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The Sega Genesis, known as the outside North America, is a
16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are microcomputers that use 16-bit microprocessors. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored in 16 bits depends on the Integer (computer ...
fourth generation
home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles are generally less powerful and customizable than ...
developed and sold by
Sega is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega of America and Sega Europe, are headquartered in Irvine, California and London, r ...
. It was Sega's third console and the successor to the
Master System The is an 8-bit History of video game consoles (third generation), third-generation home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of ...
. Sega released it in 1988 in Japan as the Mega Drive, and in 1989 in North America as the Genesis. In 1990, it was distributed as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, Ozisoft in Australasia, and Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea, it was distributed by
Samsung The Samsung Group (or simply Samsung) ( ko, 삼성 ) is a South Korean Multinational corporation, multinational manufacturing Conglomerate (company), conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea. It comprises numerous affi ...
as the Super Gam*Boy and later the Super Aladdin Boy. Designed by an R&D team supervised by Hideki Sato and Masami Ishikawa, the Genesis was adapted from Sega's
System 16 Sega is a video game video game development, developer, video game publisher, publisher, and Arcade cabinet, hardware development company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, with multiple offices around the world. The company's involvement in the arca ...
arcade board, centered on a
Motorola 68000 The Motorola 68000 (sometimes shortened to Motorola 68k or m68k and usually pronounced "sixty-eight-thousand") is a 16/32-bit complex instruction set computer (CISC) microprocessor, introduced in 1979 by Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector ...
processor as the CPU, a
Zilog Z80 The Z80 is an 8-bit computing, 8-bit microprocessor introduced by Zilog as the startup company's first product. The Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his 11 employees starting in early 1975. The first wor ...
as a sound controller, and a video system supporting hardware sprites,
tiles Tiles are usually thin, square or rectangular coverings manufactured from hard-wearing material such as ceramic, Rock (geology), stone, metal, baked clay, or even glass. They are generally fixed in place in an array to cover roofs, floors, wa ...
, and scrolling. It plays a library of more than 900 games on ROM-based cartridges. Several add-ons were released, including a Power Base Converter to play Master System games. It was released in several different versions, some created by third parties. Sega created two network services to support the Genesis:
Sega Meganet Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Sega Genesis, Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first Internet, online multiplayer, multiplayer gaming servi ...
and
Sega Channel The Sega Channel is a discontinued online game service developed by Sega for the Sega Genesis video game console, serving as a content delivery system. Launched on December 14, 1994, the Sega Channel was provided to the public by Tele-Communicat ...
. In Japan, the Mega Drive fared poorly against its two main competitors, Nintendo's
Super Famicom The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), commonly shortened to Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a Fourth generation of video game consoles, 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South ...
and
NEC is a Japanese multinational information technology Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange all kinds of Data (computing), data . and information. IT forms part of informat ...
's
PC Engine The TurboGrafx-16, known as the outside North America, is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power sourc ...
, but it achieved considerable success in North America, Brazil, and Europe. Contributing to its success was its library of
arcade game An arcade game or coin-op game is a coin-operated entertainment machine typically installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are presented as primarily game of skill, games of skill and in ...
ports A port is a maritime Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes, the Canadian provinces of ...
, the popularity of Sega's ''
Sonic the Hedgehog is a Japanese video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, o ...
'' series, several popular sports franchises, and aggressive youth marketing that positioned it as the cool console for adolescents. The 1991 North American release of the
Super Nintendo Entertainment System The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), commonly shortened to Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a Fourth generation of video game consoles, 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South ...
triggered a fierce battle for market share in the United States and Europe known as the "
console war In the video game industry, a console war describes the competition between two or more video game console manufacturers in trying to achieve better consumer sales through more advanced console technology, an improved selection of video games, and ...
". This drew attention to the video game industry, and the Genesis and several of its games attracted legal scrutiny on matters involving
reverse engineering Reverse engineering (also known as backwards engineering or back engineering) is a process or method through which one attempts to understand through deductive reasoning how a previously made device, process, system, or piece of software accompli ...
and video game violence. Controversy surrounding violent games such as ''
Night Trap ''Night Trap'' is a 1992 interactive movie developed by Digital Pictures and published by Sega for the Sega CD. Presented primarily through full-motion video (FMV), ''Night Trap'' tasks the player to observe teenage girls having a sleepover vi ...
'' and ''
Mortal Kombat ''Mortal Kombat'' is an American media franchise centered on a series of video games originally developed by Midway Games in 1992. The development of the first game was originally based on an idea that Ed Boon and John Tobias had of making a v ...
'' led Sega to create the Videogame Rating Council, a predecessor to the
Entertainment Software Rating Board The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns Video game content rating system, age and content ratings to consumer video games in the United States and Canada. The ESRB was established in 1994 b ...
. 30.75 million first-party Genesis units were sold worldwide. In addition, Tec Toy sold an estimated three million licensed variants in Brazil, Majesco projected it would sell 1.5 million licensed variants of the system in the United States and smaller numbers were sold by Samsung in South Korea. By the mid-2010s, licensed third-party Genesis rereleases were still being sold by AtGames in North America and Europe. Many games have been re-released in compilations or on online services such as the Nintendo Virtual Console,
Xbox Live Arcade Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) is a digital video game Digital distribution in video games, download service available through the Xbox Games Store, Microsoft's digital distribution network for the Xbox 360. It focuses on smaller downloadable games from b ...
,
PlayStation Network PlayStation Network (PSN) is a digital media entertainment service provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Launched in November 2006, PSN was originally conceived for the PlayStation video game consoles, but soon extended to encompass smartp ...
, and
Steam Steam is a substance containing water in the gas phase, and sometimes also an aerosol of liquid water droplets, or air. This may occur due to evaporation or due to boiling, where heat is applied until water reaches the enthalpy of vaporization. ...
. The Genesis was succeeded in 1994 by the
Sega Saturn The is a home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994, in Japan, May 11, 1995, in North America, and July 8, 1995, in Europe. Part of the fifth generation of video game consoles, it was the successor to the succ ...
.


History


Development

In the early 1980s, Sega Enterprises, Inc. – then a subsidiary of
Gulf+Western Gulf and Western Industries, Inc. (stylized as Gulf+Western) was an American conglomerate. Originally, the company focused on manufacturing and resource extraction. Beginning in 1966, and continuing throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the compan ...
– was one of the top five
arcade game An arcade game or coin-op game is a coin-operated entertainment machine typically installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are presented as primarily game of skill, games of skill and in ...
manufacturers active in the United States, as company revenues surpassed $200 million between July 1981 and June 1982. A downturn in the arcade business starting in 1982 seriously hurt the company, leading Gulf+Western to sell its North American arcade manufacturing organization and the licensing rights for its arcade games to
Bally Manufacturing Bally Manufacturing, later renamed Bally Entertainment, was an American company that began as a pinball and slot machine manufacturer, and later expanded into casinos, video games, health clubs, and theme parks. It was acquired by Hilton Hotel ...
. The company retained Sega's North American R&D operation, as well as its Japanese subsidiary, Sega Enterprises, Ltd. With its arcade business in decline, Sega Enterprises, Ltd. president
Hayao Nakayama is a Japanese businessman and was the former President and CEO of Sega, Sega Enterprises, Ltd from 1983 to 1999. Early life and career Nakayama was born into a family of doctors, and was expected to pursue medicine as a career. However, Nakaya ...
advocated that the company leverage its hardware expertise to move into the home console market in Japan, which was in its infancy at the time. Nakayama received permission to proceed with this project, leading to the release of Sega's first home video game system, the
SG-1000 The is a home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was Sega's first entry into the home video game hardware business. Developed in response to a downturn in Arcade game, arcades starting in 1982, the SG-1000 was created on the advice of ...
, in July 1983. While it had sold 160,000 units in Japan, far exceeding Sega's expectations, sales at stores were dominated by
Nintendo is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational video game company headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. It develops video games and video game consoles. Nintendo was founded in 1889 as by craftsman Fusajiro Yamauchi and originally produce ...
's
Famicom The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an 8-bit Third generation of video game consoles, third-generation home video game console produced by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan in 1983 as the commonly known as the The NES, a redes ...
which had been released the same day. Sega estimated that the Famicom outsold the SG-1000 by a 10-to-1 margin. The SG-1000 was replaced by the
Sega Mark III The is an 8-bit History of video game consoles (third generation), third-generation home video game console manufactured by Sega. It was originally a remodeled export version of the Sega Mark III, the third iteration of the SG-1000 series of ...
within two years. In the meantime, Gulf+Western began to divest itself of its non-core businesses after the death of company founder
Charles Bluhdorn Charles George Bluhdorn (born Karl Georg Blühdorn; September 20, 1926 – February 19, 1983) was an Austria The Republic of Austria, commonly just Austria, , bar, Östareich is a country in the southern part of Central Europe, lying ...
, so Nakayama and former Sega CEO David Rosen arranged a
management buyout A management buyout (MBO) is a form of acquisition in which a company's existing managers acquire a large part, or all, of the company, whether from a parent company or High-net-worth individual, individual. Management-, and/or leveraged buyout b ...
of the Japanese subsidiary in 1984 with financial backing from CSK Corporation, a prominent Japanese software company. Nakayama was then installed as CEO of Sega Enterprises, Ltd. In 1986, Sega redesigned the Mark III for release in North America as the Master System. This was followed by a European release the next year. Although the Master System was a success in Europe, and later in Brazil, it failed to ignite significant interest in the Japanese or North American markets, which, by the mid-to-late 1980s, were both dominated by Nintendo. With Sega continuing to have difficulty penetrating the home market, Sega's console R&D team, led by Masami Ishikawa and supervised by Hideki Sato, began work on a successor to the Master System almost immediately after that console launched. In 1987, Sega faced another threat to its console business when Japanese computer giant
NEC is a Japanese multinational information technology Information technology (IT) is the use of computers to create, process, store, retrieve, and exchange all kinds of Data (computing), data . and information. IT forms part of informat ...
released the
PC Engine The TurboGrafx-16, known as the outside North America, is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power sourc ...
amid great publicity. To remain competitive against the two more established consumer electronics companies, Ishikawa and his team decided they needed to incorporate a
16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are microcomputers that use 16-bit microprocessors. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored in 16 bits depends on the Integer (computer ...
microprocessor into their new system to make an impact in the marketplace and once again turned to Sega's strengths in the arcade industry to adapt the successful Sega System 16 arcade board into architecture for a home console. The decision to use a
Motorola 68000 The Motorola 68000 (sometimes shortened to Motorola 68k or m68k and usually pronounced "sixty-eight-thousand") is a 16/32-bit complex instruction set computer (CISC) microprocessor, introduced in 1979 by Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector ...
as the system's main CPU was made late in development, while a
Zilog Z80 The Z80 is an 8-bit computing, 8-bit microprocessor introduced by Zilog as the startup company's first product. The Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his 11 employees starting in early 1975. The first wor ...
was used as a secondary CPU to handle the sound due to fears that the load to the main CPU would be too great if it handled both the visuals and the audio. The 68000 chip was expensive and would have driven the retail price of the console up greatly, but Sega was able to negotiate with a distributor for a tenth of its price on an up-front volume order with the promise of more orders pending the console's future success. The appearance of the Mega Drive was designed by a team led by Mitsushige Shiraiwa that drew inspiration from
audiophile An audiophile is a person who is enthusiastic about high-fidelity sound reproduction. An audiophile seeks to reproduce the sound of a piece of recorded music or a live musical performance, typically inside closed headphones, In-ear monitors, open h ...
equipment and automobiles. Shiraiwa said this more mature look helped to target the Mega Drive to all ages, unlike the Famicom, which was aimed primarily at children. According to Sato, the Japanese design for the Mega Drive was based on the appearance of an audio player, with "16-bit" embossed in a golden metallic veneer to create an impression of power.
Translation
by Shmuplations. ).
The console was announced in the June 1988 issue of Japanese gaming magazine ''Beep!'' as the Mark V, but Sega management wanted a stronger name. After reviewing more than 300 proposals, the company settled on "Mega Drive". In North America, the name was changed to "Genesis". Rosen said he insisted on the name as he disliked "Mega Drive" and wanted to represent "a new beginning" for Sega. Sato said some design elements changed, such as the gold-colored "16-bit" wording, because it was believed that the color would be mistaken for yellow. He believes that the changes in design are representative of the differences in values between Japanese and American culture.


Launch

Sega released the Mega Drive in Japan on October 29, 1988, though the launch was overshadowed by Nintendo's release of '' Super Mario Bros. 3'' a week earlier. Positive coverage from magazines ''
Famitsu formerly ''Famicom Tsūshin'', is a line of Japanese Video game journalism, video game magazines published by Kadokawa Game Linkage (previously known as Gzbrain), a subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, Kadokawa. ''Famitsu'' is published in both we ...
'' and ''Beep!'' helped to establish a following. Within two days of release, the console's initial production run sold out. However, Sega only managed to ship 400,000 units in the first year. In order to increase sales, Sega released various peripherals and games, including an online banking system and
answering machine An answering machine, answerphone or message machine, also known as telephone messaging machine (or TAM) in the United Kingdom, UK and some Commonwealth countries, ansaphone or ansafone (from a trade name), or telephone answering device (TAD), ...
called the Sega Mega Anser. Nevertheless, the Mega Drive was unable to overtake the venerable
Famicom The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) is an 8-bit Third generation of video game consoles, third-generation home video game console produced by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan in 1983 as the commonly known as the The NES, a redes ...
and remained a distant third in Japan behind Nintendo's
Super Famicom The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), commonly shortened to Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a Fourth generation of video game consoles, 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South ...
and NEC's PC Engine throughout the 16-bit era. Sega announced a North American release date for the system on January 9, 1989. At the time, Sega did not possess a North American sales and marketing organization and was distributing its Master System through
Tonka Tonka is an American producer of toy trucks. The company is known for making steel toy models of construction type trucks and machinery. Maisto International, which makes diecast vehicles, acquired the rights to use the Tonka name in a line of ...
. Dissatisfied with Tonka's performance, Sega looked for a new partner to market the Genesis in North America and offered the rights to
Atari Corporation Atari Corporation was an American manufacturer of computers and video game consoles. It was founded by Jack Tramiel on May 17, 1984, as Tramel Technology, Ltd., but then took on the Atari name less than two months later when WarnerMedia, Warn ...
, which did not yet have a 16-bit system. David Rosen made the proposal to Atari CEO
Jack Tramiel Jack Tramiel ( ; born Idek Trzmiel; December 13, 1928 – April 8, 2012) was an American businessman and Holocaust survivor, best known for founding Commodore International. The Commodore PET, VIC-20 and Commodore 64 are some home computers ...
and the president of Atari's Entertainment Electronics Division, Michael Katz. Tramiel declined to acquire the new console, deeming it too expensive, and instead opted to focus on the
Atari ST The Atari ST is a line of personal computers from Atari Corporation and the successor to the Atari 8-bit family. The initial model, the Atari 520ST, had limited release in April–June 1985 and was widely available in July. It was the first pers ...
. Sega decided to launch the console through its own Sega of America subsidiary, which executed a limited launch on August 14, 1989, in
New York City New York, often called New York City or NYC, is the List of United States cities by population, most populous city in the United States. With a 2020 population of 8,804,190 distributed over , New York City is also the L ...
and
Los Angeles Los Angeles ( ; es, Los Ángeles, link=no , ), often referred to by its initials L.A., is the largest city in the state of California California is a U.S. state, state in the Western United States, located along the West Coast of ...
. The Genesis was released in the rest of North America later that year. The European version of the Mega Drive was released in September 1990, at a price of , i.e. . The release was handled by Virgin Mastertronic, which was later purchased by Sega in 1991 and became Sega of Europe. Games like '' Space Harrier II'', '' Ghouls 'n Ghosts'', '' Golden Axe'', '' Super Thunder Blade'', and '' The Revenge of Shinobi'' were available in stores at launch. The console was also bundled with ''
Altered Beast ''Altered Beast'' is a 1988 beat 'em up The beat 'em up (also known as brawler and, in some markets, beat 'em all) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it is played rather ...
''. The Mega Drive and its first batch of games were shown at the 1990 European Computer Entertainment Show (ECES) in
Earl's Court Earl's Court is a district of Kensington in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in West London, bordering the rail tracks of the West London line and District line that separate it from the ancient borough of Fulham to the west, the s ...
. Between July and August 1990, Virgin initially placed their order for 20,000 Mega Drive units. However, the company increased the order by 10,000 units when advanced orders had exceeded expectations, and another 10,000 units was later added following the console's success at the ECES event. The projected number of units to be sold between September and December 1990 had eventually increased to 40,000 units in the United Kingdom alone. Other companies assisted in distributing the console to various countries worldwide. Ozisoft handled the Mega Drive's launch and marketing in Australia, as it had done before with the Master System. In Brazil, the Mega Drive was released by
Tectoy Tec Toy S.A., trading as Trade involves the transfer of goods and services from one person or entity to another, often in exchange for money. Economists refer to a system or network that allows trade as a market (economics), market. An e ...
in 1990, only a year after the Brazilian release of the Master System. Tectoy produced games exclusively for the Brazilian market and brought the
Sega Meganet Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Sega Genesis, Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first Internet, online multiplayer, multiplayer gaming servi ...
online service there in 1995.
Samsung The Samsung Group (or simply Samsung) ( ko, 삼성 ) is a South Korean Multinational corporation, multinational manufacturing Conglomerate (company), conglomerate headquartered in Samsung Town, Seoul, South Korea. It comprises numerous affi ...
handled sales and distribution in
Korea Korea ( ko, 한국, or , ) is a peninsular region in East Asia. Since 1945, it has been divided at or near the 38th parallel north, 38th parallel, with North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) comprising its northern half and Sout ...
, where it was named Super Gam*Boy and retained the Mega Drive logo alongside the Samsung name. It was later renamed Super Aladdin Boy. In India, Sega entered a distribution deal with Shaw Wallace in April 1994 in order to circumvent an 80% import tariff, with each unit selling for INR₹18,000. In Russia, Sega officially licensed the console to local distributor Forrus in 1994, replaced in 1996 by Bitman. That year, the video game console market generated between and in Russia, with Sega accounting for half of all console sales in the country. However, only about 15% of the sales were official Sega units distributed by Bitman, while the rest were unofficial counterfeit clones.


North American sales and marketing

For the North American market, former Atari Corporation Entertainment Electronics Division president and new Sega of America CEO Michael Katz instituted a two-part approach to build sales. The first part involved a marketing campaign to challenge Nintendo head-on and emphasize the more arcade-like experience available on the Genesis, with slogans including "Genesis does what Nintendon't". Since Nintendo owned the console rights to most arcade games of the time, the second part involved creating a library of recognizable games which used the names and likenesses of celebrities and athletes, such as '' Pat Riley Basketball'', '' Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf'', '' James 'Buster' Douglas Knockout Boxing'', '' Joe Montana Football'', '' Tommy Lasorda Baseball'', ''Mario Lemieux Hockey'', and '' Michael Jackson's Moonwalker''. Nonetheless, Sega struggled to overcome Nintendo's presence in consumers' homes. Tasked by Nakayama to sell one million units within the first year, Katz and Sega of America sold only 500,000. At the Winter
Consumer Electronics Show CES (; formerly an initialism for Consumer Electronics Show) is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester, Nevad ...
(Winter CES) in January 1990, the Sega Genesis demonstrated a strong line-up of games which received a positive reception for approaching arcade-quality graphics and gameplay as well as for providing non-arcade experiences such as ''
Phantasy Star II ''Phantasy Star II'' (Japanese: ファンタシースターII 還らざる時の終わりに, "Phantasy Star II: At the End of the Restoration") is a science fantasy Science fantasy is a hybrid genre within speculative fiction that simultaneou ...
''. In mid-1990, Nakayama hired
Tom Kalinske Thomas Kalinske (born July 17, 1944) is an American businessman, best known as having worked for Mattel Mattel, Inc. ( ) is an American multinational corporation, multinational toy manufacturing and entertainment company founded in January 19 ...
to replace Katz as CEO of Sega of America. Although Kalinske knew little about the video game market, he surrounded himself with industry-savvy advisors. A believer in the
razor and blades model The razor and blades business model is a business model A business model describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value,''Business Model Generation'', Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Alan Smith, and 470 practitioner ...
, he developed a four-point plan: cut the price of the console, create an American team to develop games targeted at the American market, expand the aggressive advertising campaigns, and replace the bundled game ''Altered Beast'' with a new game, ''
Sonic the Hedgehog is a Japanese video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, o ...
''. The Japanese board of directors initially disapproved of the plan, but all four points were approved by Nakayama, who told Kalinske, "I hired you to make the decisions for Europe and the Americas, so go ahead and do it." Critics praised ''Sonic'' as one of the greatest games yet made, and Genesis sales increased as customers who had been waiting for the release of the international version of Nintendo's Super Famicom, the
Super Nintendo Entertainment System The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), commonly shortened to Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a Fourth generation of video game consoles, 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South ...
(SNES), decided to purchase a Genesis instead. The SNES debuted against an established competitor, while NEC's
TurboGrafx-16 The TurboGrafx-16, known as the outside North America, is a home video game console designed by Hudson Soft and sold by NEC, NEC Home Electronics. It was the first console marketed in the fourth generation of video game consoles, fourth genera ...
failed to gain traction, and NEC soon pulled out of the market. In large part due to the popularity of ''Sonic the Hedgehog'', the Genesis outsold the SNES in the United States nearly two to one during the 1991 holiday season. Sega controlled 65% of the
16-bit 16-bit microcomputers are microcomputers that use 16-bit microprocessors. A 16-bit register can store 216 different values. The range (computer programming), range of integer values that can be stored in 16 bits depends on the Integer (computer ...
console Console may refer to: Computing and video games * System console, a physical device to operate a computer ** Virtual console, a user interface for multiple computer consoles on one device ** Command-line interface, a method of interacting with ...
market in January 1992, the first time Nintendo had not been the console leader since 1985. The Genesis outsold the SNES for four consecutive Christmas seasons due to its two-year lead, lower price point, and larger game library compared to the SNES at its release. Sega had ten games for every game on SNES, and while the SNES had an exclusive version of ''
Final Fight ''Final Fight'' is a series of beat 'em up video games by Capcom, which began with the arcade game, arcade release of ''Final Fight (video game), Final Fight'' in 1989. Set in the fictional Metro City, the games focus on a group of heroic vigila ...
'', one of Sega's internal development teams created '' Streets of Rage'', which had bigger levels, tougher enemies, and a well-regarded soundtrack.
ASCII Entertainment was a Japanese publishing company Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the creation and distribution ...
reported in early 1993 that Genesis had 250 games versus 75 for the SNES, but limited shelf space meant that stores typically offered 100 Genesis and 50 SNES games. The NES was still the leader, with 300 games and 100 on shelves. Sega's advertising positioned the Genesis as the cooler console, and coined the term ''blast processing'', an obscure and unused graphics programming method, to suggest that its processing capabilities were far greater than those of the SNES. A
Sony , commonly stylized as SONY, is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational conglomerate (company), conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. As a major technology company, it operates as one of the world's la ...
focus group found that teenage boys would not admit to owning an SNES rather than a Genesis. With the Genesis often outselling the SNES at a ratio of 2:1, Nintendo and Sega focused heavily on
impression management Impression management is a conscious or subconscious In psychology Psychology is the science, scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, ...
of the market, even going to the point of deception; Nintendo claimed it had sold more consoles in 1991 than it actually had, and forecasted it would sell 6 million consoles by the end of 1992, while its actual U.S. install base at the end of 1992 was only just more than 4 million units. Due to these tactics, it was difficult to ascertain a clear leader in market share for several years at a time, with Nintendo's dollar share of the U.S. 16-bit market dipping down from 60% at the end of 1992 to 37% at the end of 1993, Sega claiming 55% of all 16-bit hardware sales during 1994, and ''
Donkey Kong Country ''Donkey Kong Country'' is a 1994 platform game developed by Rare (company), Rare and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). It is a Reboot (fiction), reboot of Nintendo's ''Donkey Kong'' franchise and foll ...
'' helping the SNES to outsell the Genesis from 1995 through 1997. According to a 2004 study of NPD sales data, the Genesis maintained its lead over the Super NES in the American 16-bit console market. However, according to a 2014 Wedbush Securities report based on revised NPD sales data, the SNES outsold the Sega Genesis in the U.S. market by units.


Electronic Arts

To compete with Nintendo, Sega was more open to new types of games, but still tightly controlled the approval process for third-party games and charged high prices for cartridge manufacturing. American third-party publisher
Electronic Arts Electronic Arts Inc. (EA) is an American video game company headquartered in Redwood City, California, Redwood City, California. Founded in May 1982 by Apple Inc., Apple employee Trip Hawkins, the company was a pioneer of the early home comp ...
(EA) sought a better deal, but had met resistance from Sega. They decided to
reverse-engineer Reverse engineering (also known as backwards engineering or back engineering) is a process or method through which one attempts to understand through deductive reasoning Deductive reasoning is the mental process of drawing deductive inferences. ...
the Genesis, using a clean-room method similar to the method
Phoenix Technologies Phoenix Technologies Ltd is an American company that designs, develops and supports core system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS ...
had used to reverse-engineer the
IBM Personal Computer The IBM Personal Computer (model 5150, commonly known as the IBM PC) is the first microcomputer released in the IBM PC model line and the basis for the IBM PC compatible de facto standard. Released on August 12, 1981, it was created by a team ...
BIOS In computing, BIOS (, ; Basic Input/Output System, also known as the System BIOS, ROM BIOS, BIOS ROM or PC BIOS) is firmware used to provide runtime services for operating systems and programs and to perform Computer hardware, hardware initializ ...
around 1984. The process began in 1989, led by Steve Hayes and Jim Nitchals. They created a controlled room in EA headquarters nicknamed "Chernobyl", to which only one person was allowed access, Mike Schwartz. Schwartz reviewed Sega's copyrighted development manuals and tools, studied the Genesis hardware and games, and wrote original documentation that summarized his findings. The process took him about a month. His work was reviewed by EA's lawyers before being disseminated to Hayes and Nitchals to verify its originality, and subsequently to the rest of the developers to let them build games. After a few months, EA began developing for the Genesis in earnest. EA founder
Trip Hawkins William Murray "Trip" Hawkins III (born December 28, 1953) is an American entrepreneur and founder of Electronic Arts, The 3DO Company, and Digital Chocolate. Career A fan of the Strat-O-Matic Football pen and paper games, Hawkins started his fi ...
confronted Nakayama the day before the 1990
Consumer Electronics Show CES (; formerly an initialism for Consumer Electronics Show) is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester, Nevad ...
(CES), informing him that EA had the ability to run its own licensing program if Sega refused to meet its demands. Sega relented, and the next day EA's upcoming Genesis games were showcased at CES. EA signed what Hawkins described as "a very unusual and much more enlightened license agreement" with Sega in June 1990: "Among other things, we had the right to make as many titles as we wanted. We could approve our own titles ... the royalty rates were a lot more reasonable. We also had more direct control over manufacturing." After the deal was in place, EA chief creative officer
Bing Gordon William "Bing" Gordon is a video game executive and technology venture capitalist. He served ten years as Chief Creative Officer of video game publisher and developer Electronic Arts (EA) prior to his current partnership with Kleiner Perkins Cauf ...
learned that "we hadn't figured out all the workarounds" and "Sega still had the ability to lock us out ... It just would have been a public relations fiasco." EA released its first Genesis games, '' Populous'' and '' Budokan: The Martial Spirit'', within the month. The first Genesis version of EA's ''
John Madden Football ''Madden NFL'' (known as ''John Madden Football'' until 1993) is an American football American football (referred to simply as football in the United States and Canada), also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of ele ...
'' arrived before the end of 1990, and became what Gordon called a "
killer app In marketing terminology, a killer application (commonly shortened to killer app) is any computer program or software that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of some larger technology, such as computer hardware, a video game ...
". Taking advantage of the licensing agreement, Gordon and EA's vice president of marketing services Nancy Fong created a visual identifier for EA's Genesis cartridges: a yellow tab molded into the cartridge casing.


Sonic the Hedgehog

Sega held a company-wide contest to create a mascot character to compete with Nintendo's ''Mario'' series. The winning submission was a blue hedgehog with red shoes, Sonic, created by Naoto Ohshima, spawning one of the best-selling video game franchises in history. The gameplay of ''
Sonic the Hedgehog is a Japanese video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, o ...
'' originated with a
tech demo A technology demonstration (or tech demo), also known as demonstrator model, is a prototype A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process. It is a term used in a variety of contexts, includ ...
created by
Yuji Naka , credited in some games as YU2, is a Japanese video game programmer, video game designer, designer and video game producer, producer. He is the former head of the Sega studio Sonic Team, where he was the lead programmer of the original ''Sonic t ...
, who had developed a prototype platform game that involved a fast-moving character rolling in a ball through a long winding tube. This concept was developed with Ohshima's character design and levels conceived by designer Hirokazu Yasuhara. Although Katz and Sega of America's marketing experts disliked ''Sonic'', certain that it would not catch on with American children, Kalinske's strategy to place ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' as the pack-in game paid off. ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' greatly increased the popularity of the Genesis in North America, and the bundle is credited with helping Sega gain 65% of the market share against Nintendo. Similarly, in Europe, Sega captured a 65% share of the European console market, where the Mega Drive maintained its lead over the SNES through 1994. ''
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a 1992 platform game developed by Sega Technical Institute (STI) for the Sega Genesis. It follows Sonic as he attempts to stop Doctor Eggman from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his space stationnamed The Death Egg. Like the fi ...
'' set records for the fastest-selling game, selling copies worldwide within two weeks, and ''
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 is a 1994 platform game A platform game (often simplified as platformer and sometimes called a jump 'n' run game) is a sub-genre of action game, action video games in which the core objective is to move the player character between points in ...
'' and ''
Sonic & Knuckles is a 1994 platform game developed and published by Sega. Players control Sonic the Hedgehog (character), Sonic the Hedgehog and Knuckles the Echidna in their quests to save Angel Island; Sonic tries to prevent Doctor Eggman, Doctor Robotnik from ...
'' selling a combined copies worldwide.


Trademark Security System and ''Sega v. Accolade''

After the release of the Genesis in 1989, video game publisher
Accolade The accolade (also known as dubbing or adoubement) ( la, benedictio militis) was the central act in the rite of passage Ceremony, ceremonies conferring knighthood in the Middle Ages. From about 1852, the term ''accolade'' was used much more ge ...
began exploring options to release some of their
PC game A personal computer game, also known as a PC game or computer game, is a type of video game played on a personal computer (PC) rather than a video game console or arcade machine. Its defining characteristics include: more diverse and user-d ...
s on the console. At the time, Sega had a licensing deal in place for third-party developers that increased the costs to the developer. According to Accolade co-founder Alan Miller, "One pays them between $10 and $15 per cartridge on top of the real hardware manufacturing costs, so it about doubles the cost of goods to the independent publisher." To get around licensing, Accolade chose to seek an alternative way to bring their games to the Genesis. It did so by purchasing one in order to decompile the executable code of three Genesis games. Such information was used to program their new Genesis cartridges in a way that would allow them to disable the security lockouts on the Genesis that prevented unlicensed games from being played., 977 F.2d 1510 (9th Cir. 1992) This strategy was used successfully to bring '' Ishido: The Way of Stones'' to the Genesis in 1990. To do so, Accolade had copied Sega's copyrighted game code multiple times in order to reverse engineer the software of Sega's licensed Genesis games. As a result of piracy in some countries and unlicensed development issues, Sega incorporated a technical protection mechanism into a new edition of the Genesis released in 1990, referred to as the Genesis III. This new variation of the Genesis included a code known as the Trademark Security System (TMSS), which, when a game cartridge was inserted, would check for the presence of the
string String or strings may refer to: *String (structure), a long flexible structure made from threads twisted together, which is used to tie, bind, or hang other objects Arts, entertainment, and media Films * Strings (1991 film), ''Strings'' (1991 fi ...
"SEGA" at a particular point in the memory contained in the cartridge. If the string was present, the console would run the game, and would briefly display the message: "" This system had a twofold effect: it added extra protection against unlicensed developers and software piracy and forced the Sega trademark to display when the game was powered up, making a lawsuit for trademark infringement possible if unlicensed software were to be developed. Accolade learned of this development at the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1991, where Sega showed the new Genesis III and demonstrated it screening and rejecting an ''Ishido'' game cartridge. With more games planned for the following year, Accolade successfully identified the TMSS file. It later added this file to the games ''
HardBall! ''HardBall!'' is a baseball Baseball is a bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball sport played between two team sport, teams of nine players each, taking turns batting (baseball), batting and Fielding (baseball), fielding. The game occurs o ...
'', '' Star Control'', ''Mike Ditka Power Football'', and '' Turrican''. In response to the creation of these unlicensed games, Sega filed suit against Accolade in the
United States District Court for the Northern District of California The United States District Court for the Northern District of California (in case citations, N.D. Cal.) is the United States federal courts, federal United States district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties of California: ...
, on charges of trademark infringement,
unfair competition Unfair may refer to: * Double Taz and Double LeBron James in multiverses ''wikt:fair, fair''; wikt:unfairness, unfairness or injustice * Unfair (TV series), ''Unfair'' (drama), Japanese television series * ''Unfair: The Movie'' * Unfair (song), a s ...
, and copyright infringement. In response, Accolade filed a counterclaim for falsifying the source of its games by displaying the Sega trademark when the game was powered up. Although the district court initially ruled for Sega and issued an injunction preventing Accolade from continuing to reverse engineer the Genesis, Accolade appealed the verdict to the
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (in case citations, 9th Cir.) is the United States courts of appeals, U.S. federal court of appeals that has appellate jurisdiction over the United States district court, U.S. district cou ...
. As a result of the appeal, the Ninth Circuit overturned the district court's verdict and ruled that Accolade's decompilation of the Sega software constituted fair use. The court's written opinion followed on October 20, 1992, and noted that the use of the software was non-exploitative, although commercial. Further, the court found that the trademark infringement, being required by the TMSS for a Genesis game to run on the system, had been inadvertently triggered by a fair use act and was the fault of Sega for having caused false labeling. Ultimately, Sega and Accolade settled the case on April 30, 1993. As a part of this settlement, Accolade became an official licensee of Sega, and later developed and released '' Barkley Shut Up and Jam!'' while under license. The terms of the licensing, including whether or not any special arrangements or discounts were made to Accolade, were not released to the public. The financial terms of the settlement were also not disclosed, although both companies agreed to pay their own legal costs.


Congressional hearings on video game violence

In 1993, the American media began to focus on the mature content of certain video games. Games such as ''
Night Trap ''Night Trap'' is a 1992 interactive movie developed by Digital Pictures and published by Sega for the Sega CD. Presented primarily through full-motion video (FMV), ''Night Trap'' tasks the player to observe teenage girls having a sleepover vi ...
'' for the
Sega CD The Sega CD, released as the in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991, in Japan, ...
, an add-on, received unprecedented scrutiny. Issues about ''Night Trap'' were brought up in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
, with former Sega of Europe development director Mike Brogan noting that "''Night Trap'' got Sega an awful lot of publicity ... it was also cited in
UK Parliament The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories. It meets at the Palace of We ...
for being classified as '15' due to its use of real actors." This came at a time when Sega was capitalizing on its image as an edgy company with attitude, and this only reinforced that image. By far the year's most controversial game was Midway's ''Mortal Kombat'', ported to the Genesis and SNES by
Acclaim Entertainment Acclaim Entertainment, Inc. was an American video game publisher A video game publisher is a company that publishing, publishes video games that have been developed either internally by the publisher or externally by a video game developer. ...
. In response to public outcry over the game's graphic violence, Nintendo decided to replace the blood in the game with "sweat" and the arcade's gruesome "fatalities" with less violent finishing moves. Sega took a different approach, instituting America's first video game ratings system, the Videogame Rating Council (VRC), for all its current systems. Ratings ranged from the family-friendly GA rating to the more mature rating of MA-13, and the adults-only rating of MA-17. With the rating system in place, Sega released its version of ''Mortal Kombat'', appearing to have removed all the blood and sweat effects and toning down the finishing moves even more than in the SNES version. However, all the arcade's blood and uncensored finishing moves could be enabled by entering a "Blood Code". This technicality allowed Sega to release the game with a relatively low MA-13 rating. Meanwhile, the tamer SNES version shipped without a rating. The Genesis version of ''Mortal Kombat'' was well-received by gaming press, as well as fans, outselling the SNES version three- or four-to-one, while Nintendo was criticized for censoring the SNES version. Executive vice president of Nintendo of America Howard Lincoln was quick to point out at the hearings that ''Night Trap'' had no such rating, saying to Senator
Joe Lieberman Joseph Isadore Lieberman (; born February 24, 1942) is an American politician, lobbyist, and attorney who served as a United States Senate, United States senator from Connecticut from 1989 to 2013. A former member of the Democratic Party (Uni ...
: In response, Sega of America vice president Bill White showed a videotape of violent video games on the SNES and stressed the importance of rating video games. At the end of the hearing, Lieberman called for another hearing in February 1994 to check on progress toward a rating system for video game violence. As a result of the congressional hearings, ''Night Trap'' started to generate more sales and released ports to the PC,
Sega 32X The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", it was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. The 32X ...
, and 3DO. According to
Digital Pictures Digital Pictures was an American video game developer founded in 1991 by Lode Coen, Mark Klein, Ken Melville, Anne Flaut-Reed, Kevin Welsh and Tom Zito. The company originated from an attempt to produce a game for the failed VHS-based NEMO (vid ...
founder Tom Zito, "You know, I sold 50,000 units of ''Night Trap'' a week after those hearings." Although experiencing increased sales, Sega decided to recall ''Night Trap'' and re-release it with revisions in 1994 due to the congressional hearings. After the close of these hearings, video game manufacturers came together to establish the rating system that Lieberman had called for. Initially, Sega proposed the universal adoption of its system, but after objections by Nintendo and others, Sega took a role in forming a new one. This became the
Entertainment Software Rating Board The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) is a self-regulatory organization that assigns Video game content rating system, age and content ratings to consumer video games in the United States and Canada. The ESRB was established in 1994 b ...
, an independent organization that received praise from Lieberman. With this new rating system in place for the 1994 holiday season, Nintendo decided its censorship policies were no longer needed, and the SNES port of '' Mortal Kombat II'' was released uncensored.


32-bit era and beyond

Sega released two add-ons to increase the Genesis capabilities: a CD peripheral, the
Sega CD The Sega CD, released as the in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991, in Japan, ...
(Mega-CD outside North America and Brazil), and a 32-bit peripheral, the
Sega 32X The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", it was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. The 32X ...
. Worldwide, Sega sold 2.24 million Sega CD units See lines 6 and 18 for units sold in Japan and other regions, respectively. and 800,000 32X units. Following the launch of the next-generation 32-bit Sony
PlayStation is a video game, video gaming brand that consists of five home video game consoles, two Handheld game console, handhelds, a Home theater PC, media center, and a smartphone, as well as an online service and multiple magazines. The brand is p ...
and
Sega Saturn The is a home video game console developed by Sega and released on November 22, 1994, in Japan, May 11, 1995, in North America, and July 8, 1995, in Europe. Part of the fifth generation of video game consoles, it was the successor to the succ ...
, sales of 16-bit hardware and software continued to account for 64% of the video game market in 1995. Sega underestimated the continued popularity of the Genesis and did not have the inventory to meet demand. Sega captured 43% of the dollar share of the U.S. video game market and claimed to have sold more than two million Genesis units in 1995, while Genesis software such as '' Vectorman'' remained successful, but Kalinske estimated that "we could have sold another 300,000 Genesis systems in the November/December timeframe". Nakayama's decision to focus on the Saturn, based on the systems' relative performance in Japan, has been cited as the major contributing factor in this miscalculation. By contrast, Nintendo concentrated on the 16-bit home console market, as well as its successful
handheld A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern digital electronic computers can perform ...
, the
Game Boy The is an 8-bit computing, 8-bit Fourth generation of video game consoles, fourth generation handheld game console developed and manufactured by Nintendo. It was first released in Japan on April 21, 1989, in North America later the same year, a ...
, and took in 42% of the video game market dollar share without launching a 32-bit console. Following tensions with Sega Enterprises, Ltd. over its focus on the Saturn, Kalinske, who oversaw the rise of the Genesis in 1991, grew uninterested in the business and resigned in mid-1996. Sega sold 30.75 million Genesis units worldwide. Of these, 3.58 million were sold in Japan, and sales in Europe and the U.S. are roughly estimated at 8 million and 18–18.5 million as of June 1997 (at which time Sega was no longer manufacturing the system) respectively. In 1998, Sega licensed the Genesis to Majesco Entertainment to rerelease it in North America. Majesco began reselling millions of unsold cartridges at a budget price, together with 150,000 units of the second model of the Genesis. It released the Genesis 3, projecting to sell 1.5 million units of the console by the end of 1998. Tectoy continues to sell variants of the original hardware (including emulated variants) and has sold an estimated 3 million units in Brazil .


Technical specifications

The main
microprocessor A microprocessor is a computer processor where the data processing logic and control is included on a single integrated circuit, or a small number of integrated circuits. The microprocessor contains the arithmetic, logic, and control circu ...
is a 16/32-bit
Motorola 68000 The Motorola 68000 (sometimes shortened to Motorola 68k or m68k and usually pronounced "sixty-eight-thousand") is a 16/32-bit complex instruction set computer (CISC) microprocessor, introduced in 1979 by Motorola Semiconductor Products Sector ...
CPU clocked at 7.6 MHz. An 8-bit
Zilog Z80 The Z80 is an 8-bit computing, 8-bit microprocessor introduced by Zilog as the startup company's first product. The Z80 was conceived by Federico Faggin in late 1974 and developed by him and his 11 employees starting in early 1975. The first wor ...
processor controls the sound hardware and provides
backward compatibility Backward compatibility (sometimes known as backwards compatibility) is a property of an operating system, product, or technology that allows for interoperability with an older legacy system, or with Input/output, input designed for such a system, ...
with the Master System. The Genesis has 64 KB of
RAM Ram, ram, or RAM may refer to: Animals * A male sheep Sheep or domestic sheep (''Ovis aries'') are domesticated, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Although the term ''sheep'' can apply to other species in the genus ''Ovis'', in ...
, 64 KB of
video RAM Dual-ported video RAM, or VRAM, is a dual-ported RAM, dual-ported variant of dynamic RAM (DRAM), which was once commonly used to store the framebuffer in graphics card, graphics adapters. Note that most computers and game consoles do not use this ...
and 8 KB of audio RAM. It can display up to 61 colors at once from a palette of 512. The games are in
ROM cartridge A ROM cartridge, usually referred to in context simply as a cartridge, cart, or card, is a replaceable part designed to be connected to a consumer electronics device such as a home computer, video game console or, to a lesser extent, electroni ...
format and inserted in the top. The Genesis produces sound using a
Texas Instruments SN76489 The SN76489 Digital Complex Sound Generator (DCSG) is a TTL-compatible programmable sound generator chip from Texas Instruments Texas Instruments Incorporated (TI) is an American technology company headquartered in Dallas, Texas, that desig ...
PSG, integrated with the Video Display Processor (VDP), and a
Yamaha YM2612 The YM2612, a.k.a. OPN2, is a sound chip A sound chip is an integrated circuit (chip) designed to produce audio signals through Digital electronics, digital, Analog electronics, analog or Mixed-mode integrated circuit, mixed-mode electronics ...
FM synthesizer chip. The Z80 processor is primarily used to control both sound chips to produce stereo music and sound effects. Most revisions of the original Genesis contain a discrete YM2612 and a separate YM7101 VDP; in a later revision, the chips were integrated into a single custom
ASIC An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC ) is an integrated circuit An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit (also referred to as an IC, a chip, or a microchip) is a set of electronic circuits on one small flat p ...
(FC1004). The back of the model 1 console provides a
radio frequency Radio frequency (RF) is the oscillation rate of an Alternating current, alternating electric current or voltage or of a Magnetic field, magnetic, electric or electromagnetic field or mechanical system in the frequency range from around to around ...
output port (designed for use with antenna and cable systems) and a specialized 8-pin DIN port, which both provide video and audio output. Both outputs produce
monophonic Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction (often shortened to mono) is sound intended to be heard as if it were emanating from one position. This contrasts with stereophonic sound or ''stereo'', which uses two separate audio channels to reproduc ...
sound; a
headphone jack A phone connector, also known as phone jack, audio jack, headphone jack or jack plug, is a family of electrical connectors typically used for analog signal, analog audio signals. A plug, the Gender of connectors and fasteners, male connect ...
on the front of the console produces
stereo Stereophonic sound, or more commonly stereo, is a method of sound reproduction that recreates a multi-directional, 3-dimensional audible perspective. This is usually achieved by using two independent audio channels through a configuration ...
sound. On the model 2, the DIN port, radio frequency output port, and headphone jack are replaced by a 9-pin
mini-DIN The mini-DIN connectors are a family of multi-pin electrical connector Components of an electrical circuit are electrically connected if an electric current can run between them through an electrical conductor. An electrical connector is ...
port on the back for
composite video Composite video is an Video#Analog video, analog video signal format that carries Standard-definition television, standard-definition video (typically at 525 lines or 625 lines) as a single channel. Video information is Video coding format, e ...
,
RGB The RGB color model is an additive color, additive color model in which the red, green and blue primary colors of light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of t ...
and stereo sound, and the standard RF switch. Earlier model 1 consoles have a 9-pin extension port. An
edge connector An edge connector is the portion of a printed circuit board A printed circuit board (PCB; also printed wiring board or PWB) is a medium used in Electrical engineering, electrical and electronic engineering to connect electronic components ...
on the bottom right of the console can be connected to a peripheral.


Peripherals

The standard controller features a rounded shape, a directional pad, three main buttons, and a "start" button. In 1993, Sega released a slightly smaller pad with three additional face buttons, similar to the design of buttons on some popular arcade fighting games such as ''
Street Fighter II is a fighting game developed by Capcom and originally released for arcade game, arcades in 1991. It is the second installment in the ''Street Fighter'' series and the sequel to 1987's ''Street Fighter (video game), Street Fighter''. It is Capc ...
''. Sega also released a wireless revision of the six-button controller, the Remote Arcade Pad. The system is backward compatible with the Master System. The first peripheral released, the Power Base Converter (Master System Converter in Europe), allows Master System games to be played. It's designed for the Model 1. It will work with the Model 2, but the shell does block the power and AC ports, so the converter will either to have its shell modified or a pass thru adaptor needs to be used. The converter doesn't work with the Model 3 or the Nomad A second model, the Master System Converter 2, was released only in Europe for use with the Mega Drive II. It will still work with NTSC and PAL Model 1 and 2 consoles, though the Model 3 and Nomad still don't work with it. Other peripherals were released to add functionality. The Menacer is a wireless, infrared
light gun A light gun is a pointing device for computers and a Game controller, control device for arcade game, arcade and video game console, video games, typically shaped to resemble a pistol. Early history The first light guns were produced in the ...
peripheral used with compatible games. Other third parties created light gun peripherals for the Genesis, such as the
American Laser Games American Laser Games was a company based in Albuquerque Albuquerque ( ; ), ; kee, Arawageeki; tow, Vakêêke; zun, Alo:ke:k'ya; apj, Gołgéeki'yé. abbreviated ABQ, is the most populous city in the U.S. state of New Mexico. Its nicknames, ...
Pistol and the
Konami , is a Japanese Multinational corporation, multinational video game company, video game and entertainment company headquartered in Chūō, Tokyo, Chūō, Tokyo, it also produces and distributes trading cards, anime, tokusatsu, pachinko machin ...
Justifier. Released for art creation software, the Sega Mega Mouse features three buttons and is only compatible with a few games, such as '' Eye of the Beholder''. A foam-covered bat called the BatterUP and the TeeVGolf golf club were released for both the Genesis and SNES. In November 1993, Sega released the Sega Activator, an octagonal device that lies flat on the floor and was designed to translate the player's physical movements into game inputs; it was first shown at the January 1993
Consumer Electronics Show CES (; formerly an initialism for Consumer Electronics Show) is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester, Nevad ...
(CES), where it was demonstrated with ''
Streets of Rage 2 ''Streets of Rage 2'', known as ''Bare Knuckle II'' In Japan, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up The beat 'em up (also known as brawler and, in some markets, beat 'em all) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classifica ...
''. Several high-profile games, including ''Mortal Kombat'' and '' Street Fighter II: Special Champion Edition'', were adapted to support the peripheral. The device was a commercial failure, due mainly to its inaccuracy and its high price point.
IGN ''IGN'' (formerly ''Imagine Games Network'') is an American video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controll ...
editor Craig Harris ranked the Sega Activator the third worst video game controller ever made. Both EA and Sega released
multitap :''Multi-tap also refers to a text-entry system for mobile phones.'' A multitap is a video game console peripheral that increases the number of Game controller, controller ports available to the player, allowing additional controllers to be used i ...
s to allow more than the standard two players to play at once. Initially, EA's version, the 4 Way Play, and Sega's adapter, the Team Player, only supported each publisher's games. In response to complaints about this, Sega publicly stated, "We have been working hard to resolve this problem since we learned of it", and that a new Team Player which would work with all multitap games for the console would be released shortly. Later games were created to work on both the 4 Way Play and Team Player.
Codemasters The Codemasters Software Company Limited (trade name A trade name, trading name, or business name, is a pseudonym used by companies that do not operate under their registered company name. The term for this type of alternative name is a "fic ...
also developed the J-Cart system, providing two extra ports on the cartridge itself, although the technology came late in the console's life and is only featured on a few games. Sega planned to release a steering wheel peripheral in 1994, and the Genesis version of ''
Virtua Racing ''Virtua Racing'', or ''V.R.'' for short, is a Formula One racing video game developed by Sega AM2 and released for arcade game, arcades in 1992. ''Virtua Racing'' was initially a proof-of-concept application for exercising a new 3D graphics pl ...
'' was advertised as being "steering wheel compatible", but the peripheral was cancelled.


Network services

In its first foray into online gaming, Sega created
Sega Meganet Sega Meganet, also known as the Net Work System, was an online service for the Sega Genesis, Mega Drive in Japan and later Brazil. Utilizing dial-up Internet access, Meganet was Sega's first Internet, online multiplayer, multiplayer gaming servi ...
, which debuted in Japan on November 3, 1990. Operating through a cartridge and a peripheral called the "Mega
Modem A modulator-demodulator or modem is a computer hardware device that converts data from a digital format into a format suitable for an analog transmission medium such as telephone or radio. A modem transmits data by Modulation#Digital modulati ...
", this allowed Mega Drive players to play a total of seventeen games online. A North American version, dubbed "Tele-Genesis", was announced at the Winter
Consumer Electronics Show CES (; formerly an initialism for Consumer Electronics Show) is an annual trade show organized by the Consumer Technology Association, Consumer Technology Association (CTA). Held in January at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Winchester, Nevad ...
(Winter CES) in January 1990 but never released, though a version was operated in Brazil starting in 1995. Another phone-based system, the Mega Anser, turned the Japanese Mega Drive into an online banking terminal. In 1994, Sega started the
Sega Channel The Sega Channel is a discontinued online game service developed by Sega for the Sega Genesis video game console, serving as a content delivery system. Launched on December 14, 1994, the Sega Channel was provided to the public by Tele-Communicat ...
, a game distribution system using
cable television Cable television is a system of delivering television broadcast programming, programming to consumers via radio frequency (RF) signals transmitted through coaxial cables, or in more recent systems, light pulses through fibre-optic cables. This ...
services
Time Warner Cable Time Warner Cable, Inc. (TWC) was an American cable television company. Before it was acquired by Charter Communications on May 18, 2016, it was ranked the second largest cable company in the United States by revenue behind only Comcast, operat ...
and TCI. Using a special peripheral, Genesis players could download a game from a library of fifty each month and demos for upcoming releases. Games were downloaded to internal memory and deleted when the console was powered off. The Sega Channel reached 250,000 subscribers at its peak and ran until July 31, 1998, well past the release of the Sega Saturn. In an effort to compete with Sega, third-party developer Catapult Entertainment created the
XBAND XBAND (stylized as XBⱯND) was one of the first competitive online console gaming Online console gaming involves connecting a console to a Computer network, network over the Internet for services. Through this connection, it provides users ...
, a peripheral which allowed Genesis players to engage in online competitive gaming. Using telephone services to share data, XBAND was initially offered in five U.S. cities in November 1994. The following year, the service was extended to the SNES, and Catapult teamed up with
Blockbuster Video Blockbuster or Block Buster may refer to: *Blockbuster (entertainment) a term coined for an extremely successful movie, from which most other uses are derived. Corporations * Blockbuster (retailer), a defunct video and game rental chain ** Bloc ...
to market the service, but as interest in the service waned, it was discontinued in April 1997.


Library

The Genesis library was initially modest, but eventually grew to contain games to appeal to all types of players. The initial pack-in game was ''
Altered Beast ''Altered Beast'' is a 1988 beat 'em up The beat 'em up (also known as brawler and, in some markets, beat 'em all) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it is played rather ...
'', which was later replaced with ''
Sonic the Hedgehog is a Japanese video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard, o ...
'' in 1991. Top sellers included ''Sonic the Hedgehog'', its sequel ''
Sonic the Hedgehog 2 is a 1992 platform game developed by Sega Technical Institute (STI) for the Sega Genesis. It follows Sonic as he attempts to stop Doctor Eggman from stealing the Chaos Emeralds to power his space stationnamed The Death Egg. Like the fi ...
'', and '' Disney's Aladdin''. During development for the console, Sega Enterprises focused on developing
action game An action game is a Video game genres, video game genre that emphasizes physical challenges, including hand–eye coordination and reaction-time. The genre includes a large variety of sub-genres, such as fighting games, beat 'em ups, shooter game ...
s, while Sega of America was tasked with developing
sports game A sports video game is a video game that simulates the practice of sports. Most sports have been recreated with a game, including team sports, track and field, extreme sports, and combat sports. Some games emphasize actually playing the sport (s ...
s. A large part of the appeal of the Genesis library during the console's lifetime was the
arcade Arcade most often refers to: * Arcade game An arcade game or coin-op game is a coin-operated entertainment machine typically installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are presented as pr ...
-based experience of its games, as well as more difficult entries such as ''
Ecco the Dolphin ''Ecco the Dolphin'' is a series of action-adventure game, action-adventure video games developed by Appaloosa Interactive (previously known as Novotrade International) and published by Sega. They were originally developed for the Sega Genesis, Me ...
'', and sports games such as '' Joe Montana Football''. Compared to its competition, Sega advertised to an older audience by hosting more mature games, including the uncensored version of ''
Mortal Kombat ''Mortal Kombat'' is an American media franchise centered on a series of video games originally developed by Midway Games in 1992. The development of the first game was originally based on an idea that Ed Boon and John Tobias had of making a v ...
''. Notably, the arcade hit ''
Street Fighter II is a fighting game developed by Capcom and originally released for arcade game, arcades in 1991. It is the second installment in the ''Street Fighter'' series and the sequel to 1987's ''Street Fighter (video game), Street Fighter''. It is Capc ...
'' by
Capcom is a Japanese video game developer and video game publisher, publisher. It has created a number of List of best-selling video game franchises, multi-million-selling game franchises, with its most commercially successful being ''Resident Evil' ...
initially skipped the Genesis, instead only being released on the SNES. However, as the Genesis continued to grow in popularity, Capcom eventually ported a version of ''Street Fighter II'' to the system known as '' Street Fighter II: Champion Edition'', that would go on to sell over a million copies. One of the biggest third-party companies to support the Genesis early on was Electronic Arts.
Trip Hawkins William Murray "Trip" Hawkins III (born December 28, 1953) is an American entrepreneur and founder of Electronic Arts, The 3DO Company, and Digital Chocolate. Career A fan of the Strat-O-Matic Football pen and paper games, Hawkins started his fi ...
, founder and then president of EA, believed the faster drawing speed of the Genesis made it more suitable for sport games than the SNES, and credits EA's success on the Genesis for helping catapult the EA Sports brand. Another third-party blockbuster for the system was the port of the original ''Mortal Kombat''. Although the arcade game was released on the SNES and Genesis simultaneously, the two ports were not identical. The SNES version looked closer to the arcade game, but the Genesis version allowed players to bypass censorship, helping make it more popular. In 1997, Sega of America claimed the Genesis had a software attach rate of 16 games sold per console, double that of the SNES.


Sega Virtua Processor

The Super NES can have enhancement chips inside each cartridge to produce more advanced graphics; for example, the launch game '' Pilotwings'' (1990) contains a
digital signal processor A digital signal processor (DSP) is a specialized microprocessor chip, with its architecture optimized for the operational needs of digital signal processing. DSPs are semiconductor device fabrication, fabricated on Integrated circuit, MOS integr ...
. Later, the
Super FX The Super FX is a coprocessor A coprocessor is a computer processor used to supplement the functions of the primary processor (the central processing unit, CPU). Operations performed by the coprocessor may be floating-point arithmetic, Compute ...
chip was designed to offload complex rendering tasks from the main CPU. It was first used in ''
Star Fox is an arcade style Shoot 'em up, rail shooter and Action-adventure game#3-person action-adventure, third person action-adventure video game series created by Shigeru Miyamoto, produced and published by Nintendo. The games follow the Star Fox ...
'' (1993) for real-time 3D polygons, and '' Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island'' (1995) demonstrates rotation, scaling, and stretching of individual sprites and manipulates large areas of the screen. Sega had produced such effects on its arcade platforms, and adapted some to the home console by developing the Sega Virtua Processor (SVP). Based on a
digital signal processor A digital signal processor (DSP) is a specialized microprocessor chip, with its architecture optimized for the operational needs of digital signal processing. DSPs are semiconductor device fabrication, fabricated on Integrated circuit, MOS integr ...
core by
Samsung Electronics Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (, sometimes shortened to SEC and stylized as SΛMSUNG) is a South Korean multinational corporation, multinational electronics corporation headquartered in Yeongtong-gu, Suwon, South Korea. It is the pinnacle of ...
, this chip enables the Genesis to render polygons in real time and provides an "Axis Transformation" unit that handles scaling and rotation. ''
Virtua Racing ''Virtua Racing'', or ''V.R.'' for short, is a Formula One racing video game developed by Sega AM2 and released for arcade game, arcades in 1992. ''Virtua Racing'' was initially a proof-of-concept application for exercising a new 3D graphics pl ...
'' (1992) is the only game released with this chip and the only Genesis cartridge with any enhancement chip, running at a significantly higher and more stable frame rate than filled polygon games on the SNES. The chip drastically increased the cost of the cartridge, and at , ''Virtua Racing'' is the most expensive Genesis cartridge ever produced. Two other games, ''
Virtua Fighter is a series of fighting games created by Sega-AM2 and designer Yu Suzuki. The original ''Virtua Fighter (video game), Virtua Fighter'' was released in October 1993 and has received four main sequels and several spin-offs. The highly influential ...
'' and ''
Daytona USA is an Arcade video game, arcade racing video game developed by Sega AM2 in 1993 and released by Sega in 1994. Players race stock car racing, stock cars on one of three courses. The first game released on the Sega Model 2 three-dimensional arc ...
'', were planned for the SVP chip, but were instead moved into the Saturn's launch line-up. Sega planned to sell the SVP chip as a separate upgrade module for the Genesis, but it was canceled, in order to focus its efforts on more powerful 32X add-on.


Add-ons

In addition to accessories such as the Power Base Converter, the Genesis supports two add-ons that each support their own game libraries. The first is the Sega CD (known as the Mega-CD in all regions except for North America), a
compact disc The compact disc (CD) is a Digital media, digital optical disc data storage format that was co-developed by Philips and Sony to store and play digital audio recordings. In August 1982, the first compact disc was manufactured. It was then rele ...
-based peripheral that can play its library of games in
CD-ROM A CD-ROM (, compact disc read-only memory) is a type of read-only memory consisting of a pre-pressed optical compact disc that contains computer data storage, data. Computers can read—but not write or erase—CD-ROMs. Some CDs, called enhanced ...
format. The second is the Sega 32X, a
32-bit In computer architecture In computer engineering, computer architecture is a description of the structure of a computer system made from component parts. It can sometimes be a high-level description that ignores details of the implementation. A ...
peripheral which uses ROM cartridges and serves as a pass-through for Genesis games. Sega produced a custom
power strip A power strip is a block of electrical sockets that attaches to the end of a flexible electrical cable, cable (typically with a mains plug on the other end), allowing multiple electrical devices to be powered from a single electrical socket. Power ...
to fit the peripherals' large
AC adapter An AC adapter or AC/DC adapter is a type of external power supply, often enclosed in a case similar to an AC power plugs and sockets, AC plug. Other common names include wall wart, power brick, wall charger, and power adapter. Adapters for ba ...
s. Both add-ons were officially discontinued in 1996.


Sega CD

By 1991, compact discs had gained in popularity as a
data storage device Data storage is the recording (storing) of information (data) in a storage medium. Handwriting, Phonograph record, phonographic recording, magnetic tape, and optical discs are all examples of storage media. Biological molecules such as RNA a ...
for music and software. PCs and video game companies had started to make use of this technology. NEC had been the first to include CD technology in a game console with the release of the
TurboGrafx-CD The TurboGrafx-16, known as the outside North America, is a home video game console designed by Hudson Soft and sold by NEC, NEC Home Electronics. It was the first console marketed in the fourth generation of video game consoles, fourth genera ...
add-on, and Nintendo was making plans to develop its own CD peripheral as well. Seeing the opportunity to gain an advantage over its rivals, Sega partnered with
JVC JVC (short for Japan Victor Company) is a Japanese brand owned by JVCKenwood corporation. Founded in 1927 as the Victor Talking Machine Company of Japan and later as , the company is best known for introducing Japan's first television ...
to develop a CD-ROM add-on for the Genesis. Sega launched the Mega-CD in Japan on December 1, 1991, initially retailing at JP¥49,800. The CD add-on was launched in North America on October 15, 1992, as the Sega CD, with a retail price of
US$ The United States dollar (symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or word that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an idea, object, or relationship. Symbols allow people to go beyond what is known or seen by creating lin ...
299; it was released in Europe as the Mega-CD in 1993. In addition to greatly expanding the potential size of its games, this add-on unit upgraded the graphics and sound capabilities by adding a second, more powerful processor, more system memory, and hardware-based
scaling Scaling may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics and physics * Scaling (geometry), a linear transformation that enlarges or diminishes objects * Scale invariance, a feature of objects or laws that do not change if scales of length, energ ...
and
rotation Rotation, or spin, is the circular movement of an object around a ''axis of rotation, central axis''. A two-dimensional rotating object has only one possible central axis and can rotate in either a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. A t ...
similar to that found in Sega's arcade games. It provided battery-backed storage RAM to allow games to save high scores, configuration data, and game progress. Shortly after its launch in North America, Sega began shipping the Sega CD with the pack-in game ''
Sewer Shark ''Sewer Shark'' is a first-person rail shooter video game, and is the first on a home video game console, console to use full motion video for its primary gameplay. It was originally slated to be the flagship product in Hasbro's Control-Vision v ...
'', a
full motion video Full-motion video (FMV) is a video game narration technique that relies upon pre-recorded video files (rather than Sprite (computer graphics), sprites, vector graphics, vectors, or 3D models) to display action in the game. While many games feature ...
(FMV) game developed by
Digital Pictures Digital Pictures was an American video game developer founded in 1991 by Lode Coen, Mark Klein, Ken Melville, Anne Flaut-Reed, Kevin Welsh and Tom Zito. The company originated from an attempt to produce a game for the failed VHS-based NEMO (vid ...
, a company that became an important partner for Sega. Touting the benefits of the CD's comparatively vast storage space, Sega and its third-party developers produced a number of games for the add-on that include digital video in their gameplay or as bonus content, as well as re-releasing several cartridge-based games with high-fidelity audio tracks. In 1993, Sega released the Sega CD 2, a smaller and lighter version of the add-on designed for the Genesis II, at a reduced price compared to the original. A limited number of games were later developed that use both the Sega CD and the
Sega 32X The 32X is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console. Codenamed "Project Mars", it was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and serve as a transitional console into the 32-bit era until the release of the Sega Saturn. The 32X ...
add-ons. The Mega-CD sold only 100,000 units during its first year in Japan, falling well below expectations. Although many consumers blamed its high launch price, it also suffered from a tiny software library; only two games were available at launch. This was due in part to the long delay before Sega made its software development kit available to third-party developers. Sales were higher in North America and Europe, although the novelty of FMV and CD-enhanced games quickly wore off, as many later games were met with lukewarm or negative reviews. In 1995, Sega announced a shift in focus to its new console, the Saturn, and discontinued advertising for Genesis hardware. The Sega CD sold 2.24 million units worldwide.


Sega 32X

With the release of the Saturn scheduled for 1995, Sega began developing a stopgap to bridge the gap between the Genesis and Saturn and serve as a less expensive entry into the 32-bit era. At the Winter Consumer Electronics Show in January 1994, Sega of America
research and development Research and development (R&D or R+D), known in Europe as research and technological development (RTD), is the set of innovative activities undertaken by corporations or governments in developing new services or products, and improving existi ...
head Joe Miller took a phone call from Nakayama, in which Nakayama stressed the importance of a quick response to the
Atari Jaguar The Atari Jaguar is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles ...
. One idea came from a concept from Sega Enterprises, "Project Jupiter," a new standalone console. Project Jupiter was initially planned as a new version of the Genesis, with an upgraded color palette and a lower cost than the Saturn, and limited 3D capabilities thanks to integration of ideas from the development of the Sega Virtua Processor chip. Miller suggested an alternative strategy, citing concerns with releasing a new console with no previous design specifications within six to nine months. At the suggestion from Miller and his team, Sega designed the 32X as a peripheral for the existing Genesis, expanding its power with two 32-bit
SuperH SuperH (or SH) is a 32-bit reduced instruction set computing (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) developed by Hitachi and currently produced by Renesas. It is implemented by microcontrollers and microprocessors for embedded systems. At the ...
-2 processors. The SH-2 had been developed in 1993 as a joint venture between Sega and Japanese electronics company
Hitachi () is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Chiyoda, Tokyo, Japan. It is the parent company of the Hitachi Group (''Hitachi Gurūpu'') and had formed part of the Nissan ''zaibatsu'' and later DKB Group and Fuy ...
. At the end of the Consumer Electronics show, with the basic design of the 32X in place, Sega Enterprises invited Sega of America to assist in development of the new add-on. Although the new unit was a stronger console than originally proposed, it was not compatible with Saturn games. Before the 32X could be launched, the release date of the Saturn was announced for November 1994 in Japan, coinciding with the 32X's target launch date in North America. Sega of America now was faced with trying to market the 32X with the Saturn's Japan release occurring simultaneously. Their answer was to call the 32X a "transitional device" between the Genesis and the Saturn. This was justified by Sega's statement that both platforms would run at the same time and that the 32X would be aimed at players who could not afford the more expensive Saturn. The 32X was released in November 1994, in time for the holiday season. Demand among retailers was high, and Sega could not keep up orders for the system. More than 1,000,000 orders had been placed for 32X units, but Sega had only managed to ship 600,000 units by January 1995. Launching at about the same price as a Genesis console, the price of the 32X was less than half of what the Saturn's price would be at launch. Though positioning the console as an inexpensive entry into 32-bit gaming, Sega had a difficult time convincing third-party developers to create games for the new system. After an early run on the peripheral, news soon spread to the public of the upcoming release of the Sega Saturn, which would not support the 32X's games. The Saturn was released on May 11, 1995, four months earlier than its originally intended release date of September 2, 1995. The Saturn, in turn, caused developers to further shy away from the console and created doubt about the library for the 32X, even with Sega's assurances that there would be a large number of games developed for the system. In early 1996, Sega conceded that it had promised too much out of the 32X and decided to stop producing the system in order to focus on the Saturn. Prices for the 32X dropped to and cleared out of stores at .


Variations

More than a dozen licensed variations of the Genesis/Mega Drive have been released. In addition to models made by Sega, alternate models were made by other companies, such as Majesco Entertainment, AtGames,
JVC JVC (short for Japan Victor Company) is a Japanese brand owned by JVCKenwood corporation. Founded in 1927 as the Victor Talking Machine Company of Japan and later as , the company is best known for introducing Japan's first television ...
,
Pioneer Corporation commonly referred to as Pioneer, is a Japanese multinational corporation based in Tokyo, that specializes in digital entertainment products. The company was founded by Nozomu Matsumoto in January 1, 1938 in Tokyo as a radio and Loudspeaker, spe ...
,
Amstrad Amstrad was a British electronics company, founded in 1968 by Alan Sugar at the age of 21. The name is a contraction of Alan Michael Sugar Trading. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in April 1980. During the late 1980s, Amstrad ...
, and
Aiwa is a consumer electronics brand owned and used by various companies in different regions of the world. American and other regions are owned by Chicago-based Aiwa Corporation. Towada Audio based in Tokyo owns the rights to the brand in Japa ...
. A number of bootleg clones were created during its lifespan.


First-party models

In 1993, Sega introduced a smaller, lighter version of the console, known as the Mega Drive II in Japan, Europe, and Australia and sold as Genesis (without the Sega prefix) in North America. This version omits the headphone jack, replaces the A/V-Out connector with a smaller version that supports stereo sound, and provides a simpler, less expensive
mainboard A motherboard (also called mainboard, main circuit board, mb, mboard, backplane board, base board, system board, logic board (only in Apple computers) or mobo) is the main printed circuit board (PCB) in general-purpose computers and other expand ...
that requires less power. Sega released a combined, semi-portable Genesis/Sega CD unit, the Genesis CDX (marketed as the Multi-Mega in Europe). This unit retailed at ; this was roughly more than the individual Genesis and Sega CD units put together, as the Sega CD had been reduced to half a year before. The CDX was bundled with ''
Sonic CD is a 1993 platform game for the Sega CD developed and published by Sega is a Japanese multinational corporation, multinational video game and entertainment company headquartered in Shinagawa, Tokyo. Its international branches, Sega ...
'', '' Sega Classics Arcade Collection'', and the Sega CD version of ''
Ecco the Dolphin ''Ecco the Dolphin'' is a series of action-adventure game, action-adventure video games developed by Appaloosa Interactive (previously known as Novotrade International) and published by Sega. They were originally developed for the Sega Genesis, Me ...
''. The CDX features a small
LCD A liquid-crystal display (LCD) is a flat panel display, flat-panel display or other Electro-optic modulator, electronically modulated optical device that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals combined with polarizers. Liqui ...
screen that, when the unit is used to play audio CDs, displays the current track being played. With this feature and the system's lightweight build (weighing two pounds), Sega marketed it in part as a
portable CD player A portable CD player is a portable audio player A portable audio player is a personal mobile device that allows the user to listen to recorded sound recording, audio while mobile. Sometimes a distinction is made between a ''portable'' player, ba ...
. Late in the 16-bit era, Sega released a
handheld A mobile device (or handheld computer) is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations (computation) automatically. Modern digital electronic computers can perform ...
version of the Genesis, the Genesis Nomad. Its design was based on the Mega Jet, a Mega Drive portable unit featured on airplane flights in Japan. As the only successor to the
Game Gear The is an 8-bit Fourth generation of video game consoles, fourth generation handheld game console released by Sega on October 6, 1990, in Japan, in April 1991 throughout North America and Europe, and during 1992 in Australia. The Game Gear pri ...
, the Nomad operates on 6
AA batteries AA, Aa, Double A, or Double-A may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * ''America's Army'', a 2002 computer game published by the U.S. Army * ''Ancient Anguish'', a computer game in existence since 1992 * Aa!, a J-Pop musical group * Doubl ...
, displaying its graphics on a 3.25-inch (8.25-mm) LCD screen. The Nomad supports the entire Genesis library (save for one game that requires the use of the reset button, which the Nomad lacks), but cannot be used with the Sega 32X, the Sega CD, or the Power Base Converter. Exclusive to the Japanese market was the TeraDrive, a Mega Drive combined with an
IBM PC compatible IBM PC compatible computers are similar to the original IBM Personal Computer, IBM PC, IBM Personal Computer XT, XT, and IBM Personal Computer/AT, AT, all from computer giant IBM, that are able to use the same software and expansion cards. Such ...
computer. Sega also produced three arcade system boards based on the Mega Drive: the System C-2, the
MegaTech ''MegaTech'' (sometimes styled with the katakana メガテケ) was a publication from EMAP aimed specifically at the Sega Mega Drive gaming market. The magazine was started in 1991. The launch editorial consisted of a small team including Paul ...
, and the MegaPlay, which support approximately 80 games combined.


Third-party models

Working with Sega Enterprises, JVC released the
Wondermega The Sega CD, released as the in most regions outside North America and Brazil, is a CD-ROM accessory for the Sega Genesis produced by Sega as part of the fourth generation of video game consoles. It was released on December 12, 1991, in Japan, ...
on April 1, 1992, in Japan. The system was later redesigned by JVC and released as the X'Eye in North America in September 1994. Designed by JVC to be a Genesis and Sega CD combination with high quality audio, the Wondermega's high price ($500 at launch) kept it out of the hands of average consumers. The same was true of the Pioneer LaserActive, which requires an add-on known as the Mega-LD pack, developed by Sega, in order to play Genesis and Sega CD games. Although the LaserActive was lined up to compete with the
3DO Interactive Multiplayer The 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, also referred to as simply 3DO, is a home video game console developed by The 3DO Company. Conceived by entrepreneur and Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the 3DO was not a console manufactured by the company ...
, the combined price of the system and the Mega-LD pack made it a prohibitively expensive option for Sega players. Aiwa released the CSD-GM1, a combination Genesis/Sega CD unit built into a
boombox A boombox is a transistorized portable music player featuring one or two cassette deck, cassette tape recorder/players and Tuner (radio), AM/FM radio, generally with a carrying handle. Beginning in the mid 1980s, a CD player was often included ...
. Several companies added the Mega Drive to personal computers, mimicking the design of Sega's TeraDrive; these include the
MSX MSX is a standardized home computer architecture, announced by Microsoft and ASCII Corporation on June 16, 1983. It was initially conceived by Microsoft as a product for the Eastern sector, and jointly marketed by Kazuhiko Nishi, then vice-pr ...
models AX-330 and AX-990, distributed in
Kuwait Kuwait (; ar, الكويت ', or ), officially the State of Kuwait ( ar, دولة الكويت '), is a country in Western Asia. It is situated in the northern edge of Eastern Arabia at the tip of the Persian Gulf, bordering Iraq to Iraq–Ku ...
and
Yemen Yemen (; ar, ٱلْيَمَن, al-Yaman), officially the Republic of Yemen,, ) is a country in Western Asia. It is situated on the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula, and borders Saudi Arabia to the Saudi Arabia–Yemen border, north and ...
, and the Amstrad Mega PC, distributed in Europe and Australia. After the Genesis was discontinued, Majesco Entertainment released the Genesis 3 as a budget version in 1998. A similar thing happened in Portugal, where Ecofilmes, Sega's distributor in the country, obtained a license to sell the Mega Game II. This version was more akin to the second first-party model, being noteworthy the inclusion of six-button controllers and a switch to alternate between different game regions, enabling this version to play all games without the need for any device or modification to bypass region locking. In 2009, AtGames began producing two new variations: the Firecore, which can play original Genesis cartridges as well as preloaded games, and a handheld console preloaded with 20 Genesis games. Companies such as Radica Games have released various compilations of Genesis and Mega Drive games in "
plug-and-play In computing, a plug and play (PnP) device or computer bus is one with a specification that facilitates the recognition of a hardware component in a system without the need for physical device configuration or user intervention in resolving resou ...
" packages resembling the system's controller.


Re-releases and emulation

A number of Genesis and Mega Drive
emulators In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computer, computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes, and development of both computer hardware , ha ...
have been produced, including GenEM, KGen, Genecyst, VGen, Gens, and Kega Fusion. The
GameTap GameTap was an online video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, keyboard ...
subscription gaming service included a Genesis emulator and had several dozen licensed Genesis games in its catalog. The Console Classix subscription gaming service includes an emulator and has several hundred Genesis games in its catalog. Compilations of Genesis games have been released for other consoles. These include ''
Sonic Mega Collection is a video game Product bundling, compilation developed by Sonic Team and published by Sega in 2002 for the GameCube. It is a compilation of several ''Sonic the Hedgehog (series), Sonic the Hedgehog'' games originally released on the Sega Genesi ...
'' and ''
Sonic Gems Collection ''Sonic Gems Collection'' is a 2005 Product bundling, compilation of Sega video games, primarily those in the ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' series. The video game console emulator, emulated games span multiple genres and video game console, consoles— ...
'' for PS2,
Xbox Xbox is a video gaming brand created and owned by Microsoft. The brand consists of five video game consoles, as well as application software, applications (games), streaming media, streaming services, an online service by the name of Xbox netw ...
, and
Nintendo GameCube The is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles are generally ...
; '' Sega Genesis Collection'' for PS2 and PSP; and ''
Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection ''Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection'' (''Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection'' in PAL regions) is a Product bundling, compilation of video games developed by Backbone Entertainment and published by Sega for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The compil ...
'' (known as the ''Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection'' in PAL territories) for
PlayStation 3 The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is a home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sony Computer Entertainment. The successor to the PlayStation 2, it is part of the PlayStation brand of consoles. It was first released on Novemb ...
and
Xbox 360 The Xbox 360 is a home video game console developed by Microsoft. As the successor to the Xbox (console), original Xbox, it is the second console in the Xbox series. It competed with Sony Interactive Entertainment, Sony's PlayStation 3 and Nin ...
. During his keynote speech at the 2006
Game Developers Conference The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is an annual conference for video game developers. The event includes an expo, networking events, and awards shows like the Game Developers Choice Awards and Independent Games Festival, and a variety of tutori ...
, Nintendo president
Satoru Iwata was a Japanese businessman, video game programmer, video game designer, and producer. He was the fourth president President most commonly refers to: *President (corporate title) *President (education), a leader of a college or university *P ...
announced that Sega would make a number of Genesis/Mega Drive games available to download on the
Wii The Wii ( ) is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home consoles ...
's
Virtual Console A virtual console (VC) – also known as a virtual terminal (VT) – is a conceptual combination of the keyboard and display for a computer user interface In the industrial design field of human–computer interaction, a user interface ...
. There are select Genesis games available on the Xbox 360 through
Xbox Live Arcade Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) is a digital video game Digital distribution in video games, download service available through the Xbox Games Store, Microsoft's digital distribution network for the Xbox 360. It focuses on smaller downloadable games from b ...
, such as ''Sonic the Hedgehog'' and ''Sonic 2'', as well as games available via the
PlayStation Network PlayStation Network (PSN) is a digital media entertainment service provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Launched in November 2006, PSN was originally conceived for the PlayStation video game consoles, but soon extended to encompass smartp ...
and
Steam Steam is a substance containing water in the gas phase, and sometimes also an aerosol of liquid water droplets, or air. This may occur due to evaporation or due to boiling, where heat is applied until water reaches the enthalpy of vaporization. ...
.


Later releases

On May 22, 2006, North American company Super Fighter Team released ''
Beggar Prince ''Beggar Prince'', originally known as ''Xin Qigai Wangzi'' ( Chinese: 新乞丐王子, Hanyu Pinyin Hanyu Pinyin (), often shortened to just pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese, Standard Mandarin Chinese in ...
'', a game translated from a 1996
Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, most populous country, with a Popul ...
original. It was released worldwide and was the first commercial Genesis game release in North America since 1998. Super Fighter Team would later go on to release two more games for the system, ''
Legend of Wukong ''Legend of Wukong'', originally known as ''Wucom Legend'' ( – 外傳 ''wàizhuàn'' is analogous to the Japanese Gaiden), is a Taiwanese Role-playing video game, role-playing adventure game for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis developed by Gamtec. I ...
'' and '' Star Odyssey''. In December 2010, WaterMelon, an American company, released ''
Pier Solar and the Great Architects ''Pier Solar and the Great Architects'' is a homebrew role-playing Role-playing or roleplaying is the changing of one's behaviour to assume a role A role (also rôle or social role) is a set of connected behaviors, rights, moral obligation, ...
'', the first commercial
role-playing video game A role-playing video game (commonly referred to as simply a role-playing game or RPG, as well as a computer role-playing game or CRPG) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it i ...
specifically developed for the console since 1996, and was the biggest 16-bit game ever produced for the console at the time at 64 Mb (roughly 8 Megabytes). ''Pier Solar'' is the only cartridge-based game which can optionally use the Sega CD to play an enhanced soundtrack and sound effects disc. In 2013, independent programmer Future Driver, inspired by the Disney film ''
Wreck-It Ralph ''Wreck-It Ralph'' is a 2012 American Computer-animated film, computer-animated comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The List of Walt Disney Animation Studios films, 52nd Disney animated f ...
'', developed ''Fix-It Felix Jr.'' for the Genesis. In 2017, American company Mega Cat Games released Coffee Crisis, a
Beat 'em up The beat 'em up (also known as brawler and, in some markets, beat 'em all) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it is played rather than Computer graphics, visual or narrative ...
, for the Sega Genesis. On December 5, 2007, Tectoy released a portable version of the Genesis/Mega Drive with twenty built-in games. Another version called "Mega Drive Guitar Idol" comes with two six-button joypads and a
guitar controller A guitar controller is a video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controller, controller, computer keyboard, key ...
with five
fret A fret is any of the thin strips of material, usually metal wire, inserted laterally at specific positions along the Neck (music), neck or fretboard of a stringed instrument. Frets usually extend across the full width of the neck. On some histo ...
buttons. The ''Guitar Idol'' game contains a mix of Brazilian and international songs. The console has 87 built-in games, including some from Electronic Arts based on the mobile phone versions. In 2016, Tectoy announced that they had developed a new Genesis console that not only looks almost identical to the original model of the Genesis, but also has a traditional cartridge slot and
SD card Secure Digital, officially abbreviated as SD, is a proprietary format, proprietary non-volatile memory, non-volatile Flash memory, flash memory card format developed by the SD Association, SD Association (SDA) for use in portable devices. The s ...
reader, which was released in June 2017. In 2009, Chinese company AtGames produced a Genesis/Mega Drive-compatible console, the Firecore. It features a top-loading cartridge slot and includes two controllers similar to the six-button controller for the original Genesis. The console has 15 games built-in and is region-free, allowing cartridge games to run regardless of their region. AtGames produced a handheld version of the console. Both machines have been released in Europe by distributing company Blaze Europe. In 2018, Sega announced a
dedicated console A dedicated console is a video game console that is limited to one or more built-in video game or games, and is not equipped for additional games that are Digital distribution in video games, distributed via ROM cartridges, Compact disc, discs, d ...
, the Genesis/Mega Drive Mini. The console includes 40 games, including '' Gunstar Heroes'' and '' Castlevania: Bloodlines'', with different games for different regions and a save-anywhere function. '' Streets of Rage'' composer
Yuzo Koshiro is a Japanese composer and sound programmer. He is often regarded as one of the most influential innovators in chiptune and video game music, producing music in a number of genres including rock music, rock, jazz, symphonic, and various List of ...
provided the menu music. The console was released worldwide on September 19, 2019. Crowdfunded Sega Genesis games have been released in recent years, with ''
Tanglewood Tanglewood is a music venue A music venue is any location used for a concert or musical performance. Music venues range in size and location, from a small coffeehouse for folk music shows, an outdoor bandshell or bandstand or a concert hall ...
'', a puzzle platformer being released on August 14, 2018, and '' Xeno Crisis'' released on October 28, 2019. Both games were created by indie-game developers using actual Sega development hardware to ensure compatibility with the Genesis. On December 16, 2020, ''
Paprium ''Paprium'' is a 2020 homebrew side-scrolling beat 'em up The beat 'em up (also known as brawler and, in some markets, beat 'em all) is a video game genre A video game genre is an informal classification of a video game based on how it ...
'', WaterMelon's follow up game to Pier Solar, was released after nearly a decade in development.


Reception

Reviewing the Genesis in 1995, ''
Game Players ''Game Players'' is a defunct monthly video game magazine founded by Robert C. Lock in 1989 and originally published by Signal Research in Greensboro, North Carolina. The original publication began as ''Game Players Strategy to Nintendo Games'' ...
'' noted that its rivalry with the
Super NES The Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), commonly shortened to Super NES or Super Nintendo, is a Fourth generation of video game consoles, 16-bit home video game console developed by Nintendo that was released in 1990 in Japan and South ...
was skewed by genre, with the Genesis having superior
sports game A sports video game is a video game that simulates the practice of sports. Most sports have been recreated with a game, including team sports, track and field, extreme sports, and combat sports. Some games emphasize actually playing the sport (s ...
s and the Super NES superior RPGs. Commenting that the Genesis hardware was aging and the new software drying up, they recommended consumers buy a next-generation system or a Genesis Nomad instead, but also advised those who already owned a Genesis to not sell it. In a 1997 year-end review, a team of five ''
Electronic Gaming Monthly ''Electronic Gaming Monthly'' (often abbreviated to ''EGM'') is a monthly American Video game journalism, video game magazine. It offers video game news, coverage of industry events, interviews with gaming figures, editorial content and product ...
'' editors gave the Genesis scores of 4.5, 5.0, 4.0, 4.5, and 7.5 - for all five editors, the lowest score they gave to any of the five consoles reviewed in the issue. While their chief criticisms were the lack of upcoming game releases and dated hardware, they also concurred that the Genesis was clearly inferior to the Super NES in terms of graphics capabilities, sound chip, and games library. John Ricciardi, in particular, considered the Genesis overrated, saying he had consistently found more enjoyment in both the Super NES and
TurboGrafx-16 The TurboGrafx-16, known as the outside North America, is a home video game console designed by Hudson Soft and sold by NEC, NEC Home Electronics. It was the first console marketed in the fourth generation of video game consoles, fourth genera ...
, while Dan Hsu and Crispin Boyer recommended it based on its selection of classic titles and the high value-for-money of the six
pack-in game This list includes terms used in video games and the video game industry, as well as slang used by players. 0–9 A ...
s Sega was offering at the time.


Legacy

The Genesis has often ranked among the best video game consoles. In 2009,
IGN ''IGN'' (formerly ''Imagine Games Network'') is an American video game Video games, also known as computer games, are electronic games that involves interaction with a user interface or input device such as a joystick, game controll ...
named it the fifth best video game console, citing its edge in sports games and better home version of ''Mortal Kombat'', and lauding "what some consider to be the greatest controller ever created: the six button". In 2007,
GameTrailers ''GameTrailers'' (''GT'') was an American Video game journalism, video gaming website created by Geoffrey R. Grotz and Brandon Jones in 2002. The website specialized in multimedia content, including Trailer (promotion), trailers and gameplay f ...
named the Genesis as the sixth best console of all time in their list of top ten consoles that "left their mark on the history of gaming", noting its great games and solid controller, and writing of the "glory days" of ''Sonic the Hedgehog''. In January 2008, technology columnist Don Reisinger proclaimed that the Genesis "created the industry's best console war to date", citing ''Sonic the Hedgehog'', superior sports games, and backward compatibility with the Sega Master System. In 2008, GamingExcellence ranked it sixth of the 10 best consoles, declaring, "one can truly see the Genesis for the gaming milestone it was." At the same time,
GameDaily GameDaily (GD) was a video game journalism Video game journalism is a branch of journalism concerned with the reporting and discussion of video games, typically based on a core "reveal–preview–review" cycle. With the prevalence and rise ...
rated it ninth of ten for its memorable games. In 2014, USgamer's Jeremy Parish wrote, "If the Atari generation introduced video games as a short-lived '70s fad ... and the NES generation established it into an enduring obsession for the young, Sega's Genesis began pushing the medium toward something resembling its contemporary form", expounding that the system served as "the key incubator for modern sports franchises", made "consoles truly international" by providing Western third-parties previously put at a disadvantage by Nintendo's restrictive licensing policies with a more profitable alternative, created "an online subscription service" that foreshadowed "
PlayStation Plus PlayStation Network (PSN) is a digital media entertainment service provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Launched in November 2006, PSN was originally conceived for the PlayStation video game consoles, but soon extended to encompass smartp ...
more than 15 years early" with the Sega Channel, and "played a key role in ensuring the vitality and future of the games industry by breaking Nintendo's near-monopolistic hold on the U.S. and awakening the U.K. to the merits of television gaming". For his part, Kalinske highlighted Sega's role in developing games for an older demographic and pioneering "the concept of the 'street date with the simultaneous North American and European release of ''Sonic the Hedgehog 2''. John Sczepaniak of ''
Retro Gamer ''Retro Gamer'' is a British magazine, published worldwide, covering Retrogaming, retro video games. It was the first commercial magazine to be devoted entirely to the subject. Launched in January 2004 as a quarterly publication, ''Retro Gamer'' ...
'' noted, "It was a system where the allure was born not only of the hardware and games, but the magazines, playground arguments, climate, and politics of the time." Sega of America's marketing campaign for the Genesis was widely emulated, influencing marketing in the subsequent generation of consoles.


See also

* List of best-selling Sega Genesis games *
Neo Geo Neo Geo is a family of video game hardware developed by SNK. On the market from 1990 to 2004, the brand originated with the release of an arcade system, the Neo Geo (system), Neo Geo MVS and its home console counterpart, the Neo Geo AES. The ...
*
Philips CD-i The Compact Disc-Interactive (CD-I, later CD-i) is a Digital media, digital optical disc data storage device, data storage format that was mostly developed and marketed by Dutch company Philips. It was created as an extension of Compact Disc Di ...


Notes


References


External links

{{Authority control Fourth-generation video game consoles Home video game consoles Products introduced in 1988 Products introduced in 1989 Products introduced in 1990 Products and services discontinued in 1997 Products and services discontinued in 1999 Backward-compatible video game consoles