This is the original SEGA Genesis 16-bit system. This baby was released in 1989 to combat the dominance of the Nintendo NES. The best thing the SEGA Genesis had going for it in the early days was the awesome amount of SEGA arcade games that could be ported over to it. I remember seeing it set up in Toy’s-R-Us with two televisions showing Altered Beast and Hang-On (maybe some more?). On the top TV was the arcade version and on the bottom was the SEGA Genesis version. While not identical it was clear that the days of 8-bit gaming were numbered. I bought mine that day, and me and my buddy stayed up playing Altered Beast all night long.
With three variations to speak of to this case.
Original Model – Sometimes referred to as the “Altered Beast” version, as it was the pack-in game sold with this version. This unit has the HIGH-DEFINITION text along the top of the machine and an expansion (EXT) port on the back. Also this unit does not show the “License Screen” each time it is turned on. You can spot this version by looking at the FCC-ID Code on the bottom of the unit: FJ846EUSASEGA, the 46E portion is the difference and was removed from all newer versions.
I love the look of the original Genesis. Starting on the left-front side we have a standard 1/8″ headphone jack, yes your headphones should plug right in! Above that we have a volume control for that jack. This jack is used for more than just headphones though, as the original SEGA Genesis does not output stereo sound from the back AV port. If you want stereo sound to your TV or stereo you would need to use a 1/8″ headphone jack plug to RCA (red and white). We cover all of this in the How To section.
Right next the the volume control is the Power Switch. This guy slides left and right and should have a little click to it when moved. I have seen this switch start to feel “mushy” and not click or become hard to move, but they are easy to fix. The black switch pops right off with a little pressure and as such I’ve seen them missing with just a metal post sticking up, but it will still work.
Below that we have the RESET button, which will reset the game without turning the system off (and you will lose your progress if you’re playing a game).
On the right front side are the two controller ports. They use the same 9-pin style connecter as the Atari 2600, Colecovision & Master System.
On the top you will find the cartridge slot which has two little flaps that protect the inside from dust and slide away when you insert a game. Right below that is the red LED power light. I have seen very few of these fail.
On the right side of the machine along the bottom you will find a panel. This panel pops off to expose a large connection port with a blade like a cartridge. This is used when adding a SEGA CD to the Genesis. There originally was a red plastic protector that went over the blade and has to be removed when adding the CD.
- Unit Lifetime: 1989-1997 (US)
- Units Sold Wordlwide: 29 million
- Resolution: 320 x 224
- Colors Available: 512
- Colors on screen: 64
- Power Requirements: Model 1 :9V 1200 amps
- Power Requirements: Model 2&3 :10V 850 amps
- Sound: 6-channel Stereo
- Games Released US: 811
On the back of the SEGA Genesis you have 5 ports.
EXT: This port was never used for anything commercially and was removed on the next variation of the Genesis (see bleow).
CH3 CH4: This is used to pick the TV channel the game will display on when using the SEGA RF Switch Box instead of the SEGA RCA Cable. When using the RCA cable this switch doesn’t matter.
RF OUT: This port is used for hooking the Genesis up to your TV using SEGA RF Switch Box. This runs into the coaxial on the back of the TV, normally where your cable or satellite TV is plugged. This method gives you a lower quality picture than the RCA Cable and I would avoid it at all costs.
AV OUT: Used with the SEGA RCA Cable (red, white & yellow plugs). However the original SEGA Genesis did not output stereo sound, so many of the cables will have the one yellow cable for video and only have (and only need) one audio cable, red or white. It doesn’t matter the color, but you always plug it into the white port on your TV.
NOTE: Most TV’s will recognize a single RCA cable plugged into the white input as a mono signal and automatically send the sound to both left and right speakers.
AC ADAPTER: This is used with the SEGA MK-3025 Power Supply.
SEGA Genesis – FJ846EUSASEGA
Variation #1 – Sometimes referred to as the “Sonic” version. This version looks the same as the original but SEGA added the License Screen that would pop-up before each game, adding about 3-4 seconds to your initial wait time to get to the gaming. Also, from this revision on SEGA installed a “Lock-Out” chip for regional restrictions. The FCC-ID code for this unit is: FJ8USASEGA.
SEGA Genesis – FJ8USASEGA
Variation #2 – This was the final alteration to the original case of the Genesis and was clearly a cost cutting move. SEGA Removed the HIGH-DEFINITION text from the top of the unit and the (never used) EXT Port on the back of the machine. These two changes, along with some size changes to the text “Genesis” and “16-bit”, are the easiest way to spot this model as its FCC-ID matched the Revision #1 model: FJ8USASEGA.
The First Revision
This was the first major revision to the SEGA Genesis. It sports a smaller footprint than the original, and reconfigured the various output ports. FCC ID: FJ8MD2SEGA
First, it still retains the 2 controller ports with no real change here. The power on is now a button and not a switch. The reset button was moved opposite the power button.
Gone are the Headphone Jack and Volume Control. Also gone is the RF output port and the Channel 3 & 4 switch needed for that port. We are left with just 2 connections on the back: Power and Audio/Video.
The Power port now requires a different Power Supply (MK-2103) than the original SEGA Genesis model (much to the bane of the classic gaming community). This new “Yellow Tip” supply also works with the SEGA 32X.
The Audio Video port is also new and will not work with the original model 1 AV cable, but in this case it’s an improvement as this AV OUT port outputs stereo sound. The SEGA Composite RCA cable for this unit also works with the SEGA 32X, SEGA CDX, JVC X’EYE and SEGA Nomad…and provides a much better picture than the old RF.
This model also retained the SEGA CD expansion port, and will work with both versions of the CD, but is obviously tailored for use with the second version of the SEGA CD (as it looks lame on top of the first CD unit).
The Final Revision
This was the final model of the SEGA Genesis. This one was actually licensed to MAJESCO to manufacture.
This is a tiny system indeed, only slightly larger than a CD case as far as the footprint is concerned. This picture is almost actual size! : )
It retained all the ports from the second version of the Genesis except one, the CD port. So you can not connect this guy to a SEGA CD. It also will not work with the SEGA 32X! It however can use the same Power Supply and AV Cable of the second Genesis. The LED ‘on’ light is gone and replaced with orange paint when the unit is in the ‘on’ position. It retains the reset button.
The 3-Button Controller
The SEGA Genesis originally came with a 3-button controller. It has an 8-way directional d-pad, a Start button, and three buttons labeled A, B & C.
These controllers are fairly durable, but with original controllers being decades old now you find many that do not work. But when they are in good shape they are good quality controllers. They can be maintained, cleaned and repaired and I will go over some of that in the GameTrog Maintenance Section.
They feel beefy with a little weight and thick plastic and may feel a little big in smaller hands. The d-pad and buttons are responsive and it’s an all around solid controller. I have seen various cord lengths from plenty to short. There are also a few different internal changes over the years, but appeared the same cosmetically.
The 6-Button Controller
In 1993 SEGA made a 6-button controller for the SEGA Genesis. This was partly due to fighting games like Street Fighter that required the extra inputs. To me this is a perfect analog controller. It’s slightly smaller and easier to handle than the 3-button controller while adding 3 more action buttons.
The new buttons are labeled X, Y & Z and smaller than the original A, B & C buttons. The are also rounded or convex while the original buttons retain the recess concave shape. This makes the very easy to navigate. The buttons are sturdy and responsive.
The d-pad is slightly smaller than the original 3-button controller and raised a little higher. It had a little more movement that feels nice.
Just like the 3-button they are sturdy and well made, but time waits for nothing and maintenance or repair may be necessary.
NOTE: There is a button located on the right shoulder. This is a MODE button for a few games (ones made before the controller was) that did not work with the 6-button controller. Holding this button down and then turning on the system and waiting for the game to load will make the controller function like an original 3-button controller.
More SEGA Genesis Accessories
SEGA Genesis Games
The SEGA Genesis was the first 16-bit system to hit the US. This brought an expanded color palette and higher resolution and detailed graphics than the 8-bit systems before. Games started to resemble their arcade counterparts more closely and this was used as a selling point. You can find pretty much any game type you fancy for the system from arcade classics, RPGs, platformers and action titles. Sports games really started to grow with the 16-bit era with SEGA Sports and EA Sports leading the way. With the abundance of quality titles it is an easy system to collect for.
The SEGA Genesis is a cartridge based system. For most of the Genesis’ life the games came in a plastic box, with clips inside that held the cartridge. There are normally tabs on the inside front that held the manual in place. These are the same boxes that were used for the SEGA Master System.
Being a plastic box these guys have held up pretty well. There is a clear mylar sleeve around the box that the game cover slips into. This allows the box art to hold up pretty well over time also. You can remove the game cover from the top or bottom of the box (opening the box gives a little slack to the mylar sleeve allowing you to reach in and pull out the cover. If yours is damaged you can even print your own cover and slide it in!
Most of the manuals were in color and informative (not like the lack of manuals with games these days). In addition to the manual you would often find several postcard like inserts that might offer phone numbers for tips or other games.
In the later years of the SEGA Genesis many games were shipping in a cardboard box. This box had close to the same dimensions of the plastic boxes, but lost the durability. There is a box with and indentation created to hold the cartridge and the manual was usually found behind the game itself. So you can pop out the game, but you would have to open the box from the top to pull out the manual. It’s also a pain to put the manual back in sometimes as the flaps that create the hole for the cartridge will snag on the manual. Also by this time most of the manuals were printed in black & white. Over the cardboard box container is a cardboard sleeve that slides over everything from the top or bottom. As the whole package is now cardboard these guys do not hold up over time as well as the plastic one.
If you have the option, get the plastic box whenever you can!