Sega System 16

From Sega Retro

System16a motherboard.jpg

Fast Facts on the Sega System 16

Made by: Sega

Release Date RRP Code
Arcade World 1985  ?

The Sega System 16 is an arcade board released by Sega in 1985 as a 16-bit successor to the Sega System 1. Throughout its lifespan, there would be around forty games released on this hardware, making it one of Sega's most successful hardware designs. It was produced in three variants, the Pre-System 16, System 16A and System 16B, though the only differences between the three are clock speeds.

The System 16 is the home to many of Sega's most successful franchises, including Shinobi, Fantasy Zone, Altered Beast and Golden Axe. It popularised the use of the Motorola 68000 CPI and Zilog Z80 combo, something which was copied for Capcom's successful CPS-1 and CPS-2 boards (among other arcade systems of the day), as well as most notably, the Sega Mega Drive.

In order to prevent piracy, as well as illegal bootleg games, many System 16 boards used an encryption system. A Hitachi FD1094 chip, containing the main CPU as well as the decryption key, was used in place of a regular CPU.

Though Pre-System 16, System 16A and System 16B are the three most recognised variants of the hardware, there is technically a fourth, dubbed "System 16C" which was used by the 2008 release of Fantasy Zone II DX: The Tears of Opa-Opa. Fantasy Zone II DX arrived almost a decade and a half after the System 16 hardware was discontinued, however its real arcade release means that System 16C specifications may belong to the Sega System 16 series. Fantasy Zone II DX needs more RAM than any of the other System 16 boards can offer, but the game adhered to other restrictions of the hardware.

Technical Specifications

  • Main CPU: Motorola 68000 @ 10 MHz
  • Sound CPU: Zilog Z80 @ 4 MHz (5 MHz in System 16B)
  • Sound Chip: Yamaha YM2151 @ 4 MHz (+ NEC uPD7751 ADPCM decoder in System 16B)
  • Display Resolution: 320 x 224
  • Colors: 4096
  • Graphical Capabilities: 128 onscreen sprites, 2 tile layers, 1 text layer, 1 sprite layer, sprite scaling.


Pre-System 16

Sega System 16A

Sega System 16B

List of Games

Pre-System 16

System 16A

System 16B

System 16C

Sega Arcade Boards
Originating in Arcades
8080-based Sega Blockade hardware | Sega VIC Dual
Z80-based Sega VIC Dual | Sega G80 | VCO Object | Sega Zaxxon hardware | Sega LaserDisc hardware | Sega Appoooh hardware | Sega Gigas hardware | Sega Sharp Shooter hardware | Sega Space Position hardware
Sega Shooting Zone System (MAME alias for Sega Sharp Shooter Hardware; which name is correct?)
Custom Z80 boards (TODO the only one left is Bank Panic which needs to be handled differently; it's by Sanritsu and runs on the same hardware as Combat Hawk)
System series: Sega System 1 | Sega System 2
68000-based System series: Pre-System 16 hardware | Sega System 16 | Sega System 24 | Sega System 18 | Sega System C/C2
Super Scaler series: Sega Hang-On hardware | Sega OutRun hardware | Sega X Board | Sega Y Board
NEC V60/V70-based System & Super Scaler series: Sega System 32
Model series: Sega Model 1
i960-based Sega Model 2
PowerPC-based Sega Model 3
SuperH-based Sega NAOMI | Sega Hikaru | Sega NAOMI 2
Based on Home Hardware
SG-1000-based SG-1000-based Arcade Hardware
Master System-based Sega System E
Mega Drive-based Mega-Tech | Sega System C/C2 | Mega Play | High Seas Havoc special board
Saturn-based Sega Titan Video (ST-V)
Dreamcast-based Sega NAOMI | Sega Aurora | Atomiswave
Xbox-based Sega Chihiro
GameCube-based Triforce
PC-based Sega Lindbergh | Sega Europa-R | Sega RingEdge | Sega RingWide | Sega RingEdge 2 | Nu