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Sega Master System (SMS) Screenshots
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Sega Master System (SMS)
Released October 1986
After producing many games for early home video game consoles, Sega decided to develop a console system of its own. The SG-1000 and Mark III were available in Japan in the mid-1980s, but when Sega witnessed the early success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company knew it wanted a share of the American console market. So, Sega redesigned the Mark III, renamed it the Sega Master System (SMS for short), and released it in 1986, not long after the NES first came out.

Technically, the Master System was superior to the NES, with better graphics and higher quality sound. The original SMS could play both cartridges and the credit card-sized "Sega Cards," which retailed for cheaper prices than carts but had less code. The SMS also had cooler accessories (like 3D glasses), but this didn't do much good when there weren't very many exciting games.

The Master System technology lived on in Sega's Game Gear, which was basically a portable SMS with some enhancements.


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Sega Genesis Screenshots
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Sega Genesis
Released August 1989
It was 1989. Nintendo's NES had reigned supreme in the video game market for nearly five years, and it was time for a new system to take over the throne. Sega's Master System, while graphically superior to the NES, failed to make any kind of lasting impression in the U.S. market (although it was very popular in Europe), and Sega knew that their next system would not only have to be superior to everything else out there, but they'd have to have a lot of third-party developers lined up.

After two years of development, Sega introduced their "next generation" system to the world in late 1989. Known as the Genesis in the West, and the Mega Drive in the east, Sega began an aggressive marketing campaign, not only to customers, but also to developers.

Although NEC's TurboGrafx-16 had beat the Genesis to market by nearly four months, Sega quickly regained lost ground, thanks to their line-up of quality arcade conversions, killer sports games, and most of all, the full support of Trip Hawkins and Electronic Arts.


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Sega Master System II Screenshots
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Sega Master System II
Released January 1990
In 1990, Sega was having success with its Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis and as a result took back the rights from Tonka for the SMS. They designed the Sega Master System II, a newer console which was smaller and sleeker but which, to keep production costs low, lacked the reset button and card slot of the original. Sega did everything in its power to market the system, but nothing came out of it.

By 1992, the Master System's sales were virtually nonexistent in North America and production ceased. Sales were poor in Japan as well, due to the dominance of the main competitor from Nintendo, the Nintendo Family Computer.

The Sega Master System is still being produced in Brazil. The latest version is the "Master System III Collection". It uses the same design as the North American Master System II (Master System III in Brazil), but is white and comes in two versions: one with 74 games built-in and another with 105 games built-in on an internal ROM. But in Brazil it's hard to find the 3D Goggles, the Light Phaser Pistol and even the cartridge, leaving Brazilians only with the built-in games.


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Sega CD for Genesis Screenshots
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Sega CD for Genesis
Released December 1992
The Sega CD had been announced at the Chicago CES on November 1992. Early reports had suggested that hardware in the system would allow it to display more on screen colors (from a larger palette) than the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo, which was an important technical concern for consumers.

In the end, the Sega CD failed to convince North American gamers, mostly due to the cost of the console, and the lack of any hardware advancements. There just was not enough value for the price. Moreover, the game experience was little improved.

The single speed CD drive added load times to all games, and the 64-color graphics and underpowered processor (for video rendering) made full-motion games look terrible. One particularly infamous example of this came in the form of the Mortal Kombat CD, which was widely criticized due to certain moves, particularly the games popular "fatalities", that would not perform until after a notable lag between the execution of the move and its actual on screen animation.


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Sega Genesis 2 Screenshots
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Sega Genesis 2
Released February 1994
The Sega Genesis 2 Unit was released in 1994 and was nearly the same as the Sega Genesis released in 1989. The new unit was absent of a headphone jack and volume control and used a non standard RF switch and AC adapter. The pack ins were an AC adapter, RF switch, controller, and the Sonic the Hedgehog 2 game.

The failures of the Sega CD and 32X, a lack of effective advertising, and disputes between Sega of America and Sega of Japan had taken their toll on the company. By 1994, Sega's market share had dropped from 65% to 35%, and the official announcements of newer, more powerful consoles, such as the Saturn, Playstation, and N64 signaled that the 16-bit era was drawing to a close. Interest in the Genesis suffered greatly as a result, compounding its already falling sales. In 1996, less than a year after the debut of their Saturn console, Sega quickly brought their participation in the 16-bit era to an end by discontinuing production of the Genesis and its associated accessories.


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Sega CD for Genesis 2 Screenshots
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Sega CD for Genesis 2
Released April 1994
The Sega Mega-CD is an add-on device for the Sega Mega Drive released in Europe, Australia, and Japan. The North American version is called the Sega CD. The device allows the user to both play CD audio discs and specially designed game CDs. It can also play CD+G discs.

The development of the Sega CD was top secret; game programmers didn't know what they were designing for until the Mega-CD was finally revealed at Tokyo Toy Show in Japan. The Sega Mega-CD in Japan was designed to compete with the PC Engine, which had a separate CD-ROM drive.

In the United States, the Sega CD was considered a failure due to its high price, low sales and general confusion with the Sega 32X, another Genesis peripheral offered. Due to Sega of America's lack of support for the Sega CD and 32X, many consumers lost their trust in Sega and it can be said that Sega never recovered from this, as the Saturn sold poorly and the Dreamcast, although considered a good effort on Sega's behalf, was unable to compete effectively with the PS2.


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Sega Genesis 32x Screenshots
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Sega Genesis 32x
Released November 1994
The 32X hit the market in North America in November 1994, during the same month the Sega Saturn was released in Japan. Many industry insiders speculated that the 32X was doomed from the beginning as the Sega Saturn hardware was widely regarded as more powerful than the 32X and had the support of many Japanese third party software developers.

The Sega 32X can only be used in conjunction with a Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis system; it is plugged in where the cartridge bay is. Besides playing its own cartridges, it also acted as a passthrough for Genesis games so it would be a permanent attachment. The 32X came with 10 coupons and several spacers, so it would work with all versions of the Genesis.

Since this was an expensive add-on system, Sega decided to bundle in some rebate vouchers, which were difficult to take advantage of. Orders exceeded one million, but not enough were produced, and supply shortage problems arose.


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Sega CDX Screenshots
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Sega CDX
Released November 21, 1994 for $399.00
The Multi-Mega or CDX was a 16-bit video game console released in 1994 for $399 USD, combining the Sega Mega Drive (Sega Genesis in North America) and one of its add-ons, the Sega Mega-CD (Sega CD in North America), into a single compact unit as a final attempt by Sega to encourage consumer interest in its unpopular Mega-CD format. It was released under the name Multi-Mega in Europe, Genesis CDX in North America and Multi-Mega CDX in Brazil.

Overpriced and underselling due to lack of high quality Mega-CD games, and the anticipation of the Mega Drive's successor, the Sega Saturn, it was never well-supported by Sega, and died a quiet death. Its counterpart, the combined Mega Drive/32X console, the Sega Neptune, never went beyond the prototype stage.


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Sega Saturn Screenshots
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Sega Saturn
Released May 11, 1995 for $399.00
Sega's Away Team worked for an entire two years exclusively to make certain that the Sega Saturn was launched with some of the world's best hardware and software. The 27-member Away Team comprises Sega employees from every aspect of hardware engineering, product development, and marketing. Their sole mission was to ensure that Sega Saturn's hardware and design met the precise needs of both the U.S. and Japanese markets.

In May 1995, Sega launched the Saturn in the USA, a full four months ahead of schedule. This was announced at that year's E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) where Sega representatives were engaged in a public relations battle with Sony. This surprise move resulted in very few sales, however. This was due largely to the $399 USD price of the system and the lack of available software at time of launch. Also, Sega chose to ship Saturn units only to four select retailers. This caused a great deal of animosity toward Sega from unselected companies, including Wal-Mart and KB Toys.


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Sega Genesis 3 Screenshots
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Sega Genesis 3
Released February 01, 1998 for $29.99
A company by the name of Majesco started to take over manufacturing of systems for Sega in 1998 with their release of the Genesis 3. The system retailed for $29.99 and came packaged with one controller, AV cables, and a power cord. The controller that was featured as a pack in was the new Sega six button controller. The system itself was very tiny, about the size of two controllers for the system. The system lacked the expansion port that the Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 had and thus could not utilized the function of the Sega CD 1 or 2. The Genesis 3 could not utilize the 32X either.

Besides redesigning the Sega Genesis, Majesco also re-released certain games for the system. They came in cardboard boxes with black and white instructions. Majesco had also done some re-releasing for the Sega Game Gear and the Super Nintendo. At the same time they were doing work with the Game Gear, they had plans to re-release the Sega Saturn, but as of yet, nothing has been done. The following games do not work (per Genesis 3 Instruction Manual): Virtua Racing. The Sega Channel Modem also does not work.


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Sega Dreamcast Screenshots
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Sega Dreamcast
Released September 1999
The Dreamcast was released on November 27, 1998 in Japan, on September 9, 1999 in the United States (the date 9/9/99 featured heavily in US promotion) and on October 14, 1999 in Europe. The tag line used to promote the console in the US was "It's thinking", and in Europe "Up to 6 Billion Players". (The vagueness of these campaigns and almost total lack of any in game footage has been touted as one of the reasons for the Dreamcast's eventual downfall. Many Americans knew that the Dreamcast was coming, but didn't know what one was.)

The Dreamcast was the first console to include a built-in modem and Internet support for on-line gaming. It enjoyed brisk sales in its first season and was one of Sega's most successful hardware units. In the United States alone, a record 200,000 units had been pre-ordered before launch and Sega sold 500,000 consoles in just two weeks (including 225,000 sold on the first 24 hours which became a video game record until the PlayStation 2 launched a year later). In fact, due to brisk sales and hardware shortages, Sega was unable to fulfill all of the advance orders.


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Sega FireCore Screenshots
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Sega FireCore
Released October 2009
Announced in 2008 as the "Firebox" and "Sega Genesis 4" and released in 2009 as the "Firecore", a remodeled "Sega Genesis" console that featured built-in games. The Genesis Firecore was manufactured by ATGames. The system doesn't have an expansion port, which makes the Firecore incompatible with the Sega CD, and is also incompatible with Sega 32X, Power Base Converter and Virtua Racing. It's been reported unable to properly emulate the in-game music when playing from the original game cartridges of titles such as Sonic the Hedgehog and Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

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1970s Video Game Consoles | 1980s Video Game Consoles | 1990s Video Game Consoles | 2000 and Beyond
GameConsoles
Top 10 Game Consoles of All Time | 10 Game Consoles That Didn't Catch On | Game Console Clones
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Top Brands:Magnavox | Atari | Coleco | Mattel | Nintendo | Sega | Sony | Microsoft
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