Sega Genesis/Mega Drive

The Sega Genesis like many consoles during this time period was released first in Japan during 1988 under the name Mega Drive. The console was then released in the U.S. in 1989 and Europe, Australia, and Brazil the following year. The console was a 16 bit video game system that was the third console released by Sega and it supported backwards compatibility with the Master System through a separate adapter called the Power Base Converter. The Genesis was released two years before the NES leading to great success in Europe and the U.S as well as being Sega’s most successful console release. Games such as Mortal Kombat lead Sega to create a game rating system called the Video Game Rating Council and this ratings system eventually forced Nintendo to join ESRB. This console continues to be popular with many groups including collectors and retro gamers and games are still produced for the system today.


The console was released in Japan in 1988 and the U.S. during 1989. Initially Sega approached Atari to control the release of the console in the U.S. however negotiations were unsuccessful and Sega handled it on its own. Sega Genesis was very popular in Europe and some of the common slogans used with the console included “To be this good takes ages, to be this good takes Sega” and “the longer you play with it, the harder it gets.” The console was originally sold for $189.99 which was ten dollars less than the competing TurboGraphx. The major mascot of the console in the U.S. was Sonic the Hedgehog who was released in 1991 and is still familiar with gamers today.

Console Wars:

Sega initially competed with consoles like the old NES and then the TurboGraphx and despite being superior to both systems the console only managed to sell 400,000 units during its first year of production. One popular ad used in the U.S. to market the console was “Genesis does what Nintendon’t.” Since Genesis hit the market earlier than Nintendo by 1992 they had captured roughly 60% of the market and factors like their advertising and larger library of games also helped it succeed.

Additional Hardware:

Sega released two additional components besides its backwards compatibility add on the Power Converter Base. These additional pieces were the Sega CD which allowed the console to play a variety of games released on CD‘s and the Sega 32x which was 32 bit pass through for cartridge games.

Sega CD:

During 1992 CD’s had become a growing medium to use when storing music and games which led Sega to produce hardware to make use of this growing technology. This add on also improved the color palette of the console as well as adding a superior graphics processor. The Sega CD was developed through a partnership with Sony in Japan.  The Sega CD was launched in the U.S. in 1992 and was priced at $299. This add on was not very popular although there was a second model of it that was developed and called the Sega CD 2.

Sega 32x:

The Sega 32x was designed to boost sales suffering compared to the SNES and to bridge the gap between the Genesis and the upcoming Sega Saturn which was due for release in 1995. The project was initially named “Project Jupiter” and was originally going to be released as its own console. The 32x was released in 1994 and had sold 600,000 units by 1995 which was lower than the desired 1 million units that had been ordered. The addition was much cheaper than the Sega Saturn but it failed to receive a lot of support from game developers who were already preparing to release content for the upcoming generation of consoles. In 1996 production of the unit ceased and Sega chose to focus more on the Saturn.


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