If it wasn’t for the fact that Japanese Sega Mega Drive games are slightly larger than Sega Genesis cartridges most of the Japanese Mega Drive library would be playable on the Sega Genesis. The larger Mega Drive carts just don’t fit into the slot opening of a Genesis.
A lot of games didn’t have any form of region encoding. If a game wasn’t too language dependent (as many are) non-Japanese speaking gamer would have access to games that didn’t get translated. It would also increase your chances of finding a particular title if English (or another non-Japanese language) was not a requirement for you.
I still have my same Genesis that my parents bought me many years ago when it was new. Back then I had the store I bought it from modify it for me. Now as I’m getting into my Sega games again I’m enjoying learning about some of the mods you can perform on the Sega Genesis.
I would say that widening the slot opening to accommodate a larger cart is the simplest mod and well worth doing. The concept is simple. File or shave away plastic from the edge of the cartridge slot opening. My choice of tool for this is the Dremel.
Not Bad. Pretty close to the mark.
Since I have never used a Dremel before I decided to test it out first. I wanted to get a feel for how it works. I used the plastic cover from a spool of DVD’s as my test subject. I marked off a section that I wanted to cut out… then I cut it out. The Dremel is basically a file that spins. As it spins you press the head against the surface you want to file down and it does just that. It was very easy and quick. I noticed that it was important not to spend too much time on one spot. I was constantly moving the Dremel head along the surface I wanted to remove trying to keep each edge uniform as I worked my way to my black line. After that simple test I was already confident that I could do this.
Nice snug fit.
As I said my Genesis had already been modified and it could accommodate most Japanese Mega Drive games already. But there was one company called Sunsoft that used a cartridge that was slightly larger and these carts would not fit into my Genesis.
You can see above how a regular Mega Drive carts fits well and how the Sunsoft cart doesn’t fit at all. So there wasn’t much work to do which helps because this is my first attempt.
Dust Cover re-Installed
Just like my test on the DVD’s spool cover the Genesis was also easy to Dremel. The plastic was much harder and it took longer but it still was not hard to do. The Sunsoft carts are not much wider but just more square around the corners. So most of my time was spent expanding the four corners of the slot opening.
With the dust cover installed again you can easily see the size difference of the Sunsoft games compared to the Genesis carts.
Sunsoft cartridge now fit!
And here is it. My North American Genesis which can now fit a larger Sunsoft cartridge and any other Japanese Mega Drive carts as well. The second image shows my Genesis playing the Sunsoft game Panorama Cotton. The only mod required was to widen the opening.
I know this will not work for all Japanese Mega Drives games. For Example Golden Axe 3 and Sonic 3 are region locked and will display a message on screen and not load. Click Japanese region locked games for a more complete list.
For a long while I’ve known about modifications for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. There are several very practical things you can do to a Genesis. I’ve kept these ideas at bay because I don’t have any soldering or electrical skills. But despite this I’m slowly starting to warm up to the idea. This first step is a simple one. I’m going to create a list of the mods I would like to have on a Genesis.
The simplest mod for a Sega Genesis is to widen the cartridge slot so that you can insert Japanese Mega Drive games. For anyone who can’t stand of the idea of cutting into their Genesis then the story might end right here.
But for me I have several Genesis consoles and my original system is already modded. My original modded Genesis slot has been widened and regular Japanese Mega Drive games can fit into it. However, those fat Sun Soft cartridges cannot. Not even close. So the plan is to buy a dremel and expand my Genesis slot enough to fit what I believe to be the largest cartridge created for the system.
Here’s TheDamoMonster who does a great job showing us how this is done.
So what do you get for your efforts? You get a Genesis that can accommodate the larger size of the Japanese Mega Drive games. And with the exception of about 62 games that have region locks built into them you’ll be able to play all other Japanese Mega Drive games on your Genesis.
Thanks to markvergeer who put together a list of 62 games that have region locking encoded on them. These games will run only on systems that match the intended region of that cart.
Twenty one of these games were made in 1992 and 1993. The remaining forty two games where made in 1994 or later. Considering the size of the Genesis/Mega Drive game library the amount of region locked games is thankfully pretty small.
Now, back to my mod wish list. And of course we already know number on the list:
1) Widen Genesis cartridge slot to accommodate the largest Japanese Mega Drive Sun Soft carts.
2) Install Region/Language switches.
3) Install composite Video and Audio jacks.
4) Over clock the Genesis.
The region and language mods will ensure we’ll be able to play all games and possibly see first hand the difference in some games that vary from region to region.
Installing composite jacks will hopefully profide the best audio and visual experience you can have on the Genesis. I believe SCART is a better option available to PAL regions.
I only read about over clocking the Genesis recently and it’s something that will only be noticeable in a few scenarios; such as in Sonic split screen mode or when Sonic loose 100+ rings and the system really slows down when trying to draw all those sprites! I’m sure there are other good example of games that could use a little more horse power but you get the idea 🙂
OK, I’m going to need some tools…
By chance I found the required screw driver bit for the screws used on Genesis carts. For a few bucks (shipped) I bought one and I was finally able to open up my Elemental Master carts.
I swapped the working circuit board from the beat up looking cartridge case and put it into my the good condition cart of my original Elemental Master that was not working.
Opened Elemental Master Cart
Now I have a good condition ‘working’ Elemental Master. If the manual didn’t have some damage from a sticker and a few other minor nicks this set would be like new.
Although my rules for collecting have changed over the years my current number one rule is that any Sega Master System, Sega Genesis or Sega Mega Drive game I add to my collection must be complete and in very good condition.
Just a little further down now to see the strength of my conviction:
Here’s Warsong (Langrisser
in Japan), no case, no manual and almost no label.
I had this game back in the day and I loved it. It sells for too much money on ebay. So when I found it in the wild at a local Video Game Shop for $5 I could not resist. Even though I’ll likely not display this in the collection I will play it. And maybe someday I’ll find a reasonably priced complete copy for the collection.
Too often I’ve been a little disappointed after receiving an ebay purchase only to realize after close inspection that the game’s condition was less than I expected despite reasonable pictures being provided. So if I have to pay $10-$20+ for a game it needs to be complete and in great shape.
I never actually owned the cart for Warsong. I had it on a 3.5″ floppy disk that played off a really unique disk drive unit that sat on top of the Genesis. It was called Mega Disk
and if it wasn’t for this bootleg device I would have never discovered this gem of a game.
For anyone who remembers this game; I played it so much that I could win the first stage and keep the King alive. This was a NPC that was suppose to die and was a major plot point to the story. I knew how much combat the King NPC could handle and how much I had to clean up with my own troops. It felt like a really big achievement back in the day! Doing this was not a problem for the software. The game would carry on as if the King had been killed regardless of the actual outcome.
For anyone who enjoys turn-based tactical games I highly recommend Warsong.