Sega was a clear second in the 8-Bit wars against the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Sega Master System was held back by so many problems that Sega was ill-fitted to rectify. With the launch of the Genesis though, Sega was throwing down the gauntlet and pulling out all of the stops. They were focusing on their arcade ports, getting third parties signed up and getting the best licenses out to gamers. All things they missed during their many attempts at making the Master System a household name.
When the Genesis launched, it was the only “true” 16-Bit home console. NEC’s Turbo Grafx-16 was a hybrid 8/16-Bit and couldn’t get much of a hold against the left/right combo Sega was touting. Sega basically took their System 16 arcade spec and put it in a consumer console and it worked like a charm. That is untill Nintendo entered the 16-Bit realm and gave the Genesis a run for its money. For the time, arcade ports and sports game fans had only look at the growing Genesis library to understand this was their next console purchase.
Packed in with the system, imagine that modern gamers, was an arcade port- Altered Beast. Nowadays it is recognized as not so great a title but it was good enough to show gamers the power of the system. That is all Sega needed, their marketing would eventually do the rest. Early marketing was shotgun blasts of advertising- some hit, some missed. It was the licensing that Sega built the Genesis as the console to own. Titles such as Dick Tracy, James ‘Buster’ Douglas Knockout Boxing, Joe Montana Football, Tommy Lasorda Baseball and other licensed games that didn’t suck. A true feat for the time.
Other licensed titles Sega went after were from other companies as they understood this was integral to success. Licensing their arcade titles out was nothing new. Sega licensed out some of their arcade titles to NES third parties on many occasions. What was new though was being on the other side of licensing. Titles such as Ghouls n Ghosts (featured in issue #1 of our magazine available here) and Strider in particular, pushed the sale of more than a few consoles. Strider was THE home port of the time. Capcom went all “adventure” with the NES port of the arcade action title which left more than a little bit of a foul taste in fans mouths.
Sega was able to position the Genesis as the cooler console, the console for the teens while Nintendo was content with the pre-teen market. Nintendo was like this till it was nearly too late. Sega’s Genesis was a seminal system that forced the gaming world to grow and mature from the kiddie realm that Nintendo was frolicking around in.
Here at Retro Gaming Magazine, we salute you Sega and say wholeheartedly, thank you for the Genesis.
What are your favorite memories of the Genesis and the games it had?
Launch titles were:
Altered Beast (read our history article)
Last Battle (read our history article)
Space Harrier II (read our history article)
Super Thunder Blade (read our history article)
Thunder Force II (read our history article)
Tommy Lasorda Baseball (read our history article)
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