The SG-1000 is a third generation home video game console developed by Sega and first released on 1983-07-15. It's hardware is very similar to the ColecoVision which was released a year earlier. Sega was initially building an 8-bit home computer called the SG-3000, but, when they heard Nintendo was making a video game console, they decided to create the SG-1000 as a scaled-down version of the computer which used the same hardware. The SG-3000 and SG-1000 were both released together. The SG-3000 can play the same games, but the weaker SG-1000, probably because of its lower price, ended up being much more popular. However, neither made a significant impact on the market because the more impressive Famicom was released at the same time, and at a lower price. Despite never becoming that popular, the console is interesting for being Sega's very first home video game console.
The graphics allow a resolution of 256x192 with a max of 16 colors, one which is used for for transparency, from a palette of 105 colors. Sprites are made up of only 2 colors. The console uses a SN76489 chip for audio, which gives it 3 pulse waves and 1 noise channel.
Sega only ever released the SG-1000 in Japan, but several companies released it other regions including Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. Some even created bootlegged versions for other markets like Taiwan.
Because the SG-1000 was never released in the USA, I didn't learn about this console until long after it was obsolete. I learned about it online, and then found an emulator and ROM set. I quickly went through most of the console's library of around 100 games and didn't see anything very interesting. I was really hoping that there would be a few games unique to the platform, but, even after going over the best-rated games for the system, I was disappointed.
I do not own, and have never even played an SG-1000.
I don't know enough about the console to write a proper review, but here are my initial thoughts:
- The SG-1000 is technically weaker than the Famicom. The SG-1000 doesn't support scrolling graphics at the pixel level, only at the 8x8 tile level. Also, the Famicom had better sound capabilities by swapping out one of the pulse waves with a triangle wave for bass and added a DPCM channel.
- I don't like the pause button being on the console, and I don't like how the controllers are hard-wired into the console.
- There simply aren't enough decent games for the platform.
The initial run of SG-1000 units had a black, yellow, and metallic sticker. Later units used a blue, red, and white sticker. Different regions had altered art as well, although many of them were pirated released. On 1984-07-31, a slightly re-designed SG-1000 II was released, but it ended up selling for the same price as the original model and couldn't compete with the cheaper Famicom. It wasn't until the Sega Mark III was released on 1985-10-20 that Sega finally had a console superior to the Famicom, but, by then, Nintendo had been releasing improvements in the cartridges themselves and could still compete with Sega.
Games are typically stored on ROM cartridges, but several games were released on cheaper memory cards which could be read through an adapter called the Card Catcher. Most of the games released for the SG-1000 are inferior ports of games first released in the arcade, or on home computers. Several other titles borrow heavily from existing games, or are based on open concepts like baseball or mahjong. There are only a handful of original games made for the system, and while some of them are enjoyable and quirky, there isn't anything very impressive.
These are the games I think are noteworthy. For the complete list, see the category.
- segaretro.org/SG-1000 - Sega Retro.