Terraonion’s MegaSD will play Sega CD games with FPGA power

Analogue’s Mega Sg remains one of the more interesting niche products we’ve reviewed in the last little while, but one thing it couldn’t do was play Sega CD games on its own. As we mentioned in the Mega Sg review, this hardware is all pushing 30 years old, and failures are bound to happen. What’s a lag snob retro purist to do? Today on its live YouTube stream, Terraonion announced one possible answer: the MegaSD, an FGPA-based cartridge that not only plays Genesis and Master System games with full FM audio support, but Sega CD games as well.

Terraonion is already widely known for its line of NeoSD cartridges that play in NeoGeo MVS (arcade) and AES (home console) systems and the Super SD System 3 (SSDS3) which emulates the PC Engine and TurboGrafx-16’s CD add-on with an FPGA. The SSDS3 is closer to the MegaSD, since both add-ons replace the original consoles’ optical add-on with an SD card reading ISO images and playing them back on original hardware. Several retro YouTubers have gotten their hands on the hardware early and have nice things to say. Bob from RetroRGB says on Twitter that the cartridge pulls less power than the original Virtua Racing cartridge for the Genesis and shouldn’t put any undue strain on your vintage hardware.

The Sega CD is a beefier beast than the PC Engine Super CD drive. Sega’s add-on boasts a second Motorola 68000 CPU and a custom video display processor (VDP) from Sega. These extra processors have been emulated in FPGA to work on the Mega Sg as well as original hardware, including the Genesis 3 (which can’t interface with the Sega CD) and the ill-fated Genesis Nomad handheld. The Nomad does require some minor modifications to connect analog audio from the cartridge, however.

The MegaSD works with these previously-incompatible systems because it connects to the console via the cartridge slot, not the side connector normally reserved for the Sega CD. One downside to Terraonion’s approach of using the cartridge slot instead of the extension port on the side of the console is that the six games that use both the Sega CD and the 32X will not work since the 32X hardware blocks access to the CD bits in the cartridge slot. However, Terraonion promises that this can be fixed with a passive adapter that lets the cartridge run from the expansion port, and will produce one if there’s enough interest.

Terraonion’s SSDS3 was mired in a little controversy because both the RGB video and analog audio output from the system were marred by noise, and when confronted about it, Terraonion initially refused to acknowledge the issue. The retro modding community stepped up with a pair of fixes: a video board designed by Voultar and an upgraded audio amp created by FirebrandX. Both of those projects were released as open-source designs, and some industrious modders offer modification services for one or both of these mods. Terraonion later fixed these issues in its Revision B hardware and directly addressed the SSDS3 in today’s video. The company says that not only did it learn from those mistakes, but hired on FirebrandX to help design the cartridge audio connector for the MegaSD. Since the Sega CD didn’t output video directly, analog noise in video isn’t an issue. With any luck, this device will come out of the gate sans controversy.

The most surprising thing to come out of Terraonion’s announcement is that the MegaSD will be ready to go very soon. Terraonion’s web shop lists the MegaSD at a hair-raising €232 and €18 shipping to the USA. The company says the MegaSD will start shipping in early August. That’s around $280 US at current exchange rates. When compared with the $180 Mega Everdrive X7, which will play Master System games but not Sega CD games, Terraonion’s optical emulator delivers additional value for less than the cost of a used Sega CD on eBay. I’m currently scrounging around in the couch cushions to see what I can dig up.

derFunkenstein

Sega nerd and guitar lover

Comments
    • jihadjoe
    • 1 month ago

    This level of commitment to running old games is astounding. I’m impressed, and might be a customer of theirs this christmas.

    In those days I was firmly in the SNES camp so many of those old Genesis games will actually be new to me, and I suspect a better use of my time than wading through cheap/F2P stuff in Steam or Google’s Play Store.

    Reply
      • NTMBK
      • 1 month ago

      [quote<]...and I suspect a better use of my time than wading through cheap/F2P stuff in Steam or Google's Play Store.[/quote<] Plenty of old games were happy to waste your time. They often used insane levels of difficulty to hide the fact that you can finish the game in half an hour, or relied on cheap mechanics like RPG level grinding to pad out their length.

      Reply
        • derFunkenstein
        • 1 month ago

        This is true. I recently finished the original Shining Force, and I did a fair amount of grinding. I’d get to the end of the battle where the only thing between my party and victory was the boss. Then I’d egress out and replay the battle for added experience. You basically *have* to do that on around half the maps or else Dark Dragon (final boss) is impossible.

        As for difficult games on the Genesis you have to look no farther than Contra: Hard Corps. Easily the most difficult game I’ve ever played on the system, but it keeps me coming back for more. True story: the Japanese version of the game has a 3-hit-per-life system that was taken out of the US version.

        Reply
      • squeeb
      • 4 weeks ago

      Yea.. its quite the time to be alive for retro gaming (if you don’t have qualms over the sourcing of your games). The markup on legit copies is just insane. The Everdrive I got for my Mega SG was a great investment!

      Reply
    • Krogoth
    • 1 month ago

    Time for some “Night Trap” eh?

    Reply
      • ronch
      • 1 month ago

      Ah good times. I never played it but I remember reading about it in Gamepro or EGM magazine.

      Reply
    • Srsly_Bro
    • 1 month ago

    Intel is using Samsung as a foundry.

    Guess what July’s cancelled product/feature will be for July? Will announce in the coming weeks.

    Reply
      • derFunkenstein
      • 1 month ago

      wot?

      Reply
        • Srsly_Bro
        • 1 month ago

        It was posted in tpu earlier.

        Reply
      • Redocbew
      • 1 month ago

      I’m thinkin you missed the shortbread, bro.

      Reply
        • Srsly_Bro
        • 1 month ago

        I had nowhere else to post this important news.

        Reply
      • NTMBK
      • 1 month ago

      The forum is ^that way^, bro

      Reply

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