20 years ago today the Genesis was launched by Sega in the U.S. It is pretty crazy to think it was that long ago. When the Genesis was released, Nintendo still had something like 80-90% of the video game market and was still going strong. Later this same year, the movie the Wizard, came out in theaters and featured Super Mario Brothers 3 which would come out the next year in 1990.
Because of the huge stronghold Nintendo had the first two years the Genesis only did moderately well. There main selling point was that you could bring the arcade home and they ported several arcade titles to the system with very similar graphics. I remember one time my brother took me to the Red Cliffs Mall in St. George around this time. We played Altered Beasts at the arcade, Tilt. He asked me if there was a system that had that game. It just happened to be the pack in game with the Genesis at the time. We went to the K.B. Toys that was at the mall and I showed him. I think he was contemplating getting one for us. However, at that time the Genesis still had a $200 price tag, so it didn’t happen.
It wasn’t until 1991 that the Genesis started to really take off and that’s because that was the year of Sonic the Hedgehog. From previous interviews I have read, Sega knew they needed to come up with a mascot that could rival mario and this one ended up being their choice. It was also the President of Sega of America’s idea to make this game a pack in game in order to help sell systems. From what I have read Sega of Japan was not happy with this idea, since it was pretty much giving away their killer app for free. However, they decided to go along and allow the idea. After the release of Sonic, and a $50 price decrease, the Genesis started selling like hot cakes. It was that year that I finally got one. I managed to sell my NES and all my games and then pooled up all my lawn mowing money from the summer to get one.
Over time Sega managed to get half of the video game market which is pretty impressive. However, they made some mistakes near the end of the Genesis’ life which cost them dearly. A big debate at the time was which system was better Genesis or Super Nintendo? I personally jumped back and forth between both systems over the years. When I switched to the Super Nintendo, I had a friend who also had a Genesis, so sometimes we would swap systems over the weekends. It made it a great way to enjoy both great libraries. The main disadvantage with the Genesis was it could only display 64 colors on the screen at one time, while the Super Nintendo could do 256. Games that were ported to both systems almost always looked better on the Super Nintendo, especially arcade ports. However, the Genesis had some great exclusive titles that looked great and colorful, one of them being the Sonic series.
This post turned out being a lot longer than I thought it would, but I thought it appropriate to share some of my memories of the time and a little of the history.
Happy Birthday Genesis!
Here is a pic of my boxed system. 🙂