The Sega CD, released as the Mega-CD in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis video game console designed and produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. The add-on was released on December 12, 1991 in Japan, October 15, 1992 in North America, and 1993 in Europe. The Sega CD lets the user play CD-based games and adds extra hardware functionality, such as a faster central processing unit and graphic enhancements. It can also play audio CDs and CD+G discs.
Seeking to create an add-on device for the Genesis, Sega developed the unit to read compact discs as its storage medium. The main benefit of CD technology was greater storage capacity, which allowed for games to be nearly 320 times larger than their Genesis cartridge counterparts. This benefit manifested in the form of full motion video (FMV) games like the controversial Night Trap, which became a focus of the 1993 Congressional hearings on issues of video game violence and ratings. Sega of Japan partnered with JVC to design the add-on and refused to consult with Sega of America until the project was completed. Sega of America assembled parts from various “dummy” units to obtain a working prototype. While the add-on became known for several well-received games such as Sonic the Hedgehog CD and Lunar: Eternal Blue, its game library contained a large number of Genesis ports and FMV titles. The Sega CD was redesigned a number of times, including once by Sega and several times by licensed third-party developers.
2.24 million Sega CD units were sold by March 1996, after which the system was officially discontinued as Sega shifted its focus to the Sega Saturn. Retrospective reception to the add-on is mixed, praising the Sega CD for its individual offerings and additions to the Genesis’ functions, but offering criticism to the game library for its depth issues, high price of the unit, and how the add-on was supported by Sega.
#10. Sewer Shark
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Sewer Shark is a first-person rail shooter video game, and is the first on a home console to use full-motion video for its primary gameplay. It was originally slated to be the flagship product in Hasbro’s Control-Vision video game system, which would use VHS tapes as its medium. However, Hasbro cancelled the Control-Vision platform, and Digital Pictures later developed the game for the Sega CD expansion unit. Sewer Shark is one of the first titles for the Sega CD, and was later bundled with Sega CD units, making it one of the best-selling games for the system. It was later ported and released for the 3DO in 1994. A port was also planned for the SNES-CD, but that system was cancelled.
#9. Night Trap
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Night Trap is an interactive movie video game developed by Digital Pictures for the Sega/Mega-CD and first released in North America on October 15, 1992. It was later ported to the Sega 32X, 3DO, MS-DOS, and Mac OS. The game is composed of over 90 minutes of full-motion video (FMV) sequences, only possible with the storage capabilities of the new CD-ROM format. The plot concerns a group of young women who are the targets of the Augers, vampiric beings who wish to take the women’s blood. The player must switch between various hidden cameras, activating traps that capture the Augers and prevent the women from being harmed.
Night Trap is notorious for the controversy it brewed in 1993 due to the game’s mature content. This controversy led to withdrawal of the game from the market, hearings on violent video games at the United States Senate, and contributed to the creation of the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). Night Trap was given a 15 certificate by the British Board of Film Classification.
#8. Dragons Lair
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Dragon’s Lair is a laserdisc video game published by Cinematronics in 1983. In the game, the protagonist Dirk the Daring is a knight attempting to rescue Princess Daphne from the evil dragon Singe who has locked the princess in the foul wizard Mordroc’s castle. It featured animation by ex-Disney animator Don Bluth. Most other games of the era represented the character as a sprite, which consisted of a series of pixels displayed in succession. Due to hardware limitations of the era, artists were greatly restricted in the detail they could achieve using that technique; the resolution, framerate and number of frames were severely constrained. Dragon’s Lair overcame those limitations by tapping into the vast storage potential of the LaserDisc, but imposed other limitations on the actual gameplay. The success of the game sparked numerous home ports, sequels and related games. In the 21st century it has been repackaged in a number of formats (such as for the iPhone) as a “retro” or historic game. It is currently one of only three video games (along with Pong and Pac-Man) in storage at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C..
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Snatcher is a cyberpunk-themed graphic adventure game directed and written by Hideo Kojima and produced by Konami. It was originally released in Japan for the NEC PC-8801 and MSX2 computer platforms in 1988. A CD-ROM-based remake for the PC Engine was released in 1992, which was subsequently localized into English for the Mega CD/Sega CD in 1994 in North America and Europe. The enhanced version was later ported twice more to the PlayStation and Sega Saturn in Japan.
The setting and story of Snatcher is heavily influenced by cyberpunk and science-fiction media, taking place in a large futuristic dystopian city. The story revolves around an investigator named Gillian Seed assigned to investigate a breed of bioroids known as “snatchers”, who are killing humans and taking their place in society. Gameplay takes place in a menu-based interface. The player can choose from pre-defined options such as “Look” and “Talk” to interact with the environment and its characters.
Snatcher is widely regarded as groundbreaking for the adventure genre, in that it introduced visual novel characteristics to flesh out a deep back story. Sales outside Japan were poor due to Sega’s waning support for the Sega CD, but the game has gained a cult following. The game has spawned a spin-off role-playing game released in Japan titled SD Snatcher, and a radio drama, SDATCHER.
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Vay, released in Japan as Vay: Ryuusei no Yoroi, is a 1994 role-playing video game for the Sega CD. It was developed by Hertz, published by SIMS in Japan, and localized by Working Designs for the United States. In 2008 it was rereleased for the iPhone by SoMoGa, Inc.
#5. Earthworm Jim: Special Edition
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The game’s Special Edition was released for the Sega Genesis add-on, the Sega CD, and Windows 95. It was based off the Genesis version, contained all of its levels, plus some extended section to the levels and a single completely new level, titled “Big Bruty”, a new remixed CD audio soundtrack, as well as around 1,000 more frames of in-game animation. These versions were also the only ones to contain alternate endings when winning on the “Practice” or “Difficult” difficulties, in which a narrator rambles on about many (false) facts about worms or congratulates the player in a similar absurd manner respectively.
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Silpheed is a video game developed by Game Arts and designed by Takeshi Miyaji. It made its debut on the Japanese PC-8801 in 1986, and was ported to the Fujitsu FM-7 and MS-DOS formats soon after. It was later remade for the Sega CD and has a sequel called Silpheed: The Lost Planet for the PlayStation 2.
Silpheed is the name of the spacecraft that the player controls. Like many shooter games, the story involves using the Silpheed as Earth’s last effort to save itself from destruction by a powerful enemy invasion. The original 1986 PC-88 version used 3D polygonal graphics on top of a tilted third-person backdrop. The 1993 Sega CD version later used pre-rendered computer animation as a full motion video background, a technique previously used by the Namco System 21 arcade game Galaxian 3 and later the Sega CD
#3. Sonic CD
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Sonic the Hedgehog CD, or Sonic CD, is a platform video game developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega originally for the Sega CD in 1993. It is the first game in the Sonic series to make use of the CD-ROM format, featuring high quality audio and full motion video. Development began in Japan around the same time as Sonic the Hedgehog 2 in the United States. The games originally had many similarities, but became vastly different projects over time.
The story of Sonic CD follows Sonic the Hedgehog as he uses time travel to save Amy Rose and Little Planet from Doctor Eggman and Metal Sonic. The game features the debut appearances of Amy Rose and Metal Sonic, both of whom have gone on to become recurring characters in the Sonic series. Time travel is a key aspect to both the story and gameplay, with nearly every stage containing four different variations (one for each time period) featuring alternate stage layouts, music, and graphics.
Sonic CD received critical acclaim, being considered both one of the best platform and Sega/Mega-CD games of all-time. It was ported to Microsoft Windows 9x as part of the Sega PC brand in 1996, and to both the PlayStation 2 and GameCube as part of the Sonic Gems Collection in 2005. An enhanced port of the game was also released for Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network, iOS, Android, Microsoft Windows, Windows Phone, Ouya, and Apple TV.
#2. Shining Force CD
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Shining Force CD is a 1994 strategy role-playing game developed by Sonic! Software Planning for the Sega CD, and a remake of the games Shining Force Gaiden and Shining Force Gaiden II that were originally for the Game Gear.
#1. Lunar: The Silver Star
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Lunar: The Silver Star is a role-playing video game developed by Game Arts and Studio Alex for the Sega/Mega-CD, originally published by Game Arts and released in Japan in 1992. After a successful release, the game was translated and localized by Working Designs for release in North America the following year.
Designed as a “different kind of RPG”, Lunar: The Silver Star made use of the up-and-coming CD-ROM format by featuring high quality audio, full motion video, and voice acting to narrate a fantasy story set in a magical world. The game centers on the exploits of Alex, a young boy from a small town who dreams of one day becoming a great hero like his idol, Dragonmaster Dyne. When a childish adventure later turns to discovering an ancient dragon, Alex and his friends must journey across the world to gather the necessary power to become the next Dragonmaster, and save the world in the process.
Lunar: The Silver Star was critically and commercially successful, becoming the number one selling Mega-CD title in Japan and the second highest-selling Mega-CD title of all time. As the first game in the Lunar series, it set the standard for other follow-up titles including the direct sequel Lunar: Eternal Blue in 1994. Since the game’s original release, three enhanced remakes have been produced for various systems: Lunar: Silver Star Story Complete in 1996, Lunar Legend in 2002, and Lunar: Silver Star Harmony in 2009.
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