Sega CD

The Sega CD was one of the first CD-ROM based gaming consoles. The extra storage space this medium allowed gave rise to inclusion of full motion video, higher quality audio, and improved graphics in games.


The Sega CD is the first of two add-on consoles to the Sega Genesis. As its name implies, the system utilized CDs for games instead of cartridges. In addition to game CDs, it was also able to read audio CDs and CD graphics (CD G).

In similar fashion to the Sega 32X, the original two Sega CD models (dubbed Sega CD I and II) required a Genesis console to operate. Both models plugged into the bottom of the Genesis, with CD I fitting the older version of the Genesis and the CD II fitting the newer version.

One of the hallmark features of the Sega CD was the inclusion of full motion video (FMV) in games. Though this was revolutionary at the time, the low number of colors (512) the console was able to produce effectively made low quality FMV. This was improved greatly with some Sega CD 32X games, as these were capable of showing 32,768 colors.

Between North America, Japan, and Europe approximately 221 Sega CD games were produced (including five Sega CD 32X games). Though a large number of these were original releases, several were simply ports of existing Genesis games with extra content and improved graphics (such as Mortal Kombat and Earthworm Jim).

A portable combo version of the Sega CD/Genesis  was released in 1994, and was similar in appearance and size to portable CD players of that time. Named the Sega CDX, the hybrid console never saw much success in sales, likely due to its high price and the upcoming release of the Sega Saturn.

Technical Specifications

  • CPU: 12.5 MHz 16-bit Motorola 68000 processor
  • Graphics: Custom ASIC processor, 64 colors onscreen out of 512, resolution of 320 x 224 or 256 x 224 pixels
  • RAM: 4 Mbit program RAM, 2Mbit word RAM, 512kbit PCM samples, 128kbit cache, 64kbit backup RAM
  • Storage: 500MB on CD-ROM with a transfer rate of 150 kB/s
  • Audio: Stereo PWM, total 12 MHz clock frequency, 18 total sound channels, max sample rate of 32 kHz, 8 bits of wave data, 16 bit DAC
  • Dimensions: 301mm x 212.5mm x 112.5mm

Sega CD games