Friday, October 20, 2006

Sega 32X - Quick History and Specs List

The 32x debuted in 1994. It was an add-on for the Genesis. It connects to the Genesis by plugging-in the unit into the Genesis's cartage port. It is said that the 32x increase the speed of the unit by 19x! This increase in performance is possible thanks to its 2 RISC based processors.
The 32X
The Sega 32X added better color (finally), faster performance, and 3D graphics to the Genesis and Sega CD. The whole idea is sort of strange considering that when you get the Genesis and attach a Sega CD and the 32X you now have a huge chunk of hardware worth well over $400 with massive parallel processing power that still pales in comparison to say a Saturn. Still, the whole thing wasn't too bad with some great translations like Virtua Racing Deluxe and Virtua Fighter. The system had a few notable titles released before it's quick demise at the release of the Saturn and Playstation.
The idea of emulating every aspect of the 32X is quite a challenge. You'd have to emulate both the Genesis and the Sega CD first, and then write up your SH-2 core and God knows how the 32X sound processor works. The 32X is another case of someone reverse-engineering the hardware to gain the knowledge to emulate the machine. Even though the 32X, (for the most part) takes over the Genesis unit, it still allows you to play Genesis games by passing through the data from the 32x to the Genesis unit.

Quick Specs List:

Released: 1994

Processor: Dual Hitachi SH2 RISC Processors (one master and one slave)
operating at 23Mhz each

Co-Processor: 68000, Z80, VDP (Genesis) 68000 (Sega CD)

Data Path width: 32-bits within 32X

Color Palette: 32,768

On screen: 32,768

3D Capabilities: 50,000 Texture Mapped Polygons per second

Sound: Stereo PCM plus an extra 2 channels to the Genesis and Sega CD

Ram: extra 512 Kilbytes for the Genesis and Sega CD

Cart Size: 16 - 32 Megabit

Pong TV Game - History

The paleolithic ‘pong’
in the beginning, there was nothing. well, actually, there was
pinball, some shooting gallery games, a few nickel peep-show
machines and those mechanical genies that would guess your
weight and give a glimpse of your future. but it was probably
pretty hard trying to beat your buddies at who weighs less.
(there was bell, there was edison, there was fermi. and then there was higinbotham)

'tennis for two' on an oscilloscope
working at brookhaven national laboratory, a us nuclear research
lab in upton, new york, william a. higinbotham, a chain-smoking,
fun-loving character and self-confessed pinball player, wants to
develop an open house exhibit at bnl that will entertain people as
they learn. his idea is to use a small analog computer in the lab to
graph and display the trajectory of a moving ball on an oscilloscope,
with which users can interact.
missile trajectory plotting is one of the specialties of computers at
this time, the other being cryptography.
along with technical specialist robert v. dvorak who actually
assembles the device, to create in three weeks the game system they
name tennis for two, and it debuts with other exhibits in the
brookhaven gymnasium at the next open house in october 1958.
in the rudimentary side-view tennis game, the ball bounces off a long
horizontal line at the bottom of the oscilloscope, and there is a small
vertical line in the centre to represent the net.
the game was simple, but fun to play, and its charm was infectious.
brookhaven national laboratory -
tribute to william higinbotham, inventor of 'pong' -

at MIT circa 1961 there's a group of hard core computer nerds calling
themselves the tech model railroad club : wayne witanen and j. martin graetz,
along with 25 year-old steve russell, they develop the idea to pit two spaceships
with limited fuel supplies against each other in a missle duel. the program
becomes 'spacewar !', the world's first fully interactive videogame, with russell
as main programmer (1962).
two spaceships called the wedge and the needle, according to their shapes, are
rendered in rough outlined graphics. it causes a sensation at MIT's annual
science open house, and a scoring system must be introduced to limit people's time
at the control switches used to play. it is such a huge hit with the computer
community that copies are quickly spread around to other educational facilities in
the u.s. across the then burgeoning internet precursor ARPAnet.
and once again, just like willy higinbotham, russell doesn't seek to copyright or
patent his work. most likely because the system 'spacewar !' is running on is the
size of a refrigerator and costs us$120,000. due to its public domain status, the
game will end up being one of the most copied concepts in videogame history.
'spacewar !' ?

who really invented the videogame ?
in 1949, a young engineer named ralph baer, was given an assignment
to build a television set.
in 1966 with the help of bob tremblay and bob solomon they are
ready to demonstrate a system that allows spots to be moved around
on a tv screen. in january of 1967 baer puts technician bill harrison
to work to build the first multi-game unit. it plays 'chase' games, has a
'light gun' and a variety of other simple games. they call the system the
‘home tv game’. in early 1968 baer files for the first videogame patent,
and by the end of that year they again demonstrate the system,
capable of switching between ping-pong, volleyball, handball, hockey
and even several shooting games to be used with a newly designed
during many years of litigation defending his patent, baer learns of
higinbotham's creation, and he describes it as a simple, oscilloscope-
based ballistics demonstration.
unfortunately, the man at the centre of this controversy cannot speak for
himself: william higinbotham, owner of 20 patents concerning electronic
circuits, passes away on november 10, 1995, at the age of 84.
after further developing the system was released as the first ever
commercially available home videogame to magnavox dealers as the
‘odyssey’ in may of 1972.
the graphics are so rudimentary that the system comes with a set of two
sizes of colour mylar overlays to put on the television screen to represent
the various playfields, including tennis and hockey.

the arcade
in the footsteps of pioneers william higinbotham, ralph baer and steve russel
nolan bushnell, the zeus of the videogame industry, is about to create an
entire entertainment industry, which in a few short years will eclipse even the
80 year old movie business.
at 19 years old, he becomes convinced of the commercial viability of a videogame
like 'spacewar', if only the system that ran it could be scaled down from university
mainframes and into a more reasonably compact version. he begins an eight year
odyssey to do just that: produce an arcade version of 'spacewar'.
1971 bushnell leaves ampex to work on the computer space game full time and
when he finally completes it that year he finds a buyer in nutting associates,
a manufacturer of coin-op trivia games. 1,500 of the units are built, with a futuristic
design and fiberglass cabinet, but the game does not sell well.
bushnell comes to the conclusion that the procedures of using various buttons for
the thrusting and rotating of the ships are just too complicated for half-pissed bar
patrons to comprehend. he becomes convinced that any successful video arcade
game has to be extremely easy to understand from the get-go.
at least the futuristic fibreglass cabinet is a hit...

'pong' released
bushnell, cofounder of atari in 1972 (a term from the japanese game go, whose
meaning is equivalent to "check" in chess.) bushnell hires al alcorn to program
since alcorn is inexperienced, bushnell has him program a simple video tennis
game as an exercise. they call the game 'pong', for two reasons:
1) 'pong' is the sound the game makes when the ball hits a paddle or side of the
screen, and
2) the name 'ping-pong' is already copyrighted. 'pong' is but a polished variant
of the game willie higinbotham displayed on his oscilloscope.

ROM chips
now the arcade is about to get a whole lot more crowded, between 1971 and 1973,
30 videogames are produced for the arcade by 11 manufacturers.
in 1974 the company kee games, headed by joe keenan releases 'tank',
designed by scott bristow. gameplay consists of two tanks facing off in a maze,
while trying to avoid land mines scattered about. the game breaks new technical
ground by incorporating ROM chips to hold graphics memory, enabling it to display
more complicated detail on-screen than the simple blocks of 'pong'.
'tank' becomes the biggest hit of 1974, kee and atari 'merge' back into
one company.

'pong' is a tv based game
in 1974 atari employees bob brown and harold lee propose a home version of 'pong',
able to be hooked up to any tv set. retailers are skittish over the short life of magnavox's
tv-based 'odyssey' game and the system languishes in the atari labs.
in 1975 they cut a deal to sell the system under the sears tele-games label.
the order is for 150,000 units. bushnell has nowhere near the facilities to produce that
many in the time sears wants them, so he taps a venture capitalist for a $10 million
line-of-credit to expand. by christmas, atari's US$100 home 'pong' console becomes sears
biggest selling item, with reports of people waiting outside stores for hours to get one.
and once again dozens of manufacturers swarm out with myriad versions of home 'pong'
games. almost all of these machines are based on the new 'pong-on-a-chip' circuit
developed by general instruments.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Krisalis Software - Company Profiles

Formerly known as Teque, Krisalis was a leading UK developer and publisher of quality strategy and soccer games. Here's a brief profile from the company's website back in 1996: "As well as producing games for Spectrum, Amiga, ST and many consoles, Krisalis was an ardent supporter of the slightly neglected Archimedes market. Krisalis brought major games created by other companies to Archimedes owners that they would have otherwise missed out on such as Chuck Rock, Populous, James Pond, Lemmings and Lotus Challenge. The number of people employed by Krisalis has continued to increase steadily over the years, and the number of staff on the Krisalis books now nears 40. As the numbers increased, so did the need for more office space, and so 1996 saw the expansion into adjacent buildings. As computers and consoles have come & gone, so Krisalis have evolved and looked to the next wave of machines. From development of games for Spectrum, C64, Amstrad CPC and MSX, through Amiga, ST, Megadrive, Archimedes, SNES and 3D0, we are now focused on both original titles and conversions for Playstation and Dreamcast. Nobody can tell what's coming next, but Krisalis will certainly be there. Generally, Krisalis are feeling very positive towards the Jaguar and think that if Atari can get enough machines into the market place, backed up with sufficient marketing, then it could be a great success. However, if they delay much longer then Sony may well steal this success away from them. Timing and marketing will prove to be crucial factors. Krisalis do see themselves as pioneers, and are already planning to release three Jaguar titles. Those currently in development include the highly-acclaimed platformer Soccer Kid and Battle Chess for other publishers. Work is also about to commence on a new football game. Krisalis believe that if developers don't commit to the Jaguar at this early stage it could well damage the console's changes. It's a good product. It's got good press. It has been very well received. They should go for it."
Tony Kavanagh (Managing Director)

From 2001 and until 2003 Krisalis games were published by The 3DO Company.

Games Published

Arabian Nights
Sabre Team A1200

Amiga CD32
John Barnes Football
Soccer Kid

Laser Squad
Sabre Team

Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Manchester United
Manchester United Europe

Games Developed

Cannon Fodder

Arabian Nights
Sabre Team A1200

Nintendo 64
Airport Inc.

Airport Tycoon
Laser Squad
Lego Land
Sabre Team

Black & White

Sinclair ZX Spectrum
Manchester United Europe

Super NES
The Adventures of Kid Kleets (Soccer Kid)

Monday, October 16, 2006

3DO History

Similar to the goal of the Phillips CD-I, a company called 3D0 set out to create a new standard in multimedia. Their creation became the 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer. It was capable of running 3D0 interactive software (games), Audio CD’s, CD+G, Photo CD, and Video CD’s using an add on. Rather then manufacturing their new system, 3D0 decided to make 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer a franchise. Sanyo, Panasonic and Goldstar all bought rights to manufacture the 3D0 system. Once produced and sold, 3D0 would claim a royalty for each system and $3 for each game sold.
In October of 1993, Panasonic began sales of the first 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer. The systems capabilities were clearly quite ahead of it’s time. Although it was not the first 32-bit system in history, the 3D0 was the first 32-bit system in the United States. The images shown are of Panasonic’s 3D0 models FZ-1 R.E.A.L 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer, and FZ-10 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer. There are several more models established by other companies, but other then a few additions they are all pretty much the same. As groundbreaking as the console was, the 3D0 was also one of the most expensive systems ever released. At a whopping $700USD or more, this machine only seemed to attract the wealthy. Even after a few price drops, the 3D0 never recovered from its initial reputation as a rich man's videogame system. Since 3D0 placed no software licensing restrictions, the 3D0 amassed a large library of games. Some quality titles such as “Need For Speed” and “Road Rash” became quite popular. Others (as with Atari 2600 titles) were sheer crap.
In 1995 the 3D0 company began announcing a new technology called 3D0 M2. This technology was rumored to have 7 times the power of any console released at the time. M2 would come standard in a new 3D0 system, or be used to upgrade existing systems.The 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer could have had the capability to compete even with newer 32-bit systems, but M2 never became reality. M2 technology was sold off to another company (Matsushita), and 3D0 machines never saw the upgrade. Gamers found themselves more interested in cheaper 16-bit consoles, and eventually newer 32-bit systems entered the market. 3D0 games and systems found their way into clearance bins starting in 1996.The system eventually died the end of that year.
FACT: 3D0 Interactive Multiplayer had only one controller port. However, this wasn't a problem since extra controllers (up to 8) could be easily daisy-chained to another controller. The original Panasonic controllers have a built-in stereo headphone jack along with a volume control dial. The system has its own internal memory to save games and other information. It has 2 expansion ports which were to be used for future upgrades such as memory cards, modems, digital video cartridges and the M2 system upgrade. The 3D0 was definitely designed for the long haul.

US 32X Game List

US 32X Game List

Afterburner - 32X Version of the Sega Arcade Classic

Blackthorne - Enhanced version of the Rough-Tough Interplay Sidescroller.

Cosmic Carnage - Stupid Futuristic Boxing Game 32X Style!

Doom - 32X Version the PC Shooter (32X version doesn't even run full screen tho..)

Evander Hollyfield 'Real Deal' Boxing - Beatdown by Hollyfield

Knuckles Chaotix - 32X's Sonic title

Kolibri - It's got a hummingbird on the cover.

Mortal Kombat 2 - Better graphics than the SNES version, but terrible sound.

Motocross Championship - Dirt bikin' fun, just like ESPN2!

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition - Coo B-bal game, this version second only to Jaguar and PSX.

NFL Quarterback Club - Football Game

Night Trap (32XCD) - Cheezy FMV and a whip-cream bikini, woohoo!

Pitfall: the Mayan Adventure - Sidescroll Adventure, the Jaguar version is better =)

Primal Rage - Dino-Fighting!, by Atari, Jag CD version is also good.

R.B.I. Baseball '95 - Sega Sports Baseball Game

Slam City With Scotty Pippin (32XCD) - All FMV B-Ball game over 4CD's Yeehaw!

Space Harrier - 32X Version of the Sega Arcade Classic

Spider-Man: Web of Fire - THE Spidey Game, my spider sense is tingling!

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy - Star Trek bridge sim, snooze-fest.

Star Wars Arcade - 32X Version of the Atari Arcade Classic

T-Mek - 32X Version of the Atari Arcade Semi-Classic

Tempo - Happy, kiddy sidescroll adventure.

Toughman Contest - Cool 32X boxing Game

Virtua Fighter - Best Home Version of the Sega Arcade Classic

Virtua Racing Deluxe - 32X Version of the Sega Arcade Classic

WWF Raw - Idiotic wrestling game.

WWF WrestleMania - See above.

32X Games Reviews Part 1


Afterburner is based on a late 80's arcade jet fighter game of the same name, you view the action from behind your plane, which is equipped with machine guns and lock-on missiles. Gameplay is strictly arcade and the graphics and sound are much better than the Megadrive version, (due to faster scaling and more colors) but gameplay is where it fails ... miserably, there is no skill or technique required for playing, the action is so fast and frantic that if you think\look at what your shooting, you'll be dead! and you wont know what hit you. The only way to make any progress in the game is to, turn the difficulty right down, put your guns on auto fire, and wobble the D-pad around like a nutter! WHERE'S THE FUN IN THAT! This coupled with an over responsive cross hair, and hit or miss controls, seals the games fate.



BC Racers is a Mario Kart style game set in the stone age, the characters are funny, colorful and well drawn, each have their own strengths and weaknesses. So the graphics are o.k, what about gameplay and sound? Well the sound is rubbish, and it's practically unplayable because it skips and stutters and jumps about so much, that you cant gage punches properly at other players or tell wether your turbo is on or not. This problem is greatly magnified in the split screen 2 player mode. In the end this is a poor port of an average game, and if you really have to own it, get the Mega CD or SNES versions instead.


Wow! a great 32X game! (rub your eyes) Blackthorne is a 2D platform adventure game in the same vein as Flashback and Abe's Odessy, only cooler. In the game you have to rescue slaves from an army of evil Ork type monsters by strategic gunning and puzzle solving. The graphics and sound are very good , with sharp digitized sprites, nicely drawn backdrops and silky smooth animation. Gameplay and control is intuitive and easy to use, your character can run, jump, roll, shoot, throw bombs and hide in the shadows to take cover from incoming fire. Enemy AI is spot on, and hapless slaves often get shot up in a gunfight. Blackthorne was released on other consoles too, (GBA being the most recent) but 32X owners will be happy to know that this is the best console version out there.


Brutal is a 2D fighting game. You main characters are martial arts animals, dogs, rabbits and the like. There is nothing drastically wrong with the game except it's so stale and boring ... that and the fact that it doesn't offer anything new over the Megadrive, Mega CD and SNES versions. The graphics are nice, colorful and well animated, but gameplay is hampered by you having to choose a character and EARN your attack moves by competing in a series of one on one fights ... big mistake, fighters of this type should be fun and fast paced, (like Street Fighter) not drawn out and tedious like this one.


Cosmic Carnage is a 2D one on one fighter in which alien fighters battle choose different body armour before each round to increase their fighting potential, the characters are large and colorful and there is a lot of sprite scaling going on, as you punch, kick, grapple and rip limbs off each other ... and this is where it goes wrong. I'm pretty sure that this game was designed to show off what the 32X could do, because the extra color pallete and mode 7 style scaling is gratuitously over used, to the extent that the game looks silly, the colors are gaudy and the sprite scaling simply scales too much, bringing large, ugly pixels right up to the screen. To make matters worse the fighters are restricted to only a handful of stiff, awkward attacks, the gameplay has all but been forgotten, in a quest to showcase the 32X extra capabilities over the Megadrive ... could this have been done on the Megadive? ... No ... And who cares.



Darxide is a 3D polygonal space shooter viewed from behind your ship. The ship is equipped with the usual lasers and rockets needed to blast all those alien ships and asteroids that cross your path. The graphics are some of the nicest you'll see on the 32X, it's done in proper 3D textured polygons and they all animate and scale very smoothly (probably achieved by not having to do much background ... space is black y'see) and the draw distance isn't an issue because objects fade nicely into view from the dark void, adding to the feeling of being in deep space. The sound is o.k, with minimal sound effects and a passable trippy-techno sound track playing in the background. But poor gameplay and bad controls spoil all of this. Targeting enemies is a tricky affair , due to an over responsive cross hair and a rubbish radar that is just a load of colored dots at the top of the screen do nothing to convey a sense of distance. Could have been a great game ... but is just mediocre.


Needs no introduction really. Doom is THE original first person shooter, now other reviews have given the 32X version a hard time for not having full screen (there is a border around the edge of the screen) I on the other hand think this is a pretty good conversion for loads of reasons. The game features levels from both Doom 1 and 2, the graphics are sharp, smooth and colorful, the controls are tight and easy to use, and the sound is exactly the same as it was in the original PC Doom. Nothing has been lost from the gameplay, it's still fast, frantic, fraggin' fun, and you'll forget the smaller screen size after about 5 minutes play anyway.



This is yet another 32X title to recieve unfair criticism by reviewers. I suppose that Sonic 1,2 & 3 fans might be a little dissapointed because Chaotix doesn't really play like a classic sonic title. You play as Knuckles over Sonic style stages, and you are always attached to various buddies by an invisible bungee type force who helps (hinders) your progress through the game, so team work is the order of the day here. The graphics are lush and colorful, with sprite scaling effects (albeit a bit blocky on the knuckles sprite) and a 3D polygon sub level where you must collect blue orbs (Tempest stylee). Not being a huge sonic fan I judged the game with an unbiased view, I'm not saying this is a great game, but the 32X is short on decent titles, and this is one of the better ones.



Strange game Kolibri, it's a shoot 'em up that see's you take control of a humming bird. So what's wrong with it then? Well first of all the gameplay, it's hard to know what you're supposed to do, and when you do complete a mission, you still don't know. The control of your humming bird while being quite authentic is annoying, like swimming against a strong tide, the graphics are pretty, but boring (flowers, plants, trees and the like) and it slows down qite a bit when there are too many sprites on screen, most noticeable when you are rescuing your humming bird brethren from the evil insects, in which case you cant tell which one is your bird because they look exactly like you do, and they follow you around the place, leading to you getting killed. Kolibri sucks ... nuff said!

Sega Dreamcast History

The Sega Dreamcast (Japanese: code-named "Blackbelt," "Dural," and "Katana" during development) was Sega's seventh & final video game console and the successor to the company's Sega Saturn. An attempt to recapture the console market with a next-generation system, it was designed to supersede Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo 64, and although generally considered to be "ahead of its time" (literally fifteen months before the PlayStation 2 and three years (based on original release dates, not U.S. release dates) before GameCube or Xbox) it failed to gather enough momentum before the release of the PlayStation 2 in March 2000. After the Dreamcast was discontinued, Sega withdrew entirely from the console hardware business.


When the time came to design the successor to the Sega Saturn, the new President of Sega, Shoichiro Irimajiri, took the unusual step of hiring an outsider. He hired Tatsuo Yamamoto from IBM Austin to head a skunkworks group to develop the next-generation console. It soon became apparent that the existing Japanese hardware group led by Hideki Sato did not want to relinquish control of the hardware department, bringing rise to two competing designs led by two different groups.


A timeline of the development of the console's GPU may be found here.

The Japanese group led by Hideki Sato settled on an Hitachi SH4 processor with a PowerVR graphics processor developed by VideoLogic (now Imagination Technologies) and manufactured by NEC. This was originally codenamed "White Belt". The first Japanese prototype boards were silkscreened "Guppy", and the later ones "Katana".

The US skunkworks group (in a secret suite at the 303 Twin Dolphin Drive building) led by Tatsuo Yamamoto settled on an IBM/Motorola PowerPC 603e processor with a 3dfx Voodoo 2 graphics processor, which was originally codenamed "Black Belt". The first US prototype boards were silkscreened "Shark".

The Japanese hardware was codenamed "Dural", then later, "Katana". "Black Belt" and "Shark" were the only codenames used by the US hardware team (the hardware team was called "Black Belt team"; the "Shark" was in response to the Japanese team's "Guppy").

When 3dfx declared its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in April 1997, it revealed every detail of the contract with Sega. Sega had been keeping the development of its next-generation console secret during this competition, and was outraged when 3dfx publicly laid out its deal with Sega over the new system in the IPO.

In July 1997, perhaps as a result of 3dfx's IPO, it was decided that the Japanese "Katana" would be the chosen format, renamed Dreamcast. In September 1997, 3dfx filed a lawsuit against Sega and NEC (later including VideoLogic), stating "breach of contract", and accusing Sega of starting the deal in bad faith to take 3dfx technology, although they later settled.


The Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan, on September 9, 1999 in North America (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in US promotion) and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tagline used to promote the console in the US was, "It's thinking", and in Europe "Up to 6 Billion Players".

The Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for online gaming (besides the NES, Satellaview, and the Nintendo 64DD). It enjoyed brisk sales in its first season, and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 300,000 units (citation Maclean's September 24, 1999) had been pre-ordered before launch and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,000 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record until the PlayStation 2 launched a year later). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders. Sega confirmed that it made $98.4 million on combined hardware and software sales with the Dreamcast with its September 9, 1999 launch. Sega even compared the record figure to the opening day gross of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, which made $28.5 million during the first 24 hours in theaters.

Before the launch in the United States, Sega had already taken the extra step in displaying Dreamcast's capabilities in stores nationwide. Much like the PlayStation's launch in North America, the displays of titles such as Soul Calibur, Sonic Adventure, Power Stone, and Hydro Thunder helped the Dreamcast succeed in the first year.

Electronic Arts announced it would not support the Dreamcast unless it sold 1 million units. When this happened within a record 90 days, EA went back on their word and declined to support the Dreamcast in favor of Sony's upcoming PlayStation 2. Although the Dreamcast had none of EA's popular sports games (due in part to EA's losses from the past Sega Saturn), Sega Sports titles helped to fill that void.


In April 1999, Sony announced its PlayStation 2, designed to be backwards-compatible with the older PlayStation. The actual release of the PS2 was not until March 2000 in Japan, and late October 2000 in the US. Sony's press release, despite being a year ahead of the launch of the PS2, was enough to divert a lot of attention from Sega. With the looming PS2 launch in Japan, the Dreamcast was largely ignored in that territory. The Dreamcast had great initial success in the US, but had trouble maintaining this with the PS2's release.

Dreamcast's overall superior games (vs. early PS2 games), online capabilities including SegaNet (the PS2 would not go online until late 2002), and significantly lower price (1/2 cost) did little to help sales once the Playstation 2 was launched. American public attention was focused upon the Playstation 2's much hyped graphics and its ability to play DVDs (the DVD format did not catch on in Japan until after the release of the PS2 as the LD was the established standard). During the holiday season of 2000, the Dreamcast was largely ignored even as the PlayStation 2 was plagued by production shortages, as people often paid in excess of $1000 on eBay for Sony's next-generation console.

The biggest competition between the two systems in the US was their football games (NFL 2K1 vs. Madden NFL 2001). Both games were highly regarded with NFL 2k1 having the advantage of online play (coinciding with release of SegaNet) and Madden arguably having a graphics edge. NFL 2K1 outsold Madden 2001. It sold about 410,000 copies which was about the number of PS2s sold in America [citation needed].

Quality of the overall PlayStation 2 library wouldn't catch up until a year later after developers abandoned Dreamcast development en masse and cancelled many nearly completed projects. Sony already enjoyed brand-name dominance over Sega after the huge success of the original PlayStation and commercial failure of the Sega Saturn, Sega 32X, and Sega CD, which contributed to poorer sales of the Dreamcast.

In 2000, the announcement of the Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube was widely regarded as the last straw for the Dreamcast, since both competitors had deep pockets, which fueled speculation that Sega did not have the resources for a prolonged marketing campaign.

Sega's decision to release the Dreamcast early, or even at all, is still debated. While it was largely regarded as a risky gamble, the Dreamcast was initially successful. Ultimately, anticipation of competitors' newer consoles resulted in stagnation of Dreamcast sales. The GameCube and Xbox weren't released until well after the Dreamcast was officially discontinued (nearly a year later).

End of production

On January 31, 2001, Sega announced that production of Dreamcast hardware was to be discontinued by March of that year, although the 50 to 60 titles still in production would be published. The last North American release was NHL 2K2, which was released in February 2002. With the company announcing no plans to develop a next-generation successor to the Dreamcast, this was Sega's last foray into the home console business. By the time Sega decided to cease development of the Dreamcast, about 10 million consoles had been sold. One key reason cited for the failure of the Dreamcast was Sega's poor relations with the games publishers (such as Electronics Arts, following the poor performance of previous consoles.

Though the Dreamcast was officially discontinued in early 2001, commercial games were still developed and released afterwards, particularly in Japan. Many consider the critically acclaimed arcade shooter Ikaruga developed by Treasure to be the Dreamcast's swan song. It was released in September 2002 in Japan only after a large amount of speculation on the game's fate; its US release was on the GameCube in April 2003. Hacked unreleased games like Propeller Arena and Half-Life continued to become available to the public by warez groups like Echelon.

On February 24, 2004, Sega released their final Dreamcast game, Puyo Pop Fever, although a small number of third-party games are still being released, such as Trizeal, Rajirugi, and most recently Under Defeat (released in March 2006).

Despite its short lifespan, the Dreamcast is still a very popular and highly-regarded console among many fans due to its impressive library of both mainstream and quirky titles. It is even starting to become a cult classic, as the system is getting harder to find (in fact, although the Dreamcast was officially discontinued in January 2001, Sega continued to produce the console for a short time afterwards due to rising demand, not least among collectors and hardcore fans).

Several Dreamcast emulation projects have emerged after the Dreamcast's end of production, with Chankast being the most notable.


The Dreamcast used a proprietary format called GD-ROM or "GigaDisc" for storing games and software. Sega chose the GD-ROM format for its increased capacity while using inexpensive compact disc technology. All Dreamcast consoles could also play audio compact discs until the introduction of revised GD-ROM drives in 2001 that could not read burned CDs of any kind.

Windows CE

Microsoft co-operated with Sega in hopes of promoting its Windows CE operating system for video games. Windows CE offered easy porting of existing PC applications, but offered limited capabilities compared to the Dreamcast's native operating system. When developers took advantage of the easy development offered by Windows CE, the resulting games (e.g., Sega Rally 2) lagged in performance and framerate. The only Windows CE application known by most users was the pack-in CD containing a CE-based dialer and web browser.

The Dreamcast used the same technology as the Sega NAOMI arcade game hardware platform, therefore NAOMI-based games such as Crazy Taxi were easily ported to the Dreamcast. The Dreamcast, however, had less memory and games were loaded from GD-ROM discs (while some NAOMI games were released on GD-ROM most used ROM boards).

Graphics Output

The Dreamcast is able to output true 640x480 VGA (480p60 EDTV), which (at the time) set it apart from other consoles. The system, when combined with the VGA adapter accessory (mentioned below), had the ability to display high-res, non-interlaced picture(s).

The feature was underused by the public despite the potential for improved video quality with the use of a PC monitor or HDTV set. This was likely due to lack of knowledge on the subject. Also, a few notable games were not compatible with this mode, including certain Capcom fighting games and 2D shoot-'em-up games.

Other well known graphic implementations such as, cel-shading and bump mapping, were first seen on Sega's console. In fact, the first completely cel-shaded animation game was Jet Set Radio (Jet Grind Radio in US), released in 2000 on the Dreamcast.


Much like the successive GameCube, the Dreamcast has the ability to connect to a handheld gaming unit. Using a special cable, with specific games, the Dreamcast could connect with the Neo Geo Pocket. SNK and Capcom took advantage of the connectivity to allow players of Capcom vs SNK and The King of Fighters to trade points between the console and handheld versions of their games.


Dreamcast consoles came packed with a disc containing web browser software allowing dial-up Internet access. Dream Passport was the Japanese browser, Planetweb was used in America, and DreamKey in Europe. Version 3.0 of Planetweb included broadband capabilities, Java, Flash, and mouse support. In Europe, the final version of DreamKey was 3.0.

While Planetweb was a browser created specifically for the US market, Europe's DreamKey was in fact a translated version of the Japanese Dream Passport. It was used on some American game releases (such as Metropolis Street Racer); here it was called Internet Viewer.

The Dreamcast was one of the first home console systems to offer online gameplay with the game ChuChu Rocket! (which was distributed free to Dreamcast owners in Europe). Sega also has the honors of the first online console sports title (Sega Sports NFL 2K1) as well as the first ever online console RPG (Phantasy Star Online). The SegaNet online dial-up service (US$29/month membership) attracted 750,000 subscribers in America alone. About twenty-two games, including Quake III Arena and Phantasy Star Online, supported SegaNet. Other major online games include 4x4 Evolution (first crossplatform online game), Starlancer, and Ferrari F355 Challenge. Although the online features of most commercially-released online-capable Dreamcast games are no longer supported, with the complete shut-down of support in the US, some games are still playable online in Japan. Yet, fans have developed servers for playing Phantasy Star Online and the North American version of Quake III Arena which can still be played online by finding or setting up a server using software and a map pack released by Sega. The games still playable online are Quake III Arena, Starlancer, 4x4 Evolution, Phantasy Star Online, Maximum Pool Online, and Sega Swirl, which still have dozens of players online.

In Europe, the online service was known as Dreamarena. This was created and operated for Sega Europe by a partnership between ICL and BT (ICL developed the web sites and software, with BT providing the dial-up capabilities and network infrastructure). The service was free and the game servers hosted within it could not otherwise be accessed from the Internet. Dreamarena ran until the beginning of March 2002. As the DreamKey web browser was customised to only work with Dreamarena, Sega subsequently offered a free replacement version which would allow connection with the user's own Internet service provider.

The modem module in the Dreamcast could easily be replaced with a broadband module to allow networked gaming over Ethernet. Phantasy Star Online, Quake III Arena, Unreal Tournament, Outtrigger, Bomberman Online, and POD Speedzone included support for this device. It should be noted, however, that not all of those games supported the Ethernet adapter; the US release of Phantasy Star Online only officially supported dial-up connectivity, however it was possible to use the Japanese version of the game to configure usage of the Ethernet adapter (or, alternatively, another Japanese title that configured the same settings in the system BIOS) and then play the US release of the game with the Ethernet adapter.

The standard Dreamcast unit is made of white and grey plastic. The power light, like the Dreamcast logo in NTSC regions, is orange (this color was chosen because the Japanese consider it to be lucky). Games were sold in jewel cases which initially had the Dreamcast name and logo on a white background, but later games used a black background (blue in Europe).

The unit was packaged with a video cable which supports composite video and right/left stereo audio. Available separately were an S-Video cable, a RF connector (included as standard in the UK and Portugal) and a VGA adapter (see accessories below).

In the United States, a black Dreamcast was released in limited numbers with a sports pack which included two Sega Sports titles. Electronics Boutique offered a blue Dreamcast through its website. Similar offerings were sold through the Lik-sang website. Cases of different colors like blue, red, orange, and green were sold for replacements of the original casing. In Japan, Sega released many varieties of the system, including limited edition Sonic anniversary editions, and Hello Kitty outfits. The Sega Dreamcast Hello Kitty was released in 2000 in Japan. Due to its limited production, it has become an extremely rare collector's piece. The package contains a keyboard, a controller, a VMU, a mouse, and a Hello Kitty trivia game. The console and accessories are translucent pink in color with some printed designs. The Sega Dreamcast Hello Kitty special edition was also available in a blue with all the same accessories.

The Brazilian version, manufactured by Tec Toy under license, was essentially the same as the US version, however its video output was converted to the PAL-M standard and it didn't come with the modem, which was available separately.

The Dreamcast in Europe had its spiral logo in blue, similar to the logo on earlier Sega systems. This change in logo is thought to have been for copyright reasons. A German company, Tivola, had been using a similar swirl logo years before Sega branded the Dreamcast with the orange swirl. As well as the VGA mode (again using an adapter), the European Dreamcast supported PAL video, in both 50Hz and 60Hz modes. This was a first for games consoles, as no previous PAL console had offered the option to play games at full speed, using the ability of more modern PAL televisions to operate at 60Hz. This became a feature of all major consoles released since. The 60Hz option had to be enabled on the game disc, however, but only a small number of games lacked this. Games in Europe were sold in jewel cases exactly twice as thick as their US counterparts, possibly to enable the inclusion of thick instruction booklets containing instructions in multiple languages.

A third-party company from China named Treamcast released a portable modified Dreamcast which used the original first party Dreamcast components with a custom made plastic casing. This small system with its fold-down display resembled the later PS One. Many companies included software and a remote with the unit that enabled it to play MP3s and Video CDs. When the internet import videogame store, Lik-Sang, contacted Sega to ask permission to sell a modified version of the system with Sega trademarks on the system, they were told that Sega did not approve of the unit, and felt that it violated their trademarks. In reality, this system is not any different from selling a Dreamcast pre-modified with a third party shell, as the system's internals still use first party hardware, and contain no modifications whatsoever aside from the outside casing and modifications for internal sound and video.

Recently, in 2005, the internet import store, Lan-Kwei, has started selling a "Treamcast" portable modified Dreamcast with a 16:9 widescreen LCD. Aside from the cosmetic differences in the case to accommodate the larger screen, there are no differences between the original Treamcast portable modified Dreamcast and the newer widescreen model.

The Visual Memory Unit, or "VMU", was the Dreamcast's memory card. It had a monochrome LCD screen, a D-Pad, and two gaming buttons. It could play minigames loaded onto it (a Chao game was obtainable in Sonic Adventure, for example). It could also display a list of the saved game data stored on it, and two VMUs could be connected together (end-to-end, needing no other hardware) to exchange data.

Standard memory cards could also be purchased without the additional features of the VMU. Most of these were manufactured by third-party companies (such as the Nexus Memory Card), although Sega eventually released a 4X memory card. The 4X cards did not have the VMU screen or stand-alone abilities, but they had four times the space by switching between four 200-block sectors.

Controller and Rumble Pack Most Dreamcast games supported a rumble pack ("Jump Pack"), which was sold separately and could be plugged into the controller. In Japan, the Jump Pack was named the "Puru Puru Pack".

The Dreamcast controller offered an analog stick, a D-pad, a Start button, four gaming buttons (labeled A, B, X, and Y), and two analog index finger triggers on the underside. It also contained two slots which fit memory cards or the rumble pack; the uppermost one had a window through which the VMU's display could be seen. The Dreamcast controller was somewhat large and a few players found it difficult to hold.

VGA Adapter Unique to the Dreamcast among current console gaming systems, it could use a VGA adapter for output to a computer display and HDTV compatible sets (which provided much better quality than a television set).

Not all games are compatible with the VGA adapter, but there are work arounds to trick all but a handful of games into working with it.

Dreamcast Mouse and Keyboard The Dreamcast supported a mouse as well as a keyboard which was useful when using the included web browser, but was also supported by certain games such as The Typing of the Dead, Quake 3, Phantasy Star Online and Railroad Tycoon 2. Other games such as REZ offer undocumented mouse support.

Fishing Rod A motion sensitive fishing rod was released for the few fishing games on the system.

Microphone There was a microphone peripheral used for Alien Front Online, version 2.6 of the Planetweb Web browser (long distance calling support), the European Planet Ring collection and Seaman (the first console game to use voice recognition in the US).


Sega also produced a light gun for the system, although this was not sold in the US presumably because Sega did not want its name on a gun in the light of recent school shootings. American versions of light gun games even blocked out using the official gun. Several third parties made compatible guns for the few light gun games released, including The House of the Dead 2 and Confidential Mission. The only other light gun compatible games were Death Crimson OX and its Japanese only prequel, Virtua Cop 2 on the Sega Smash Pack, and a light gun minigame in Demolition Racer No Exit.

Arcade Stick Sega also released the heavy-duty Arcade Stick, a digital joystick with six buttons using the same microswitch assemblies as commercial arcade machines. Although it could not be used for many Dreamcast games due to the lack of an analog joystick, it was well received and helped cement the Dreamcast's reputation for 2D shooters and fighting games. The Arcade Stick itself lives on beyond the Dreamcast, as adaptors are now available to use it on other hardware platforms.

Third-party sticks were also made, like the ASCII Dreamcast fighting Pad, which some regard as having a more comfortable 6-button configuration and a more precise digital direction pad.

Twin Sticks A twin stick peripheral was released specifically for use with the game Virtual-On. This add-on mimicked the original dual arcade stick setup and made gameplay much more precise. They are extremely rare and versions that appear on ebay sell for over $100.

Dreameye Sega developed the Dreameye, a digital camera for the Dreamcast, but it was only released in Japan.

Samba de Amigo controller Sega developed a special "maracas" controller for the Samba de Amigo music game.

Cancelled Accessories Toward the end of the Dreamcast's lifespan, Sega created and displayed prototypes of a high-capacity VMU/MP3 player, DVD player, and Zip drive peripherals. None of these items became available to the public.

Sega 32X - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Sega 32X (Japanese: スーパー32X) is an add-on for the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis video game console by Sega.
In Japan, it was distributed under the name Sega Super 32X. In North America, its name was the Sega Genesis 32X. In Europe, Australia, and other countries that use PAL, it was called the Sega Mega Drive 32X. Most gamers, for simplicity's sake, refer to it as just the "32X".

Market history
With the release of the Super Famicom in Japan and the Super NES in North America, Sega needed to leapfrog Nintendo in the technological department. The Sega Mega-CD, known as Sega CD in North America, had not worked as well, in a business sense, as Sega had wanted it to. Sega had various developments underway, named after planets. Some used System 16 technology, as the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis, as well as other arcade games, did.
The 32X was released in mid-November 1994 in North America for $150, Japan on December 3rd 1994 for ¥16,800, and Europe in January 1995 for £170 / DM 400.

Technical aspects
The Sega 32X can only be used in conjunction with a Mega Drive/Genesis system; it is plugged in where the cartridge bay is. Besides playing its own cartridges, it also acts as a passthrough for Mega Drive games so it can be a permanent attachment. (The SVP based Virtua Racing was the only exception.) The 32X came with several spacers so it would work with all (then current) versions of the Mega Drive. (The Genesis 3, which lacks circuitry needed, and appropriate plugs, to work with the 32X, was introduced later.) It could be used with the Sega Multi-Mega/Sega CDX system, but the spacers would not accommodate the CDX, which created a number of user-unfriendly conditions in the unit. Without the use of the spacers, some of the 32X hardware was left exposed and vulnerable. The combined unit was also very prone to tipping over, risking damage to the unit and games. In addition to the physical problems, there was also an issue with FCC approval.
Most 32X games cannot be played unless the distribution region of the game matches the region of the console. A few games are not locked and can be played on a console from any region (e.g. Fifa 96). Two games, Darxide and FIFA Soccer '96, were only released for the PAL 32X.
All but one of the games released for the Japanese market were released in the United States, albeit some had different names. The one Japanese-only game was Sangokushi IV (known as "Romance of the Three Kingdoms IV").
In addition to regular cartridge-based 32X games, there were also a very small number 32X CD games. As the name suggests, these required both the 32X and Mega-CD/Sega CD addons. The lack of a significant userbase due to the high cost of purchasing all three necessary components saw only five games released, only one of those developed by Sega. The most notable of these was a new version of the infamous Night Trap with 32,768 onscreen colors instead of the 64 found on the regular Mega-CD/Sega CD version.


On January 8, 1994, Hayao Nakayama, then CEO of Sega, ordered his company to make a 32-bit cartridge based console that would be in stores by Christmas 1994. This would at first be named "Project Jupiter", but after Sega found CD technology cheaper, they decided to modify it instead of dropping the cartridge project (that would be called "Project Saturn"). Hideki Sato and some other Sega of Japan engineers came over to collaborate about the project with Sega of America's Joe Miller. The first idea was a new Mega Drive/Genesis with more colors and a 32-bit processor. Miller thought that an add-on to the Mega Drive/Genesis would be a better idea, because he felt that gamers would not buy an improved version of the Mega Drive/Genesis. And so, this project was codenamed Project Mars, and Sega of America was going to shape the project.
At the same time, however, Sega of Japan was working on the Sega Saturn, a CD-based 32-bit videogame system. Sega of America did not learn of this until Project Mars was already in progress.

The video-gaming public first got a glimpse at the Summer 1994 CES in Chicago. Players highly anticipated the system, because it would make the Genesis superior to the Super Famicom/SNES. The console was unmasked as the 32X, with a price projection of $170 (USD), at a gamers' day, held by Sega of America in September 1994.
The 32X hit the market in North America in November 1994, during the same month the Sega Saturn was released in Japan. Many industry insiders speculated that the 32X was doomed from the beginning as the Sega Saturn hardware was widely regarded as more powerful than the 32X and had the support of many Japanese third party software developers (a necessary resource required for any gaming platform's long term success) which the 32X was sorely lacking.
Only 500,000 consoles had been produced for North American consumption, yet orders were in the millions. The console allegedly had numerous mechanical problems. Games had been rushed for the system in the run up to Christmas 1994. Some early games came with errors in programming, causing crashes and glitches on certain titles. Other games required leaving out parts in order to make the Christmas deadline; Doom 32X is missing almost half the levels present on the PC. Many complained that their 32X was not working with their Mega Drive/Genesis or television. Sega was forced to give away adapters.
Since this was an expensive add-on system, Sega decided to offer a £50 discount on games with the console in Europe. However, the offer came in the form of rebate vouchers, which were difficult to take advantage of. Just like its North American counterpart, this console was initially popular. Orders exceeded one million, but not enough were produced, and supply shortage problems arose.

By mid-1995, the time the Sega executives realized their blunder, it was too late. Developers and licensees had abandoned this console in favor of what they perceived to be a true 32-bit console, the Sega Saturn. Even though the 32X was a 32-bit system, the games did not appear to take full advantage of 32 bit processing; many games were rushed and produced in 2D. Many were just slightly-enhanced ports of Genesis or old arcade games such as Mortal Kombat II and Space Harrier.
Due to successful marketing, customers perceived the Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64 and the PlayStation as the true next-generation consoles, due to their rich launch titles and 3D graphics. Also, customers perceived that Sega abandoned the 32X despite promises to the contrary, due to the launch of the Saturn.
Console makers, prior to the launch of PlayStation 2, would often abandon platforms and offer no backwards compatibility with older systems. For this reason Sega's 32X customers felt cheated because of the apparent lower quality of the game, and the inevitability of obsolescence.
Store shelves became littered with unwanted Sega 32X systems, and prices for a new one dropped as low as $19.95. Sega planned a console named the Sega Neptune, which would have been a Genesis and 32X in one. However, by the time a prototype was developed, the Sega Saturn was going to be released, and Sega cancelled the Neptune.
The situation became so bad that the 32X was actually mocked on Saturday Night Live, as well as in the gaming magazine Electronic Gaming Monthly, which likened the 32X to a 'waffle maker' and the games as 'batter'. The Sega 32X fiasco is now considered one of the most poorly planned console releases ever.
The last game made for the 32X in the US was Spider-Man: Web of Fire (1996). The last ever 32X game was Darxide, which had been intended by Frontier Developments to be a launch title for the ill-fated Neptune. Both these games now command a high value from collectors — but especially Darxide (up to $1000) due to its scarcity, reputation and auspicious creator (David Braben, co-writer of the groundbreaking game Elite). Nevertheless, it is exceeded in rarity by the European PAL versions of the games Primal Rage and T-Mek. For obscure reasons a mere handful of copies of these games are known to be in circulation - with T-Mek being so scarce that until a copy surfaced on eBay in late 2005, it was widely held that the PAL release was only a rumour. The appearance of a copy has fuelled speculation that other rumoured but unconfirmed PAL games may also exist, in particular BC Racers.
For many years prior, console makers promised devices like the 32X (for consoles such as the Colecovision, Intellivision II, and some Atari systems) that would extend and enhance the original system. The 32X was the first product released that fundamentally altered the original console's abilities. However, deficient in software titles and lacking the 3D capabilities the gaming community demanded, the add-on represented a technological dead end, ultimately punishing early adopters. Ignorant of the idea that console systems' primary strength is in standardization, Sega had created three different platforms (the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, and the Mega-CD/Sega CD and the 32X add-ons) all under the same banner, stealing valuable shelf space from itself and confusing both vendors and consumers in the process. The entire episode demonstrated that producing such add-ons is likely to have detrimental effects on a system's brand marketing strategy.
The system ended production worldwide in 1996.
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

Nintendo 64 - Ultra 64 - Brief history (Wikipedia)

The Nintendo 64 (Japanese: ニンテンドウロクジュウヨン Nintendō Rokujūyon), commonly called the N64, is Nintendo's third home video game console for the international market. The N64 was released on June 23, 1996 in Japan; September 29, 1996 in North America; March 1, 1997 in Europe/Australia, September 1, 1997 in France, October 15, 1997 in Brazil (the system also saw a release in Latin America, albeit an unofficial one). It was released with three launch games in Japan (Super Mario 64, Pilotwings 64 and Saikyou Haniu Shogi), and two in North America and PAL region (Super Mario 64 and Pilotwings 64). The Nintendo 64 cost $199 at launch in the United States.
The N64 was first publicly introduced on November 24, 1995 as the Nintendo Ultra 64 at the 7th Annual Shoshinkai Software Exhibition in Japan (though preview pictures from the Nintendo "Project Reality" console had been published in American magazines as early as June 1993). The first published photos from the event were presented on the web via coverage by Game Zero magazine two days after the event.[2] Official coverage by Nintendo soon followed a few weeks later on the nascent Nintendo Power website, and then in volume #85 of their print magazine.
During the developmental stages the N64 was referred to by its code name, Project Reality. The name Project Reality came from the speculation within Nintendo that this console could produce CGI on par with then-current supercomputers. Once unveiled to the public the name changed to Nintendo Ultra 64. Nintendo dropped "Ultra" from the name on February 1, 1996, just months before its Japanese debut, because the word "Ultra" was trademarked by another company, Konami, for its Ultra Games division.

After first announcing the project, two companies, Rareware (UK) and Midway (USA), created the arcade games Killer Instinct and Cruis'n USA which claimed to use the Ultra 64 hardware. In fact, the hardware had nothing to do with what was finally released; the arcade games used hard drives and TMS processors. Killer Instinct was the most advanced game of its time graphically, featuring pre-rendered movie backgrounds that were streamed off the hard drive and animated as the characters moved horizontally.
Nintendo touted many of the system's more unusual features as groundbreaking and innovative, but many of these features had, in fact, been implemented before by the Atari Jaguar. Regardless, the Nintendo 64 was the first popular system to combine these features and make a significant impact upon gamers.
The system was designed by Silicon Graphics Inc., and features their trademark dithered 32-bit graphics. The early N64 development system was an SGI Indy equipped with an add-on board that contained a full N64 system.

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

Sega Saturn History - from Wikipedia

The Sega Saturn (セガサターン, Sega Satān?) is a 32-bit video game console, first released on November 22, 1994 in Japan, April 27, 1995 in North America and July 8, 1995 in Europe. Approximately 170,000 machines were sold the first day of the Japanese launch. 5,000 were sold in the weekend following the United Kingdom launch.
At one time, the Sega Saturn held second place in the console wars, placing it above Nintendo's Super Famicom in Japan and Nintendo's Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in North America and Europe, but the Saturn slowly lost market share to Sony's PlayStation and, outside Japan, the cartridge-based Nintendo 64.
The Japanese Saturn was rushed to the market, just a few weeks ahead of its rival, Sony's PlayStation. This led to very few games being available at launch.
The system was supported in North America and Europe until late 1998, and in Japan until the end of 2000. The last official game for the system, Yukyu Gensokyoku Perpetual Collection, was released by Mediaworks in December that year. Interestingly, a game called Sega Saturn: Lost & Found VOL #1 was released in the US by Older Games in August of 2004 (although it is not playable with a retail, unmodified Saturn).

Sega's 27-member Away Team, comprising employees from every aspect of hardware engineering, product development and marketing, worked exclusively for two years to ensure the Sega Saturn's hardware and design met the precise needs of both the U.S. and Japanese markets. The Saturn was a powerful machine for the time, but its design, with two CPUs and 6 other processors, made harnessing its power extremely difficult. Rumours suggest that the original plan called for a single processor, but a second one was added late in development to increase potential performance.

One very fast central processor would be preferable. I don't think that all programmers have the ability to program two CPUs - most can only get about one-and-a-half times the speed you can get from one SH-2. I think only one out of 100 programmers is good enough to get that kind of speed out of the Saturn.

Yu Suzuki Regarding the Sega Saturn's complicated architecture.
Third-party development was further hindered by the initial lack of useful software libraries and development tools, requiring developers to write in assembly language to achieve decent performance. Programmers would often utilize only one CPU to simplify development in titles such as Alien Trilogy.
The main disadvantage of the dual CPU architecture was that both processors shared the same bus, and besides 4K of on-chip memory, all data and program code for both CPUs were located in the same shared 2 MB of main memory. This meant that without very careful division of processing, the second CPU would often have to wait while the first CPU was working, reducing its processing ability.
The hardware also lacked light sourcing and hardware video decompression support. Nevertheless, when properly utilized, the dual processors in the Saturn could produce impressive results such as the 1997 ports of Quake and Duke Nukem 3D by Lobotomy Software, and later games like Burning Rangers were able to achieve true transparency effects on hardware that used simple polygon stipples as a replacement for transparency effects in the past.
From a market viewpoint, the architectural design problems of the Saturn meant that it quickly lost third party support to the PlayStation. Unlike the Playstation's use of triangles as its basic geometric primitive, the Saturn rendered quadrilaterals. This proved a hindrance as most industry standard design tools were based around triangles, and multiplatform games were usually developed with triangles and the Playstation's larger market share in mind.
If used correctly the quadrilateral rendering of the Saturn would show less texture distortion than was common on Playstation titles, as demonstrated by several cross-platform titles such as Wipeout and Destruction Derby. The quadrilateral-focussed hardware and a 50% greater amount of video RAM also gave the Saturn an advantage for 2D game engines and attracted many developers of RPGs, arcade games and traditional 2D fighting games. A 4 MB RAM cart, released only in Japan, boosted available memory even further for games such as Capcom's X-Men Vs Street Fighter.

The unreleased Saturn version of Shenmue.
Tomb Raider was originally designed for the Saturn's quadrilateral-based hardware and as a result was incapable of displaying levels containing any triangular parts. This restriction remained in place for most of the 32-bit sequels. On the other hand, the quadrilateral ability allowed the Saturn to render First-person shooter games better than other consoles at the time, games like Quake, Powerslave, Duke Nukem 3D, HeXen. Also, the extra video RAM allowed larger levels than in PlayStation versions.
A true example of the Saturn's capability is widely considered to be the systems version of Shenmue, Yu Suzuki's multi-million dollar project that would eventually find a new home on the Saturn's successor, the Sega Dreamcast. Work on the title is believed to have been fairly complete, and several technical demos and gameplay footage have since been released to the public. The footage displays a system capable of producing fully rendered, entirely 3D locations and characters.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License

History of Nintendo Super NES

The release of the Mega Drive and Turbografix-16 consoles in 1989 meant that Nintendo too had to come up with a 16-bit machine to stay in the game. It did not release the SNES in Japan until November 1990, known there as the Super Famicom, in the US in September 1991 and in the UK in April 1992, simply because the NES was doing well and new games were still being released for it. When it finally hit the market though, it proved to be a powerful and impressive competitor to Sega's Mega Drive and NEC's Turbografix-16.
The SNES had a much slower processor then the Mega Drive, but it really excelled when it came to its graphics processor. It could produce 32K colors, 256 of which could be displayed on screen at the same time, and had special hardware modes that allowed for effects such as scaling, rotating and transparency. This was the SNES's strong point.
Animation effects in games that involved scaling objects (i.e. zooming in and out of screen) or rotating them required lots of graphical sequences at a high frame rate that took up lots of space and processing power. The SNES's solution was to provide abstract hardware modes that a game could use in order to achieve effects like scaling, rotation and transparency. The famous Mode 7 was the hardware mode responsible for scaling and rotating.
In addition to its built-in hardware modes, Nintendo later released a whole array of chips that added processing power as well as other features to games. They came built into games' PCBs as opposed to plugging into the console's extension port. The Super FX chip, which allowed for 3D graphics to be rendered in games, upped the SNES's speed to 10.5MHz and the Super FX2 upped it to 21MHz. Many more chips were made available, and most of them played a large part in keeping the SNES competitive even in the face of the newer 32-bit consoles.
One thing Nintendo did differently this time round was they didn't force software developers to write games exclusively for them. Actually, this wasn't even an option for Nintendo because the major third-party software developers were already signed up with Sega. The move was a right one, and many quality games available for the Mega Drive got written for the SNES. Others, such as the arcade hit Street Fighter II, made their debut on the SNES. The censored version of Mortal Kombat was a bit embarrassing, but anyway...
Of course, there was that whole issue with Nintendo and Sony (and later on Philips) who were working on a CD add-on for the SNES. When Nintendo decided that loading times would plague games and broke the deal, Sony decided to start work on their own CD-based console, and we all know what happened next. More on this in the Playstation section.
The SNES retailed for $200 in the US and £150 in the UK. Over 46 million units were sold worldwide. The one pictured below is the European version. The US version has a completely different look. Much like Beauty and the Beast.
Technical Specs:
CPU: 16-bit 65816 (3.58MHz)RAM: 128KB (1Mb), 64KB (0.5Mb) Video RAMGraphics: Dedicated graphics processorColors: 32768 (256 on screen)Sprites: 128Sprite Size: 64x64 pixelsResolution: 512x448 pixelsSound: 8-channel 8-bit Sony SPC700 digitized sound

Sony Playstation history

The history of the Playstation begins in 1988 when Sony and Nintendo were working together to develop the Super Disc. The Super Disc was going to be a CD-ROM attachment that was intended to be part of Nintendo's soon to be released Super Nintendo game. However, Sony and Nintendo parted ways business-wise and the Super Disc was never introduced or used by Nintendo. In 1991, Sony used a modified version of the Super Disk as part of their new game console - the Sony Playstation. Research and development for the PlayStation had began in 1990, headed by Sony engineer, Ken Kutaragi.

Only two hundred models of the first Playstation (that could play Super Nintendo game cartridges) were manufactured by Sony. The original Playstation was designed as a multi-media and multi-purpose entertainment unit. Besides being able to play Super Nintendo games, the Playstation could play audio CDs and could read CDs with computer and video information as well. In 1994, the new PlayStation X (PSX) was released that was no longer compatable with Nintendo game cartridges and only played CD-ROM based games. A smart move that soon made Playstations the best selling game console.

Nintendo SNES - History

The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super NES or SNES) was built by Nintendo in the 1990s. It was the sucessor to the Nintendo Entertainment System in the United States and Europe. It was the major rival of Sega Megadrive/Sega Genesis.
Market History 1988 Nintendo executives at first were not interested in making a new system when rival Sega announced that they would release their 16-Bit Sega Megadrive/Sega Genesis in 1988. However, the executives were quick to see the Genesis taking over the market in North America, due to its large library of sports games and arcade ports, as well as its superior technology. The NES did not do well in Europe, and the Megadrive surpassed the SNES there as well.
Hiroshi Yamauchi, the Nintendo CEO at the time, had put Masayuki Uemura in charge of designing the console. They had originally planned for the Famicom/NES to be 16-bit systems, but those components were too expensive at the time, and so they were 8-bit systems. With the components being cheaper at the time, Nintendo did not hesitate to build a more powerful system.
1990 The Super Famicom was released November 21, 1990 in Japan. The United States Version of the Super NES was released September 1, 1991 with a starting price of $200. The first Super NES set was packaged with Super Mario World and two controllers. The PAL version of the SNES was released in the United Kingdom for £150 in April 1992. Its German release came a few weeks later.
A few months later, the Power Set, a bare-bones version of the SNES, would be released in North America, which went for $100. Towards the middle of its life, the North American set was distributed like it was the first time, but the game varied. One set was sold with the Super Game Boy accessory.
Internally, the consoles were only different depending on the TV standard in that country. Many Australian video games came from Europe because both used PAL systems. RPG's can be translated into other languages, because of how important the text is in the game. Yet many action titles and shooters didn't have changes to the languages because the text wasn't too important to the game play.
The U. S. release was not as easy as the Super Famicom had been. The SNES was not backwards compatible with the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was a popular system. There was be hesitation to buy a new console when games from the old one wouldn't work. In addition, Sega had gotten some very popular titles out for their Genesis console, including Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic was vital to the Genesis' marketing, as many people favored Sonic over Mario due to the "coolness" factor. In addition, the Genesis was about $50 cheaper than the SNES.
Thanks to the the marginally superior technical capabilities over its main competitor, Nintendo's family-friendly image, popularity of icon game characters like Super Mario, the Super NES was popular throughout the world through the early to mid-1990s. The SNES played a game of catchup and won, although in the United States the Genesis was more successful. In the end Nintendo had twice as many sales of it's console than Sega.
The number of games for the SNES was larger. It many exclusive titles, some of which were considered to be the best video games at the time. It also had many best-selling (and often still expensive) RPGs, such as Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger. Some Super NES games are enhanced remakes of Famicom/NES games. One example is Super Mario All Stars, another is Ninja Gaiden Trilogy.
The European console was similar to the Japanese Super Famicom. Nintendo never got much of a footing in Europe, particularly due to the distribution problems. Ironically, there were converters available that allowed users to play Sega Master System games on the Sega Megadrive. Both consoles were very popular in Europe.
1996 An SNES redesign, which was lighter in weight, came out in October 1997 for $99.99 in the United States to get the last few sales from people still interested in the 16-Bit market. The game was packaged with Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. The RF Ports and expansion ports did not come with the version; Hopes of an SNES-CD died, and the resources helped make the Playstation.
The Super NES was superseded by the Nintendo 64. Many of the successful games for the system are being revived in the Game Boy Advance, which has remarkably similar capabilities.
After 1999 The SNES was in popular decline from 1996 to 1999, with the Sony Playstation and Nintendo 64 eating away at its marketing share. However, even though the Super NES was discontinued in North America and Europe in 1999, like the NES, it left the mark of many million cartridges and more than the NES did. The second hand market was burgeoning on the SNES as it did on the NES. Around this time, many gamers began to rediscover the SNES. The NES and SNES continued to be in production in Japan until late 2003.
Meanwhile, SNES enthusiasts were programming an emulator called ZSNES. In 1998, ZSNES was released. One year later, ZSNES got its rival, SNES9X. Nintendo had the same stance against SNES emulation as it had on NES emulation.
ROM images of Super NES Game Paks, which have been claimed to be potentially illegal, are actually getting easier to find, since the SNES went out of production in North America in 1999. Nintendo claimed that ROMs are nothing but gratuitous piracy, but the company actually brought it onto itself. Others claim that ROMs are used to preserve the games since the cartridges are more fragile. Like its predecessor the NES, the Super NES has a continued interest among its fans, continuing to thrive on a huge secondhand market and proliferate ROM images. There has been a larger demand for a secondhand market and emulation for the SNES than the NES.
The revival of the SNES is settling back down. The second hand market is declining, and SNES ROMs are getting easier to find. The NES and SNES are likely to command legions of fans in many years to come.
SNES Hardware Specifications
CPU: WDC 65C816 16 bit processor running at 1.79, 2.68 MHz, or 3.58 MHz (Changeable), with 128 KiB of RAM
Sound CPU: 8-bit Sony SPC700 running at 4.1 MHz, with 64 KiB of RAM, PC file name extension: .SPC
Main sound Chip: 8-channel DSP with hardware decompression similar to ADPCM
Memory Cycle Time: 279 Minutes
Cartridge Size Specifications: 2Megabits - 48 Megabits
Audio RAM: 512 KB
Sound Channels: 8, Uses compressed wave samples
Pulse Code Modulator: 16-Bit
Picture Processor Unit: 16-Bit
Palette: 32,768 Colors
Texture and map RAM: 64 KiB
Onscreen colors: 241 in mode 1 or 256 in mode 7, not counting sum-blending
Resolution: Most games used 256x224 pixels; there were tricks to get 512x448 but these were rarely used.
Maximum onscreen sprites: 128 (32 per line)
Maximum number of sprite pixels on one scanline: 256. The picture generator had a bug such that it would drop the frontmost sprites instead of the rearmost sprites if a scanline exceeded the limit.
Most common display modes: Pixel-to-pixel text mode 1 (16 colors per tile; 3 scrolling layers) and affine mapped text mode 7 (256 colors per tile; one rotating/scaling layer)
Power Input: 120V AC, 60 Hz, 17 Watts
Power Output: 10V DC, 850 mA (NTSC), 9V AC (PAL)
Controller Response: 16 Milliseconds
2 seven-pin controller ports in the front of the machine

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