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Mega Drive/Genesis/Super 32X

The Mega Drive 32X (known as the Genesis 32X in North America and the Super 32X in Japan) is a 32 bit add-on system for the Mega Drive that enhances its graphical capabilities. The console was released in November 1994 in North America, December 1994 in Japan and January 1995 in Europe. The 32X is made to play its own proprietary software, but it also acts a pass through to the Mega Drive which still supports Mega Drive cartridges. A small number of 32X titles also require use of the Mega-CD to enhance their colour palettes and resolution. These games include enhanced ports of Night Trap, Corpse Killer and Fahrenheit.

32X software is often developed to partner the use of the polygon rendering power of the 32X with the 2D, sprite-based rendering of the Mega Drive which means 32X games often use a combination of the 2 systems to render graphics. The Mega Drive is often used to render the background layer and music, while the 32X is used to render 3D elements and foreground graphics using a higher colour palette.

The development of the 32X was lead by SEGA America as a low cost option for Mega Drive owners to upgrade to 32 bit gaming. Despite being revealed in January 1994 at the Consumer Electronics Show, SEGA Japan would reveal the true successor to the Mega Drive, the SEGA Saturn in November 1994, the same month the 32X would launch in North America. This fractured the market and caused a lot of SEGA-following consumers to avoid purchasing a 32X as the more powerful and standalone SEGA Saturn was due in May the following year. This only gave the 32X 5-6 months on the market before it was superseded by the Saturn.

The 32X connects to a Mega Drive by plugging itself into the cartridge port. Additional shield spacers are supplied to support the 32X in the cartridge slot of a model 1 Mega Drive and support the electromagnetic shielding. An additional plastic spacer is also supplied that slots onto the bottom of the 32X to support it against the different molding of the Mega Drive II’s case. A patch cable then connects the 32X to the Mega Drive and a video-out cable is then connected to the 32X and a television. The 32X requires its own power adapter which is also supplied.

Specifications

CPU
Main Processor: 2 Hitachi SH-2 32-bit RISC processors clocked at 23 MHz

Graphics
Resolution: 320 × 240 resolution
Colors Available: 32,768 on-screen colors
Capable of rendering 50,000 polygons per second

RAM
256 KB RAM, 256 KB VRAM

Storage
ROM cartridge

Images

Images of 32X Chaotix bundle kindly provided by Adam Tuff

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