores’, it is reasonably easy to use and has lots of good supporting documentation on how to use it. RetroArch is available across a number of platforms including Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Raspberry Pi and many consoles. Take a look at our quick start guide for RetroArch which can get you up and running in 5 minutes.
Also, check out the other Sega Mega Drive emulators we enjoy using:
|KEGA Fusion||KEGA Fusion is hands down the best stand-alone emulator for Windows, Mac & Linux. It emulates SG-1000, Master System, Game Gear, Mega Drive, Mega CD & 32X games.||Windows / Mac / Linux|
A lifelong avid gamer and computing enthusiast, Matt has decades of experience in the field, so producing retro orientated content for How To Retro comes is second nature to him. Now over 40 years old, Matt now even considers himself retro, but fortunately, nobody has developed a Matt emulator (not yet at least!).