Review by del20nd
"The System That Brought Nintendo to it's Knees."
Way back in 1989, when Nintendo was on top of the world, and everyone on God's green earth owned an NES, Sega decided that they were going to put out the Genesis. What seemed like a joke of a competitor turned into a serious threat in just two short years, and Nintendo is still reeling from the damage to this day. The Genesis, being the successor to the highly forgotten (in the US) Master System, was the opener to the 16 bit era, and a new way of gaming.
You know, I hear allot of nagging about the graphics on the Genesis. Nearly anyone will tell you how much better the graphic were on the SNES. These two systems cannot really be compared side by side in this manner, however, because the SNES was released about 3 years after the Genesis. For 1989, the graphics were strikingly good. Colors were vivid, sprite counts and processor speed made the NES look incredibly aged, and the concept of parallax scrolling was really brought out. While the SNES did have better graphics, most games were very comparable anyway, and graphics do not always make or break the system. Overall, great graphics for the first 16 bit system.
Overall, the weakest link for the Genesis (aside from some of the add-ons) was the sound quality. While some games (Sonic Series) made the most of the poor quality at hand, most games had sub par music and sound effects. Music on the Genesis always had a canny, almost nasally sound to it. Even worse was the speech quality. Most of the time, you could not understand what the heck was being said no matter what game you were playing. Redeemed only by the fact that it was the first of the 16 bit era, Sega was very poor in the way of sound.
All I can really say here is that it was a good effort. Sega put out more add-ons and extensions for the Genesis than any other system could ever hope to see in the future. The first to come out was the Power Base Converter, which made it possible to play Sega Master System games in the Genesis. This, sadly, was one of the more popular extensions for the Sega. The Sega CD, which came out around 1992, was a very innovative add-on which allowed you to play higher resolution games through your Sega via CD. It was ultimately a failure, but to nowhere near the extent that the 32X was. This was also innovative, and was basically an advanced version of the Sega CD, but got really bad press, and had a very limited amount of title releases. Sega was never able to recover from the bad reputation this add-on gave them, and it indirectly caused the company to withdraw from the console market.
Amidst all this turmoil, the Sega channel was able to thrive. The Sega Channel was an add-on, placed in the cartridge slot, which allowed you to play Sega games over the internet through a standard TV cable. It saw immense popularity, and at its peak had 250,000 users. This, however, could not compensate for the tangled mess of unpopular peripherals that gave the Sega a bad name.
The Sega was not known for having great controllers, or an abundance of them. Standard controllers had only 3 main function buttons, a d-pad, and a start button (limited for the time.) Later model controllers had 6 function buttons, but not too many games made any real use of them. The Genesis did have a light gun, The Menacer. While not as popular as the NES Zapper, it had its fans here and there. Overall, the controllers were good, but only good.
The architecture of the Sega was one of the most varied of that seen in a video game system. The Genesis was released in at least three different console designs, two handheld designs, and even entwined with personal computers in Japan. Here, I will rate only the most popular versions.
ORIGINAL -- 10/10
The original Altered Beast version of the Sega (nicknamed so because it came with Altered Beast) was released as the debut of the system way back in '89. This version of the system had a larger more rectangular shape and, unlike newer versions, had no compatibility problems with any games or peripherals. It was jet black, and had the words High Definition Graphics and 16 Bit written in bold white and silver letters over the face. Aside from looking good, it was virtually indestructible. Very rarely would you ever hear of anyone having a problem with or breaking their Genesis (kinda the polar opposite of the NES, but that is another matter.)
The Altered Beast version (revision 00) can be distinguished from the nearly identical Sonic the Hedgehog version (revision 01) only when powered on. While the original would go straight into the game, the newer version had a license screen implemented. This was due to the fact that Sega added a lock out chip to the Sega after its popularity boom in 1991. The Altered Beast version, due to the fact that popularity for the Genesis didn't spike until sometime after the model was revised, is relatively uncommon, and is sought out by collectors due to the fact that it had no lockout chip. Sonic The Hedgehog (rev 01) versions can be found pretty easily. Being that this version of the system was so durable, it gets a 10/10, which I rarely ever give.
SEGA 2-- 8/10
This was a cheaper, more budget sensitive version of the Sega Genesis. The system was much smaller, and being so, had a few compatibility issues with peripherals designed specifically for the larger frame of the Genesis 1 (i.e. the Power Base Converter). This system is also sometimes reported to fail and break, unlike the rock solid original. The headphone jack from the original model was scrapped, as were some unused connector slots in the back. Basically a miniature stripped down version of the original; most strongly prefer the older models. This model is great if you have it, but I would buy an original if I happened to cross paths with one for sale, especially an Altered Beast model.
SEGA 3-- 5/10
I have never actually seen one of these, but from what I've heard they're terrible. The Sega 3 was introduced very late in the Genesis' lifecycle, and was less than $50.00 USD. There was absolutely no compatibility with any peripheral besides the controllers, as it's incredibly small size made it impossible to hook up to anything. Most collectors avoid this version of the Genesis, and it is generally considered the worst version of the system you could have.
Now this was an interesting idea put out there by Sega. This worked just like a Genesis, only it was completely portable. It had a decent size LCD screen implanted for when you were on the go, but could hook up to your television when you wanted to play on the big screen. This version is highly sought out by collectors, and usually goes for a good $80.00 upwards on auction sites even still. It suffers from the same compatibility problems as the Sega 3, but in this case it's at least logical. Nobody in their right mind was going to hook up a 32X to a handheld anyway. One major problem, however, was the fact that the large LCD sucked up batteries at record speed. Generally, 6 batteries got you only a few hours of game time. Overall, a very innovative idea set forth by Sega.
Games for the Sega varied in quality from the elite (Sonic series, Ghouls n Ghosts, Vectorman) to the woefully unplayable (Primal Rage series, Barney's Hide n' Seek, Balls.) Most games, however, were of decent quality. The Sega also saw the dawn of today's onslaught of violent games (starting with Mortal Kombat). The Sonic series saw it's pinnacle of popularity on the Genesis, and any Sonic fan will tell you that newer sonic games just cannot compare to the little blue hedgehog that made the Genesis the icon it is today. Other still popular series saw releases on the Genesis including Earthworm Jim, Ghouls n' Ghosts, and Test Drive. EA Sports came to be thanks to the Genesis, Madden leading the front. The Genesis is truly a great system to collect for.
Must I say it? If you see it, go for it! Not only is it a great system, but a good 98% of the games go for under $5 including Sonic the Hedgehog Games. Being the only Sega system with any real success, games tend to be even cheaper because the company is not really a figurehead anymore. In its heyday, the Sega was known for it's great graphics and great game library, now for being the system to virtually bring Nintendo to it's knees, and as the true home to worthwhile Sonic the Hedgehog games. I strongly recommend the system to anyone with a good $20 to spare.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 02/08/07
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