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Accessory & Peripheral Guide
By: Ken Horowitz
Like any other successful console, the Genesis had its fair share of peripherals. Here at Sega-16, we've tried to track down as many as possible. We'll be adding more to this list as controllers, extensions, adapters, and other do-hickeys are found and documented. If you have any pics of items not featured here, feel free to send them to and we'll make sure they're included!
ASCII Pad SG 6
An odd pad among Genesis controllers in that its layout looks more like that of an SNES pad, the SG 6 was very high rated among gamers due to its heavy, thick feel and good turbo buttons. It was highly ergonomic and the inclusion of shoulder buttons made fighting games much more natural on the Genesis than with most other pads. Each turbo button had three settings, which was convenient, and the D pad was pretty good.
Blaze Freedom Fighter Infrared Pad
Another wireless pad, the Freedom Fighter advertised "extra low power consumption" which was supposed to extend battery life, though your mileage may vary on just how effective it was. The set included two pads (requiring 2 AAA batteries each. not included) and the sensor. Additionally, it had two small sticks, similar to the famous screw-in choking hazard the original Master System pads came with. A button set the pad as player one or two and there was also a one setting turbo button; no slow motion though.
Capcom Soldier Pad
Capcom released this funky controller for its Street Fighter 2 games and while most games salivated at the thought of a pad made by the company itself, most were caught off guard and left puzzled by its unique design. Don't let your eyes fool you, the pad is quite ergonomic. I found that my hand didn't get tired as fast when using this pad, although I was never fully at ease using it. That perhaps, is its biggest flaw. The radical design scared off many gamers and even when Capcom offered it for free (!), they refused to take it. The pad was eventually released for 3DO but fared little better.
Interact Super Pad
Nothing really special about this one. It featured Turbo fire and had a pretty lightweight feel to it. I never really found it to be much different than any other run of the mill controller out there. It seemed cheaply made to me and I would rather have spent my money on a standard Sega controller or perhaps the ASCII pad. This controller was around for quite a while after the Genesis was discontinued and could be found for a pittance.
Sega Remote Arcade System
Anyone who tried to use cordless controllers back in the day remembers what crap they were. Short battery life and iffy sensors were not things you wanted when you paid $50 for a controller. A few companies made them and the 1st party ones were released for the Mega Drive in Europe and even came to the U.S. but were undermarketed, as far as I can tell. Given the state of the technology at the time, I doubt we were missing much.
Sega Six Button Controller
This is, in my opinion, the best controller ever made. The Saturn pad comes close but the fact that the Genesis version is more compact gives it the edge. Six well-placed buttons, a great D pad, and a decent cord make it the pad of choice for Genny gamers. Majesco would later release a version that had turbo and slo-mo buttons but also a shoddier D pad and crappy buttons. The only flaw with the original six-button controller was the fact that it would shatter like so much crystal if it hit the ground too hard (glares at Chakan). They are quite common on eBay and don't really cost all that much. Any sensible Genesis gamer has at least one of these great pads.
Sega Stock Three Button Controller
This was the pad that came with the system back in '89. Most people thought it was too big and clumsy but were content that it had an extra button. To be honest, it did the job it set out to do and worked quite nicely with the games released for the first few years of the Genesis' life span. Once the six-button pad was released, however, no one went back to the stock pad unless they were a controller short for some reason.
Triax Turbo Touch 360°
Here's a pad that was hyped to the ends of the earth and did nothing it was said to do. Essentially, the Turbo Touch 360° was supposed to "sense" your finger on the D pad via motion sensitive laser and then execute the action. Unfortunately, the laser was way too sensitive and would sense anything around the pad, making control of your character near impossible. All you had to do was leave the pad alone to see your onscreen avatar convulse and twitch like fresh road kill. It was uncomfortable, wonky as can be, and just plain bad. SNES owners were also given the option to disfigure their hands permanently but thankfully the pad never caught on.
ASCII Fighter Stick SG-6
ASCII tried hard with this one to mimic the Sega Arcade Stick. It had a metal bottom to give it some weight and included plenty of turbo and slo-mo options. It even emulated the hand rest on the left side! The only problem was that it was too small, making it difficult sometimes to maintain in the same position in the heat of a match of Street Fighter 2 or Eternal Champions. Had it been the same size as the Sega stick, it could have been a viable option. Moreover, the metal bottom tended to rust quickly and easily, giving it a nasty appearance.
Blaze Sidewinder Arcade Joystick
One of a series of third-party arcade sticks, the Sidewinder was designed to be used with both the Genesis and the SNES via system-specific cables that came included. It included all the typical bells and whistles of sticks sold separately, like turbo switches for each button and slow motion. It also allowed you to program each button and included separate turbo buttons as well. It was hyped as a table top stick, although I'm not exactly sure how well it fared, as it doesn't appear to be too heavy.
Capcom Arcade Stick
Renowned for their deep fighting games, Capcom produced this stick for use with their release of Street Fighter 2: Special Champion Edition and made versions for both the Genesis and the SNES. The only difference between the two sticks is the color (the SNES one was black). Very large, very solid, and pretty darn authentic about sums it up. In addition to a multiple-setting turbo feature, this stick sports a unique bonus: the ability to set the stick at four or eight directions. It may not seem like much but being able to set the directions is great for getting as close as possible to the arcade experience, especially if you're playing games other that fighters.
Sega Arcade Sticks
A must for fighting games and shmups, these hardy sticks are great for other games as well. Their tough construction and big buttons are perfect for rounds of Street Fighter 2 or Eternal Champions and the individual rapid fire buttons are a god send in many games. There's also a neat hand rest on the left side so you don't get tired as you play. Originally released with three buttons, a six-button version came out when the new pad debuted. Although not as common as the pad, these sticks can still be readily had and are a great investment.
Quite an interesting twist on force feedback, the Interactor was unique because you actually wore it. Two controls were used, one turned the unit on and controlled the amount of feedback you received and the other regulated the level of sound that initiated the feedback. A game switch set it to work with the sound put out by your system (Genesis or SNES) but could be set to be used with other sources (TV, VCR, etc). The included audio cable connects your sound source to the controller units audio in jack, the backpack unit connects to the output port, and the AC power connector connects to the power jack on the controller. The actual vest itself is very sleek, only three inches thick at the bottom and one at the top. It came with its own AC adapter and cost about $100. Aura Systems no longer sells them but they can be had on eBay and other discount sites.
A big plastic bat covered with blue foam that transmits movement onto the TV screen somehow doesn't sound like something that would be practical in the real world. It wasn't. You're supposed to swing the bat to control your character's on-screen swing but the dip switches and buttons never seemed to really make it work correctly. Surprisingly, Sports Sciences went out of business less than two years after releasing this.
Back before anyone considered releasing a mouse for a console, Nintendo packed one in with their powerful art game Mario Paint. Sega soon followed suit and released offered one of their own. It came packed with its own pad and had three buttons, although it could not be used as a trackball and was practically useless for other games. The Mega Mouse only worked with a handful of titles and was quickly forgotten. Titles like Eye of the Beholder for Sega CD were mouse-compatible but actually played quite well without it.
Miracle Keyboard System
Want to learn about music? Want to learn to play the keyboard? Software Toolworks special system is for you! Up until 1995, would-be musicians could purchase the set for a mere $99 directly from the company itself. After September '95, Tiger Software was in charge of the remaining stock which was sold directly from their catalogue. Not a true piano, the system came with the keyboard and pedals. It had MIDI in/outputs and came preprogrammed with 128 different sounds. It was also equipped with stereo speakers but had audio outs so you could hook it up to your existing sound system. A built-in library of 48 songs provided hours of potential practice over a course of study that spanned 36 sections. The system monitored your progress and provided feedback, drilling you with several game-style exercises. This was not for the beginner who wished to tinker around in his room. With the Miracle, you actually learned to play piano.
Outback Joey Heartbeat Personal Trainer
Quite possibly the rarest item ever released for the Genesis, this personal trainer was released in 1993 and only supports one game, the Outback Joey exercise title that came with it. Other games were developed for it, including NHLPA Hockey '93, Outlander 2375 A.D., a version of PGA Golf, and even Earthworm Jim! The Heartbeat Corporation was going to release an updated version of Joey in 1994 but it is uncertain whether or not this was actually brought to market.
Here's how it works: The system itself is essentially a working model 1 Genesis (it plays all standard carts) and microprocessor. You connected yourself to a sensor that read your heartbeat as you worked out on any exercise machine (treadmill, stairmaster, exercise bike, etc). On the screen, Joey would move depending on your heart rate. If you failed to keep the rate within your target zone, he would weaken. Moreover, it had a motion sensor that depended on the continued movement of the device (bike, treadmill, etc) which could track the number of revolutions, and was capable of recording the distance you traveled. The small interface, which plugged into the one player port, had its own memory and could record your past histories as well as those of other people exercising on the device. It even provided an on-screen display.
It is estimated that less than 1,000 of these were ever made (they retailed for $299) and the only one I've ever seen recently sold on eBay for $565. It's an official Sega-approved product and one of those über-niche peripherals that no one ever bought.
The poster boy for a good idea gone wrong, the Activator is second only to the Power Glove for the title of biggest peripheral design goof. It was composed of eight different sections, each of which corresponded to a button on standard control pad. Each section sent an infrared beam straight up that was interrupted by the player whenever he made a move. Some games that were configured for it were Eternal Champions, Mortal Kombat 3, and Greatest Heavyweights. Eternal Champions, Mortal Kombat, and Street Fighter II: SCE were pack-ins. It required it's own power supply to work ( a Gen II psu would work) and was largely dismissed by consumers due to its unwieldiness and inaccuracy. The $80 price tag didn't help either.
This was actually a pretty good idea that seemed to work well. The included club was weighted like the real thing and ran on two AA batteries. It was easily accessible to people who were both right and left-handed and had adjustable skill levels. It was initially only compatible with EA's PGA Tour Golf series but Sports Sciences supposedly said that additional games can be supported using special adapters that could be purchased separately. Looked nice and worked well but worth the $130 asking price? Depends on how big a golf fan you are, I guess.
American Laser Games Pistol
Slightly bulkier than the Justifier, American Laser Games' pistol also seems to feel of less quality. Maybe that's because their games are of less quality. Not a lot to say about this one, except that it can be used with most light gun games out there, including the ALG gems Mad Dog Mcree and Who Shot Johnny Rock? I see no reason to even own this gun unless you like collecting virtual weaponry. Stick with Konami's pistol.
Modeled after the light gun found on their arcade machines, Konami's Justifier is a pretty darn good little pistol. Compatible with both Lethal Enforcers titles (the first being the pack-in), as well as Snatcher, the gun was highly responsive and lightweight, making it ideal for playing for long periods of time. Had it been usable with all the Genesis gun games, it would have easily been my gun of choice for the system. Using it in Snatcher was a plus, adding much to the shooting sequences of that title.
Why did every console have a light gun that just ended up being abandoned? Only recently have they gained any measure of respect (GunCon) and as probably the one peripheral that really works, you'd think more games would have taken advantage of its uses. Released to great fanfare, they end up in the bargain bin in the blink of an eye, leaving you to wonder "why bother?" The Menacer came packed with a six-in-one cart which played decently but was nothing special. Several other games used the gun, like T2: Judgment Day and Corpse Killer. Strangely, it was not compatible with any of the Lethal Enforcer games.
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