Sega Genesis Controller Variations Around The World

When a console reaches the worldwide market, there tend to be some changes in each region to adapt to cultural and technological differences. A prominent example of this is the difference between NTSC and PAL standardized televisions or how the Genesis is known as the Mega Drive in every region except North America. These differences stretch further than this however, leading to small variations in even the controllers. Most of these differences weren’t game-changing. Many controllers just had a somewhat modified form-factor or labeling, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

North America

While every Genesis controller sported the three-button layout with a start button on top, the North American controllers had one key difference that no other region had. Every North American controller had a “Sega Genesis” label rather than just “Sega”. The first-generation American controllers listed “Trigger” above the three buttons, with red indicators on each button and the four cardinal directions on the D-Pad. Later models had exclusively white text with indentions on each button denoting their letter. For the most part, these controllers had the same form-factor and button placements, just differences in text.


Europe had similar designs to the Japanese controllers. The first European design actually was almost identical to the original North American model, with the only exception being that the text in the middle says “Sega”, and the top of the controller says “Mega Drive Control Pad”. This also holds true for the second designs of both the American and European controllers. The third redesign is where things differ. This design has a red start button compared to the usual white.


The Japanese only had two designs for Sega Genesis controllers. These designs are pretty similar to other regions with a couple of key differences. The Japanese controllers had “Computer Video Game Control Pad” written towards the connection wire at the top, while the Start button was also an off-blue color rather than white or red. The second edition does not have the red labeling on the three buttons either. These are really the only notable differences in the controllers.

South Korea

The South Korean controllers have an interesting and notable difference that sets them apart from every other region. Samsung manufactured the three models that were released for the Mega Drive in South Korea. All three models had the three buttons with their labeling in a red outline and text that reads “Computer Video Game Control Pad”, similar to the Japanese controllers. The notable difference is that instead of reading “Sega” on the center of the controller, Samsung placed their own logo. While every other model keeps the same overall layout, the Samsung logo changed over time.

While all of these regional differences are minor, these little facts about Sega’s history are really interesting to retro gaming enthusiasts. The Genesis or Mega Drive was a fantastic console with slight variations across the world that created amazing experiences for gamers to this day.

  • Updated September 3, 2020
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