|Type||Home video game console|
|Media||ROM cartridge, cassette tape, Sega Card|
|CPU||NEC 780C (clone of Zilog Z80) clocked at 3.58 MHz|
|Memory||1kB RAM, 16kB VRAM|
|Display||256×192 resolution, 16 colours, 32 on-screen sprites|
The SG-1000 (エスジー・セン Esujī Sen?), also known as the Sega Game 1000, is a cartridge-based home video game console manufactured by Sega and released in Japan, Australia, and other countries. This system marked Sega's first entry into the home video game hardware business, and provided the basis for the more successful Master System. First introduced in 1983, the SG-1000 was released on the same day that Nintendo released the Famicom in Japan. The SG-1000 was released in several forms, including the SC-3000 computer and the redesigned SG-1000 II, released in 1984.
Developed in response to a downturn in arcades in 1982, the SG-1000 was created on the advice of Hayao Nakayama, president of Sega of Japan. Shortly after the release, Sega was sold to CSK Corporation, which was followed by the release of the SG-1000 II. Due to the release of the Famicom, as well as the number of consoles present in the market at the time, the SG-1000 was not commercially successful. Retrospective feedback highlights that the console is not well remembered due to its poor performance, but served a role in development of the Master System.
In the early 1980s, Sega Enterprises, Inc., then a subsidiary of Gulf and Western, was one of the top five arcade game manufacturers active in the United States, as company revenues rose to $214 million. A downturn in the arcade business starting in 1982 seriously hurt the company, leading Gulf & Western to sell its North American arcade manufacturing organization and the licensing rights for its arcade games to Bally Manufacturing. The company retained Sega's North American R&D operation, as well as its Japanese subsidiary, Sega of Japan. With its arcade business in decline, Gulf & Western executives turned to Sega of Japan's president, Hayao Nakayama, for advice on how to proceed. Nakayama advocated that the company leverage its hardware expertise gained through years working in the arcade industry to move into the home console market in Japan, which was in its infancy at the time. Nakayama received permission to proceed with this project, leading to the release of Sega's first home video game system, the SG-1000.
The SG-1000 was first released in Japan on July 15, 1983, at a price of JP¥15,000. It released on the same day as Nintendo launched the Famicom in Japan. A computer version of the console with a built-in keyboard was released by Sega as the SC-3000, also known as the Sega Computer 3000, as well as the upgraded SC-3000H. The SG-1000 was later released in Australia through John Sands Electronics, as well as in Italy, Spain, and other countries. An unauthorized clone system known as the Telegames Personal Arcade was also produced, and was able to play games from both the SG-1000 and Coleco's ColecoVision console.
The launch of the SG-1000 did not prove to be successful. Reasons for this include the more advanced hardware of the Famicom, the number of available video game consoles at the time from companies including Tomy and Bandai, and the North American video game crash of 1983. Shortly after the launch of the SG-1000, Gulf & Western began to divest itself of its non-core businesses after the death of company founder Charles Bludhorn, so Nakayama and former Sega CEO David Rosen arranged a management buyout of the Japanese subsidiary in 1984 with financial backing from CSK Corporation, a prominent Japanese software company. Nakayama was then installed as CEO of the new Sega Enterprises, Ltd.
Following the buyout, Sega released another video game console, the SG-1000 II, at a price of ¥15,000. It featured a few hardware tweaks from the original model, including detachable controllers and the ability to play Sega Card games. The SG-1000 II did not sell well, however, leading to Sega's decision to continue work on its video game hardware. This would result in the release of the Sega Mark III in Japan in 1985, which later became the Master System worldwide. The last cartridge released for the system was Portrait of Loretta, released on February 18, 1987. In 2006, the GameTap subscription gaming service added an emulator of the SG-1000 console, as well as several playable titles.
The SG-1000 is powered by an 8-bit Zilog Z80 central processing unit running at 3.58 MHz for the SG-1000 and SG-1000 II, and at 4 MHz for the SC-3000. Its video processor is a Texas Instruments TMS9928A, capable of displaying up to 16 colors, and its sound processor is a Texas Instruments SN76489. All three of these chips were also used in the ColecoVision. The system also includes 8 kbit of random access memory (RAM) and 16 kbit of video RAM. The console's controller is hardwired to the system in the original model, and detachable in the SG-1000 II. Video and audio output are supplied through an RF switch. Power is supplied through a 9V DC connector connected to an AC adapter.
Several peripherals exist for the SG-1000 series. Available at a cost of ¥13,800 at its time of release, the SK-1100 keyboard connects through the console's expansion slot and is compatible with all of the console's models. Multiple controllers were also created for the console, including the SJ-200 joystick attached to the SG-1000, as well as the SJ-150 joypad, made for use with the SG-1000 II. A racing wheel known as the SH-400 was made for usage with games such as Monaco GP. Also available was the C-1000 Card Catcher, sold at a price of ¥1,000, allowing players to play Sega Card titles on the console. Additional accessories existed solely for use with the SC-3000, including the SR-1000 cassette deck, the SP-400 4-color plotter printer, and the SF-7000 expansion device which adds a floppy disk drive and additional memory.
The SG-1000's game library comprises 68 standard cartridge releases and 29 Sega Card releases. All of the SG-1000's games play on each model of the console, though 26 of the cartridge releases require the attached keyboard accessory or the SC-3000. In addition, all titles are fully compatible with the Mark III and Master System. Titles for the system include Flicky, Congo Bongo, Sega-Galaga, and Girl's Garden, the first video game directed by Sonic the Hedgehog creator Yuji Naka. The game library for the SG-1000 also included licensed titles, such as Golgo 13. Packaging and game manuals came with both Japanese and English text until 1984, when manuals were switched to Japanese only and the size of the cartridge box was reduced.
Various comparisons have been made to the appearance of SG-1000 games to those released for the ColecoVision, and the games' graphics have been criticized in light of the simultaneous release of the Famicom. Controls for the games have also been criticized for lack of responsiveness; writing for Wired, reviewer Chris Kohler states of the controls to Flicky, "the jumping control is so terrible that getting back up to the exit is insanely difficult."
Reception and legacy
The SG-1000 made little impact on the video game industry, but it did serve as the predecessor to the Master System. Retro Gamer writer Damien McFerran defines the SG-1000 as an "abject failure", but calls the console and the SG-1000 II "the Japanese forefathers of the Master System". Writing for Wired, Chris Kohler criticizes the joystick of the controller as being an issue due to its poor response and its lack of support for A/V output. Kohler also notes that the console's poor timing contributed to its lack of success, stating that "[al]though its graphics were of better quality than most consoles on the market, it had the bad luck to be released in the same month as Nintendo’s world-changing Famicom, which had killer apps like Donkey Kong and could run circles around Sega’s hardware." Of the console's legacy, Kohler stated, "Few have heard of it, even fewer have played it, and the games weren’t that great anyway."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to SG-1000.|
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