Sega 32X opinions

Discussion in 'Console Industry' started by 386dx, Oct 7, 2017.

  1. 386dx

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    Hi,

    I'd like to know your opinions about the Sega 32X console expansion for the Megadrive console. I never had one but I always liked the idea of so many components running at same time on both console. Do you think the hardware was pushed to its limits?

    Megadrive: Motorola 68000 @ 7.61 MHz + 64 KByte RAM + Z80 @ 4 MHz + VDP + PSG (TI 76489 chip) + eventually Sega SVP cartridge coprocessor running @ 23Mhz
    32X: Dual Hitachi SH-2 RISC @ 23 MHz + Motorola 68000 @ 7.61 MHz + 32X VDP + PCM sound
    MegaCD: Motorola 68000 @ 12.5MHz + various cache memories + PCM

    Thank
     
  2. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    It's hard to use a whole bunch of different processors effectively, especially when different software have such different needs, and each processor really isn't all that powerful (because it has to be really cheap, since it's included in a cheap consumer device generally aimed at kids.)

    That's generally why systems with simple monolithic architectures (like the original Playstation) for example do better and are easier to exploit than systems with complicated multiprocessor architectures (like the Sega Saturn for example.)

    Sega Dreamcast is a console of the latter variety - coming after Saturn, with lessons learned from that experience. Unfortunately Sega was in poor shape by then and could not make the console a success. PS3 despite its wonkiness was a success, but only after several years of slow or ho-hum sales. Its initial languishing also forced Ken Kutaragi out of the company. (Arguably, PS3 did worse than it would have otherwise due to the economic downturn in 2008 and a few years after, but such is life. And, the same is mostly true for competing XB360 as well.)
     
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  3. function

    function None functional
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    32x was a clever but hastily designed solution to the wrong problem, introduced at the wrong time, with Sega Japan committed to killing it almost immediately upon release. It was a waste of Sega America's efforts and resources, and hurt developer and consumer confidence and good will.

    That said, Virtua Racing for the machine was sublime, and for someone who loves quirky hardware, the device was assembly porn (rf shielding links, rgb and audio passthrough funbling (not a typo) and high octane fuel for the imagination.

    Amazing device, but a the ultimate expression of Sega's 1992 ~1995 lack of grounding in the reality of their home business.
     
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  4. turkey

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    Some games split the rendering between the two devices and you can remove the video link cable between them I believe to witness the individual results.

    DF retro has some videos on the 32x I think.
     
  5. Karamazov

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  6. BadTB25

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    I had it and loved Sega as a company back in the day, but the 32X was really lackluster.
    To me it never lived up to its promise and was mostly disappointing.
     
  7. 386dx

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    Thank. I'd think also that the switch from the end of 2D to the 3D probably suprised lot of initial hardware projects even the Saturn maybe.
     
  8. 386dx

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    That's imho the best thing of the 32X. I'd expect an expansion that use the Megadrive just as power supply but in this case really both console cpu/vdp can be used. Also the sound can be composed and the idea is interesting!
     
  9. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    NES did that first tho. The cartridge slot had a sound input pin for if your game pak had a sound chip on it (which a whole bunch of games did), and it would be mixed with the sound of the console.

    The NES really was quite the frankenconsole, the cartridge slot was more like a full system bus - it had 80 friggin pins on it. Game paks could have RAM on them as well as ROM (and sound, as mentioned), and the memory mapper ICs many games included could add graphics features not present in the original hardware. Of course, the base console was so weak it needed this stuff... :D The console was basically a twin chipset, one IC with CPU with 2kB of RAM and maybe some other stuff like timers and whatnot, and then the graphics chip with 2kB VRAM and sound IIRC.

    ...I hope you don't have a Nintendo allergy, considering you started a Sega thread. :)
     
  10. snarfbot

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    Star wars arcade was excellent as well, doom, tmek, Virtua fighter there were alot of good games for 32x iirc I got it for like 50 bucks bc it was abandoned so soon after release. The games were hard to find tho, I remember going to Sears and pc Richards and stuff looking for Virtua fighter for instance.
     
  11. bunge

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    The obligatory “I want a Neptune!”

    It had potential to make some great pre-polygon era games.
     
  12. 386dx

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    :) Interesting.
    I always preferred Sega consoles back then, starting with the Game Gear and the mentioned Master System. I heard only lately of those NES features but were games with the additional hardware more expensive than the usual games?
     
  13. Grall

    Grall Invisible Member
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    More expensive? Well, yes and no. :) As I recall, any extra sound was built into custom memory mapper ICs used by certain companies, and most every NES cart - if not all of them - had a mapper of some sort. So this is an unavoidable cost, like the NES10 lockout IC all officially licensed NES carts had to include, to make sure the system could not run unlicensed carts.

    After some casual internet research, it would seem that in the west all games (with almost no exceptions) used Nintendo's own series of mappers exclusively, and the sound pin of the cartridge slot was removed/unconnected, so only japanese Famicom games could make use of that feature. So 3rd party developers could not use their own mappers, but had to buy theirs from Nintendo, which might well have raised prices, except you had no way of knowing, so it really didn't matter, since Nintendo pretty much set the prices by themselves anyhow. :)
     
  14. Reznor007

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    For what it's worth, Super NES also had an analog audio input pin on the cartridge slot. The only thing I know of that uses it was the Super game boy adapter. It would pump the game boy audio through the Snes that way. That is also sadly the reason it doesn't work with the spdif digital audio output mod.

    And the NES audio chip wasn't part of the graphics chip, it was built into the main cpu.
     
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