Hindsight Hub #3: The Downfall of Sega and my Misplaced Childhood



Little known fact, I did not own a Nintendo or Super Nintendo until way past their active life cycles as systems. The very first Nintendo system I owned (excluding my Gameboy Pocket) was the Nintendo 64. Part of this has to do with the fact that I was very young when the systems were released (and in the case for Nintendo, not even born), but also because the Genesis/Mega Drive had all the cool sports games and that’s what my dad liked to play. So rather than grow up on Mario, I grew up on Sonic. This is just a theory as to why Sega failed so miserably after the initial wave of success of the Genesis/Mega Drive (hereafter just referred to solely as the “Genesis”). So now, with the benefit of, yes, I dare say, HINDSIGHT, we will delve into the mistakes of why Sega eventually had to call it quits in the console business.

The Genesis after it’s debut was pretty much kicking the hell out of NES. With a sleek marketing campaign (Genesis Does What Nintendont) and fancy terms (Anyone else remember Blast Processing?), Sega was the clear cut champ for the time being. The 16 bit Genesis out-powered the 8-bit NES and it showed. That was until Nintendo unveiled what many claim is the best system of all-time, the Super Nintendo. And that is where the playground arguments started. Suddenly Nintendo was rolling out stuff like Super Mario World, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy VI, and Mega Man X. Not to be outdone, Sega rolled out… uh…this monstrosity….

A gangbang of bullshit

Admittedly, I did not own a Sega CD or 32x, but my cousin did. And outside of five games (Star Wars Arcade, Knuckles Chaotix, Sonic CD and both Lunar and Lunar 2, which were re-released on the Playstation), I heard both add-ons weren’t worth owning. So because this is Hindsight Hub, we’re redoing history. So bye bye 32x and Sega CD, (and I suppose those five games worth owning, oh well, a small price to pay for Sega’s return), here’s what happens now.

1) All the money channeled into the Sega CD and 32x has now been funneled into the Sega Saturn (a very underrated system), and spare Sega the laughing stock of the above abomination. No more inferior 32x ports of games. No more silly FMV game experiments. In addition, many great games never released here have now been released. More importantly, this game finally sees the light of day.
Why weren’t you released?
2) With a new wave of support, the Saturn is a breakaway hit (instead of the flop it was) and entrenches itself alongside the Nintendo 64 as the second best system behind the PlayStation of that era.
3) The Dreamcast uses DVD discs and offers DVD playback rather than the GD-ROM discs they used. With Nintendo now being the odd man out to Microsoft’s Xbox due to lack of DVD support, it bows out of the console business after the GameCube.

4) With Nintendo solely a handheld company now, they don’t experiment.with motion controls and the casual game market has no outlet… from Nintendo. Without Mario around, parents turn to the next best thing, our pal Sonic the Hedgehog! The Neptune takes the place of the Wii without the motion controls, and becomes THE go-to system for family centric gaming.

5) The Sega Katana is announced at E3 of this past year to much fanfare, and jockeys with the PS4 as the Xbone falters.

Okay, so in an alternate parallel universe, that might not exactly happen as I just typed out. But it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if it weren’t for those awful Genesis add-ons. In short, let’s re-count what doomed Sega in a less humorous way.

  • While the add-ons were good ideas, they were too expensive to justify purchasing and the money used to develop them would have been better used to stabilize the Sega Saturn. The 32x games were considered inferior to ports released on the SNES, and Sega CD mainly had awful FMV games which history could have done without. Most people did not buy the add-ons once the Saturn was announced.
  • The Game Gear was equally expensive and required too many batteries for miniscule play time.
  • Many of the Saturn’s better games were not released in America, so unless you imported them and had a converter, you pretty much wasted your money.
  • Sonic never had a proper game on the Sega Saturn. Sonic R was okay, but Sonic X-Treme needed to be released. NiGHTS was a great game, but it wasn’t a Sonic game.
  • The Dreamcast was a great system released at the completely wrong time. The lack of DVD support wasn’t a problem, but then here came the PS2. After the PS2 was released, the Dreamcast was doomed. In it’s defense, most Dreamcast games look much, much better than early PS2 titles.

I loved my Sega Genesis. I loved my Sega Saturn and I still love the hell out of my Dreamcast. It’s a shame to see a company sink so far, so fast. Sonic has declined ever since the release of Sonic Adventure 2, and even then I hated any segment that wasn’t Sonic or Shadow. If anything, Sega taught me an important lesson. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone for good.

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