The J-Cart is a customized Mega Drive / Genesis video game cartridge that incorporated additional controller ports into the game cartridge. The J-Cart was developed by Codemasters for Sega’s 16-bit console to expand upon the console’s capabilities by adding two additional controller ports.
Codemasters became very familiar with the Mega Drive / Genesis console while developing the Game Genie. Since the studio was familiar with the hardware design of the console from their experience with creating the Game Genie, they utilized their knowledge to improve upon the standard Sega Genesis / Mega Drive cartridge with the introduction of the J-Cart.
By incorporating two DE-9 connectors into the game cartridge effectively allowed the development studio to create four player games for the Mega Drive / Genesis without the need of consumers having to purchase any additional hardware. While the idea of expanding a console’s controller availability by adding additional controller ports was not a new concept it was however the first time it was done by using a standard video game cartridge.
Prior to the release of the J-Cart the only way to increase the number of controller ports on a console was by purchasing a multitap peripheral that was designed specifically for adding additional controller ports to a console. Codemasters’ customized cartridge permitted four player gameplay without the need of a multitap adapter thus saving consumers the expense of purchasing additional equipment in order to play with three or four players.
Codemasters introduced the J-Cart in 1994 with the release of Pete Sampras Tennis and continued to release selective games using the customized cartridge such as games in the Micro Machines series. Only six different J-Carts were released: Pete Sampras Tennis, Pete Sampras Tennis 96, Micro Machines 2, Micro Machines 96, Micro Machines Military Edition, and Super Skidmarks, all of which were released in Europe. North America only received one release, Pete Sampras Tennis.