Sega Genesis
Company: Sega(North America & Japan, 1989), Majesco(1999)
Released: 1989(North America& Japan)
Lifespan: 1989-1998
Processor: 16-Bit

Review Written: July 6, 2001

The Genesis is one of the few unquestionable successful gaming consoles that falls in the line with the Atari 2600(VHS), the Nintendo Entertainment System(NES), Super Nintendo Entertainment System(SNES), and the Playstation(PSX) as of this writing. Remember, that’s game consoles, not portables, which is only dominated by the various versions of the Game Boy.

The Genesis was made by Sega, and it was their 2nd system. There first one was the Master System, and wasn’t doing that good all together, as it was competing directly with the NES. It’s best years were from 1986 through 1988, but games were made for it until the early 90's. So after there first failed attempt into the console market, Sega released the Genesis here in the US in 1989, a few short months after the Turbo Graphix 16. Now you’d think with the NES in the middle of it’s prime and the Turbo Graphix beating the Genesis launch by a few months you’d think this system would be doomed from the start, but as luck would have it, the Genesis turned out to be one of the most successful systems of all time.

The Genesis featured a 16-bit processor for way better graphics than its previous Master System and the NES could handle. The sound capabilities of the Genesis weren’t as impressive, but some developers who put the effort were able to deliver good soundtracks like featured in the Sonic games, and many of the Sports games such as the impressive amount of voice samples included in the Montana Sports Talk football series.

Sega started off the Genesis dominance with it’s advertising campaign by having the catchy slogan, “We do what Nintendon’t.” People immediately started going to grab the Genesis, and another reason to why it was so successful was because of it’s near arcade perfect translations. Sega had a loyal arcade fan base, and people who wanted to get the first home versions of Altered Beast and Iron Sword grabbed a Genesis just for those games.

Sega sales were high on the rise, and Nintendo new that the NES couldn’t keep up much longer so they went right to work on a 16-bit system on it’s own, that being the Super Nintendo. Nintendo planned to launch with a new Mario game and hoped to crush Sega to the ground on the SNES launch day. But Sega had an ace up there sleeve, one in the form of a little Blue Hedgehog to be specific. You see, the SNES was more powerful than the Genesis in each category as in forms of number of colors on screen, sound capabilities and so on, but there was one thing the Genesis had more powerful then the SNES, and that was the processor. So on the SNES launch day Sega released Sonic the Hedgehog, a 2D side scrolling game that scrolled so fast at moments that even the SNES couldn’t of even made this game. Plus add to the fact that the Sega released a 2nd more slicker model, at a reduced price, packed in with the new Sonic game, the crush that Nintendo was hoping for was over. Instead, a good chunk of loyal NES fans purchased the SNES, and another big chunk opted for the cheaper Genesis. Opening up about a 50-50 consumer base around each system.

So from 1991 through early 1995, the 16-bit gaming wars were the most intense throughout the industry to date, and nothing could even come close. Sega did have a great deal of 3rd Party support for it’s games, and it locked on one of the biggest 3rd Party Publishers, Electronic Arts, to make it’s non sports titles exclusively for Genesis. So that meant that games like the Road Rash series, Shadowrun, and the helicopter Strike series never saw the light of day on the SNES(except I do believe THQ got licensing rights to bring Urban Strike to the SNES, and Data East released a completely different version of Shadowrun on the SNES). And other publishers that also had former exclusive deals with Nintendo also went over to make games for both systems like Capcom, Acclaim, Midway, Tecmo, and countless others.

The Genesis had a huge library of games exceeding several hundred. In the RPG genre Sega already dominated the ranks there by having Phantasy Star 2, 3, and 4 and also Shining Force 1 and 2. And don’t forget about the Lunar games either. The adventure category was pretty much dominated by several Sonic games, but there were other hits in this category such as several licensed Disney games like Mickey Mania and The Lion King. In the action department we saw plenty of hits such as Sega’s own Streets of Rage series that sported 3 games, plus other great hits like TMNT: The Hyperstone Heist, Revenge of Shinobi, and the two Vectorman games. In the puzzle department there were several of the famous Columns series of games, plus other greats like Wildsnake and Breakthrough which both came from the creator of Tetris, Alex Pajitnov(sp?).

The Genesis even had it’s fair share of fighting games. TMNT Tournament Fighters was a surprise hit, and Sega released it’s own Eternal Champions game and a special 2D version of Virtua Fighter 2. Capcom even released two of it’s acclaimed Street Fighter games on the system (Champion Edition and Super SF 2). Midway also released four Mortal Kombat games on the system as well. Sega also released two excellent Boxing games on the system: Evander Holyfield’s Real Deal Boxing and Greatest Heavyweights.

But I’d say the category the Genesis was most famous for in my opinion was for it’s sports games. Sega already had it’s own great line of sports games. It had it’s Joe Montana football series(which later turned out to be called just plain NFL ‘9?), and it’s excellent line of World Series Baseball games. It also delivered several Basketball and Hockey games using NBA Action and NHL All-Star Hockey as it’s key monikers. Besides the four main sports, Sega also released several racing and soccer games as well. Now let’s not forget about EA Sports. It too had several awesome line of sports games in direct competition with Sega each year. Like it’s famous Madden Football series, and it’s NHL hockey games on the Genesis were just the best out there in it’s time. It also released it’s other sports franchises on the system like Fifa Soccer, Triple Play Baseball, NBA Live, and several college renditions of basketball and football.

So the Genesis had a great run at the top, and Sega tried to help keep it alive by releasing add ons like the Sega CD, which had a decent run from 1992 through 1995 with some great new Sega games like Shining Force CD, Sonic CD, and Eternal Champions CD, but it met an early death. Then in late ‘94, Sega released the 32X, which was pretty much a Genesis on steroids that sported really nice 2D graphics, but was quickly demolished after it’s only other publisher besides Sega was Acclaim. And it’s run ended a short year and a half in early ‘96. And it’s really funny how the Genesis outlasted both of the add ons. One of the greatest add ons to the Genesis was the Sega Channel, which was a service you payed $20 a month for, and you got a random 50-70 Genesis games at your disposal each month. Plus you got to try out demos of the newest games before they were released.

The Genesis kept on going even well into the 32-bit era when Sega was trying to develop for Genesis, Saturn, 32X, Sega CD, 32X CD, and Game Gear all at once. Production of Genesis games died down a lot in 1997, when all that was released was a handful of Genesis games like Comix Zone and a couple of it’s sports games, and a trilogy of EA Sports games. The last Genesis game was released in October of 1998, that being a horrible port of Frogger by Majesco.

One good thing Majesco did do, however was re-release the Genesis in a smaller size, 3rd model in 1999. The thing was the size of a portable CD player! And it was only priced at $30. And Majesco even re-released several hit Sega games as well for only $10-15 each. So now that we know a lot more about the Genesis, let’s get onto the....

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics Capabilities: 8.8
Sound Capabilities: 7.7
Variety of Games: 9.8
3rd Party Support: 9.5

Overall: 8.9

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 9

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