Things you should see.

The Mega Drive Lives

Although they have been yesterday’s news for a good 10-15 years now, Sega’s old Master System and Mega Drive consoles have lived on in one way or another. Either through emulators or through grey market and even licensed products in markets like Brazil, they haven’t been forgotten. I was still shocked to see this item on the K-mart Christmas catalogue though and had to get a hold of one.

The short of it is the hardware is sound. It’s all a bit cheap-feeling but it comes with 15 games built in and two controllers. So far so good. Graphics were all perfect, but, as other reviews have noticed, this box must have a cheapo sound chip or something. Sound effects just sound off and music is at a decidedly lower pace. I know this isn’t a PAL issue – as someone who’s played Sonic & Knuckles more times and in more forms than I care to remember, I can vouch that all games are all either NTSC or 60hz modded ROMs – and against gameplay that runs at the same brisk clip you’d be used to, this deficiency just seems strange. A very bizarre oversight and a poor place to cut costs, especially when you go to the effort to have an onboard PAL/NTSC toggle. Although I suppose everything else, from the packaging to the plastic construction, was done as much on the cheap as possible as it stands.

Luckily all cartridges from the old days work, apart from the sound problems, just as you’d remember. I have a selection of slowed-down PAL cartridges ranging from Adventures of Batman & Robin to Jurassic Park and a Japanese NTSC import of Monster World IV and can’t fault the playback of any of them. Can’t vouch for any US games, and can confirm the Master System and 32X adapters – at least the local versions – don’t work. Still, given the unit’s native composite output, it would be the perfect replacement for my verge-of-death Mega Drive II and it’s gigantic power brick if not for its dodgy sound.

Overall I’m still impressed and this experience has made me want to try out this company’s range of other Sega products. In a vain attempt to recreate some of the gaming magic of yore, no doubt.

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