What is the optimum Mega Drive experience?

Discussion in 'General Sega Discussion' started by Korou Tenshi, Sep 6, 2019.

  1. Korou Tenshi

    Korou Tenshi

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    Hi Retro, long time no see!

    A bit of background - I'm based in Europe, and I'm looking to potentially own a Mega Drive once again.
    Thing is, I'm relatively clueless as to the best way to go about this! I'm hoping to collect original software where I can, so please consider that.
    So far, I've come up with the following options:
    • Buying a PAL Mega Drive
    • Buying an NTSC Mega Drive
    • Buying something like Analogue's Mega SG
    Something I never considered was the fact that apparently PAL hardware runs slower than NTSC? This is something I never noticed as a kid, but I think I'd find it pretty jarring now after so many years playing things over emulators and re-releases.
    If I was to go for original hardware, is there a preferred model of the Mega Drive to go for? Though I'm unfamiliar with them, I'd probably like to option to add on Mega CD / 32X in the future, and I believe there's some Mega Drives that aren't compatible.
    With imported consoles / Mega SG, I'll also need to consider the cost of import fees / shipping. of course.

    I realise there's a difference between "optimum" in terms of the absolute most high-quality experience available, compared to the best cost-effective solution, and if there are any other suggestions I'd be welcome to hear them,

    Can some of you guys help me with defogging the options available to me? I'd like to know what the highest-quality compared to cost option is, as well as the best overall, so I can compare features vs. cost.

    I also thought this would be a good discussion in general, and might help others out who are looking to get into hardware to find something that fits their needs.

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. Xilla

    Xilla

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    This is what I have personally. It plays everything.
     
  3. MarkeyJester

    MarkeyJester

    My predecessors have nothing on me. Resident Jester
    Sorta...

    For PAL, the machine itself, the CPU, the chips, etc, they all run at approximately the same rate as an NTSC system (slower, but only marginally), what matters is the TV's rate of which many games will use as a general game timer. The drawback is the game runs slower because a frame lasts longer, but the benefit is that lag is minimal because the CPU has more time within a frame to do the same job. So what you might find is that running games in PAL will lag far less than NTSC, at the expense of generally slower gameplay.

    In my opinion though, the only game that ever "felt" slower was Sonic 1, but that's basically because the music would play out slower, I never really felt the other Sonic games to be slower despite that they were but the music was adjusted. So you might find you may not even notice a game is running slower unless something makes it jarringly obvious like audio. But you could take the advice of the post above, the hardware can be modded to have a switch which you can use to define which rate/region the machine is.

    One thing I have noticed, some Mega Drive games appear to go completely black visually on certain screens, when plugged into a 32x, a few to note are; Mega Bomberman, the multi-player select screen, and one of Sonic CD's special stage. The games still run, but perhaps that's something to watch out for?
     
  4. Korou Tenshi

    Korou Tenshi

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    This is an option I didn't even realise existed - Thanks, it's definitely an attractive solution!
    Right! It's been a very long time since I've experienced actual Mega Drive hardware, so I don't really have a frame of reference. That's interesting to note though, I think I'd prefer the lack of lag over anything - I recently tried playing Sonic 2 on Saturn via Sonic Jam, and had an awful time with the frameskips - something I'd never noticed previously, but it was enough of a problem to really throw me off when playing.
    Ah, I see! I'll keep it in mind in case I ever get a 32X and find any issues. It's probably going to be far down the line though, as I'm terribly unfamiliar with the games library minus Chaotix
     
  5. ICEknight

    ICEknight

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    NTSC Mega Drive 1 all the way. 100% correct speed and best non-modded sound if you get the correct revisions.
     
  6. Korou Tenshi

    Korou Tenshi

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    Correct revisions? Is there something I can be on the lookout for?
     
  7. Gryson

    Gryson

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    Maybe I missed it, but what kind of TV are you using or hoping to use?
     
  8. ICEknight

    ICEknight

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  9. Korou Tenshi

    Korou Tenshi

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    I’m in Europe so SCART is pretty much standard on everything, and I was intending to use RGB SCART cables to connect. Everything I have is relatively modern as in it has HDMI input and can run 60Hz no problem.
    Thanks, that’s super useful and I’ll refer to this if I decide to go down this route!
     
  10. doc eggfan

    doc eggfan

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    I think the optimum Mega Drive experience doesn't exist physically. It is what M2 referred to as the "Giga Drive," and the imaginary specs for this imaginary system was the basis of their mega drive emulator for the 3DS, which turned a handful of amazing titles into amazing 3D experiences on the 3DS stereoscopic screen.

    After that, the most luxurious, expensive and inconveniently bulky mega drive experience would be the Laseractive
     
  11. Korou Tenshi

    Korou Tenshi

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    In the end, I've opted for a PAL model 1 with "High Definition Graphics" printed on it, which I believe is the best PAL model for sound etc. according to a couple sources.
    If I find the 50Hz thing to be a pain, I'll probably see about modding it myself.

    This discussion can remain open though if anyone else wants to contribute their preferences!