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Many Faces of Genesis: The CDX

Last year I was getting ready to move into a new college. I had just finished up two years at a local community college and was ready to make the leap to living on my own, so I packed up all my necessary possessions and headed off to my university. When I finally arrived on campus and stepped into the room which would be my home, I was a little less than excited about the space that was to share with another student. Nevertheless, I began to unpack my belongings and started to get settled in. My roommate was a pretty avid gamer and had which was at the time the brand new Xbox 360. “Are you into games?” he asked me. “Not new ones really, but I love my Genesis.” I replied, and nudged to my little rectangular box on top of my DVD player. “I’ve seen Genesis but What’s THAT?” he exclaimed. “That” was my Sega CDX.

Chances are one of the first places that you heard about the CDX was on eBay, while browsing through various Sega products. From time to time I search on eBay under the keyword Sega and sort the results by the highest price. Odds are if you were to do this right now, an auction with a CDX in it would appear around the top of the list. But what is the Sega CDX? What makes it so special? And why is it so darn expensive? Well my friend, I’m glad you asked.

The Sexiest Genesis Yet

The Sega CDX (or Sega Multi-Mega as it is called in Europe and Japan) was first released in 1994 with an intimidating $400.00 price tag. It is widely believed that this system was introduced as a last ditch effort by Sega to stimulate some interest in its Sega CD format, which at the time was not very successful. Due to the high price tag, an existing system that was very similar (Genesis with a Sega CD add-on), and gamers looking forward to the Saturn, the CDX didn’t fair very well at the stores, and it quickly disappeared, making it one of the rarest Sega systems.

The CDX is a small system, but defiantly packs a whallop. Overall it is about the size of two Sega CD cases stacked on top of one another, give or take an inch in length, easily half the size of our good buddy the Genesis Model 1. Unlike the cartridge slot in its sister system, the JVC X’Eye, the cartridge slot here is your standard U.S. shape. Therefore, if you are planning on playing imported games from various regions of the globe, you will need your trusty Game Genie (which works fine) or lockout device of your choice to play them. The CD drive is located directly in front of the cartridge slot and pops open with the press of a button, much like a portable CD player would. Two controller ports are located in the front of the system, one on the left and the other on the right, while the power and audio plugs stem from the sides of the system. Although having the power and A/V cables run from the sides does take up a little more room, the system itself is compatible with the 32X unlike the Genesis 3, another compact model. You will also be glad to know that the CDX sports RCA A/V jacks, so do not be concerned about fiddling with the troublesome RF adapter.

When it comes to features, this baby is flat out loaded. The CDX is a combination of our old friend the Genesis, its add on Sega CD, and an audio CD player which was also capable of playing CD+G discs (which for the most part are karaoke discs). An orange back lit LCD display shows which track you are on while listening to an audio CD or displays a “GAME” logo while a game is inserted. In addition to all of these features, it is also a portable unit, capable of being operated on battery power alone (AA batteries, which it does drain fairly quickly). It also sports a headphone jack, allowing it to be used as a portable CD player and an audio out jack which can be used to plug into your home stereo. Night Trap never sounded so good.

Although the CDX is a great system, it is not without its drawbacks. The first obviously being its price. A Sega Genesis with a CD add-on can be attained for under $30 on eBay and many other on line retailers, perhaps even half that at your local flea market or garage sale. If you want to get a working CDX in good shape, expect to shell out anywhere between $90-$120 (for the system alone). Many Sega fans would rather drop $30 on a nice model 2 with the CD add-on and spend the rest on games and accessories instead of just one system. The CDX also has some compatibility issues, both with games as well as accessories. The most legendary of which concerns the Sega 32X. When the Sega CDX was released, Sega planned on it being compatible with the 32X; however, it apparently did not fill out the required paperwork required by the FCC for the connection that was required and had to claim that the accessory would not work. We all know this is not the case, though a lengthy and tedious process is required to get them to function properly.

The Sega CDX also does not work with the following Sega CD games: Jurassic Park, Radical Rex, Terminator, and Who Shot Johnny Rock?. Did you hear about that awesome new RPG Beggar Prince? Well put it in your CDX and have a blast! Just don’t shut it off, since the CDX is not compatible with its save feature. Are these HUGE drawbacks? No, but they are something to keep in mind when game shopping, or if you are trying to decide which system is right for you.

Worth the Cash?

So, should you buy a CDX? Maybe. It’s defiantly a rare system which can be attained at a price for usually less than the JVC X’Eye. It plays Genesis as well as Sega CD games, and it looks awesome! The bottom line here when it comes to purchasing one of these babies is what you need it for. If you’re looking to just have a good time and play some games on multiple Sega platforms, then you may be better off with just a Model 1 or a Model 2 with the Sega CD attachment; however, if you are cramped on space and want a small compact system that will allow you to play your favorite games from several systems, serve as a CD player all while being extremely portable, or if you just want a Sega rarity, than this may be right up your alley. Reasons for purchasing the Sega CDX aside, the end result will be the same: hours upon hours of fun play the games you love on a one of a kind setup.

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