Sega Genesis, at one point in time, was the leader in game systems in the 90’s. It has since had a tremendous downfall, which lost the console battle and ultimately stopped making consoles.
Sega failed to capitalize on the 6th generation of consoles, ultimatley losing to PlayStation 2 and failing to get support from top named 3rd party developers. Falling from the ranks, it was soon overtaken by PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo.
The console wars at the time included Sony’s PlayStation 2, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Nintendo’s Gamecube. Sega released their Dreamcast, which would end up being their last system.
Here are all Sega’s systems in order they were released.
Sega’s First System SG-1000
The SG-1000 is Sega’s first attempt at the home system. As it previously had it’s hand in the arcade business, Sega decided to attack the home console space. As one of the premier arcade makers in the world, it was interesting to see Sega make the pivot to home consoles.
The SG-1000 featured a “keyboard sized” console which had a joystick connected. It also presented an 8 bit processor unit which had a collection of 42 games available.
The games didn’t feature any of Sega’s primary characters that we know today, but rather just ports from their popular arcade games.Video games that were available for the SG-1000 are Flicky, Congo Bongo, Sega-Galaga and Girl’s Garden.
Sega Master System
The second installment in Sega’s console distribution, the Sega Master System was Sega’s attempt to compete with Nintendo’s Famicom. As it did not sell well in both North America and Japan, it did do well in Europe.
The Sega Master System shows Sega’s first version of the handheld controller with buttons. It features a mini joystick for the left hand (which would be removed in future game consoles, but then added back for the Dreamcast) and two buttons for the right hand.
Released in 1985, the console was sold with a $200 price tag (equivalent to $450 in today’s currency), the Master Class was met with good praise, selling 125,000 units.
Sega Genesis was Sega’s heavy hitter into the console gaming world. This is console that put Sega on the map and in the discussion as one of the greatest consoles made.
The Sega Genesis (also known as the Mega Drive outside of North America) was originally sold in Japan in 1988, and then in the North America in 1989. Overshadowed by the release of Super Mario 3, the initial console release didn’t go as planned.
The 16-bit system featured a controller with a “D-Pad” on the left hand side and 4 button – A, B C as well as a start button. On the console featured a volume control, on/off switch as well as a reset button (which you would hit frequently if the cartridge didn’t work).
The Genesis was ported to a handheld device called the “nomad” which allowed players to game on the go. Simply insert the game cartridge you would normally play on the console into your handheld device, and it would work on the small screen.
Similar to how the Nintendo Switch allows players to play on the go, Sega was well ahead of the time by 30 years!
Sega Game Gear
Sega released the Game Gear to directly compete with the wildly successful Nintendo GameBoy.
The Sega Game Game is a handheld device which features a D-pad, an 3 buttons, labeled “1”, and “2” with a blue start button. The screen provided 16 bit graphics to the user which provided a clear and engaging view to the user.
Although it’s unique design and size was rare, the Game Gear was not as successful as the Game Boy, selling close to 10,000,000 copies.Although the color screen and processing power of the Game Gear was revolutionary, the size, battery life and small selection of games was hit with hard criticism.
Sega stepped away from the cartridge game and dove head first into the cd-rom game. The Sega CD was able to find a place with customers, as most bought this device while waiting for the SNES (Super Nintendo) to be released.
The Sega CD was an add-on to the current Sega, which processed the CD-rom separately.
The Sega CD technology was relatively new at the time, as it featured a new wave of gaming with the CD-rom. The CD-rom allowed CPU’s to process better graphics and more capable games.
The Sega CD wasn’t a commercial success, it did however start to put pressure on competitors to develop similar consoles with CD-rom capability.
Sega 32X & Sega Saturn
Introducing the generation of the 32 bit systems. As powerful as the Sega Genesis was, it only was able to produce 16-bit games. The Sega 32x was Sega’s answer to the 32 bit movement, as a cheaper option to play games as an add-on to the current Sega Genesis.
Having a tough time trying to convince third party developers to make games for the 32x, it eventually flopped. Developers such an Konami and Capcom cancelled their projects to make games for the new PlayStation and Sega Saturn.
The Sega Saturn in turn, was developed to make way for the 64-bit wave that was soon to be over gamers.
Configured with a d-pad, and 6 button inputs for the user to take command of, the Sega Saturn was met initially with high praise in Japan. In North America however, the Sega Saturn oddly surprised gamers with a 4 month earlier release date late 1996.
The 5th generation console, by 1998, was discontinued and was considered a colossal failure. Rumor has it that the failure to deliver a game, by Sega’s most beloved character Sonic The Hedgehog, is one of the top reasons for the console’s extinction.
One Last attempt. The Sega Dreamcast ended up being Sega’s last punch in the console boxing match.
The 6th generation console was released to North America in 1999. It was the first 6th generation console sold, preceding Sony’s PlayStation 2, Nintendo’s Gamecube, and Microsoft’s Xbox.
Although the Dreamcast had a short lifespan, it was said to be ahead of it’s time. The Dreamcast featured “ahead of it’s time technology” with online play and a built-in modem.Games like Crazy Taxi, Jet-Set Radio and Marvel vs Capcom are still fun to play even to this day!
Unlike the Sega Saturn, Sega’s Blue hedgehog Sonic was ready to go in a new Sonic Adventure game.
Although Dreamcast had 15 titles ready to go at launch, it’s major blow came before the launch, when EA pulled out of contract negotiations with Sega. The two companies couldn’t decide on the terms and EA eventually pulled out. Why was this significant?
At the time, EA was the third leading, third-party game developer in the world.
Why Did Sega Consoles Fail?
In large part, the PlayStation 2 cleaned out the Dreamcast. The PlayStation was much, much more powerful and it featured a DVD drive which users could both game and watch movies on.
Also, as mentioned, lack of gaming support from both EA and Squaresoft (two major developers at the time), steered gamers to the PlayStation 2.Rumors also swirled that there were massive disagreements between Sega’s management team.
Frequent changes for the company’s future ultimately sent the company off the rails. Poor phone and hardware support for the consoles also turned gamers off and led them to new consoles.
By the end of the Dreamcast error, Sony and Nintendo shared over 80% of the console market, which led Sega to turn to third-party gaming, where it currently resides today.
Sega not only revolutionized the video game system, it will forever be remembered as it impacted so many of our childhoods. Sega ultimately failed because it wasn’t able to adopt to the new and upcoming market of video games.
Related Q & A
Can I still buy Sega Consoles?
Sega Consoles are still available for purchase on websites like eBay and Amazon. Local independent owned video game stores may also be carrying older consoles. There is also emulators, phone apps, and new consoles with built in games which feature 85 of the top games built in.
Is The Sega Dreamcast Still Available For Purchase?
The Sega Dreamcast is not available for purchase through Sega directly or any big box retailers. However, if you search here on Amazon, you can find refurbished models from Sega or individual retailers selling their old consoles.The Sega Dreamcast is not available for purchase through Sega directly or any big box retailers. However, if you search here on Amazon, you can find refurbished models from Sega or individual retailers selling their old consoles.