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|OT| Analogue Mega SG ($189 FPGA Genesis/Megadrive) |OT| To be this good takes ages. To be this good takes 4 years

Chittagong

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Jun 8, 2004
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Introducing the Mega SG

We set out to design the definitive way to explore Sega's 16-bit and 8-bit era. A reimagining of the underdog that led a 16-bit revolution. Engineered with an FPGA. No emulation. 1080p. Zero lag. Total accuracy. Mega Sg is not a plug n' play toy. Compatible with the 2,180+ Sega Genesis, Mega Drive and Master System game cartridge library. Explore and re-live one of the greatest video game systems of all time with no compromises.

- Analogue.co


History of Analogue
In 2015, Analogue released its first NES/Famicom console, Analogue Nt. It was premium priced at $578, an aluminum console that used CPU and GPU chips harvested from original, supposedly cosmetically damaged Famicom's, combined with an awesome HDMI chipset from Kevtris. This provided it with compatibility with all NES/Famicom games and accessories, as well as a zero-lag, pixel perfect, 1080P presentation of games exactly as they played on the original consoles.

In 2017, with Analogue Nt mini, Analogue tackled two issues. First, some retro gamers criticised Analogue for destroying Famicoms to make Analogue Nts. Second, there weren't just enough Famicoms going around to allow for more Analogue Nts to be made at reasonable cost. The emergence of FPGA chip technology allowed Analogue to create a NES/Famicom that doesn't use original chips, but that performes exactly like an original console, without the need to do costly custom silicon.

In 2018, Analogue released Analogue Super NT. It took the FPGA approach of the Nt Mini, and applied it to Super NES. It also introduced a plastic casing, allowing for a much cheaper price point of $189. Uniquely, Analogue was able to find an unreleased, complete version of Super Turrican, which was included with the unit. At this time, Analogue also rebranded the company, and commissioned the opening animation from Phil Fish.


History of the Mega SG

In October 2018, Analogue announced the Mega SG, a FGPA Genesis/Megadrive console due to be released in April 2019. Throughout the winter, Analogue actively marketed the new console. In a surprise announcement in March 2019, Analogue announced that the Mega SG would release early. The first preorders were received around 25 March 2019. The Mega SG shows how Analogue has completely mastered the process of releasing FPGA consoles. From a feature rich device to shipping ahead of time, the Mega SG is a remarkable achievement for the company. In just 4 years, Analogue has become a console manufacturer.


Key features
- Highly accurate, lag-free, FPGA-based hardware emulation
- 480P/720P/1080P
- Works with Genesis/Megadrive games and accessories
- Works with Mega CD / Sega CD disc system
- Extensive video and audio features (e.g. scanline filters, colour palettes, sound options)
- Upgradeable firmware with Mini SD
- Includes an adapter for playing Sega Master System games
- Upcoming adapters for Sega Card and GameGear games promised for 2019
- Phil Fish opening animation
- Includes previously unreleased DICE game 'Ultracore'

8bitdo M30 wireless controller
Released simultaneously with the Mega SG, the 8bitdo M30 is the first 2.4G based controller from 8bitdo. A small dongle connects to any Genesis/Megadrive cartridge slot. The design is based on the Genesis/Megadrive six button controller. The basic controller is complemented with some extra interface buttons.


FAQS

What is FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array)?
Traditionally, making chips, such as DACs or CPUs, required an expensive process of taping out a fixed design and mass producing it at scale. Once the chip was done, it couldn't change. FPGA chips changed this. You can now program a generic FPGA chip at will (or out at the ”field"). This means you could put a Genesis/Megadrive CPU and GPU gates into the chip, and it'll behave exactly like the real thing, at accurate speed.

Why is FPGA better than software emulation?
Most Genesis/Megadrive emulation, such as Switch or PS4 retro releases, is software emulation. The emulator attempts to replicate the output of CPU and GPU using the same inputs. While this often yields good enough results, it is not 100% accurate in terms of compatibility, timing or lag. The same output is achieved by different means than in the original console. For this reason, FGPA is more accurate.

What other systems will Mega SG support?
Analogue says - "We will be releasing a series of game cartridge adapters for Mark III, Game Gear, Sega MyCard, SG-1000, & SC-3000. Each individual system totally implemented into Mega Sg via FPGA. Coming 2019 and sold separately."

Why doesn't the Mega SG support 32X?
The 32X was a literal hack, relying on passing through and layering analog video signal that would be very hard, if not impossible, to replicate in an FPGA device.

But muh CRT!
Analogue has said it is working on a legless HDMI to analog adapter. This would allow games to enjoy the Mega SG on a fast, traditional CRT screen.



Impressions
Curiously, the Mega SG is a case of underpromise and overdelivery. The product was promised for April 2019, it shipped in March. The product renders made the physical design look underwhelming, whereas the actual product is gorgeously detailed with many signature Genesis/Megadrive design stylings - like the shiny plastic ring, or the dotted reset button. Once again, Analogue managed to find an unreleased game and bundled it with the device. It also announced the widest support of platforms for an Analogue product yet.

I played the Sonic series and Virtua Racing initially. Both played flawlessly, and the controller didn't seem to have any substantial lag, unlike previous 8bitdo controllers. Like with previous Analogue consoles, the image quality is flawless, and they games play without issue. It was especially great to see the sole SVP polygon game, Virtua Racing, perform so beautifully.

Next, I will be testing Ecco the Dolphin, Streets of Rage 2. Yesterday I ordered a bunch of more games - Revenge of Shinobi, Batman, Castle of Illusion and Desert Strike, to mention a few. I also have a Master System game on its way - Ys, a game my poor wife got for Christmas when she was 9 years old.

Conclusion
The Mega SG is probably the best way to play Genesis/Megadrive in the world. It is a simple, versatile way to experience again a huge part of Sega's console history. As Sega has not gotten around producing a quality product itself, this is as good and official as it can get.

It's hard to guess what is next for Analogue. TurboGrafx/PC Engine and Neo Geo would be relatively similar projects, but their commercial viability is questionable. Doing a Multiplatform console would be simple, but would somehow feel soulless. Personally, I hope the next Analogue console is a Analogue GB, a Game Boy remake. The addition of a screen and battery would be yet another level of new development. The Game Boy library is huge and compelling, and the console has a strong following.

Photos


A beautiful, compact box and console, with package essentially identical with the Super NT package.


Virtua Racing warks beautifully, and remains a technical marvel of its time.




The crispest Sonic I have ever seen.



Closeup detail demonstrating the image quality.



Mega SG in the entertainment corner of our apartment.



The bundled Sega Master System game adapter. It too looks better than the renders.

Reviews and Impressions

First impressions from GAF member McCheese

Media reviews to be added
 
Last edited:

theclaw135

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Oct 1, 2014
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I'm liking this. Except maybe the price tag, but sparing the headaches of RGB conversion is worth it.

Sega doesn't get enough credit for how shockingly bad they dropped the ball on the composite video encoding of the Master System and Genesis.
 

The Elite

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Apr 8, 2006
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I think Neo Geo would be a relatively successful option for their next console. Depending on the price, of course.
 

Chittagong

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I think Neo Geo would be a relatively successful option for their next console. Depending on the price, of course.

I actually forgot one more option. Although they have said they are not doing it for now, doing a cheap plastic NES to replace the expensive NES Mini would be a piece of piss. Or they could do an adapter for the Super NT, and sell that.
 

dolabla

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Oct 9, 2013
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Great OT!

I received mine Wednesday evening and had a chance to set it up last night and played around with it. Everything I threw at it worked first try. An awesome piece of hardware.

The only thing I've noticed is the audio doesn't seem to be as loud as the Super Nt. I went into the settings and fiddled around and disabling the 3db output cut helped it some, but it's still not Super Nt level of loudness.
 

The Elite

BOSS
Apr 8, 2006
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Toronto
I actually forgot one more option. Although they have said they are not doing it for now, doing a cheap plastic NES to replace the expensive NES Mini would be a piece of piss. Or they could do an adapter for the Super NT, and sell that.
At this point I really hope they got the adapter route.
 

McCheese

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Jan 7, 2018
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Valve's Digital Distribution Platform
I think Neo Geo would be a relatively successful option for their next console. Depending on the price, of course.

The current FPGA they are using (Cyclone V) likely cannot pull off the NeoGeo due to the bandwidth and bus speeds of the cartridge slot, those things were 5 times the size of other system carts for good reason. They do have more powerful FPGA chips available, but they cost a lot more at the moment. But at least the 68k CPU has been emulated now, so maybe in the future..
 

Chittagong

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Jun 8, 2004
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Have been playing Sonic 1 this weekend, thought I’d post some impressions.



Mega SG + 8bitdo M30 2.4g
The game really does seem to run flawlessly, and the picture quality is just phenomenal. But the biggest positive surprise is the 8bitdo controller. The 2.4g doesn’t seem to have any discernible lag, which is a huge difference to the rubbish bluetooth ones they did before (I have rarely had as much anger towards a product as I had when trying to play Ducktales on Analogue NT with the bluetooth 8bitdo)

Sonic 1
I was surprised by just how good this game is. I remember that back in the day it was praised for its speed and graphics, but I recall the gameplay was somehow overshadowed by Super Mario World. Playing it again now makes me appreciate what a good game it is as well.

The levels are huge, and can take over 5 minutes to complete. The difficulty is much tougher than I remembered, but it has a rewarding learning curve, and the game rewards being careful. Some of the boss fights are brutal, as they left no rings after the last checkpoint, so you essentially need to do many bosses flawlessly if you die the first time. The bonus stages offer some help in form of extra continues, but getting to the end of a stage with 50 rings and then acing the bonus stage is a real challenge.

I am currently in Scrap Brain Zone act 1 with three lives and two continues left. Once I am done with it, I think I’ll test the included, unreleased DICE game.

Man, Megadrive is such a great console. It’s hard to articulate, but it has a very different feel to the Super NES. Maybe the sprites are bigger, the more limited colour palettes crisper, or the responsiveness higher - it just feels so different, in a good way.

Beautiful! Is there any way to load ROMs on it too?

Nope, afaik none of the Analogue consoles support ROMs
 
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radewagon

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Nov 11, 2016
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While cool, they're still just non-perfect emulation.

The emulation is outstanding on this thing. Is it perfect all the time? Not really, but considering the fact that there is variation in performance even between different revisions of the Sega Genesis, I think what Analogue has been able to accomplish is borderline magic.

Last night, I was playing the Sega CD version of The Terminator and I was damn near floored when the game exhibited the exact same slowdown that I remember from back in the day. Crazy Deja Vu Nostalgia. For all intents and purposes, this is an official Sega Genesis and, currently, the single best way to play Genesis games. Keep in mind, this opinion is coming from someone who owns a Model 1 Genesis (w/ Model II CD and 32X), HD Retrovision Cables and an OSSC (Framemeister too, but I prefer the OSSC for the reduced lag).
 

Chittagong

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Jun 8, 2004
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How do you have your tv connected? Wallmount with that tube? hiding your cables?

Yep, the bar connects to the wall. Power jacks are behind the TV. Two HDMI cables routed inside the wall to the shelf (Super NES Mini & Analogue Mega SG), and one house HDMI feed.

My one issue is that I can’t leave carts in as the room gets direct sunlight, and the labels lose their yellows. Any suggestions on how to protect them would be most welcome!
 
Last edited:
S

SLoWMoTIoN

Unconfirmed Member
Yep, the bar connects to the wall. Power jacks are behind the TV. Two HDMI cables routed inside the wall to the shelf (Super NES Mini & Analogue Mega SG), and one house HDMI feed.

My one issue is that I can’t leave carts in as the room gets direct sunlight, and the labels lose their yellows. Any suggestions on how to protect them would be most welcome!
Blinds or live underground. :p
 

nkarafo

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So far, whatever Analogue has released can be done with good emulators. Bsnes/HIGAN is as good or better as the Analogue solution, BlastEM is as good as this one, and MESEN is probably just as good for the NES. And even less accurate emulators are very close outside weird demos like a modern version of SNES9x, Genesis Plus GX and Nestopia. For instance, none of these have any sound issues like those crappy Chinese clones or official rom releases (yes, official efforts are bad).

So, what i want to see is a system that doesn't have a "perfect" emulator yet. How about a N64 analogue system then?
 
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Shotpun

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Nov 6, 2016
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So far, whatever Analogue has released can be done with good emulators. Bsnes/HIGAN is as good or better as the Analogue solution, BlastEM is as good as this one, and MESEN is probably just as good for the NES. And even less accurate emulators are very close outside weird demos like a modern version of SNES9x, Genesis Plus GX and Nestopia. For instance, none of these have any sound issues like those crappy Chinese clones or official rom releases (yes, official efforts are bad).

So, what i want to see is a system that doesn't have a "perfect" emulator yet. How about a N64 analogue system then?

While you are correct, these Analogue consoles aren't really aimed at people who use software emulators and roms. These are for people who want to use their physical game collection who no longer have their original console or want a new and easier solution that you can plug in to modern tv without the need of an upscaler.

I don't think there is a FPGA chip powerful enough to run N64 yet, or if there is it's way too expensive. I expect to see one some day but it might take a while.
 

dolabla

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New firmware v4.3 is out: https://support.analogue.co/hc/en-us/articles/360024836892-Mega-Sg-Firmware-Update-v4-2

v4.3 notes:

- Userer loaded fonts are now saved on power cycle
- Ultracore bug with SMS mode fixed
- Added separate H interpolation checkboxes for genesis
- Added fixed LED colour option via RGB sliders
- Defaults for PSG/CD audio levels adjusted
- If you use a 3 button controller in non-passthru mode, it will look like 3 to the game
- Ladder effect now affects both channels equally
- Skin change for EU cart
- Ladder effect now works in low/high quality modes
- If a CD unit is plugged in, SMS works properly now
- If pass-thru is checked, it will enable when exiting menu in all ways
- Slightly adjusted filter response
 

Chittagong

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Omg, I am objectively better in videogames now than as a 12 year old:



What a blast this game was. Just couldn’t put it down. I found Labyrith Zone by far the hardest stage, incidentally it was where I got stuck as a kid. Finished with 4 emeralds so there is still reason for another run. The experience was 100% on the point and responsive.

Now, I’ll have to go down to pick up my Amazon parcel with rubbing alcohol for Streets of Rage 2 that’s not working.

 

Chittagong

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Phew, rubbing alcohol worked.

Seems Sega predicted Sadiq Khan’s London:



Fantastic game btw. I never got around playing it back in the day. It is essentially Final Fight, but the learning curve is much more pleasant. Final Fight became near impossible already in the second or third stage, whereas Streets of Rage 2 ramps up gradually. More variety too. Took me a while to learn how to deal with the shank runners. Still not sure how I beat Jet.
 

Tarin02543

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I want to treat myself to a Mega Sg next month, but shipping is 50 euro to Belgium.

Is there any way to get it cheaper? Is there a European retailer for this?
 

Chittagong

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Jun 8, 2004
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I want to treat myself to a Mega Sg next month, but shipping is 50 euro to Belgium.

Is there any way to get it cheaper? Is there a European retailer for this?

It is definitely worth the entry price, I have had so much fun with mine. AFAIK no retailers, it’s a direct-to-consumer company.

Congrats. I'm thinking about picking one of these up. One thing I'm curious about is the option to soften the harsh dithering. I was excited to hear they did this considering I created a thread recently asking for it. Have you played with this feature at all?

I saw that there is a dithering smoothing option in the DF review (I think?) but it also smudges some text so I haven’t tried it. I just embrace the ‘original’ look. I do appreciate naturally that the dithering wasn’t really that obvious on the CRTs the games were originally designed for.

Desert strike is the shit.
Also try Rambo 3 and Dynamite Duke.

Yeah I can’t wait to play Desert Strike, last time I played it was maybe 1993... some 26 years ago :O

Thanks for the tip, wasn’t really familiar with either game, wasn’t familiar with either but they seem to be around twenty bucks each!
 
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Shotpun

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Yeah I can’t wait to play Desert Strike, last time I played it was maybe 1993... some 26 years ago :O

Some time ago I was messing about with an emulator and trying out games that I might want to hunt down at some point, this was one of them and that quick try-out turned into an hour so I'd say it's still fun!

I had Urban Strike and still do actually, I think it's the best of the first three ...except during the three levels you have to do while on foot and those suck ass like a black hole on a donkey field. Otherwise the game is still really fun.
 

Chittagong

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Some time ago I was messing about with an emulator and trying out games that I might want to hunt down at some point, this was one of them and that quick try-out turned into an hour so I'd say it's still fun!

I had Urban Strike and still do actually, I think it's the best of the first three ...except during the three levels you have to do while on foot and those suck ass like a black hole on a donkey field. Otherwise the game is still really fun.

Oh cool, I was actually thinking that if I still enjoy this I have two more to go. It’s impressive they managed to push out a trilogy in such a short timeframe
 

Bullet Club

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Sega 32X Support Coming to Mega Sg + DAC



Kevtris announced in My Life in Gaming’s DAC Stream that he has the 32X working with the Analogue Mega Sg. It will require the DAC and a custom mixing cable. 32X hardware support is extremely difficult because of the way its analog video is mixed back to the Genesis. Kev has confirmed that Doom and SmokeMonster Afterlife RPG are tested and working.

Greg Collins designed a beautiful 3D Mega Sg 32X riser that has suddenly become quite useful, and he hooked me and Kevtris up with prints for testing recently. Greg has made the design free to download, and he offers it for sale in his shop for $15 for those without access to a printer. Although it’s by no means required, the riser looks great and lends the 32X a little more stability.

Your chance to buy a Sega 32X at a halfway decent price is officially running out though. When Sega CD support was announced for the Mega Sg, used prices skyrocketed that same day and have never really settled back down since.

 

dolabla

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Analogue converter up for pre-order ($79.99):


Say Hello to Analogue DAC.

The most advanced digital to analog converter ever made for experiencing video game history. In analog. Every aspect of DAC is designed for the most discerning enthusiast. Eye-opening analog video. High fidelity audio. Forget about mod kits and wiring hacks — DAC is plug and play and produces reference quality analog outputs.

Play Analogue on CRT’s and PVM’s.

Compatibility
  • Mega Sg
  • Super Nt
  • Future Analogue Products
Video
  • HDMI
  • RGB
  • Component
  • S-Video
  • Composite
Audio
  • Analog Audio
Special Features
  • Compatible with CRT only peripherals
  • Works with light guns
Other Features
  • NTSC & PAL
  • RGB Composite Switch
  • RGB Seperate Synch
  • RGB Synch on Green