As November comes to a close, so does our 32X month. Our My Life With SEGA video series has featured the ill-fated add-on in weekly video reviews, and I thought it would be fitting to end 32X month with an extra special Friday Five. I’ll admit it, I was a 32X hater until not too long ago. When the add-on released in 1994 I didn’t quite understand what it was. The Genesis already took cartridges, and CD’s thanks to an add-on, so why was yet another add-on being introduced? To be fair to myself, I was only 10 years old at the time, and before I completely understood what SEGA was trying to do with the 32X, the add-on was dead. A few years later I began to understand what the 32X was, and thought it was a complete joke.
A giant plastic mushroom that only offered up an additional 36 titles to Americans, and even then a bulk of the games were not worth owning? HA! Much later, the Angry Video Game Nerd tore the 32X to shreds and finished it off with an arrow. Again, I laughed. But soon, I became acquainted with sites like the SEGA Junkyard blogs (see our SEGA Network links in the right column to check those out) and in turn began to appreciate aspects of SEGA that I originally only thought negatively of or outright ignored. In October 2009, I finally gave in and bought a 32X used (with all cords, amazingly) off ebay for $30. It was one of the best SEGA purchases I ever made, and I’ll tell you why.
As soon as I bought my 32X, I picked up copies of Knuckles’ Chaotix, Kolibri and Virtua Racing. I figured this trio of games would be an excellent cross section of 32X titles, and as it turned out all three are exclusive to the system. While the 32X does have a small library, a number of the titles are exclusive to the system, and a portion of these exclusives are actually quite excellent games! Knuckles’ Chaotix is, in my opinion, one of the most unique Sonic titles to be found in the classic era. For starters, it doesn’t star Sonic. In fact, Sonic only appears in the end credits as a static sprite. The music and graphics are incredible. Botanic Base is a sight to behold, and Door into Summer just might be one of my favorite tunes from any 32X title. The gameplay is… different. But I found it to be a good kind of different. Of course I thank god that the Sonic series never again went with the elastic gameplay, but as a one-off gimmick I enjoyed mastering it. The hauntingly beautiful hummingbird shooter Kolibri, from the creators of Ecco the Dolphin, is another must play 32X title. Tempo, while only a decent platformer, has some of the craziest graphics and most intense color palates ever seen in a 32X title. It makes Rayman look normal by comparison. There are also more “normal” titles like Virtua Racing. While not an exclusive per se, it does offer up exclusives not found in the Genesis version and is a much better game than the Saturn version (as evidenced in the My Life With SEGA review). Other good exclusives include Star Wars Arcade, Blackthorne (which features stages not found on the SNES version) and Zaxxon’s Motherbase 2000.
SEGA Arcade Ports
If you’re a fan of SEGA arcade titles from the 80’s, the 32X is a must own. It’s as simple as that. The 32X has near perfect ports of Space Harrier, After Burner (known as After Burner Complete in Japan and Europe) and Virtua Fighter. Other awesome arcade ports include the aforementioned Virtua Racing and Star Wars Arcade, which can only be found in the arcade and the 32X. And given Star Wars Arcade’s age, 32X is probably the only place you’ll find it nowadays. If you only think of the 32X as a SEGA arcade game expansion, the add-on is worth it for that alone.
SEGA CD 32X FMV Games
Wait, hear me out! Don’t close your browser! Yes, as stupid as it sounds there were SEGA CD 32X titles. Six of them to be exact, five of which released to the US: Night Trap, Fahrenheit, Corpse Killer, Supreme Warrior, Slam City with Scottie Pippen, and Surgical Strike (Brazil only). While none of these are fantastic games, the SEGA CD 32X versions definitely beat the SEGA CD originals. Visuals are better, with a larger video screen at higher resolutions. Audio is richer, and in the case of Night Trap, the footage is uncensored. If you want to get a taste of the SEGA FMV craze, the SEGA CD 32X versions are going to give you the best experience possible. Sure, the games will be bad, but they won’t be as bad as the SEGA CD originals. I recommend Night Trap and Corpse Killer.
It’s Not $159 Anymore
The best thing about buying retro hardware is that while you may still be spending a fair bit of money, you won’t typically be spending the orignal price. In the case of the 32X, it was way too expensive at the time it released, but as the years passed the price has dropped to the point where it is well worth it. As mentioned, I was able to find one for $30 three years back. A quick look at ebay shows that a 32X can still be found for between $30 and $60, with varying amounts of cords. The 32X uses the yellow tipped power plug, which is also used with the Nomad, the Game Gear, and the Genesis 2. So that bit won’t be too hard to find, if it is not included with the 32X. The most important cords are the a/v cords. My advice is to seek out the most complete 32X console you can find, and then search out sites selling the a/v cords only and price compare. For a very useful connection guide, check out this the 32X guide at GameTrog.com. Make sure that you have all the pieces needed for the Genesis you have.
It May Not Be a New SEGA Console, But…
… in this modern era of SEGA playing the role of publisher, there is something very exciting about playing a piece of SEGA hardware you’ve never owned. We’ll probably never see a successor to the Dreamcast, but there are always old pieces of hardware for SEGA fans to discover. As evidenced, the 32X has a small but strong number of must own games, as well as some games that are just too unique not to try. The improved graphics and audio are a real delight, and playing near perfect SEGA arcade ports is a dream. While finding a working, complete, 32X is a bit of a challenge, it is worth the effort.
Happy 32X month, and a happy belated birthday to SEGA’s little add-on that couldn’t! It may have failed then, but in my eyes its a winner now.