A Guide to the Graphics of the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis

Return to Table of Contents


I’ve written this guide for everyone out there who is interested in understanding how the graphics of the Mega Drive work, without necessarily wanting to learn how to program the console. Most of the existing information and guides online are directed towards programmers or those already knowledgeable in console hardware. This guide, in contrast, is intended for a general, non-programmer audience, but I haven’t shied away from including a certain necessary level of complexity in the details.

Why learn how the Mega Drive’s graphics work? Personally, I’ve found nothing brings more fresh enjoyment to old games than understanding how they achieve the interesting—sometimes amazing—effects that were so impressive back when they were new. This understanding lets us peek into the minds of the developers and see the sparks of creativity that led them to use the Mega Drive’s limited tools in new ways.

Those of you who are already familiar with console hardware design might find certain details lacking, but I direct you to the References and Further Reading section for more information.

There are (at least) two ways to read the guide, depending on your interests:

  1. If you’re already familiar with the hardware or just want a quick glimpse at how the graphical effects work, skip to the Graphical Effects section.
  2. If you’re new to the hardware and are motivated to learn its inner workings, start at the beginning and read through everything before moving on to the Graphical Effects section.

Next: Overview of the VDP

Return to Table of Contents

Want to post a comment? You can do so here.