by Dark Watcher
In 1991 at the Tokyo Toy show in Japan, Sega unveiled its secret project to compete against NEC's PC Engine CD-ROM add on.
The Mega-CD like its rival was capable of utilizing the enormous storage capacity of CD media to produce quality games. The Mega-CD however was designed with its own processor and memory that worked in conjunction with the Mega Drive's (Genesis) processor and memory via an interface port.
The unit was capable of adding 10 extra sound channels to the Mega Drive and provide sprite enhancement features such as scaling and rotation, similar to that of the Super NES's Mode 7. Like other CD-based consoles, the Mega-CD could also run Audio CDs and CD+G (CD plus Graphics). With the massive amount of storage space on CDs, game producers also saw the capability of using Full Motion Video (FMV) in their games. Unfortunately, when shown on a 16-bit console, the graphics turned out very pixilated and grainy, but that didn't stop them making such games.
The Mega-CD was released in Japan in the winter of 1991 and competed well against NEC's add on. In 1992 Sega began to lose its
dominance in the United States due to the release of the Super NES. Their CD add-on renamed Sega CD was released in October of
that year to retake their sales position. However, the initial price tag of $399 and the initial lack of quality titles kept the
add-on from taking off.
In 1993 the Sega CD was redesigned with a top loading CD tray. The redesign made the add-on cheaper and sleeker to connect to
the remodeled Mega Drive II \ Genesis 2. It was finally released in Europe in April and garnered a larger following.
The Sega CD was an innovative creation, but was not considered a total success. A number of factors prevented the Sega CD from attaining a dominant position in the videogame market at the time. The initial high price prevented the add-on from selling well. Another contributor was the delay of third party software support. This was because Sega was slow to distribute the development kits needed to create Sega CD games. The result caused some rushed low quality games. Other developers abused the add-on's ability to create FMV and games seemed more a cheap movie then an actual game. Other games still were simple slightly enhanced versions of their existing Genesis \ Mega Drive carts. Sega finally pulled the plug on the Sega CD in 1996.
FACT: As a result of their involvement in protests about videogames and violence concerning the release of Night Trap, Sega was the first to develop video game ratings on their Sega CD titles. Another interesting fact is that the Sega CD had another capability not exploited by more developers. The console had limited 3D polygon capability. The only Sega CD title that took advantage of this capability was Silpheed, released in 1993.