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3-Button Genesis Controllers - Different Models


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Genesis 3-button OEM controllers use a variety of different d-pad designs. I'm aware of at least four different types of d-pads. In the US, Sega released three different 3-button controllers, all with different d-pad designs. Sega also released at least one unique d-pad design for the 3-button sold internationally. I've collected all four versions of the 3-button controller. The following summarizes the different designs and how to tell them apart by the controller shell if you purchase any of them.

First OEM model sold in the US. The dpad has a plastic nub inside that acts as a pivot point. You can pick it out by the red lettering. At least one top online player uses this model. The dpad feels stiff and precise and there isn't much travel, or wiggle when using it.


The second OEM model solid in the US has no red lettering or accents on the shell. The feel is similar to the first OEM version, but perhaps slightly looser and more travel. Instead of a plastic nub, the second version model has a ball bearing attached to the contact pad that acts as a pivot point. The speculation is that this change was made as the first OEM version plastic nub tended to wear out more quickly with use.



You can see the differences between the dpad designs in this picture, with the second version OEM shown on top and the first version OEM on the bottom.



The third OEM version solid in the US changed up the dpad design again. This dpad has two interlocking plastic pieces serving as the pivot point, with no plastic nub or ball bearing. This dpad does not feel as premium as the earlier versions. It's much looser and has something of a cheap feel.



The second and third version OEM controller shells look extremely similar. You can tell them apart by looking at the connection at the end of the controller wire. The second version OEM has a flatter design.



The 3rd version OEM is on the left, 2nd version on the right.

Lastly, there is a fourth dpad design on the OEM 3-button controller available only on foreign controllers, so they'll say Megadrive. The dpad has something like an internal joystick piece attaching the pad to the contact board. It feels different than the other dpads. Not all megadrive 3-buttons have this dpad design.




You can pick it out by the circular divot on the back of the controller as shown here. That divot indicates it will have the "joystick" dpad model.



This site has information on the different variations of the official 3-button controller. It doesn't provide as much detail on the different dpad designs.



Edited by Scribe99
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This is the kind of interesting thing that you don't think about as a kid. Design iteration? Supply chain changes? Why wouldn't they just make them all the same?

Seems I have a model 2 [grey and SEGA branded cord], which sounds like the better model? but admittedly I don't use it much as I prefer my 6-button.

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