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Sega Master System

Sega Master System

Technically, the Master System was superior to the NES, with better graphics and higher quality sound. The original SMS could play both cartridges and the credit card-sized "Sega Cards," which retailed for cheaper prices than carts but had less code. The SMS also had cooler accessories (like 3D glasses), but this didn't do much good when there weren't very many exciting games. The SMS was touted as an arcade experience at home, but every other system made the same claim. Poor marketing by Tonka toys didn't help any. Sega originally sold the U.S. SMS rights to Tonka, believing that the toy distributor would allow the SMS to be better circulated, but Tonka's marketing department passed over popular European titles (such as Psycho Fox) and instead released flops like Cloud Master. After the release of the Genesis in 1989, Sega USA reacquired the SMS rights, and released some popular titles... but it was too little, too late.

Sega Genesis

Sega Genesis

Sega took another shot at the home videogame market with the Sega Genesis, a 16-bit next generation system far superior to the NES. At launch, the Genesis (sold as the 'Mega Drive' in Europe and Japan) was $189 and came packaged with one controller and Altered Beast. The "Power Base Converter," an adapter that allowed Sega Master System games on the Genesis was immediately released.

Although NEC's TurboGrafx-16 had beat the Genesis to market by nearly four months, Sega quickly regained lost ground, thanks to their line-up of quality arcade conversions, killer sports games, and most of all the full support of Trip Hawkins and Electronic Arts. Although the Genesis development kit was reportedly overly expensive and initially difficult to work with, by the end of 1990 there were over 30 third-party developers writing games for the new system, compared to four for the TG16.

Sega 32X

Sega 32X

In 1994 Sega released the 32X as an add on 'system' for their Sega Genesis. It was $179.99 (159.99?) USD and had it's own set of cartridges. It cosmetically looked better with the Sega Genesis 2, but contained a removable adapter to fit snuggly on the Sega Genesis 1. It took it's own power supply and routed the RF switch through the 32X. It was released to a small fanfare however, as the Sega Genesis was on it's way out and the Saturn talk was stirring about. Sega had released it to the United States first, as to tide the Americans over until the arrival of the Sega Saturn. The Japanese, who received the 32X later, already had the Saturn. Theirs was named the Super 32X. As it's name implies, the 32X was a 32 bit system. There were also games that were released jointly for the Sega CD and 32X: 32X CD games.

Sega CD

Sega CD

Although the Turbografx-16 CD attachment technically beat Sega to market, the Sega CD was the first major CD-based system. Attaching to the underside of Sega's mega-successful Genesis console, it promised to take gamers to "the next level". In addition to displaying video and playing high fidelity audio, the Sega CD included internal memory storage (for saving games) and incorporated built-in scaling and rotation graphic capabilities. Interactive video titles like Night Trap and Sewer Shark were supposed to revolutionize gaming, but beyond sheer novelty value, these games' limited interaction and minimal replay value didn't hold most gamer's attentions.

The initial version of the Sega CD was a square, front-loading model that attached to the bottom of the Genesis console. With no controls on the outside (just two lights), it was controlled entirely through software. Later, this sturdy model was replaced with a lightweight version that rode sidesaddle with the Genesis and had a pop-top lid. Compared to the first Sega CD, it felt flimsy and cheap. The newer model is also known to have problems running certain games.

Sega Saturn

Sega Saturn

Whilst the 32X and Sega-CD were bridging the gap between the Genesis and the upcoming 32-bit CD-based console in America, Sega of Japan worked in the background on the latter with the aim of developing the most powerful 2D/3D console in the market that would surpass the specs of their main rival at the time: the 3DO. Development of the Saturn took about 2 and half years and was released in Japan in November 1994. Initial sales were encouraging and the Saturn did exceptionally well.

The release day in the US was to be 'Saturnday' on September 2, 1995. Sega realized though that Sony was releasing the Playstation at the same time and decided to gamble and get the Saturn on store shelves 4 months early. Not only did the announcement take third-party software developers by surprise, but it also meant that Sony would have more time to put some finishing touches on their Playstation, draw up a well-planned strategy and learn from the pitfalls of the Saturn. One thing that Sony did on release of the Playstation was to slash its price to $299, making it $100 cheaper than the Saturn. This move, along with much better marketing than that of Sega of America, reaped havoc on the Saturn's place in the market and ultimately caused its annihilation.

The Saturn's initial library of games was limited, although it did eventually get lots of first-class arcade games ported to the system. One issue with third-party developers was the two parallel processors that made up the heart of the system. Apparently, many developers didn't quite understand how to make full use of the processors and were limited by the fact that only one processor could gain access to memory registers at a time. Unfortunately, developers did not realize the full potential of the Saturn until the end of its lifetime in 1998 when some of the best games for the system such as Panzer Dragoon Saga and Shining Force III were released.

Sega Dreamcast

Sega Dreamcast

Video gaming will never be the same. Dreamcast represents the most advanced achievement in console technology designed to outperform all other systems, including most arcade systems. Features include 128-bit performance from a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) central processor, an independent 3D graphics engine and a dedicated 3D sound chip. The results are breathtaking animation, color, depth, realism and the potential for new levels of game play strategy. This remarkable breakthrough in consumer electronics uses a Visual Memory System (VMS) with a built-in LCD screen. Gamers can choose plays in sports games or plan offensive moves in RPG games without their challengers clueing in. You can also save special characters, moves or teams to the VMS, and swap info with your fellow Dreamcast owners by connecting your VMS card to theirs.


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