Analogue in a digital world

So, after all of the power issues, we can now focus on what it takes to be able to connect the console to the TV, and this is where it gets really interesting. The Megadrive/Genesis runs on analogue signals, as we have established previously – and my more modern LG OLED (C7) does not have any of the older inputs, meaning that there will need to be some conversion. This is where things get even more complicated.

My initial thought was that I could just buy a cheap passive converter to convert the analogue signal to a digital one (i.e SCART to HDMI), however after doing some research on the matter there are a number of negative reports on why this is not the best solution. You can find a more detailed guide on why this is not the best solution in an article here. The TL:DR is that converters do not do a good job with input lag (delays are no fun when playing games where timing is everything) and also the resolution of the upscale image being cropped badly for the TV and cutting off some significant parts of the picture.

You see in the world of 1080P being HD and 4K being Ultra HD and then 8K being even better – there is no need for modern TV’s to support older resolutions. In the days of the Megadrive you were getting significantly smaller resolutions – in fact ,the best possible resolution that could be obtained by this generation of consoles, and this was the case until a couple of console generations later, was 240p.

240p does not sound like much when you consider the resolutions that are now the norm, when you compare this to the signal that you got from plugging your console into the RF Switch that comes with the console as default you can see a big difference. There are plenty of videos available if you want to see the differences including plugging in the cable by component (which is the best, but most expensive way of doing it).

The old classic Sega RF Switch which I had mastered the blind switching of many years before

Right now my challenge is to get the console plugged into the TV. Now, it seems after extensive research, if you want that true retro experience on your modern HD Television, then you need something called a scan converter – and this should have low latiency and convert scan lines to upscale them for modern displays. To quote Kotaku “The scalers in most HDTVs are not correctly optimized for 240p signals, which end up reading the signal as interlaced. This creates a smeary, ugly image.” 

The difference between a good and a bad conversion – credit Kotaku

There are two main contenders for those who wish to take this seriously – the Framemeister (which is now pretty old) which does from all accounts a great job, but weighs in at ~€350 plus any shipping costs and import duties. It has a great number of connectors and also does a good job of converting the signal for modern TV’s.

The Framemeister XRGB-Mini – credit Solaris Japan

The new kid on the block is the OSSC (Open Source Scan Converter) which was born from the homebrew scene and is fully updatable. The main differences between the two are mostly around the inputs (the OSSC only has Scart, VGA and Composite) and the price (the OSSC is available for around €135 (link here) including the remote, PSU and the remote overlay. Whilst I am committed to the project – the price difference is what swung it for me and I opted for the OSSC. In tests, the OSSC has been said to perform better in terms of the number of colours it can display along with the lag speeds. To be honest, I am not sure that I would notice the difference!

The OSSC – sexy it aint

So, my wallet lighter still with this project, we now wait for another delivery!

Keep playing!

Land of the rising sun

Now I am all set to buy from Japan, and have spent countless hours trying to not buy more than I should, I am starting to get a feel for Yahoo! Auctions and also the Buyee service. 

I have been surprised how limited the supply is for 32x games here. At any given time there are around 25 – 40 products under the “SEGA 32x” search term. Generally this will contain a number of products that are not actual games, like promotional material, 32x units and some just plain strange products that are pulled up by the search. In addition to the Genesis/Megadrive mini being available, there are a number of units that are the mini accessories to make the tower of power, which as I understand are not available in the rest of the world.

Not a 32x game….

So when it comes to adding games to the collection, I do not have the huge amount of choice that I originally expected. A number of them are unboxed and some are priced in a manner that is not really realistic for me to buy (generally proved too high for me). However, patience is a virtue and I managed to find some games to kick off my Japanese collection!

Now remember, there are only 18 games that were released in Japan for the 32x, most of these were just games released in the other regions and boxed for the Japanese market – but there are some exceptions! 

  • Cosmic Carnage is now called “Cyber Brawl”
  • Knuckles Chaotix is now called simply “Chaotix”
  • Zaxxons Motherbase is called “Parasquad”
  • Shadow Squadron is called “Stellar Assault”

Why they decided to change these names is beyond me, they are not really radically different and I am not sure why the originals do not fit – but anyway. The only unique game and possibly the Japanese Holy Grail is “Sangokushi 4 (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), which is a Japanese exclusive 32x game. So far I am yet to see this in the wild on Yahoo!

After scouting the available lots for a couple of weeks, I managed to snag myself a copy of After Burner (it was listed without a picture, so it was a gamble) and a copy of Cyber Brawl. In addition to this, during one of the other rabbit holes I went down whilst browsing the goodies that Yahoo! has to offer was a copy of Shining Force for the Megadrive. Why? You might ask. Well – it is one of my all time favourite games and I just could not resist. I now intend to collect the entire shining force collection at some point, but that is a tale for another time/blogpost.

Also not a 32x game

I paid around 33 Euros for Cyberbrawl and gambled 35 Euros on After Burner (which is a great price). Unlike other auctions, the bidding action is quite limited, so there were no frenzied bids and I won both auctions without going crazy. For those that care, Shining Force was around 20 Euros.


Massive gamble!

The packages were then shipped to the Buyee center in a couple of days, and from there I consolidated (for a small fee) and then got some shipping options to Spain. 

Shipping was around 28 Euros, so the lesson was learned that I should factor this cost in when bidding – but let’s see how this goes and if I have to pay any tax when it lands here (should be marked correctly by Buyee).

Keep playing

The Killer 32x Game

So it has begun, after browsing on eBay, my over excitement got the better of me and I ended up buying a sealed game. For reference I did not set out to get any new games for the 32x as I intend to play them, but for some reason I decided I must have it. 

The first game of the collection is a USA release called “Corpse Killer” – it sounds charming and I can not wait to not play it (being sealed it would be a sin to open it). I really have no idea what this game will be like, or how I will get my console to play the game on my TV – but I guess you have to start somewhere!

The game was ordered from Germany and cost me the princely sum of €86 and with shipping it was €99.99. The seller took a while to ship and then promised me a little something with the shipment – which was never delivered, but I got the game and it is in pretty good condition as expected and looks sealed.

Now, after pretending that I might actually want to use this game in my Megadrive 1 tower, I started to do some research.

It seems that as with the Megadrive/Genesis consoles there is the difference between the regions, so EU have 50Hz and the JAP/USA versions have 60Hz and these games are not going to work on consoles outside of these regions without modification. This is the kind of modification I do not want to test as it involves soldering and a degree of skill that is far beyond me (I have zero skill in these things) – so I need to find an alternative solution.

Perhaps the 32x is multi region and works for all games – it is after all just a hunk of plastic with some components that plugs into the brains, which is the actual console right? Wrong again, after some research and asking of questions on various forums – I will need a USA 32x to go with my USA Genesis to play my USA games, and if I am lucky I can also play some of my Japanese games as well. Thankfully the region locking is pretty limited on the 32x (it was not out for long enough for it to be a concern I guess). So, some of the games are multi region, others are not.

I found the full list here, and have pasted below to save you a click – but full credit to the poster Azathoth on

World releases – carts are all the same and work in any system combination

BC Racers


FIFA International Soccer ‘96


Mortal Kombat II

NBA Jam: Tournament Edition

NFL Quarterback Club

Primal Rage

RBI Baseball ’95

Sangokushi IV

Shadow Squadron

Spider-Man: Web of Fire


Toughman Contest

World Series Baseball ’95


WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game

US NTSC releases – carts will only work in NTSC systems with a US Genesis will not play on PAL machines or when hooked to a Japanese Mega Drive

Brutal Unleashed: Above the Claw


Star Trek – Starfleet Academy Bridge Simulator

Virtua Racing Deluxe

Japanese NTSC releases – carts will only work in NTSC systems with a Japanese Mega Drive, will not play on PAL machines or when hooked to a US Genesis

Star Wars Arcade

Virtua Racing Deluxe

US/Japan dual region NTSC releases – carts will only work in NTSC systems and may have dual-language settings depending which region the console is set, will not play on PAL machines

36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples

After Burner Complete

Cosmic Carnage / Cyber Brawl


Knuckles Chaotix

Metal Head


Motocross Championship

Space Harrier

Star Wars Arcade – (American 32x release)

Virtua Fighter

Zaxxon’s Motherbase 2000

PAL releases – carts only work on PAL machines with a PAL Mega Drive and display an error message if played otherwise

36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples

Afterburner Complete

Cosmic Carnage



Knuckles Chaotix

Metal Head

Motocross Championship

Space Harrier

Star Wars Arcade

Virtua Fighter

Keep playing!

Building the collection

So, now I have a good idea on the ranges for each region as well as the cost of the items. To build this list I have looked at only eBay completed listings (with some Yahoo! Auctions for the Japanese options)and what is available right now. I have also created a list in Google Documents which I will share as my collection gets closer to completion. The reason I am not sharing it right now is that it is incomplete and also it might give me more competition for the harder to find ones. I have set a guideline on what I am prepared to pay, and will try to keep within this guide unless the product is sealed, or hard to get hold of and in poor condition. 

Some of the goodies on Yahoo! Auctions in japan 

I talked previously about the service that I am using in Japan – so eager to test this service I have been bidding and winning some auctions on Buyee. The prices seem reasonable compared to eBay, but the shipping costs look high and there is the small matter of the customs import charges – which will add up to a pretty penny. The plan is to bundle these deliveries together if possible to save on shipping. In addition to the 32x games, if I see any retro related products to any of the Player Clothing t-shirt ranges, I will buy them.

The game scene in Japan is amazing, and full of goodies and products I did not know even exist – also there is a much bigger selection in some areas that are not available in other regions, so I will need to moderate my spending or this could get a bit crazy.

I have seen some games I want, and the prices look ok – so I will get bidding and update with more information in the next blog post.

Keep playing!

Power to the tower of power 

So we have established that cables are the bain of my gadget life, but through this process I have a wide knowledge of cable types, adaptors and lots of other mostly useless information when it comes to console connectivity. I have splitters for splitters and a bag full of cables that should seem me through any re-wiring eventuality that might occur when I am rewiring my games/pc/TV/AV setup. So, when it came to connecting my megadrive tower of power to my TV I felt that with a few adaptors, that I probably had we should be able to get the old girl hooked up to the OLED TV.

Well, I was wrong – what ensued was an ever more complicated rabbit hole on frames, power adaptors, sockets, upscaling and latency which is still mostly a mystery to me – but I will try and explain here the journey I have been on.

The Megadrive (Genesis for our American cousins) that i have is a Mark 1, in addition to this I invested in a Mk 1 Mega CD (I paid £175 for this in the UK on eBay and carried it home with a very tatty box) and of course, the 32x. So the Megadrive slots beautifully into the Mega CD and makes a funky stack which looks very sleek and perfectly coordinated. Due to the Mega CD (or Sega CD in the USA) being connected by a dedicated slot to the machine, there is no need for messy cables. This is a good thing. However the 32x has to do some video processing and I am not sure they really ever planned for this when the console was born – so this needs an external cable to daisy chain to the Megadrive using the the AV ports.

My tower of power

Why? Well I think SegaRetro describe it best so I will let them explain:

“The 32X is reliant on many of the Mega Drive’s internal components, of which it interfaces with via the cartridge slot. However, the major advantage of the 32X is its improved graphics rendering capabilities. The 32X creates its own audio/video output, taking advantage of features such as higher colour counts and QSound technology, but there is no method of giving this information back to the Mega Drive console. The Mega Drive can output an A/V signal, but it can’t receive one, so it is the Mega Drive which passes its audio/video information to the 32X, and the 32X which is then linked to a television.

To achieve this the user requires a connector cable, which links the Mega Drive’s “A/V out” port to the 32X’s “A/V in”. The Mega Drive’s “A/V out” port is usually used to communicate with the television – this lead is moved to the 32X’s “A/V out” instead.”

So easy, plug it in and lets figure out the way to get it connected to the TV!!!!!!!

…but the cable does not seem to fit? Researching further I read that the 32x cable is only good for the Megadrive Mk2 – and the Mk1 needs another cable type to accommodate the different connector. Well the good news is that the cable is available cheaply, the bad news is that it is from AliExpress so I will need to wait.

About €4 including shipping that will take a few weeks

While I patiently wait for my cable I also looked at powering the unit up to make sure everything worked. The units came with a power adaptor, but each device has its own power adaptor. When I say power adaptor, I mean a power brick. Not one of those annoying bricks that sit in between one cable and another cable, this is an early 90’s chonker of a power adaptor which weighs as much as the console and goes straight into the plug. Three. Of. These. Also, to make matters more complicated, now I am living in Spain these all need an adaptor. Given this is going into a games room with other devices, the tax of three sockets which will also block out other plugs on an adaptor is a huge price to pay, when the number of available plug sockets is already a premium. This was not going to do, so after some research I discovered a modern miracle. Some genius at Retrogame supply had developed a 3-in-1 cable for this exact problem. Only one plug needed and using what I must assume is much more modern power technology, a much lighter and smaller profile plug with an EU adaptor. At €22 (plus delivery) this is not cheap, but when plug real estate is at an all time high –  it is worth it!

Behold the slimline, lightweight, plug saving glory of this modern masterpiece

With all of these cables ordered we can look forward to the moment that we plug the tower of power together and then hook it up to the TV. This is almost too exciting.

More next time. 

Keep Playing!

The Cable Guy

So the collection is coming along nicely, I will share an update as to what I have got and where I have got it paid in my next blog post – but I think it is time we talk about the elephant in the virtual room. Cables.

Cables and connectivity have always been a waking nightmare for me pretty much since I have had enough disposable income to afford more than one device to connect to my TV. Back in the good old days I would have my Amstrad CPC 6129 which connected to a monitor, and this monitor had a base than turned it into a TV. Albeit a TV that needed tuning between stations each time (I pretty much knew by heart how much to twist the tuning knob to find each of the 4 channels on offer at the time) and this TV only required 2 cables. The first was the non-negotiable power cable, the second was the trusty TV aerial cable which I also seemed to have problems with – the connector would come loose from the cable itself and then i would have to either jam, or cut back the cable to it fitted into the connector and could restore my window to the world of 4 channels.

Simpler times with the Amstrad TV Tuner base, credit Flickr

In the early 90’s the Amstrad got a significant upgrade when I was gifted the Sega Megadrive Mk1 (although I had no idea what model number this was at the time as it was the only one). Now, the trusty old TV base was still fully functional and would remain my primary TV for many more years. The upgrade was a very simple one when it came to connecting the new machine to the TV – it was just a switch for the Megadrive RF to go into, which also took the TV aerial and then with some behind the TV fumbling you could switch between the two inputs.

The MK-3088 RF Switch, a more elegant solution for a more civilized age

So this was the way of the world – you had your two devices and cable management was just this cheeky little switch. Was the video picture quality good? Did it output amazing sound? No and no, but did we care – absolutely not, it was all there was and it was perfect.

Then things started to go wrong, but not overnight. Later in the 90’s I scored an upgrade from my 14” Amstrad Monitor with optional TV base, to a 28” Bush TV (not widescreen, but at the time no one cared or really knew what widescreen was in commercial television. This thing was a beast, weighing more than a large dog. It just about fit into my gaming zone and with this came a new modern wonder, an input that was like a look into the future – the Scart cable. The scart cable was a better way of displaying the picture for my Playstation (one…) and gave the promise of better picture quality, so of course I upgraded. At the same time I was also lucky enough to have a VHS in my room, and this is where the problems began.

You see, with my new beast I had this magical connector, but sadly only one – and this one was right at the back, at the bottom of the device. This was a problem when you had two connectors that needed to be changed about. You see, the Scart connector was not small, you could probably easily fit 10 modern full size HDMI connectors into the footprint of a Scart – and it was a weird shape. So when trying to change the cables, without being able to see where you were plugging it, relying only on touch and a mental map – this was a challenge, even for someone that can memorise 5 channels (we got a 5th channel in 1997) on a manual tuner with pinpoint accuracy.

Aka: Syndicat des Constructeurs d’Appareils Radiorécepteurs et Téléviseurs, but you can call it Scart.

So then it began, first was the Scart switch, then there was the power splitter, as the years went on DVD players, additional consoles and then came network ports adding in more complexity to the tangled mess behind the Television set. Now, in a world of wireless networks, smart TV’s not needing an input for content and wireless phone charging – it just seems to get worse. 

So, in case you didn’t get the intention – behind my TV is a mess, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. My world is now adaptors, splitters and half arsed attempts at neat cabling and cable management. So, when it came to plugging in my 32x to my games room OLED TV it would be simple enough – right?

Wrong. Very, very wrong.

Keep playing!

The 32x Portfolio 

If you have seen any of the posts on the 32x that I have written you might have seen that there is a relatively manageable selection of 32x games when it comes to collecting. The games were released in 4 regions – there is the usual Europe, USA, Japan – but also Brazil!

There is a complete list of games available here, and I will be tracking the price I paid for each game – and I fully expect most of my purchases to be on eBay or Yahoo auctions and mentioned in blog post 3.

So, now to the game selections by region:

Europe 28

USA 38

Japan 18

Brazil 16

Of these games we have a number of region specific games, as well as having some with different titles for the same game (Stellar Assault JAP/PAL / Shadow Squadron USA). Realistically, I am going to struggle to get all of the Brazil regional language games, but I will try and get Blackthorne and Surgical strike which were Brazil region specific releases from Tec Toy.

Now I have a full list, I need to work out which are the common, rare and mythic ones of each collection. 
It seems the two most valuable ones are Darxide (PAL) and Spider Man (USA). At the time of writing, Darxide is going for well in excess of €1000 and is the most valuable game of the collection, with Spiderman “Web of Fire” going for $350. As with all collectible games the condition of the games influences the price significantly. Some new in box versions are going for €000’s more than their more used counterparts. So, these two are the “mythic” games in this particular collection. I will also say that tracking down a price for some has been difficult to find (Blackthorne and Surgical Strike being two examples I can not find so far).

The 32x Holy Grail – Darxide

Moving down the list to the rare games you have titles like Virtua Fighter (JAP) , Knuckles Chaotix (all regions), Kolibri (EU being more expensive than USA), Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure, Night Trap (PAL), Parasquad (JAP). Plus there are some others I also cannot find a history of sales for; Sangokushi 4 (Romance of the Three Kingdoms 4) being one of them.

The USA Holy Grail – Spiderman Web of Fire

All of the others then fall into two brackets – over €50 and under €50. I will start to compile a list and share it in a future blog with my progress.

Now to start the collection!

Keep playing!

Turning Japanese (and American)

So in order to complete my SEGA 32x collection I will need to collect all of the games, and as mentioned in a previous post there is a relatively small number of games, spread across the regions. However, this will still be a big challenge. As with all consoles there are a selection of games that are harder to come by than others. Also, being based in Spain it is also more complicated when it comes to shipping, selection and logistics. eBay is the obvious choice, but shipping from other regions can be expensive and also there is the case of import taxes. 

Having done some research, I have decided to work with some companies that offer local shipping addresses in Japan and also in the USA. The theory is that you shop on local auction websites (generally eBay for the USA and Yahoo! auctions for Japan. They will provide you with the address and you then ship to their warehouse. Once it arrives, they do a consolidation service of your packages and then forward them on to you – which should mean less in shipping (games are not so heavy, so shipping one or a few games is not that different).

I opted to use Buyee as a service for Japanese auctions and started to browse Yahoo! auctions to see what was available. Buyee have a number of fees, but they are generally reasonable and the charges for the games are significantly cheaper than you will find on websites outside of Japan. There is a purchase fee of ¥300 per auction won (about €2.40 based on todays exchange rate), and a number of options for shipping and inspection that offer different delivery types, taking a picture of the goods when they arrive in the warehouse and checking them against what was expected. Shipping from Japan can be expensive, but this depends on the size and weight of the package. There is also a fee for consolidation of your deliveries which is recommended if you want to save money during the shipping process. 

Glorious retro goodies from Buyee/Yahoo! Auctions

For the USA there were quite a few options and after doing a read up on the services that each of them I decided to use Ship7. They offer a Delaware shipping address which means you do not pay sales taxes. They offer package consolidation for free and will hold goods for 60 days free of charge. Also the shipping rates are reasonable based on a comparison with some other website. 

The Ship7 home page

Now these are setup it is time to identify what I need to buy and from where!

Keep playing.

The collection begins!

So after tracking some auctions on eBay in the UK, I managed to get myself a boxed unit. The condition of the box is not great, but I was not after something mint – this is meant to be used! I paid £170 for the unit and it came with the power adaptor, instructions and the connector cable to the console. The only problem is that the cable that was included for connection to the Megadrive is for the Megadrive 2 – and I only have an original Megadrive. In a bizarre coincidence, the original 32x was sold in the uk for £169.99 so I think I have over paid 1p, however if we factor in inflation I think the deal was not so bad.

Upon inspection, it appears that the unit was one of the later models – I am not sure if this is good or not, and I stand to be corrected by someone that knows more than I do, but apparently this might be good when it comes to playing Japanese cartridges. 

I have been investigating whether the unit is region free, and if not – what I need to do as the aim is to get all of the games from every region as I discussed in the first blog post. What I do know is that the EU consoles outputted at 50hz and the USA/Jap consoles at 60Hz which means the better pictures and speed were on the USA and Japanese consoles. Thankfully I have one of each, so hopefully I will be able to find a work around that does not involve any soldering – as this is not something I want to be doing – and I also do not want to send off my consoles to be fixed someplace else.

I will do some further research and update my findings in a future post.

Keep playing!

Starting a new collection

Having moved into a new apartment, I now have a space that allows for me to have a kind of “games room” which will allow me to finally set up all of the things that I have collected in one place. There has been no real theme to the things that I have collected over the years, sometimes they have been opportunistic, sometimes they have been related to the ranges we have been developing here at player – but mostly they have been impulsive. I seem to have a love of collecting, perhaps this stems back to my trading card/sticker collecting days of my childhood – or maybe it is emphasised more because I am lucky enough to have some spare money these days and I can get the things that I always wanted when i was a child. Either way, I have a collective personality and I decided I need a focus for this!

Being a Sega child mostly (well I did have a Gameboy first) and spending most of my early console gaming playing a Megadrive (or Genesis is you are from the USA) a lot – I wanted something that was in line with this and also something not too broad. Thankfully Sega were the masters of the add on, whether this was the CD, the Modem (well ahead of its time) or the 32x. Having done my research on these, I decided on the ill fated 32x. 

An advert in Sega Visions in 1994 for the 32x

Why? Well, to begin with – the game range is pretty limited. You see, Sega wanted to stretch out the life of the Megadrive and bring it into the 32 bit era, however the timing was pretty abysmal! They launched the unit in Japan less than a month after the release of the Sega Saturn. I am not sure of the logic here, but perhaps it was designed to capture gamers that could not afford the Saturn, but either way it was doomed to fail. Asking game developers to support 4 console platforms (Megadrive, Mega CD, 32x and the Saturn) is a huge ask and they would of needed to prioritise – so with a massive install base of the Megadrive and the promise of the Saturn the 32x would of been a distant 4th after the Mega CD! So with all of this considered, only 40 games were released, which gives a total of 84 games I need to collect in order to make my collection complete. 

Being the competitive type, I was determined to do this, even if it took me a long time, so my first challenge was to get the actual unit and then I could start my collection!

To be continued…

Keep playing!