Aug 182009

Gaming Greats is a regular column that will take a look back at everything great that makes video games what they are today.

This almost slipped by me. Luckily, I was able to cover it on the podcast. However for those out of the loop on August 14 the Sega Genesis celebrated its 20th anniversary! It was Sega’s 5th console released and is considered to be a 4th generation console. It is also Sega’s most successful system, selling 29 million units.

The Genesis served as the successor to the Master System. In order to bring in players from the Master System, Sega added processors to the Genesis that were very similar to the ones in the Master System. Using a pass-through add-on called the Power Base Converter players were able to play Master System games on the Genesis. The extra processors ran along side the Genesis’ 16-bit processor and were usually used for sound.

Right from the get go Sega showcased the Genesis as the most powerful console on the market; using advertisements that claimed “Genesis does what Nintendo’nt”. To combat Nintendo being able to hold licenses to release many arcade games exclusively, Sega made deals with athletes and celebrities to put out games such as Arnold Palmer Golf, Joe Montana Football, Mario Lemieux Hockey, and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. In 1991 Sega stepped up their game and released Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic, with his more edgy look, was created to make the Genesis to appear more mature and “cool”.

In 1992, as a way to keep the Genesis at the top of gaming technology, Sega released the Sega CD. This was an add-on made to play games on CD-ROM. The Sega CD didn’t do so well in the gaming market due to it high price and weak game library. In 1994, Sega released yet another add-on called the 32X. The 32X was inserted into the cartridge slot on the Genesis and played its own series of cartridges. However, with the Sega Saturn due to be released just a few months later, the 32X was yet another failure on the market.

Deciding to start focusing on the Saturn, Sega pulled the plug on the Genesis and it add-ons in 1997. They then licensed the right to produce the console to Majesco. The Genesis sold 29 million units during its lifetime, serving as Sega most successful systems. 914 games were released with Frogger, being the final official game, released in 1998. The Genesis will always be remembered to be the one system that stood toe to toe with Nintendo during the 16-bit era.