2014 has been a fantastic year for SEGA hardware anniversaries, with the SEGA Genesis turning 25, the SEGA 32X turning 20, the SEGA Pico turning 20 as well, and the Dreamcast turning 15. This month marks our final Year of the Console month long celebration as we turn our sights towards the SEGA Saturn, which turns 20 years old on November 22nd. All month long we’ll be celebrating SEGA’s under-appreciated 32-bit console with video reviews, let’s plays, podcasts, classic ads, retro reviews, and more!
Year of the Console
In nine days, SEGA’s final console the SEGA Dreamcast turns 15 years old in the United States. The Dreamcast is a rare instance in which the US launch overshadows the Japanese launch, thanks to the memorable date of 9/9 and a stellar launch lineup. While Japan had a paltry four games, the US had nineteen which covered just about every major genre. Racing fans had the most options, with CART Flag to Flag, Hydro Thunder, Monaco Grand Prix, Pen Pen Trilcelon, TNN Motorsports Hardcore Heat, Tokyo Extreme Racer, and TrickStyle. While those who prefer their speed in the skies had AeroWings and AirForce Delta.
While we’re in the midst of 32X Month here at SEGAbits, we’re momentarily removing the black plastic mushroom to pay tribute to the console that changed how SEGA was perceived in North America – the SEGA Genesis. While the Master System failed to make a dent in the US market, SEGA’s Genesis (known as the Mega Drive outside of North America) hit the scene with jaw dropping graphics and impressive stereo sound capabilities. In the early days before Sonic the Hedgehog, marketing highlighted all the things Genesis did that Nintendo did not – more eloquently phrased as “Genesis Does What Nintendon’t!”. Rather than focus on their stable of characters, early Genesis ads featured celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Pat Riley, Buster Douglas, and Joe Montana – all who appeared in their own Genesis games.
When SEGA of America leadership made the transition from Michael Katz to Tom Kalinske, emphasis returned to in-house characters with the establishment of Sonic the Hedgehog as the company mascot, relaunching the Genesis with a new campaign and video game star. From there the console wars heated up, and thanks to the efforts of SEGA employees, SEGA attained 65% of the market in North America for period of time, making Nintendo number two. If you’d like to hear the story of the console wars from the men and women themselves, we urge you to watch the Console Wars panel that we had the honor of attending and recording at this year’s San Diego Comic Con.
In mid-January we made the announcement that all year long we’d be celebrating five famous (and infamous) pieces of SEGA hardware hitting milestone anniversaries in what we dubbed 2014: The Year of the SEGA Console. Throughout March, we celebrated the SEGA Genesis, and later this year we plan to devote months to the Saturn and Dreamcast, both very popular SEGA consoles. But this month will be a bit different, as we focus on the black sheep of the SEGA hardware family: The SEGA 32X.
Released late in the life of the SEGA Genesis on November 21st in the United States (December 3rd, 1994 in Japan and January 1995 in the UK) to serve as a bridge for Westerners awaiting the SEGA Saturn, the 32X was plagued by several negative issues. The design itself isn’t all that appealing, often compared to a mushroom growing out of the top of the SEGA Genesis or a plastic tumor. The 32X was rushed to market, so as to give enough time between the 32X launch and the eventual SEGA Saturn release, which caused a number of headaches for SEGA and consumers. Third-party support was lacking, and the library was a paltry forty titles with many games not fully utilizing the 32X’s power. In the end, the 32X sold only a little over half a million units and was officially killed off by SEGA in 1996. So… hooray, it’s 32X Month…
The Year of the SEGA Console highlights several pieces of SEGA hardware celebrating milestone anniversaries, and for the most part the featured consoles are well regarded. March’s Genesis Month focused on what was arguably the most beloved consoles from SEGA’s past. The Saturn (20 years old in Japan) and Dreamcast (15 years old in the West), despite their missteps, are equally loved. But what about the black sheep of the SEGA console family? The 32X, which turns 20 this year, has been bad-mouthed, stomped on, and even impaled by flaming arrows.
The Pico, a children’s computer which turns 20 this year in the US, hasn’t received the same vitriol as the 32X, but it too has been pushed aside as one of the disreputable members of SEGA’s hardware family. The reasons for this, I’d suspect, are that the Pico software is simply not targeted at gamers. The software, dubbed Storyware by SEGA, are teaching tools and interactive storybooks. As such, a bulk of the Pico’s library could be seen as “childish” and “boring”, but when approaching the console in the right mindset, it really is an amazing piece of hardware.
The triple threat of George, Barry, and Bartman sit down for a round table discussion of Sonic the Hedgehog’s lesser appreciated SEGA Genesis titles: the spin-offs. We cover it all! From Dr. “don’t-call-him-Eggman-yet” Robotnik’s breakout role in Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, to Sonic’s transition from platforming icon to pinball with arms and legs in Sonic the Hedgehog Spinball, to Sonic’s take on the classic Flicky formula in Sonic 3D Blast. Even the digital sticker book Wacky Worlds gets some discussion.
So join us in a walk down memory lane (or is that “pain”?) as we relive and dissect Sonic’s SEGA Genesis spin-offs!
Ghostbusters for the SEGA Genesis is a game that holds a very special place in my heart. During Christmas 1991 I received my Model 1 SEGA Genesis with Sonic the Hedgehog bundled in, and from that point forward I was a SEGA fan. Owning a Genesis also meant that a whole world of games opened up to me, and since the console was a little over two years old, I spent much of 1992 buying up games I had missed out on. Buying games in the early ’90’s was tough. Nowadays we have instant access to the internet, so it’s easy to spot a game on the shelf, Google search reviews, and make the decision to purchase. Back in ’92 all I had to go by was the box art and the few screenshots provided on the back. Being a huge fan of both Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters, it only made sense for me to seek out the Genesis titles those franchises provided, and boy did I strike gold.
In mid-January we made the announcement that all year long we’d be celebrating five famous (and infamous) pieces of SEGA hardware hitting milestone anniversaries in what we dubbed 2014: The Year of the SEGA Console. While the 32X, Saturn, Dreamcast, and Pico are slated for month long celebrations later this year, all of March will be focused on SEGA’s 16-bit underdog the SEGA Genesis.
As an American who grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, the Genesis is a console that is near and dear to my heart. The Genesis was my introduction to the world of SEGA games, as well as the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. I know I’m not alone, as that period from 1989 to the mid ’90’s is filled with nostalgic memories for many SEGA fans of the era. As time went on, I became more savvy of SEGA’s impact on other territories, leading to the realization that the Genesis was actually the Mega Drive to everywhere else but America. Still, to me it was the Genesis, not the Mega Drive, that shaped my SEGA fandom and played a major part of defining my childhood.
To honor the Genesis, we plan to feature exciting content both here at SEGAbits and at the SEGAbits YouTube Channel. Expect to see another SEGAbits Franchise Week – this time dedicated to a certain bare knuckle brawler – as well as retro reviews, interviews, round tables, special edition podcasts, and a few surprises. So plug in your controller of choice, clean off those cartridges, and power on for SEGA GENESIS MONTH!
Today marks our four year anniversary, and it just so happens that we also have a contest to win a Tommo iPhone 5/5S case from our friends at SEGA and Tommo! What more, these SEGA iPhone cases come in SEGA Genesis, Mega Drive, and Saturn styles – consoles that celebrate milestone anniversaries this year, which we’ve aptly dubbed The Year of the SEGA Console! We have four cases (2X Genesis, 1X Mega Drive, and 1X Saturn) to give away to four lucky SEGA fans.
To enter, all you have to do is follow SEGAbits on Twitter and/or Instagram, take photos of your SEGA collection or your favorite SEGA hardware (be creative, it helps your chances) and share them with us, tagging your entry with #SEGAbitsContest. While you can submit more than one photo, we will only award one case per person and we advise you keep the number of entries minimal – think “quality over quantity”. We’re excited to see what our potential winners come up with!
Deadline for entries is February 28th. Winners will receive a randomly selected case, though a winning photo’s content may dictate which case we award. Contest not open to SEGAbits staff or staff of SEGA fan sites.
Twenty-five years ago, the SEGA Genesis graced American shores, where it would come to dominate the console market for years and make SEGA a household name. Twenty years ago, the Saturn was released in Japan and went on to become SEGA’s biggest success in their home country, though success that would unfortunately not be repeated abroad. That same year, the SEGA Pico and 32X left some US gamers scratching their heads as they introduced weird concepts of what gaming hardware could be. Finally, fifteen years ago on 9.9.99, SEGA released their swan song, the Dreamcast.
We at SEGAbits love a good anniversary, and 2014 is full of them. Throughout 2014, we intend to honor these core pillars of SEGA’s hardware legacy with 2014: The Year of the SEGA Console. We’ll be devoting entire weeks to certain games, entire months to certain consoles, and we have several special guests planned for the SEGAbits Swingin’ Report Show. We’ll write about the Genesis and how it introduced many of us to SEGA. We’ll look back at SEGA’s quirky art house console, the Saturn, and the many ups and downs the console experienced. We’ll remember the Dreamcast for the good times and unique and innovative experiences it delivered in the twilight years of SEGA’s time as a platform maker. We’ll give the 32x some overdue respect. Finally, we’ll all get SEGA Picos so that we can tell you about games like Tails and the Music Maker and The Great Counting Caper With the 3 Blind Mice!
Hope you’re looking forward to 2014 as much as we are, it’s gonna be a blast!