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Sega CD Model 1 – Looking Back

Sega CD Model 1 – Looking Back

Where to begin? Do you even care? Because nobody else does. I generally write reviews about stuff that interests me, which is usually reaaaaallly uninteresting to people like my wife and the rest of the world and my wife. Did I mention my wife doesn’t care? But you must have some sort of interest level otherwise you wouldn’t be here. So buckle up butternuts because you’re about to go on a super lazy ride down Sega CD boulevard.

Genesis Model 1 linked with Sega CD Model 1.

Most everyone who knows about the Sega CD is familiar with the Model 2 (see picture below). The Model 2 Sega CD was the super popular one that was designed to match up with the Genesis Model 2 (or Genesis 2, whatever you want to call it). The side-by-side look ain’t half bad. It’s a seamless fit and although it might look bulky and ugly by today’s standards, this was kind of sleek and futuristic during its time. But we’re not talking about the Model 2… No sir. We’re here to talk shit about the Sega CD Model 1.

Genesis Model 2 linked up to Sega CD Model 2.

The Sega CD Model 1 was designed to mount underneath the original Genesis Model 1. While both Sega CD models (not counting the Sega CDX or the JVC X-Eye right now) give the user the same end result, – a terribly unenjoyable gaming experience with grainy FMV footage – their physical make-up is pretty different. The Model 1 houses a motorized disc tray as opposed to a top-loading clamshell type design found on the Model 2. Even the start-up music is entirely different: The Model 1 music is pretty upbeat while the Model 2 music is dark and edgy and better in my opinion. It’s an odd and all-around pointless observation on my part, but it’s kind of sort of maybe possibly intriguing. Right?

As far as cosmetics go, I think the Model 1 isn’t half bad. It’s actually my preferred Sega CD, but I think that’s because I have more of a personal attachment to it. I found my one and only Model 1 at a yard sale. It wasn’t working, so I got it for $20. All I had to do was re-solder a piece by the internal battery and it now works great. Functionality of the Model 1 has always been fantastic for me although I hear some folks suffer with pin-connection and disc tray motor issues. Reading through forums tells me some people have issues with the disc tray not wanting to stay closed, or it won’t eject consistently. The design may confuse some folks as it doesn’t have a power button or anything like that. Once linked together, the Genesis and the Sega CD act as one single unit, powering on both systems via the power button. And technically speaking, you COULD hook the Model 2 Genesis up to this but it just looks horrible.

The Sega CD Model 1 released in 1991 in Japan and 1992 in America. Many people I’ve spoken with look at the Sega CD as a total failure, but I beg to differ. Hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to see that the full-motion video (FMV) games were embarrassingly bad and not fun to play in the least, but we didn’t feel that way when we were in the middle of it. There was no quality comparison to better game footage. We didn’t have YouTube or Twitch or even the fuckin’ internet, so we didn’t compare everything to everything. When you really think about it, the Sega CD was the at-home console gaming industry’s first successful foray into a disc-based medium. In America anyway. Granted, it may have been a little pricey considering it didn’t have enough to offer by way of next-level gaming, but for those of us fortunate enough to own one, the excitement of such a futuristic device was palpable.

I fondly remember games like Sewer Shark, Tomcat Alley, and some Kriss Kross music video game. These games weren’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but when you’re a kid and you compare the cartoony 16-bit Genesis graphics with the real-t0-life video footage featured in these games, it just… wow. Left you breathless. I had never seen anything like it. But even as a kid, I knew the tinier-than-the-screen grainy video footage wasn’t enough to captivate anything other than immediate shock value. Regardless, people snatched these units up as it sold moderately well.

Today, the Model 1 is still a mystery to a lot of people. I know avid retro collectors who STILL can’t get their hands on one at a respectable price and others who haven’t even seen one in real life! They’re just not nearly as popular as the Model 2 Sega CD. Whenever I think of classic 16-bit Sega, I think of “Sega and the 2’s.” The Genesis Model 2 was the best. The Sega CD Model 2 was the best. And Sonic the Hedgehog 2 was the best. Period.


When comparing the two Sega CD models, I can’t say that I notice an ounce of a difference between them (other than the obvious cosmetic build). The games seem to load at the same speed, everything sounds identical, and the graphics are all the same. The ONLY notable difference, and this might just be my unit, is the Model 1 loads much louder than the Model 2! The laser moving around inside or whatever it is is very very loud.

Well that just about wraps up my review on the Sega CD Model 1. Sure makes you want to go buy one, no? It’s not a great review, just like it’s not a great gaming system, but that’s not to say you can’t have some fun with this system. My top picks for games aren’t always what everyone else has, but here ya go:


  • Sonic CD
  • The Misadventures of Flink
  • Rise of the Dragon
  • Chuck Rock 1 and 2
  • Silpheed (borderline too expensive)
  • NHL ’94 baby yeeeeea!
  • Ecco the Dolphin CD
  • Sol-Feace


  • Earthworm Jim Special Edition
  • Popful Mail
  • Snatcher
  • Shining Force CD

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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One Comment

  1. Space Invader
    Space Invader says:

    I have one of these I got for $20 just a few years ago — buds with a pal at a game shop located in the basement of a shady laptop repair place I’m pretty sure sells drugs somehow. He’s just please as punch someone goes in there into old games. It didn’t work, but I’ve been meaning to try the same fix you did. Anyhoo good to hear about the ol’ gal. I still remember it seeming rather mystical back in the day.

    I’ll have some retro goodness up soon, sir — probably last of the month. It’ll make for a tight editing schedule, but I’ll make sure to leave all the mistakes out 😉 but enough about me – great read.

    p.s. about the missus not quite caring about the video game passion, been there man. “You have a lot of atari things (cartridges – ed.) — do you *use* all of these?”
    “Uh .. eventually?’


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