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Thread: Japan execs were upset that Kalinske was allowed to resign w/o taking blame for 32X

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    Mega Driver Hedgehog-in-TrainingMaster of Shinobi Gryson's Avatar
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    Not everyone in Sega of Europe thought it was good. Here's Mike Brogan, SOE's development director at the time:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Brogan
    Our first reaction was one of dismay. Saturn launch was about a year away, and it seemed crazy to divert resource from that into 32X. I'm not just talking about Sega's resource to develop the hardware, either; we were concerned that it would confuse the third party developers who would have to choose whether to put their effort into 32X or Saturn.

    This was January 1994; Saturn was due to hit the streets within a year, development kits were scarce in Europe and still in the early phases, and support from Sega was very limited, so timescales for developers were ludicrously tight. Then suddenly we dropped 32X on them with even tighter timescales. They thought we were crazy - and we were.

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    He wasn't saying that at the time, It's very easy decades later to say it was all a mistake and I knew it.
    Far too many inside SEGA West thought the 32X was the dream ticket. When it should have killed off along with support for Mega Drive software in 1994.


    Overlooking that, SOJ did make some fatal mistakes of its own, which also helped to the downfall of Saturn. The handling of Sonic IP was a disgrace, it should never have been given to SOA to develop and SEGA Japan should have had a number of exclusive Sonic projects in development for Saturn, not just a main 3D one. The release of Daytona USA in that state on the Saturn was a monumental mistake..Used and seen by many the Saturn couldn't do 3D at all; That move along did so much hurt for the Saturn and I know that because in my import shop most were big SEGA fans and we were so looking forward to the Saturn port and it looked terrible, it looked so bad I was gutted upset and pissed off in work the next day & for most of the week, pathetic and laughable as it sounds, before I got over the graphics and began to fall in love with the gameplay over the weekend.

    It gets little credit but the month latter Gran Chaser restored my faith in Saturn 3D and showed it could handle decent full screen racers at near enough 30 FPS
    Last edited by Team Andromeda; 05-03-2022 at 06:28 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Not everyone in Sega of Europe thought it was good. Here's Mike Brogan, SOE's development director at the time:
    This is exactly what I'm talking about. Going from the 4th gen to 5th gen was probably the hardest transition in the history of consoles. Games are getting more expensive and the new hardware has a steep learning curve. So in the midst of trying to get 3rd parties to develop for Saturn, all of a sudden you throw in the 32X too?

    Even if let's say the consumer doesn't immediately realize the 32X is a stopgap, the developer knows full well what's up and they aren't going to put their best teams on 32X games. This as much as anything else likely explains why many of the 32X games feel rushed and unfinished.

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    On that note, I guess I should post this translation too. I've posted it before here, but it's a good one, and I'm now using this thread as a dumping ground for quotes.

    This is Sega product manager Takayuki Kawagoe, speaking in the book Sega Consumer History. Kawagoe oversaw the development of the 32X titles made in Japan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Takayuki Kawagoe
    The American side was certainly the first to bring up the idea of making the 32X. The Mega Drive sold about 12 million units in America and 7 million units in Europe, and on top of that, there were those who believed that an expensive new console would not sell well in America. So it was decided to release a “power-up booster” for the Mega Drive.

    However, the game lineup was quite weak. There was no time to get ready, since we only had ten months between the decision to make the unit and the release. We were able to re-use the Mega Drive’s development tools to a certain extent, which made things a bit easier, but there were no 32X-specific tools at all. In the end, a lot of the games were just 16-bit games transferred to the 32X, such as Cyber Brawl (Cosmic Carnage), Chaotix, and Tempo. There were also continuations of already popular titles, such as Virtua Racing Deluxe. And we went for “easy-to-do” titles (bitter laugh). We made complete ports of After Burner Complete and Space Harrier that really brought the hardware’s new functions to life. And we made Virtua Fighter at the strong request of SOA. But of all the titles we did, I’m happy that we were able to make the excellent and original Metal Head and Stellar Assault (Shadow Squadron).

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    Kawagoe-san isn't being quite 100% honest though. It was SEGA Japan who 1st came up with the idea of having a 32-Bit Mega Drive or Giga Drive if you will, the 1st to make the call to Joe Miller and the gang on how you had to counter the Jaguar and do it now. I would also imagine a big driving force was also the SVP chip. Where for a relative low cost, you added some serious performance to the Mega Drive and then you had feedback from SEGA west that a system over $300 was not a mass market price point


    I've already said the 32X was stupid and should have been killed in 94, along with all SEGA Mega Drive software development.
    I wouldn't have minded seeing SEGA have gone the planned Jupiter route though, if only because I would have bought it for no loading in Decatlete or Die Hard Arcade ports, but it made more sense to me, as it would have kept most of the development chain pretty much the same and the user could also by the add-On CD drive at a later date to enjoy full Saturn games too.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    Kawagoe-san isn't being quite 100% honest though. It was SEGA Japan who 1st came up with the idea of having a 32-Bit Mega Drive or Giga Drive if you will, the 1st to make the call to Joe Miller and the gang on how you had to counter the Jaguar and do it now. I would also imagine a big driving force was also the SVP chip. Where for a relative low cost, you added some serious performance to the Mega Drive and then you had feedback from SEGA west that a system over $300 was not a mass market price point


    I've already said the 32X was stupid and should have been killed in 94, along with all SEGA Mega Drive software development.
    I wouldn't have minded seeing SEGA have gone the planned Jupiter route though, if only because I would have bought it for no loading in Decatlete or Die Hard Arcade ports, but it made more sense to me, as it would have kept most of the development chain pretty much the same and the user could also by the add-On CD drive at a later date to enjoy full Saturn games too.
    I take anything at this point from the old Sega of America interviews on this site with a massive grain of salt. With the info we now have coming out from the Japanese side, I think the proper way to read the "phonecall/Gigadrive" situation is this:

    1. Sega of America doesn't want to sell the Saturn or let the Genesis go.
    2. Sega of America keeps asking for something to instead leverage the existing Genesis user base, while convincing Japan that the new systems are too expensive and wont sell in the west.
    3. Sega of Japan in an attempt to appease them comes up with the idea of a Genesis with more colors.
    4. On a phone call discussing how to counter new consoles coming out like the Jaguar, 3DO, and PS1, Japan offers the Gigadrive idea. Sega of America counters by making it an add-on (32X). <--Phone call from the interview.


    In short, the phone call interview that people keep pointing to as proof that the 32X was entirely Sega of Japan's idea and they were panicking over the Jaguar is only a part of a much bigger picture.

    Personally I think the issue with worrying over a $400 Saturn was a bit unwarranted. If they were all focused on prepping for a Saturn launch in September of 1995, the $400 price point may not have been an issue. By this point in time the VA1 Saturn boards were out which significantly reduced the complexity of the Saturn's main board and internals. When this hit the market we saw the Saturn drop to the $299/$349 mark (more expensive variant came with Virtua Fighter Remix if I remember correctly). This drop happened around late September early October of 1995. So if they were instead prepping for a Fall of 1995 launch and didn't have to do the surprise launch to shift from the 32X, they might have just been able to launch at that $299/$349 mark.

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    It wasn't just SEGA America though. I was reading stories of the Giga Drive in 1990 before the MD ever hit Europe, EDGE mag broke the story of the Jupiter project in Issue 5 or something and also you had Hideki Sato also confirm that SEGA were looking into a 32bit MD a few years back. I get why some were worried about the price point. £400 is a lot of money now, never mind back then and in the UK we were just coming out of one of the most brutal recessions in modern history with millions losing their homes with the ERM crisis and interest rates of 17%. I'm not sure in the USA, but $400 was still a lot of money, but I do agree with you. I think SEGA made far too much of the price. console hardware always came down in price soon after for the more mass market, you save money on CD costs too and the Die Hard will always find a way to get money for the launch, no matter

    I've always said and believed this. The moment SEGA Japan showed off the finished Saturn for Nakayama-san birthday in April 1994 and had all the press there for the event, was the moment the 32X project should have stopped dead. The Saturn was going to make it out and it was also very clear the Jag and 3DO were the threat one 1st envisioned SEGA should also had dropped all current MD projects and moved them up to the Saturn or have staff work on other Saturn projects

    That said mind, even without the 32X cock up. SEGA Japan was still making some silly mistakes which can't be blamed or put at the door of SEGA America (like with the 32X) Sega Japan/Sonic Team Japan should have been put on the Sonic Saturn project, no-one else. To release Daytona USA in its unfinished state was a crime, it was brutal and killed me for a week . I was almost crying in work LOL... I f-ing hated my 1st job and was so upset that all my hard work, all my overtime and my hopes of SEGA showing Namco how it was done, was for nothing.

    I do wonder if we had a Daytona USA port as good and as close to that of Rally on the Saturn, how much better the Saturn would have done in those crucial early stages ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    I do wonder if we had a Daytona USA port as good and as close to that of Rally on the Saturn, how much better the Saturn would have done in those crucial early stages ?
    Daytona USA was a bad choice for an early port IMHO.
    The scope and scale of the port were quite bigger and more complex than that of Sega Rally and Ridge Racer.

    It's not a "one AI-controlled car at a time" kind of race, you can spin and drive backwards with the camera following your angles so the roads can't be detailed only from the back to the front as in Ridge Racer; both Daytona USA and Sega Rally have more complex physics and car dynamics modeling than Ridge Racer; while Sega Rally is more realistic, it's Daytona USA which can have deformed cars, etc.
    The AI-caused accidents are used in the arcade to hinder your progress if you're doing way too well in Daytona USA; they require many cars to crash spectacularly in front of you, etc.
    Very complex, polygon-hungry, CPU-intensive characteristics would have to be recreated with much, much less raw power on a machine that was a nightmare to develop for, especially so early on.

    They should have advertised Daytona USA as being in development but released something less complex for the launch.
    A very ambitious and ultimately idiotic/delusional decision by SOJ IMHO.

    Daytona USA should have had its own controller/fully analog steering wheel with pedals, etc. It was a massive arcade hit that they used very poorly, very early on.
    Last edited by Barone; 05-03-2022 at 01:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    It wasn't just SEGA America though. I was reading stories of the Giga Drive in 1990 before the MD ever hit Europe
    Quit conflating random rumors in old magazines with actual facts. It's honestly your worst habit on these forums and does you no favors. We have no idea what that rumor was actually talking about. It could have been the Sega CD for all we know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    EDGE mag broke the story of the Jupiter project in Issue 5 or something and also you had Hideki Sato also confirm that SEGA were looking into a 32bit MD a few years back.
    We know they were working on a 32-bit successor and looked at different angles. That doesn't confirm that the Genesis with more colors Sega offered on that call was the same system.

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    I get why some were worried about the price point. £400 is a lot of money now, never mind back then and in the UK we were just coming out of one of the most brutal recessions in modern history with millions losing their homes with the ERM crisis and interest rates of 17%. I'm not sure in the USA, but $400 was still a lot of money, but I do agree with you. I think SEGA made far too much of the price. console hardware always came down in price soon after for the more mass market, you save money on CD costs too and the Die Hard will always find a way to get money for the launch, no matter
    You're again missing the point. The point I'm making is by Fall of 1995 the Saturn no longer would have cost $400. Launching at $299 (same as the PS1) would have been feasible by this point. We also know Saturn dropped to this price around this time anyways thanks to the cheaper motherboard revisions released around this time.

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    I thought "Gigadrive" was merely an old codename for what eventually turned into the Saturn? And therefore unconnected to the "32bit Megadrive with more colors" project.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gryson View Post
    Kawagoe oversaw the development of the 32X titles made in Japan.
    This is something I've never fully understood. If SoA loved the 32X so much, why did SoJ get stuck with developing all the software? Chaotix, VRD, etc.

    I would imagine all the Japan-based studios would just move directly to the Saturn faster than anyone else.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stu View Post
    I thought "Gigadrive" was merely an old codename for what eventually turned into the Saturn? And therefore unconnected to the "32bit Megadrive with more colors" project.
    It's been thrown around with so many different projects, especially if you go off of old magazine rumors, that you can't really pin it down to one specific thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekkiesUnite118 View Post
    Quit conflating random rumors in old magazines with actual facts. It's honestly your worst habit on these forums and does you no favors. We have no idea what that rumor was actually talking about. It could have been the Sega CD for all we know.


    We know they were working on a 32-bit successor and looked at different angles. That doesn't confirm that the Genesis with more colors Sega offered on that call was the same system.



    You're again missing the point. The point I'm making is by Fall of 1995 the Saturn no longer would have cost $400. Launching at $299 (same as the PS1) would have been feasible by this point. We also know Saturn dropped to this price around this time anyways thanks to the cheaper motherboard revisions released around this time.

    Mean Machines actually reported the Mega CD as tbe Giga Drive give it was dual 16 Bit. The point you seemed to miss, was the talk of a spiced up MD was around in 1990.

    It also wasn't old just Mag talk either. Scott Bayless confirmed to Retro Gamer about what the Giga Drive. Hideki Sato also said in a SEGA feature that the Give Drive started life as Mega Drive with a faster CPU and higher Colour pallet.

    I also don't think SEGA going in Fall would have made that much difference with the price, the Saturn was at a high price point for all of 1995. Going in winter would have helped more with software IMO and if we also didn't have the 32X the line up would have been even better


    I've always said that talk of price, poor launch line up and hard to develop on, were just excuses. It never held back the PS3 or even the PS2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    Mean Machines actually reported the Mega CD as tbe Giga Drive give it was dual 16 Bit. The point you seemed to miss, was the talk of a spiced up MD was around in 1990.
    And I'm saying it may not be the same "spiced up MD". It could just be the Sega CD they're talking about. Rumors in Magazines should be taken with massive grains of salt.

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    It also wasn't old just Mag talk either. Scott Bayless confirmed to Retro Gamer about what the Giga Drive. Hideki Sato also said in a SEGA feature that the Give Drive started life as Mega Drive with a faster CPU and higher Colour pallet.
    Sure, but again we don't know if they're the same ones. The name "Gigadrive" was thrown around to a lot of different projects. What's relevant here is that in regards to Saturn and 32X is that Sega of America wanted something cheaper based on the Genesis, Japan offered them a Genesis with more colors, Sega of America countered with 32X. It was something that came about more by Sega of America begging Japan to let them do it, not due to some crazy knee-jerk reaction to the Jaguar as people try to claim. The interview people point to to back that claim up is simply one out of context piece of the larger picture.

    Quote Originally Posted by Team Andromeda View Post
    I also don't think SEGA going in Fall would have made that much difference with the price, the Saturn was at a high price point for all of 1995. Going in winter would have helped more with software IMO and if we also didn't have the 32X the line up would have been even better
    By Fall of 1995 they were able to price match the PS1 at $299.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekkiesUnite118 View Post
    Rumors in Magazines should be taken with massive grains of salt.
    The problem here is that, for many years, the internet has been filled with outrageous, comically-wrong fan-fiction level historical fantasies about Sega history. The "Giga Drive" is a joke of a rumor, never mentioned in anything official (as far as I know), printed in a response to a fan letter in a 1990 American magazine (EGM 16 if you're curious). The "Jupiter" has been confirmed by Sato (and Japanese magazines, where it was clearly reported on) to be an alternative to the Saturn with the same specs that just lacked a CD-ROM drive, from when Sega was unsure which direction they would go in. Once they decided that CD-ROMs were the way to go, they scrapped Jupiter.

    Here's the thing about all of these comical rumors: there is absolutely no evidence at all. The most you'll ever get out of someone is a scan of a Mean Machines issue with an unsourced rumor (sorry, that doesn't really cut it for me). Basically, they all come from a time when none of the information posted in this thread was known.

    So, inevitably someone brings up the point "Well, the 32X never would have happened if those bozos in Japan hadn't forced SOA to release an upgraded Genesis." It's a bit silly to play the blame game here, which completely misses the nature of the relationship between Nakayama and Kalinske. Nakayama went out of his way to cater to Kalinske, and Kalinske has even stated that Nakayama let them do whatever they wanted. But, whatever... let's talk about this argument and why it's off.

    Here are the relevant quotes from the people most likely to know. First, Joe Miller's interview on Sega-16:

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Miller
    At CES (Consumer Electronics Show) – and perhaps we even had a little warning before CES – it became clear that there was a desire for us to take a product that was in the early design stages in Japan. It was a new platform (nobody was codenaming things “Jupiter” then, or even “Mars” at that point), and there was certainly an awareness that Japan had an idea of what they wanted to do with a Genesis platform that had more colors and was able to do 3D… take some of what we learned on the SVP chip – the polygon-pusher chip – and integrate something that was more capable and build a new platform. It was still going to be a 16-bit machine with some limited 32-bit capabilities.
    I have to say: Joe Miller is so vague here that it's hard to interpret what was going on. What does "there was an awareness that Japan had an idea" mean?! How fully-fleshed were these ideas "in the early design stages"? And perhaps most importantly: Where does the Saturn fit into all of this? I should point out that the meeting Miller is talking about took place at Winter CES in Jan 1994, which is where SOA first announced the Saturn.

    One thing to note about Miller's account is he never said Japan forced this new product on them. He explicitly says "there was a desire for us to take" it, which agrees with Kalinske's statements that Nakayama basically gave them free reign.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that Sega was constantly coming up with hardware proposals. Al Nilsen said recently that during his time at SOA, SOA's engineers had come up with several rejected proposals for Genesis add-ons prior to the 32X.

    OK, let's move on to Scot Bayless. Here he is in Retro Gamer 77:

    Quote Originally Posted by Scot Bayless
    We were at CES ’94 in Las Vegas, and Sega of America’s head of R&D Joe Miller asked a few of us to join him in his suite for a call he was expecting from Nakayama. There had already been some discussion about an up-gunned Mega Drive with Hideki Sato and his Sega hardware team, but the essence of the call was that we needed to respond to Atari’s Jaguar and we needed to do it right away. Joe said he was confident the US team could come up with a design that would do the job, so Nakayama said “get it done” and we were off to the races.
    The Jaguar reference here is revealing, because Sega already had a product to compete against the Jaguar: the Saturn. Let me counter anyone that is going to say "but Sega thought the Saturn was going to be delayed until 1995". There is no evidence of this whatsoever. Every official announcement and news report from the end of 1993 throughout 1994 put the Saturn's release at the end of 1994, when it ended up being released. There is a clear month-by-month historical record of this.

    So, why would Nakayama tell SOA they needed to combat the Jaguar, even though the Saturn was on the horizon? The answer is clear, as Trekkies mentioned above: he was responding to SOA's insistence that the Saturn was too expensive to sell in the US market. I mean, Nakayama himself has explicitly stated that's the reason the 32X came about.

    By the end of 1993, SOA's revenue was rapidly dropping, and it was clear that something would have to be done the following year to bring this back up. If it wasn't going to be the Saturn, then it would have to be something else: an upgraded Genesis, an add-on, something to revitalize the market.

    Kalinske had made it clear in 1993 that he didn't want a high priced console. This Jan 1994 meeting with Nakayama was an example of Nakayama working together with SOA to get them a product they could sell to avoid generating a loss in 1994.

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