Hardware Heaven: Mega Drive
» Manufacturer: Sega » Year: 1988 » cost: £190 (launch), £15+ (today)
The Blast Processing-powered menace has invaded our pages in this hardware spread
Sega leveraged its arcade heritage for its next-generation successor to the Master System, utilising the same processor setup as used in its versatile System 16 board. Although the processors were running at a lower clock speed in the home, the Mega Drive was still a fast machine for its time, capable of moving many sprites without slowdown. What’s more, the Motorola 68000 was a familiar CPU for programmers due to its use in popular computers worldwide, including the Apple Macintosh, the Sharp X68000, the Commodore Amiga and the Atari ST. A custom graphics chip offered multiple independently scrolling graphics layers, a clear advantage over the rival PC Engine. However, its limited colour palette would prove to be a weakness in the long term. Externally, the Mega Drive’s black casing aped the design of expensive late Eighties hi-fi systems, aided by the presence of the headphone jack and volume slider. Gold lettering boasted of the machine’s 16-bit power, and text on the circular rim around the cartridge slot touts high-definition graphics and stereo sound. Aided by clever marketing and stellar software, the Mega Drive would become Sega’s most successful console and briefly made the company a market leader.