Those of you who follow the retro gaming community are probably aware of these already, but for those who aren't, a new company called HD Retrovision has made component cables for the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. Since I already have an S-video cable for my Super Nintendo, I didn't feel it was worth $45 to get component cables, but I did dish out the $50 for the Sega Genesis cables plus the Model 1 adapter (I'll mention that adapter later). The Genesis has notoriously garbage video output quality through composite (and every console looks like garbage through RF), so I was quite excited to see how my Sega 32X and Sega CD games would look with the crispness of component video, especially after seeing what the HDMI treatment does for standard Genesis games with Hyperkin's Retron 5. I was not disappointed.
Some of you might be asking (because I got this question on the Racketboy forums) why I spent $50 for better quality Genesis video cables when I already have a Retron 5 I can use to play my Genesis games outputting HDMI and upscaled to 720p. The reason is two-fold. The first reason (and by far the bigger reason) is that the Retron 5 doesn't have 32X compatibility, and it obviously doesn't have Sega CD compatibility. Some of my favorite Genesis games aren't even for the core Genesis but for the Sega CD and Sega 32X add-ons, like Lethal Enforcers II and Star Wars Arcade, respectively. These component cables allow me to enjoy a clearer video signal with these games than the standard composite cables.
Now, my understanding of RGB is limited, so I might be mistaken with this next bit, but if my understanding is correct, these component cables take advantage of the Genesis RGB output abilities, something that we missed out on the United States since we never adopted the SCART output format (we opted for the slightly inferior S-video). However even without the quality boost that comes with RGB, the quality of the video output is SIGNIFICANTLY better using HD Retrovision's component cables than with your run-of-the-mill composite cables, and part of that is the nature of component cables - it splits the video signal into three parts rather than smashing it all together in one cable like composite does. Separated video signals means less smearing and bleeding means a better picture.
I tested these cables on every console that I own that uses the Genesis' physical pin format. So that everyone who's familiar with retro hardware knows what I'm working with, that includes a model 1 Sega Master System, a model 1 Sega Genesis with model 2 Sega CD and Sega 32X, a Neo Geo AES, and a Neo Geo CD. What I tested first was the most important thing - the Genesis/CD/32X monstrosity. On that, it works like a charm...mostly. The only problem I encountered was one that HD Retrovision had stated would occur months before launch - there's no sound. That's not to say that you can't get sound, so don't just write it off as a POS cable, but it takes just a little bit of extra work. If you want sound output when using these cables with a Genesis 1, you have two options. You could do the easier thing which is just run a 3.5 mm audio cable from the headphone jack on the front of the Genesis to the 3.5 mm audio port on the side of the component cords towards the end that plugs into the TV; or you could do what I did and buy a 3.5 mm-to-RCA cable here.
The reason that I went with the less convenient method is because I bought the cable after I learned about the audio issue but before I knew there would be a 3.5 mm port on the cables themselves to compensate for the issue. Either way, though, the effect is the same - audio from the Genesis. The only real difference is whether you use the two audio RCA plugs attached to the component cables or the two attached to the converter wire. Otherwise, it works great. I played around with a regular Genesis game, a 32X game, a CD game, and a 32X CD game just to cover my bases. The CD based games are always going to look somewhat like garbage (at least the FMV games) because of the crap quality of video CDs, but the ones that don't use FMV look great, and the Genesis and 32X games look absolutely phenomenal. I seriously can't recommend these cables highly enough. If you've got a Sega Genesis, you really owe it to yourself and to your console to get these cables and let your system shine.
The Sega Master System also worked like a charm. Do note, however, that these will only work for the model 1 Master System; the model 2 is not compatible at all because it only has the RF output port, not the requisite RCA output. For the model 1, however, it presents your games in a quality that you'll only match by using a power base converter on the Retron 5. Unfortunately, however, it doesn't work at all with the Neo Geo AES or the Neo Geo CD. I don't understand the technical reasons of why myself, but the plug won't fit into the systems at all. This is especially puzzling to me given that the regular Genesis/Master System composite cable fits them both no problem, but something about the RGB pinout isn't compatible. It's a shame, but it's not the end of the world; the Neo Geo CD has an S-video port on it, and almost all of the Neo Geo's games are cheaper on MVS than AES (I'll just have to deal with composite video when I want to play NAM-1975).
If you're a serious Sega enthusiast, you need this cable in your life. You seriously won't believe the quality difference it makes for your Genesis, Master System, Sega CD, and 32X games. The price is a bit steep for a retro system's A/V cord, I know, but trust me that it's worth the price if you want good picture quality. It can't be beat (except by the Retron 5 which, as I mentioned, doesn't help your 32X or CD games).
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.