In the ’90s, Sega was known for releasing a lot of hardware, especially with the Genesis. You had three base models, the Sega CD, the Sega 32X, and the Sega Nomad. Not to mention the Sega CDX. But did you know there were some third-party consoles that could play both Sega Genesis games and Sega CD games? One of those was the JVC X’Eye, released in 1994 for a hefty price of $500. It’s not surprising if you’ve never heard of this system. Only about 10,000 units were sold, and it was pretty hard to come by. So how did JVC get the rights to make this system, and was it worth that hefty price tag? Well, let’s take a look. During the early ’90s, CD-ROM technology was on the rise, not only for music, but for video games. NEC was the first in the console market to have a CD-ROM accessory, with the PC Engine CD. Sega jumped in as well, and made plans to release a CD add-on for the Mega Drive / Genesis. To develop the hardware, they worked closely with Victor Entertainment, also known as JVC. Founded in 1927, JVC was well-known for creating the VHS format, as well as producing high-quality audio and video electronics. In December of 1991, the Mega CD, aka the Sega CD, was released in Japan. JVC was impressed with the add-on, and obtained a license from Sega to create their own version of the hardware. Rather than just duplicate the CD add-on, JVC created an all-in-one Mega Drive that could play both cartridges and CDs. It was known as the Victor Wondermega. The Wondermega was the Rolls-Royce of Mega Drives. It had a motorized CD tray, karaoke support, enhanced audio playback, S-Video output, and MIDI output. The Wondermega could also read CDs faster than a standard Mega CD. However, this luxury came with a price. Released in April of 1992, the Wondermega cost over $600. But the idea of having one system that could play both Sega cartridges and CDs, as well as music CDs, was appealing. A year later, JVC created the Wondermega M2. It was slightly smaller, and many of the fancy bells and whistles, such as the motorized CD tray, were removed in order to bring the cost down. The system also came with a six-button wireless infrared controller. In 1994, JVC decided to release a slightly modified version of the Wondermega M2 in North America. It was called the X’Eye. It came with a wired controller, “Prize Fighter” for the Sega CD, “Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia,” and a karaoke CD featuring songs such as “Achy-Breaky Heart,” all for a steep sum of $500. Here it is: the JVC X’Eye. Size-wise, it’s slightly bigger than a Model 1 Genesis. The build quality is nice, and it’s fairly compact considering it can play both Genesis games and Sega CD games. On top, you have the cartridge slot and CD tray, which pops up by pressing the appropriately named Open button. Below the CD tray is a small light to tell you if the system is powered on, as well as a light that shows when a CD is being read. One nice thing about the X’Eye is how quiet it is when reading discs. Seriously! You can barely hear it. I often have to look at the Access light to make sure it’s working. The cartridge slot is slightly wider than the standard slot on a Genesis, which means you can play region-free Mega Drive games. There’s also two rather large Power and Reset buttons, which are strangely satisfying to press. On the front of the system, you have two Genesis controller ports. No surprise there. What is surprising is what’s on the right side of the system: a headphone jack as well as a microphone input. The JVC X’Eye supports CD+G karaoke discs, so this is where you would plug in all of your accessories. The back of the system reveals the power input and the A/V Out port, which uses a Genesis Model 2 composite cable. The X’Eye also has standard composite out, as well as an RF connection. This is really nice, as you can use any composite cables to hook the system up to your TV. As you can see, JVC decided to remove the S-Video port, which is a shame. Compatibility-wise, the X’Eye is hit-and-miss. The Power Base Converter, which allows you to play Master System games on your Genesis, doesn’t fit. The Sega 32X works. I was able to play both cartridge games, and even Sega CD 32X games. But, the accessory hangs over the CD tray, which prevents you from swapping games easily. So with all that being said, what are some of the benefits of having an X’Eye? Well, convenience is a big one. It’s nice to have one system that plays both Genesis and Sega CD games. Another benefit is modification and repair. The X’Eye is clean, organized, and roomy inside, so making mods to the hardware is easier. It also uses more readily-available parts, so if something were to fail, such as the laser that reads CDs, you can find a cheap replacement. The third benefit is reliability. The X’Eye is really well-built, and may be the better option when compared to Sega’s all-in-one unit, the CDX, which is notorious for its CD laser failing. But when it was released back in 1994, the X’Eye sold poorly. Only about 10,000 units sold, and they were hard to find, usually only available in high-end audio stores. It also came out at a time when the Sega CD was pretty much done. The Genesis was only $90 at the time. Why bother spending an extra 400 for a system that was on the way out? Furthermore, it was cheaper to buy a Genesis and Sega CD separately than to purchase a JVC X’Eye. Let’s not forget the Sega CDX either. It was smaller, cheaper, and had been released a few months prior, which certainly cut into sales of the X’Eye. Now, despite being released at a bad time and with a very steep price tag, the JVC X’Eye is one of the better all-in-one Sega Genesis / Sega CD consoles. Today, it’s a pretty sought-after collector’s piece. And if you can find one, they go for about $300 on average. That’s all for this episode of Gaming Historian. Thanks for watching. Funding for Gaming Historian is provided in part by supporters on Patreon. Thank you.