Sega Meganet

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Sega Meganet
Logo SegaNetWorkSystem.png
Logo for the Sega Net Work System
Developer Sega
TypeOnline service
Launch date
  • JP: November 3, 1990 [1]
Platform Mega Drive
StatusDiscontinued

Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first online multiplayer gaming service, and functioned on a pay to play basis. The system functioned through the use of a peripheral called the Mega Modem and offered several unique titles that could be downloaded, and a few could be played competitively with friends. In addition, it shared technology and equipment with more serious services such as the Mega Anser, used for banking purposes. Though the system was announced for North America under the rebranded name "Tele-Genesis", it was never released for that region. Ultimately, the Meganet service would be short-lived, lasting approximately a year before it was discontinued, but would serve as a precursor to the Sega Channel and XBAND services, as well as a predecessor to online gaming services for video game consoles. Retrospective feedback praises the attempt by Sega to introduce online gaming, but criticizes the service for its logistical issues and lack of titles.

Sega Genesis Fourth-generation home video game console and fourth developed by Sega

The Sega Genesis, known as the Mega Drive in regions outside of North America, is a 16-bit home video game console developed and sold by Sega. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega released it as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by North America as the Genesis in 1989. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tectoy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by Samsung as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy.

Dial-up Internet access method of internet access using a phone line and the creation of specific tones

Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access that uses the facilities of the public switched telephone network (PSTN) to establish a connection to an Internet service provider (ISP) by dialing a telephone number on a conventional telephone line. The user's computer or router uses an attached modem to encode and decode information into and from audio frequency signals, respectively.

Internet Global system of connected computer networks

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that use the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to link devices worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

Contents

History

Sega Mega Modem peripheral, which allowed access to the Meganet service Sega megamodem.jpg
Sega Mega Modem peripheral, which allowed access to the Meganet service

Sega's 16-bit console, the Sega Genesis (known as Mega Drive in most areas outside of North America) was released in Japan on October 29, 1988, though the launch was overshadowed by Nintendo's release of Super Mario Bros. 3 a week earlier. Positive coverage from magazines Famitsu and Beep! helped to establish a following, but Sega only managed to ship 400,000 units in the first year. [3] In order to draw a larger audience, Sega began work on an Internet service, similar to what Nintendo had attempted with the Famicom Tsushin for the NES. [4]

Nintendo Japanese video game company

Nintendo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese multinational consumer electronics and video game company headquartered in Kyoto. Nintendo is one of the world's largest video game companies by market capitalization, creating some of the best-known and top-selling video game franchises, such as Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Pokémon.

<i>Super Mario Bros. 3</i> video game

Super Mario Bros. 3 is a platform video game developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). It was released in Japan on October 23, 1988, and in North America on February 12, 1990. It was developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development, led by Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka.

<i>Famitsu</i> periodical literature

Famitsu, formerly Famicom Tsūshin, is a line of Japanese video game magazines published by Gzbrain, a subsidiary of Kadokawa. Famitsu is published in both weekly and monthly formats as well as in the form of special topical issues devoted to only one console, video game company, or other theme. Shūkan Famitsū, the original Famitsū publication, is considered the most widely read and respected video game news magazine in Japan. From October 28, 2011 the company began releasing the digital version of the magazine exclusively on BookWalker weekly.

Released in Japan on November 3, 1990, at a cost of JP¥12,800 (approximately US$100) for the equipment, [1] [5] as well as an additional ¥800 monthly, access began to the Meganet service by way of the Mega Modem, a peripheral which attaches to the rear EXT 9-pin port on the rear of the console. From the modem, a cable runs to a dual-port connector, which connects into a telephone line. The Mega Modem also came packaged with a cartridge which allowed for access to the Meganet game library, and approximately six titles were available at launch. [4] It was capable of connection speeds of up to 1200bit/s. [5] Though the service had also been advertised in North America under the name "Tele-Genesis" in publications such as Electronic Gaming Monthly , it was never released for the region. [4]

Japanese yen Official currency of Japan

The yen is the official currency of Japan. It is the third most traded currency in the foreign exchange market after the United States dollar and the euro. It is also widely used as a reserve currency after the U.S. dollar, the euro, and the pound sterling.

United States dollar Currency of the United States of America

The United States dollar is the official currency of the United States and its territories per the United States Constitution since 1792. In practice, the dollar is divided into 100 smaller cent (¢) units, but is occasionally divided into 1000 mills (₥) for accounting. The circulating paper money consists of Federal Reserve Notes that are denominated in United States dollars.

<i>Electronic Gaming Monthly</i> American video game magazine

Electronic Gaming Monthly is a monthly American video game magazine. It offers video game news, coverage of industry events, interviews with gaming figures, editorial content, and product reviews.

As another way of attempting to expand the audience for the Mega Drive in Japan, Sega introduced the Mega Anser, a system designed for use with Nagoya Bank in Japan, in 1990. Packaged as an all-in-one system including a Mega Drive, Mega Modem, Mega Anser cartridge and keypad, the system allowed for transactions such as balance inquiries, transfers, and loan information. It initially retailed at a cost of JP¥34,000 including the home console, and a version with an additional printer retailed for ¥72,800. [3] [6]

Due to the system's low number of titles, prohibitively high price, and the Mega Drive's lack of success in Japan, the Meganet system proved to be a commercial failure. By 1992, the Mega Modem peripheral could be found in bargain bins at a reduced price, [4] and a remodeled version of the Mega Drive released in 1993 removed the EXT 9-pin port altogether, preventing the newer model from being connected to the Meganet service. [7]

In 1995, the Meganet internet service launched in Brazil. Its main focus in the region was e-mail, although by 1996 the service was capable of online multiplayer, along with chat features. Similar to the Mega Anser, a home banking product was also released for the region. Meganet hardware and services were provided through Sega's distributor in the region, Tectoy. [2]

Tectoy Brazilian video game and electronics company

Tectoy is a Brazilian toy and electronics company headquartered in São Paulo. It is best known for producing, publishing, and distributing Sega consoles and video games in Brazil. The company was founded by Daniel Dazcal, Leo Kryss, and Abe Kryss in 1987 because Dazcal saw an opportunity to develop a market for electronic toys and video games, product categories that competitors did not sell in Brazil at the time. The company stock is traded on the Bovespa.

Game library

A screenshot from Meganet title Fatal Labyrinth Fatal Labyrinth.png
A screenshot from Meganet title Fatal Labyrinth

The Meganet service utilized its own library of titles, independent of the Genesis library. Most of these games never received a cartridge release; however, Columns , Flicky , Fatal Labyrinth , and Teddy Boy Blues each later saw cartridge versions. Several Meganet games would also later appear in Game no Kanzume vol. 2, released for the Mega-CD exclusively in Japan. Most games for the service were small, at around 128kB per game, due to the limits of Internet connection speeds at the time. [8] Downloads were estimated to take about five to eight minutes to complete. [4]

All of the Meganet games were available through the Sega Game Library, accessed through the Meganet modem. Due to issues with long-distance charges through the use of telephone lines, as well as seconds of lag time between commands, only two games featured competitive play: Tel-Tel Stadium and Tel-Tel Mahjong , with the remainder of the games available for single players via download. Due to Sega's reluctance to commit to releasing the service in North America, third-party developers in that region were unwilling to invest in developing games specifically for Meganet. This resulted in a low number of titles created for the service. [4]

List of Meganet games
Title [9] [10] Genre [9] [10]
16t Action
Aworg: Hero In The Sky Action
Columns Puzzle
Fatal Labyrinth RPG
Flicky Action
Forbidden City Puzzle
Hyper Marbles Action
Ikazuse! Koi no Doki Doki Penguin Land MD Puzzle
Kiss Shot Table
Medal City Table
Mega Mind Puzzle
Paddle Fighter Sports
Phantasy Star II Text Adventures Text adventure
Putter Golf Sports
Pyramid Magic Puzzle
Pyramid Magic II Puzzle
Pyramid Magic III Puzzle
Pyramid Magic Special Puzzle
Riddle Wired Table
Robot Battler Action
Sonic Eraser Puzzle
Teddy Boy Blues Action
Tel-Tel Mahjong Table
Tel-Tel Stadium Sports

Reception and legacy

Retrospective feedback on the Sega Meganet service is mixed, praising the early initiative to develop online gaming for video consoles, but criticizing its implementation via use of telephone lines and issues with Sega's lack of developers for the service. Adam Redsell of IGN commented on the basic features of the service, and despite noting that Meganet received only a few games, stated "[T]hat's pretty damn impressive for 1990". He also notes the influence of Sega in the development of online gaming, with the Meganet service as their first attempt, and credits the Meganet's successor, Sega Channel, with helping to spread broadband Internet. [1]

The telephone line network which the Meganet ran on has been criticized for its logistical issues in online gaming. According to Electronic Gaming Monthly, "Even though the TeleGenesis modem has been announced, it has yet to appear and the real usefulness of a device that is used only to play games with friends over the phone lines remains questionable (both have to have the modem, the phone lines must be clear, the phone bills will be a problem if it’s a long-distance call, etc.)" [11] The same issues that plagued the Meganet over the use of phone lines for Internet connectivity would later resurface when Catapult Entertainment launched the XBAND service in 1994. [4]

Ken Horowitz of Sega-16 took note of Sega's reluctance to commit to releasing the service in North America as part of the reason for its lack of titles, noting, "Companies were most likely waiting for confirmation of the modem’s release before they began to commit themselves, and as time has attested, few were waiting to go ahead with development in light of Sega's 'wait and see' attitude." Horowitz went on to criticize this issue as a problem Sega would have again with the Sega 32X in 1994, stating, "History would repeat itself in the harshest of manners only five years later. Sega's expectations of third party support for something it showed little enthusiasm for were entirely unrealistic and ultimately meant that no games would be in the pipeline." [4] Former Sega console hardware research and development head Hideki Sato stated that Sega made very little money on sales of the Mega Modem, but that Sega learned from the experience to develop future network opportunities for the Sega Saturn. [12]

See also

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References

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