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.
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.
- Highly accurate, lag-free, FPGA-based hardware emulation
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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