When covering each console I will cover its actual history, my personal history with it and some info about collecting for the console. Being that this is our first coverage of a SEGA console, I will be covering the company’s history as well.
HISTORY OF SEGA
Much like Nintendo, Sega Holdings Co., Ltd (a.k.a. Sega or SEGA) hasn’t always been solely in the video game market. The company originated as Service Games, was based in Hawaii and moved to Tokyo in 1951 with the intentions to produce jukeboxes and slot machines. In 1965 it then moved into importing coin-operated games and merged with its largest competitor, after which it changed the new company name to Sega Enterprises. Over the next couple decades it saw good success in the arcade gaming scene and gained notice worldwide. It wasn’t until 1983 that Sega would make their first video game console, the SG-1000. The console was sold primarily in Japan and Australia and saw pretty limited success. It wasn’t until the launch of the Master System/Genesis in 1987/89 respectively that Sega would see large commercial sales.
HISTORY OF SEGA GENESIS
In August of 1989 the Sega Genesis hit the U.S. at an affordable price point of $189 ($363 today adjusted for inflation). The Genesis was advertised and promoted by Sega as kind of the “Nintendo killer”. You may remember many of its commercials directly mentioned Nintendo and its inferiority to the Genesis. Its software was a good mixture of arcade ports and original IPs. It was one of the first consoles to feature sports games promoted and affiliated with celebrities and athletes like John Madden Football, Arnold Palmer Tournament Golf and Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. As the SNES launched and gained popularity Sega decided to revamp their efforts. They did a “re-brand” of sorts around a new character Sonic the Hedgehog and had a lot of commercial success with it. Sonic the Hedgehog was such an amazing game at the time that it helped solidify the Genesis as not only a contender in the U.S. game market, but the overall sales leader. Sega continued attempts to improve the Master/Genesis by creating attachment upgrades like the 32X and the Sega CD. Sales for the Genesis did well and successfully beat the SNES for pretty much the entirety of the 16 bit era. It’s lifecycle was from 1989 to 1997, over that span it sold an estimated 40 million units.
PERSONAL HISTORY WITH SEGA GENESIS
The Genesis was a big part of my childhood. During most of my NES playing days my parents were still together, but shortly after they split up. I remember that my father bought a Genesis but wouldn’t let us take it back to mom’s with us after we visited. It was almost like an extra incentive to want to visit him (seems kinda messed up now that I think about it but also a pretty smart move). Its also one of the first consoles I remember playing a lot with my brother Levi. As I mentioned in the NES post, he was a little young in those days to really play challenging video games. But by the time dad got the Genesis Levi was 6 or 7, old enough to keep up with me on most games. I remember co-op play on a lot of classics: the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Gadget Twins and Toejam & Earl. At that time the Genesis also had probably the best era of licensed video games in all of gaming history, superb but difficult titles like Lion King, Aladdin, Mickey Mouse Castle of Illusion and Jurassic Park. A couple years later Dad gave the Genesis to grandma so that all of us grandkids could play anytime we visited. I have several memories of playing with cousins on Gadget Twins, NHL ’94 and Super Street Fighter II to name a few. My favorite title from the Genesis though is definitely Sonic the Hedgehog 2, it would likely even make my top 5 games of all-time list. It’s such a masterpiece in both soundtrack and level design. The Genesis is my second favorite console ever and the 16bit era is in my opinion the greatest generation of gaming we’ve ever had. When I’m in the mood to play some older games the Genesis and SNES boxes are the ones I tend to reach for.
COLLECTING FOR THE GENESIS
So while I’ve played the Genesis extensively at my dad’s and grandma’s, I never actually owned the Genesis myself. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I purchased one, at a pawn shop near Indy. Its been one of my favorite systems to collect for. This is for two reasons primarily. First off because I love the system and its games and I have such fond memories of them. The second reason is because I’ve found it’s actually one of the easiest systems to collect for. I see Genesis games frequently at yard sales, flea markets, pawn shops, used game stores, Craigslist, you name it. In general the price of its best games tends to be pretty low as well. A lot of the best games for the system were first party games, produced in large quantities (namely the Sonic series and some arcade ports), so they aren’t too expensive or difficult to find. The price of an average loose Genesis cart from my collection was around $10-20 (again, I collect loose carts but with labels in great condition), not bad at all compared to its competitor, the SNES. Another pro for these games is that the color of the cart is black so it doesn’t show dirt and it hasn’t been marked all over by some kid who had a Sharpie and ADHD. Are you thinking you want to be a Complete-In-Box collector? No problem. Genesis boxes were plastic cases, with protective coverings over their labels. They tend to hold up very well compared to the cardboard boxes used by the NES, SNES and N64. Because of that wise design choice Sega made, the CIB Genesis game prices are much lower than pretty much any other system’s boxes from the 80s or 90s.
***UP NEXT IS REVIEW ON GENESIS AND GUNSTAR HEROES***