Years ago when I was a young teenager, there was a big battle going on between two companies.
It was Sega versus Nintendo or you can say Sonic versus Mario. The fast blue hedgehog versus the Italian plumber. Back in the day I was a huge Sega fan boy. I played on consoles of Nintendo as well but the consoles of Sega looked really bad ass. It was the endless battle of the Sega Megadrive or Genesis in the US, versus the Super Nintendo Entertainment system (SNES). If there was a family that existed out of consoles, the Megadrive was the bad ass kid because of its looks, black dark and tough image. But also because of the commercials on the tv during the 90’s. For example Sega had a slogan and I quote: “Beat us if you can”. They were so confident about their product that they even wanted to compete with Nintendo. And they did really well. Back in the day you had 2 choices: you buy a Super Nintendo or a Sega Megadrive.
On the end of the life span of the Megadrive Sega made some huge mistakes. The First mistake was the Sega Mega CD, the Sega Mega CD or Sega CD in the US was a CD based add on for the Megadrive. Don’t get me wrong I love this console as well and yes, I do have it. But the technology wasn’t there yet. It was one of the first consoles with full motion video and It could play CD +G graphic cd’s but it was really slow and lots of games looked more like experiments for full motion video on a console. For consumers it was also confusing because they had to buy the Megadrive first before they could play on the Mega CD. And this add on was really expensive. Sega sold 6 million Mega cd’s world wide and that’s not bad but if you know that the Megadrive only sold almost 40 million units they didn’t really succeeded. Gamers wanted the next big thing but not on add on for a console that was already there for years.
In the meantime Nintendo did what was right, wait. They were waiting for the right time. Sega desperately wanted to compete with the PC engine als known as the Turbo grafx 16 because they had a CD based add on as well and launched in Japan. Nintendo investigated if they needed a CD add on for the Super Nintendo but they decided not to go on with it. The funny thing is, is that Nintendo hired Sony and Philips to work on a CD based add on. When this was cancelled Sony worked further on this project and the Playstation was born. Phillips did the same and developed the Philips CDI but that’s a different story. Sega made the biggest mistake by releasing another add on for the Mega Drive: the Sega 32X. It was a cartridge based add on. The new successor to the Mega Drive was already coming, known as the Sega Saturn and they launched the 32X in Europe and the US while the Saturn was launched in Japan. Talk about bad marketing. The library of the Sega 32X is only around 40 games before it bit the dust. So the next generation console was the Sega Saturn, a 32 bit CD based system. The Saturn was intended to produce 32 bit graphics with 3D effects. Meanwhile Nintendo was working on a new console project Ultra 64 what became the Nintendo 64. In my opinion Nintendo had only one failure and that was the Virtual Boy but more about that later. Nintendo was smart, they waited for the right time to launch their newest console. But a new kid was on the block; Sony with his Playstation. When Sega took notice of the specifications of the first Playstation they got really scared, it was more powerfull then the Saturn. This was before the Saturn was launched. So Sega added some more power to the Saturn to compete with the Playstation. But the problem was that it was really hard to develop for the Saturn because of this added technical stuff. The Sega Saturn died really fast, it went good in Japan but in Europe and the US it bit the dust very quickly.
I was in shock. Was this the same company that ones said: “Beat us if you can!”. Sega lost big time. Sega even admitted that the Sega Saturn was a console that never had to be launched. Nintendo launched the Nintendo 64 successfully and all over sudden it was Nintendo versus Sony and Sega was out.
On the end of the 90’s Sega launched their last console: The Dreamcast. And in my opinion they did almost everything right. The Dreamcast was a CD based console with 128 bit of power to compete with the Playstation 2. It was way ahead of his time and it was one of the first consoles with a true online capability. I was overwhelmed, the Dreamcast was what Sega intended with the Saturn and Mega CD and 32X combined together. They had great games from the start and the system had a really successful launch worldwide. Eventually it bit the dust because of the Playstation 2. One of the main reasons was that Sony had a built in DVD player in the Playstation 2. And that was one of the only things Sega did wrong with the dreamcast. The Playstation 2 was at the time the cheapest DVD player in Japan. And all the Japanese people experienced the new media DVD on a DVD player that was also a console. So Sega lost Japan and they lost the US shortly after that. Unfortunately the Dreamcast was discontinued in 2001 and once again I was in shock, this system was so great but it didn’t last.
And now it is the year 2012 and the youth nowadays knows Sega only as a software company. There are some rumors that Sega is developing the Dreamcast 2, but is the world ready for a new competitor on the console market? Can Sega win the trust again of the gaming community? If there are plans for a Dreamcast 2 I will buy it just for old time sake. but will it be successful? I doubt it. All the die hard Sega fans beg for a new Sega system (including me) to relive the glory days of Sega during the early 90’s but I think that this dream stays a memory. On Youtube you see all the rumors around Sega, fake Dreamcast 2 videos etc, but I’m really skeptical about this. Does Sega has the funding? Do people still trust the brand? And if we take a look at the market nowadays, the mobile platforms are really a big threat to the console market, so the competition is really severe. Every time I hear a rumor about Sega, I’m really excited, the only question that runs through my mind is: “Are they coming back?” The only thing I can do is hope that they do, and otherwise I will close my eyes and go back to the glory days were Sega was in my child opinion: Unbeatable! 😉