Twenty years ago today, the Sega Genesis blast processed its way onto North American shores, ushering in one of the few times that Nintendo’s console dominance has ever been legitimately challenged. For Sega fans such as myself, it’s too bad that this brief moment of uprising was short lived — but hey, before dropping out of the console market all together, Sega gave us the Dreamcast.
Although now considered Sega’s mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog didn’t hit the Genesis until 1991, powered by Blast Processing, a rad mohawk, and some serious ‘tude that characterized the Genesis as a more badass, more mature alternative to the Super Nintendo. When you’re five years old like I was at the time, being able to have blood in your version of Mortal Kombat II goes a long way in determining which 16-bit system you want. Sega does what Nintendon’t after all.
Thinking back to my admittedly small Genesis collection, I realize that most of my favorite games at the time were in fact multiplatform. Games like Shiny’s Earthworm Jim and Disney’s Aladdin were simply good games. That isn’t to say that the Genesis didn’t have it’s fair share of memorable exclusives — Sega’s own Phantasy Star and Vectorman, a game by now-defunct BlueSky, spring to mind. Perhaps my most vivid memories, however, come courtesy of Bizarre Creations’ Wiz ‘n Liz which, incidentally, is playable for free right here. Trust me — give it a whirl.
Crushed under the weight of unsuccessful accessories like the Sega CD and 32X, Sega dropped support for the Genesis in late 1995. Fortunately, the Genesis’ legacy lives on through perennial compilation discs, digitally distritbuted re-releases, a handful of devoted indie developers and, in Brazil at least, through TecToy’s on-going support.
In terms of library and hardware reliability (mine still works!), the Sega Genesis truly represents the industry’s halcyon days. What are your favorite Sega games, and how would you wish the Genesis a happy birthday?