Sega Master System (SMS)


Officially released in North America in June of 1986, the Sega Master System is a third generation, 8-bit system using the famous Z80 processor. While the Master System was Sega's third system (a redesigned SG-1000 Mark III), it was their first console to come to North America. While technically superior to the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Master System faced a similar fate in the US to the Atari 7800. This was due in large part to Nintendo's strict licensing agreements with third party publishers, requiring that games could not be released on a competing system for two years. Not surprisingly, in other regions of the world the Master System saw greater popularity.

Capable of using both cartridges and smaller capacity cards, the Master System was able to offer 3D gameplay. By plugging the 3D adapter into the card slot, Sega StereoScope 3D glasses could be used with specific game cartridges. The system also used a more sophisticated light gun which, unlike Nintendo's system, could not be fooled by pointing the gun at a light bulb. Instead, Sega's system used CRT scan lines to determine the timing of the shot. Unfortunately, this system is incompatible with current LCD and Plasma high definition televisions.

Originally selling for $199, DREAM's system was purchased new in December of 1987. Bundled with the 3D glasses and phaser, using BIOS v1.3, this system contains both the RF output as well as Sega's 8-pin DIN composite/RGB video and mono-audio output, features which would also be found on the early Sega Genesis.


  • After Burner
  • Altered Beast
  • F-16 Fighting Falcon
  • Ghost House
  • Missile Defense 3-D
  • OutRun
  • Phantasy Star
  • Psycho Fox
  • Rampage
  • Zaxxon 3-D

Sega Genesis


Officially released in North America on August 14, 1989, the Sega Genesis is a fourth generation, 16-bit system. Though the Genesis hit shelves two years prior to Nintendo's 16-bit SNES, it wasn't until Sega's now ubiquitous mascot, Sonic, that the system's sales solidified. In the end, the Genesis managed to gather better sales than its predecessor, the SMS. Known initially for its popular and accurate arcade ports, as well as its celebrity tied sports games, the Genesis would eventually fulfill the slogan claim that "Genesis does what Nintendon't". Selling blood, violence, and nudity in games, the Sega Genesis's game options helped distinguish it from Nintendo, ultimately leading to the introduction of a content rating system for video games.

Selling for $190 on day-one, the Sega Genesis is probably best known for its peripherals. These include the 6-button controller for fighting games, the Super Scope light gun, the Sega Power Base for playing Master System games, the SegaCD CD player, the 32X for 32-bit gameplay, a modem (Japan only, though one game was released in North America that made use of it), and many, many others.

DREAM's Sega Genesis was purchased new in December of 1989. Known as an "Altered Beast" unit, it includes an 8-pin DIN audio/video connector capable of supporting composite or RGB output. It is also referred to as a "High Definition Graphics" unit due to its improved audio mixing circuit, though stereo was available only through the headphone jack on the front of the system and not through the 8-pin DIN. Later units would get a 9-pin DIN that allowed stereo output, but lacked the superior mixing circuit.


  • Air Buster
  • Altered Beast
  • Gaiares
  • Herzog Zwei
  • Insector X
  • Phantasy Star II
  • Phantasy Star III
  • Shadow Dancer: Legend of Shinobi



While not strictly a console, the SegaCD would eventually be combined with the Sega Genesis into a single unit called the Sega CDX. Originally released as an accessory for the Sega Genesis on October 15, 1992 (North America), the SegaCD came to market near the end of the fourth generation. While most accessories add some new functionality not previously available, few come with a dedicated game library, their own processor, and make the same dent in history that the SegaCD did. Historically, the SegaCD had two lasting effects on the industry: finalizing the debate on game ratings and marking the start of Sega's long death as a hardware manufacturer.

The former of these two effects started long before Sega even entered the North American market, but the SegaCD and the game "Night Trap" ended the debates over inappropriate content in video games. In hindsight, it should come as no surprise, given that Night Trap incorporated Full-Motion Video. Featuring video recordings of live actors recorded in various situations that corresponded to different button presses on the controller, Night Trap revolved around a murderer crashing a teenage girl's slumber party. As for the SegaCD's second effect on the industry, Sega would go on to release the 32x accessory in November of 1994, the Sega Saturn in May of 1995, the Sega Nomad (a portable Sega Genesis) in October of that year, and eventually the Dreamcast in 1999. With the constant hype of the next upgrade, many felt that Sega burnt out their fan-base. In late 1999, Sega moved from producing hardware to becoming a third-party publisher.

Selling for $299 in late 1992, DREAM's SegaCD, a model I, is only compatible with the model 1 Genesis. Since the SegaCD uses the Genesis for video output, the only outputs on the unit itself are RCA stereo plugs. DREAM's particular unit was purchased used in August of 2009.


  • Sewer Shark

Sega Saturn


Officially released in North America on May 11, 1995, the 32-bit Saturn represented Sega's fifth generation of gaming consoles. While announcements in early 1995 indicated a release on September 2nd, Sega of America president Tom Kalinske surprised his E3 audience with the announcement that the September date was a fake. The system was in fact already available for purchase in select retail stores. Unfortunately, several factors went into undermining Sega's four-month lead. First, Sony, upon hearing this news, announced at E3 that their PlayStation would be selling for $100 less than the Saturn's $399 asking price. Second, most third-party developers were still under the assumption that the system would be released in September, so few games were available on day-one. Finally, some retailers like Wal-Mart and KB Toys were left out of the initial surprise release. Feeling betrayed, they tended to promote Sega's rivals.

The Saturn is best remembered for Radiant Silvergun, Panzer Dragoon, and the Lunar series, games which still sell for hundreds of dollars despite the fact that they were produced in relatively large numbers compared to the numbers of Saturns sold. This makes the Sega Saturn a difficult system for those looking to start a collection.

DREAM's Saturn is an MK-80001 "round button", donated to the museum in 2001. DREAM is always on the lookout for unique systems, and while the early Sega Saturn MK-80000s have oval buttons, functionally they are identical.


  • Fighters Megamix
  • Fighting Vipers

Sega Dreamcast


Officially release in North America on September 9, 1999, the Sega Dreamcast was the first sixth generation console to hit the market. Despite the early lead, the strong sales, and the solid game library, the Sega Dreamcast became Sega's final home console. This was due in large part to the decline in profitability in the hardware market. Production ended in March of 2001, but Sega continued to support the Dreamcast in Japan and Europe until 2007.

None-the-less, the Dreamcast left a lasting mark on the gaming industry with its standard modem. The modem allowed internet play via SegaNet (a precursor to the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live), internet browsing using Windows CE, voice chat, and downloadable content updates for games.

With such a short lifespan, only a few models of the Dreamcast were released in North America. These models were functionally identical, allowing for VGA output, four controllers, and the removable modem. Initial units in early 1999 had a gray tint ($199) which would be replaced by the standard white units. North American special editions included the black "Sega Sports" units and Electronic Boutique's blue Dreamcast, only available online. DREAM's collection contains a standard white unit, purchased second-hand in 2007.


  • Typing of the Dead

Technical Specifications

Console CPU Resolution Colors RAM ROM Type ROM Capacity Output Backwards Compatibility
Source: Wikipedia
SMS Zilog Z80 @ 3.58 MHz 256x192 32/64 8KB cartridge or card 32KB RF/Composite N/A
Genesis Motorola 68000 @ 7.67 MHz 320x448 64/512 64KB cartridge 500KB RF/Composite/Stereo Headphone SMS w/adapter
SegaCD Motorola 68000 @ 12.6 MHz 320x224 64/512 768KB CD 500MB RF/Composite No
Saturn 2 x Hitachi SH-2 32-bit RISC @ 28.6 MHz 512x256 24-bit 1MB CD 700MB RF/Composite/S-vid/RGB No
Dreamcast Hitachi SH-4 RISC @ 200 MHz 480p 24-bit 16MB CD 800MB RF/Composite/S-vid/RGB No