happyponyland.net / Mega Drive has 16 bit memory

While browsing some old magazines, I found an ad for the Sega Mega Drive from 1990. I've tried to translate it faithfully, but also retain the cheesy marketing vibe of that era (the terminology for video games was still sketchy at this time, so I've let some awkward phrases slide). It goes pretty easy on the hardware specs, but as always with this kind of ads it leaves you wondering if they really had any clue what they were selling.

No other video game can do as much.

SEGA MEGA DRIVE - 16 bits better. (New: In stores now!)

Mega Drive has 16 bit memory. That's twice as much as "ordinary" video games. That's why Mega Drive has fantastic color representation, that no other game can match. But you should listen as well. With 10 channel stereo sound Mega Drive becomes worth hearing (especially when playing with headphones!). Mega Drive costs around 1.995:-. If you would like to start with a simpler game system, choose SEGA Master System. It is the strongest 8 bit alternative on the market and costs around 995:-.

Call 020-744041 and listen to Alex Kidd!

You will get a comprehensive overview of Mega Drive. Since it is a 020-number you only pay for a local call. Call now!

SEGA is marketed by PlayMix, 283 00 Osby.
Games for Mega Drive are at least as advanced as the machine - and new ones are continually released. We already have: Altered Beast™ (included), Super Thunder Blade™, Super Hang-On™, Thunder Force II™, Ghouls'n Ghost™, Zoom™, Alex Kidd Enchanted Castle™, Mystic Defender™, Truxton™, World Cup Italia '90™, Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf™, Ghostbusters™.

If you already have SEGA 8 bit games, keep them. With a simple adapter you can play them on your Mega Drive.

(1995 SEK in 1990 ≈ 310 EUR in 2020, adjusted for inflation)

Curiously enough the ad shows no actual games, only the machine itself. Either they lacked the technical means to include screenshots or, more likely, they expected it to sell purely on the appeal of sexy black plastic. I was around 6 years old at the time and mostly oblivious to the console wars; I didn't care much for numbers but recognised quality gameplay when I saw it. A few screenshots would certainly have grabbed my attention more than a black box and dubious claims of being superior.

Of course, once the SNES made it to Europe in 1992 it blew all competition out of the water. Supposedly the Mega Drive was marketed to a more "mature" audience, but it seems the only draw were a few localized sports games.

Who likes sports anyway? Sports are for nerds. In school there were always a few sore losers that would constantly belittle others for not putting enough "effort" into some game and start fights in the locker room over someone missing an "important" shot. Note that this was in connection to mandatory education, not some extra-curricular activity. Great way to build team spirit, asshole.

Anyway, I suppose the danger of catering to the jocks is that they will buy the few sports titles they are interested in but not care much for the rest of the library. Of which, in the case of the Mega Drive, there wasn't much. Because the Mega Drive was SHIT. HA HA HA HA

No really - my own exposure to the Mega Drive actually came quite a long time afterwards but left me rather unimpressed, definitely not feeling I was missing out on anything significant. I remember playing Altered Beast, which was a rather bland experience. I also saw The Ninja at some point, which is actually a Master System game (and seems quite decent for that era, at least more enjoyable than NES Ikari Warriors), but I'm pretty sure I saw it being played with a three-button controller - maybe they were using one of those fabled adapters. Anyway, none of this came even close to running around the house cheering because I finally figured out how to beat Agahnim.

If I had stuck with consoles through the late 90s I might have found the later N64 was rather underwhelming and the Saturn actually had a stronger offering. How the tide turns, or something. Oh well.

I found another SEGA ad, this one from 1992:

The adventure starts here.

Mega Drive. Unique! The only video game with 16 bit capacity. Supreme graphics, sound that knocks you off your feet and cooler games!

Game Gear. Portable video game with 4096 colors and first class sound, despite the neat dimensions. Now you can play anywhere!

Master System. The most modern 8-bit game. Awesome graphics, great sound and snazzy design.

SEGA has it all when it comes to video games. The most powerful machines and the best games. Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Sonic (the worlds fastest video game) are only some examples - if you choose SEGA, you can expect a constant flow of exciting news!

Marketed by BRIO AB/PlayMix, 283 00 Osby.

In the two years that had passed, Sonic the Hedgehog and the Game Gear had launched. They're actually showing some games this time! The red-green-blue outlines around the machines are subtly striking; it also matches the red-green-blue dots in the Game Gear logo. I don't think I ever saw a Game Gear in the wild, though.