“ Manufacturer: Blaze / Type: Gaming Accesory „
A while back, I reviewed the Sega Megadrive Ultimate (http://tinyurl.com/d64uyxr), a cracking piece of retro gaming kit that effectively gives you a handheld Sega Megadrive for portable gaming. Generally, this is a great piece of kit, but sometimes the small screen can be an issue (Megadrive games were, after all, designed to be played on standard TVs) and make some games difficult to play.
This is where this handy little cable comes in. Designed to plug into a standard TV socket at one end and your Megadrive Ultimate at the other you can then play your Megadrive games in all their glory on a modern TV.
Taken out of the packet, it has to be said that it doesn't look all that impressive (it's a cable. What do you expect? The Mona Lisa?). It's simply a lead with a standard jack at one end and either two or three jacks at the other (there appear to be two versions but either seems to work). Thankfully, this makes it incredibly easy to set up. The single plug will only fit into one socket on your Megadrive Ultimate whilst the leads at the other end are colour coded yellow and white (or yellow, white and red on the three jack version) and these plug into the corresponding colour coded sockets on your TV. Once you're done, switch your TV to the AV channel, turn your Megadrive Ultimate on and you can start playing your games as Sega intended.
The lead is also a good few feet in length (I haven't measured it do can't tell you exactly how long), so you can plug it in and still sit a good distance away from your TV so that you don't end up with eye strain or cause passing dogs/cats/wives to nearly kill themselves on taut wires stretched everywhere!
The improvement the lead brings is immediate and obvious. Instead of being confined to a screen just a couple of inches square, games are displayed using the full width and height of your TV screen. Not only does this allow you to admire the fantastic graphics more easily, it also makes a huge difference to the playability of some titles. Although many Megadrive games are perfectly playable on a smaller screen, there are some which either lose a lot or are rendered unplayable. The puzzle game Columns, for example (a game similar to Tetris) is very difficult to play on the smaller screen as the action is too cramped, so that it becomes frustrating. Use this lead to play it on the TV, though, and it instantly becomes the incredibly addictive puzzle game I remember.
True, there are times when the graphics are just a little bit fuzzy at full size, because they weren't designed with today's 350" HD/Blu-Ray/3D mega TV's in mind. This is particularly noticeable when text is displayed. That said, it's not a serious issue, text and graphics generally remain clear and readable and you soon stop noticing the slight fuzziness around the edges.
It also improves the quality of the sound. The speakers are easily the weakest part of the Sega Megadrive Ultimate, reducing even the greatest in-game music to a tinny noise. Once connected to your TV, though, the TV's speakers are used which means you can once again hear the music and effects as they were meant to be heard.
The biggest downside is probably the price. I'm no expert in these things, but £5 sounds quite a lot to me for a pretty basic cable. It's entirely possible you could get a cheaper alternative that would do the job just as well. However, since I'm no technical expert, I didn't want to buy an alternative only to find that it didn't work and that I'd wasted my money or (worse) used a lead which somehow damaged either my TV set or my Megadrive Ultimate. I'd prefer to pay a little extra and know that what I'm getting is both safe and will do what I need it to do.
The other downside is that the cable only appears to be available in relatively limited numbers at any one time. It's only available from the Blaze Europe website and seems to sell out on a fairly regular basis and then remain out of stock for long periods of time (it's out of stock at the time of writing!). If you want one my advice would be to get hold of one as soon as they become available.
This might not look much for £5, but looks can be deceiving and it will give your Sega Megadrive a whole new lease of life. You've still got a portable Sega Megadrive to play whilst you travel, but now you can hook it up to a full size TV and play the games as they were intended to be played.
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012