The Sega System 1 was not Sega’s first arcade board system; of course, they had been releasing arcade games since the 1970’s. Of course, once one moves before 1983, things get more complicated thanks to the Sega/Gremlin split, and the lack of parts standardization pre-JAMMA, but we can probably handle a year or so before. But first, an irrelevant digression.
Sega had been making arcade games in-house for ages, especially if you count electro-mechanical games like Periscope (hook that up to your Supergun!). But as we’ll see, not all arcade games are completely in-house. Some use contract developers.
If you read the Pitfall II blog post you might be a bit concerned; after all, contract developer Micronics is often blamed for the poor quality and general jankiness of the NES’s Super Pitfall. But there’s nothing inherently wrong with contract developers; they work to their employers’ design, quality control, and of course, budget.
For example, a little irrelevant game you may have heard of called Donkey Kong was designed by Nintendo, but was coded by and even used an arcade board designed by a company called Ikegami. Nintendo was just getting into arcade games, after all, and hadn’t built that capability in-house just yet. We know this because while it isn’t written on the circuitboard, it was written to the ROMs themselves, in the form of a charming hidden message.