To me, there are no other consoles as attractive as the model one Sega Genesis. It’s just one of those design choices that has stood the test of time and still captures the attention of those who see it. Sleek, sexy, and streamlined for what was then the “next generation,” the little black box that took the industry by storm and toppled Nintendo’s monopoly looks just as good under the television today as it did twenty years ago.
Few people would have imagined the course Sega would take after such a successful console. Achieving domination of more than half the game market for several years in a row was unheard of at the time, especially considering the competition. After such an incredible success the company had during the first half of the ’90s, I’m sure most Segaphiles believed that the hardware/software maker would ride its wave of success for years to come. Sadly, we know that wasn’t the case, but we’re not here to reflect o Sega’s ill fortune after 1995. No, we’re here to talk about what got it to that high peak from which it fell: the Genesis.
I still remember when I finally got my first Genesis for Christmas in 1989. My trek across several Houston retailers, the result of being being dragged by my father to find one for less than its suggested price of $189.99. The elder Mr. Horowitz, ever the thrifty spender, would never settle for the first price he found, and few stores (if any) price matched at the time, so it was my fate to scour the state for the best offer. I was used to this, as the man had done the same thing to me the year the NES was released. Looking for the hottest item out there on Christmas Eve was not a recipe for success, and our inability to find one of Nintendo’s red-hot systems led to the purchase of a Sega Master System, an event that launched my love of everything Sega. Luckily, he took me a bit earlier this time around, so I was actually able to find Sega’s new console with little effort.
And naturally, I simply had to have a Genesis. After seeing the awesome boss battles in Rambo III and hearing the crystal-clear voices in Altered Beast, the darn thing simply had to be mine. So there I was, practically shackled to my father as he drove us clear across Houston, dipping into every major electronics chain along the way – Toys ‘R Us, the now-defunct Lionel Playworld, Sears – we stopped at them all. The issue was that my old man was convinced that either the stores or Sega were price fixing, an illegal practice in the U.S. “It can’t be legal that they all have the same price for it!” he’d argue, a clenched fist piercing the air violently around him as I slowly backed away. Eventually, I retorted that it was the price suggested by Sega, to which he’d reply “right, only suggested.”
Finally, he relented, and we ended up back at Playworld, where I got my brand new console. A friend had also given me some money to bring back a game for him, and I scored a copy of Super Hang-On. My price for the favor was the privilege of being the first to play the game, and along with the copy of World Championship Soccer I had bought two weeks before my trip to Texas, I instantly had three games to play. What could be better? This, my friends, was the start of a journey I’m sure almost all of you reading also experienced since August of 1989.
That’s why, looking back after two decades of Genesis gaming, I oddly find myself not especially swayed by all the excitement about this milestone anniversary. It makes sense though, when you give it some thought. Was anyone expecting anything less from such a grand console? Did anyone expect this great date to never come? Of course not! We all looked forward to it with excitement, and we’ve wonder at just how much time has passed. What then, can be the best way to celebrate its importance? There’s only one answer to that, and you already know it.
No cakes have been baked, no banners hung or confetti thrown about. None of that is needed in this case. The best way to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of our beloved Genesis is to simply continue doing what we’ve been accustomed to doing since 1989: playing games. I myself spent last night going through the launch library, sans World Championship Soccer, which I sadly no longer own. I was a bit flexible in my homage, and I allowed those great games from the window right after the Genesis launch to be included. After all, I didn’t get my system until four months after it debuted, so why exclude such classics as Golden Axe and my beloved Phantasy Star II? The feeling is still there for all of them, and it never wears off, even after so many years.
A beautiful thing has occured thanks to the Internet and things like eBay and Game Gavel, which have greatly increased both awareness and availability of this awesome console. There are actually many members of our forum that are actually younger than the Genesis. I think it’s wonderful that young gamers are looking to the great consoles of old to discover their magic, as well as learn the origins of many of the franchises they enjoy today. The fact that the Genesis is so dear to people not even born at its launch is a testament to its longevity and power. It’s also proof that at least once when it came to consoles, Sega got it right.
So instead of knocking the company for everything that came after, let’s spend the moment enjoying that which made us so happy and still does. Here’s to another twenty years of Genesis gaming! The Sega-16 community welcomes with open arms younger gamers with affection for this 16-bit wonder. Play it. Love it. Cherish it. This is the next level, and it is grand.