While most of us probably just boot up an emulator to try those MegaDrive games that were never released in our native countries, there are sure to be some retro gamers that insist on playing the real cartridges on the real machine. I’ve had a couple of people email me recently about how to play Genesis imports, so I thought I would compile some answers and share them with everyone.
What Keeps Us From Playing Imports?
The cartridge slot on the Genesis 1, 2, and CDX is different from that of the Japanese Megadrive. Japanese cartridges are rounded on the ends, so you won’t be able to get a Japanese cartridge to fit into the slotted and narrower cart slot on a Genesis 1/2/CDX. This can be taken care of by either using a pass-through cartridge or removing the tabs in your system’s cartridge slot. The software in the games also have some region lock-out code to keep them from playing. So naturally, we need to find away around these limitations.
What Importing Solutions Are There?
In the the 16-bit era, there were a number of solutions to help play Genesis imports such as the Pro Action Replay, Universal Adapter, or Mega Key/Super Key, but a decade later these items are getting harder to find and more expensive. So what’s a budget-minded, import-hungry Genesis owner to do? If you grew up in the 16-bit era, I’m sure you remember a device know as the Game Genie. The Game Genie from Galoob is primarily known as a way to experiment with cheats for your games, but the Sega Genesis Game Genie also helps bypass regional lockouts for a number of games.
What’s The Catch?
The main disadvantage with the Game Genie method is that you will have to enter in some codes each time you want to play an import. If you will be frequently playing imports, you may want to look into one of the more expensive cart solutions or permenantly modding your system with a region switch. It’s also worth nothing that the Game Genie doesn’t work with the Majesco-released Genesis 3 model (much like many other accessories/add-ons).
What Game Genie Codes Are Available For Imports?
I’m glad you asked. Here are some of the more popular imports and their respective Game Genie codes…
Alien Soldier (EUR/JPN PAL, A version)
Alien Soldier (JPN NTSC, B version)
Bare Knuckle III
Contra: The Hard Corps (JPN)
Golden Axe III
Monster World IV
Rockman Megaworld (Mega Man: The Wily Wars JPN)
Thunder Force IV
Yuu Yuu Hakusho Makyou Toitsusen
Possible Issues With PAL Games
If you’re in the US and want to play some European cartridges, there are a couple other things to keep in mind. PAL games have a 50/60hz lockout or territory lockout in place. Many PAL versions of games are no different from their US counterparts, which is why they play at a slower speed and with black bars at the top and bottom of the screen on European consoles. These games will play without trouble on US consoles. Other games (of which the European version of Alien Soldier is one) have been adapted to the PAL format, and thus will run too fast on US consoles (about 70hz).
Where To Find A Game Genie? How Much?
Since Game Genies are pretty common you can find them just about anywhere that sells vintage games. The most accessible places online to find them is obviously eBay and Amazon.com You can usually find a handful of them listed at any given time and they usually go for $10 or less including shipping. Not a bad deal at all.
Find a Genesis Game Genie on eBay
Find a Genesis Game Genie on Amazon.com
What About Sega CD Games?
There are a few Sega CD imports that are worthwhile, so I will cover that topic very soon.