The Launch of the Sega Genesis (1989)

Episode 44 – The launch of the Sega Genesis in 1989. Sega first entered the home console market in 1983 with the SG-1000, which was released in Asia, Australia, and some parts of Europe. In 1985, the hardware was upgraded and a new system, the Mark III was released. This would become the “Sega Master System” around the world, and although it was only really successful in Europe and Brazil, it blazed the trail for Sega’s next system, the 16-bit Mega Drive.

The Mega Drive, designed around the Motorola 68000 CPU (previously used in Sega’s “System 16″ arcade hardware” was released in Japan in November of 1988, and was brought over to North America as the “Genesis” less than a year later. Launching on August 14, 1989, the system came bundled with Altered Beast, and 5 additional games were available on day 1: Space Harrier II, Last Battle, Super Thunder Blade, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, and Thunder Force II.

Initially Sega was competing with NEC’s TurboGrafx-16, launched just a week after the Genesis. But Sega’s superior hardware and marketing caused the Turbografx to quickly lose ground. For 2 years, the Genesis was the only 16-bit home console on the market, until the Super Nintendo was released in the late summer of 1991. This kicked off the infamous “16-bit Console War”, which was a back-and-forth affair, with Sega at one point outselling Nintendo, but ultimately aged hardware and poor decisions by Sega of Japan led to Nintendo ultimately winning out.

The Genesis was succeeded by the Sega Saturn in 1995, and the Dreamcast in 1999. The former was not a success in North America but was Sega’s best-selling system at home. The Dreamcast was an excellent arcade-at-home system that also had a number of excellent home-exclusive titles, but was ultimately Sega’s final entry in the hardware market.

The Genesis was Sega’s most iconic and successful console worldwide.

Show Notes:

– Much of this show was produced in tandem with the Sega Master System launch episode.

– The original “Launch of the Sega Genesis” episode was published on May 4, 2014, and was retired with almost 120,000 views. That video had comparatively low production value due to its age, which is why it was replaced.

– The System-16 board pictured in this episode is Golden Axe, and was the board used in the “History of Golden Axe” episode.

– All arcade footage used in this episode was generated using emulation. All home console footage was captured from actual hardware.

– The bulk of this episode was produced during a 5-day stretch in which I was working on it up to 16 hours per day.

– I found not one but two ways to sneak references to Ayrton Senna into this episode.

Music courtesy of Kevin MacLeod (­ncompetech)