Mega Drive region converter cartridges

From Sega Retro

The Sega Mega Drive was Sega's first console to offer games which were region locked, i.e. cartridges which can only be played on specific regional hardware. To overcome this problem one solution was to use a Mega Drive Region Converter.

From a Sega perspective there are three "main" regions - NTSC-J, the format used for consoles in Japan, NTSC-U, the format used in North America, and PAL, used in Europe and Australia. Other regions would pick one of the three formats - Brazil typically went for NTSC-U and Asia used a mixture of PAL and NTSC depending on the country. There are other forms of region locking too - Japanese cartridges are a different shape than their western counterparts and won't physically fit in some consoles (similar to the "region locking" of the Sega Master System).

Traditionally this means a game intended for use with a North American Sega Genesis could not work on a European Sega Mega Drive. There are, in fact, many exceptions to this rule as not all software was region locked on the system, but in many cases there was still an obstruction. Region encoding would generally have a greater impact with the Sega Mega-CD, Sega Saturn and Sega Dreamcast - in the early 1990s few people contemplated the idea of importing games as there were often no easy methods of doing so.

There are no official Mega Drive region converters but numerous unlicensed third party ones. Most typically originate from Asia where there was far less regulation on this sort of thing and numerous television standards between countries. In all cases a region converter is inserted into a Mega Drive system in-between the console and game cartridge, forming a "tower" (and avoiding sizing issues in the process). Some region converters have switches to toggle between regions, while others merely convert to a specific region.

In no cases do Mega Drive region converters solve coding issues. For example, a game designed for 60Hz NTSC televisions will run roughly 17% slower on a 50Hz PAL television due to the difference in refresh rate (and likewise a European game running on an NTSC TV will likely run too fast). Resolutions can also differ - PAL Mega Drives can in theory display 320x240 images while NTSC ones can only achieve 320x224, though very few games take advantage of the extra sixteen rows of pixels.

It should be noted that some devices such as the Game Genie can also act as region converters. More recent consoles by AtGames have region converting features built in (and of course there is always the option of modifying the internals of the console manually.)

Physical scans

Box Name Brand Date & Price Images Documentation
Professional Universal Adapter Datel (>=1991)
ProfessionalUniversalAdaptor MD.jpg
UniversalAdapter MD Box.jpg Universal Adapter Datel (>=1991)
UniversalAdapter MD.jpg
Universal Adapter Datel (>=1991)
UniversalAdapter MD.jpg
NitroAdaptor MD Box Front.jpg Nitro Adaptor Fire (>=1990)
NitroAdaptor2 MD Box Front.jpg Nitro Adaptor 2 Fire (>=1990)
MegaKey MD Box Front Freetron.jpg Mega Key Freetron (>=1990)
MegaKey MD Freetron.jpg
MegaKey MD Box Front Freetron Alt.jpg Mega Key Freetron (>=1990)
MegaKey MD Freetron Alt.jpg
MegaKey2 MD Box Back Alt.jpgNospine-small.pngMegaKey2 MD Box Front Alt.jpg Mega Key 2 Freetron (>=1990)
MegaKey2 MD Alt.jpg
MegaKey MD Box Front GD.jpg Mega Key Gold Dragon (>=1990)
GameAdaptor MD Box Front.jpg Game Adaptor Honey Bee (>=1990)
GameAdaptor MD.jpg
Game Adaptor(?) Honey Bee (>=1990)
GameAdaptor MD black.jpg
MemoryModule MD TW Box.jpg Memory Module Megacom (>=1991)
SuperMegaKey MD Box Front.jpg Super Mega Key Realtec (>=1990)
SuperMegaKey MD.jpg
CodeBuster MD Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngCodeBuster MD Box Front.jpg Code Buster ?? (>=1990)
CodeBuster MD.jpg
GameAdaptor MD Box Front SE-16B.jpg Game Adaptor ?? (>=1990)
GameAdaptor MD Alt.jpg
GameAdaptor MD Alt back.jpg
GameModuleandProtector MD Box Front.jpg Game Module & Protector ?? (>=1990)
GameModuleandProtector MD.jpg
GameModule&ProtectorII MD Box Front.jpg Game Module & Protector II ?? (>=1993)
MagicKeyIII MD Box Back.jpgNospine-small.pngMagicKeyIII MD Box Front.jpg Magic Key III ?? (>=1990)
MagicKeyIII MD.jpg
MegaConverter MD Box Front.jpg Mega Converter ?? (>=1990)
MegaConverter MD.jpg
MegaDrive Converter ?? (>=1990)
MegaDriveConverter MD.jpg
Mega Key ?? (>=1990)
MegaKey MD.jpg
Mega Key ?? (>=1990)
MegaKey MD Alt.jpg
Mega Key 2 ?? (>=1990)
MegaKey2 MD.jpg
Mega Key 3 ?? (>=1990)
MegaKey3 MD.jpg
Mega Key (Portuguese) ?? (>=1990)
MegaKey MD PT.jpg
MegaKey MD PT back.jpg
SuperKey MD Box Front.jpg Super Key ?? (>=1990)
SuperKey MD.jpg
TVGCCC MD box.jpg TV Game Computer Cartridge Converter ?? (>=1990)
TVGCCC MD back.jpg

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