Video Game Archaeology Blog #3 – Resurrecting the Mega CD

Time to shift out Taz. We are in to the technology of the future now - compact discs.
Time to shift out Taz. We are in to the technology of the future now – compact discs.

It’s funny how things can work out for you. There I was happily reminiscing about that golden age of 16-bit gaming with a dusted-off Mega Drive II when I got a message off a friend on Facebook saying he has something that might interest me. Naturally I was intrigued and messaged him back. He explained that he had been cleaning out his grandmother’s attic and found a few things that he was sure I would want. There were a few Mega Drive games, a spare controller (an official one not like the third party six-button ones I was using) and a – pause for dramatic effect – a Sega Mega CD II.

The question of whether I was interested was answered with a rather enthusiastic “Yeah, yeah, yeah!”

Now; I do remember the Mega CD from back when I was a kid in the early 90s but I never had one. None of my friends at the time did either. In fact until my buddy off Facebook brought it over bundled inside a bag I had never seen a real one. The Mega CD (Sega CD in North America) was hardly a success story although it has to be said it did better than that other Mega Drive add-on from back in the early 90s – the 32X. I remember thinking I would like to have a Mega CD back in the day but never really wanting one enough to ask my parents for it. It seemed to just pass me by.

How the box looked. (Sega Retro)
How the box looked. (Sega Retro)

Skip forward to 2015 and my interest in the Mega CD had grown to where I really wanted one. YouTube channels such as Game Sack and the Classic Game Room had wetted my appetite to where I at least wanted to try this system and there were a few titles in particular I had an interest in despite the mixed reviews; I am not one to judge things by what others say

My buddy said to me that I could have it, the Mega Drive games and the controller for free but being the honest chappy that I am I felt compelled to give him a few quid for it all. I won’t divulge just how much since it was a gentleman’s agreement (cue devious wink and sinister chuckle) but let’s just say it was a bargain. Now, as I said earlier YouTube had largely made me aware of the problems the Sega Mega CD had which didn’t help sales and I was about to come face to face with one of those problems.

While my buddy had found the console he had not found the power cable for it and so while I had slotted my Mega Drive II snugly into the side slot I was still unable to play it. It simply served the role of pedestal for the original cartridge based console. The fact you needed two of the huge AC adapters to power the Mega Drive and the Mega CD was one of the biggest criticisms of the console. I did a bit of research on the internet to find out the exact one I needed and saw that it was the same adapter as used in the Master System. Therefore, I had to borrow one to test it was still working after nearly 20 years and this necessitated me packing both the Mega Drive and the Mega CD in to the car and setting off to my sister’s place.

Once there I started to reassemble it in the upstairs bedroom where I uncovered yet another problem; she didn’t have enough space on her wall plugs for the TV plug and the two huge console plugs. This meant that my sister (very patiently) helped me carry all three in to the next room where there were sufficient space in the wall sockets to power all three. So the TV and the two consoles sat rather untidily on the floor as I plugged them in and nervously booted it up.

It's Alive! IT'S ALIVE - Excuse my sister's pyjamas
It’s Alive! IT’S ALIVE – Excuse my sister’s pyjamas

I couldn’t believe it when I finally saw the Mega CD start up screen. Suddenly my head filled with Colin Clive’s Dr Frankenstein exclaiming “It’s alive!”

Now I knew it worked and so I soon went about getting hold of my own power cable for use at home. Once that was done I was ready to pop my Mega CD cherry. The only problem left was…I didn’t have any games.

Well that’s not entirely true. My buddy had included a couple of demo discs he had found; one for Final Fight and one for Keio Flying Squadron. Keio is a rather well known horizontal shooter in that very Japanese cute’em up style and I had heaps of fun playing it. Getting the full game might be a bit problematic since it retails at extortionate prices but I will be working on it.

So that’s how the Mega CD came back to life from the abyss in the Wilkins household. I have a few cheap games I have managed to source for a couple of quid so I will be able to give more of an opinion of the system in the future. Regardless of how it goes for me the Mega CD is the first instance of me expanding beyond what I used to have back in the day as part of my retro gaming and I look forward to seeing what I missed – the good and the bad.

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Author: Tony Wilkins

When Man entered the atomic age, he opened a door into a new world. What we’ll eventually find in that new world, nobody can predict.

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