2018 is the 30th anniversary of the birth of Mega Drive in its country of origin, Japan. 30 years of one of SEGA’s best and most beloved consoles, a true icon of the 16-bit era and the video game era of the 1990s, with that historic duel with the Super Nintendo.
That’s why we want to pay tribute to it by remembering 30 historical moments that make our skin crawl and that are completely linked to our beloved Mega Drive.
Today, you can’t talk about Mega Drive without the figure of Sonic, although, incredible as it may seem, this SEGA mascot created by Yuji Naka and Naoto Ohshima took two years to make his triumphant entry into the 16-bit console, where he made his debut in June 1991 in the United States. Similarly, a Mega Drive is not conceived without the pack with Sonic the Hedgehog thereafter. It is, and will always be, the rival par excellence of Mario.
2. Six button control
The standard Mega Drive controller was inherently ergonomic and its button layout was very successful, but SEGA would eventually raise the bar in 1993 by adding three additional buttons, making it the ideal controller for fighting games. Then it would end up settling in later packs of the console.
3. The classic ones of Disney for SEGA
SEGA had a very good relationship with Disney at that time, and although it did the same with Nintendo, on Mega Drive it enjoyed certain exclusives, such as Castle of Illusion (with Mickey Mouse), World of Illusion (with Mickey and Donald Duck), Fantasia (with Mickey) or Quackshot (with Donald), apart, of course, from Mickey Mania, but it also enjoyed some better rated versions compared to the SNES, such as Aladdin (with millionaire sales on SEGA’s machine, by the way).
4. Codemasters J-Cart cartridges
Codemasters created some of the best party gaming on the Mega Drive (Micro Machines and Super Skidmarks), but if there was one thing that made them stand out (among other titles from the English studio) it was coming in the form of special cartridges with extra slots for the controllers, which we learned about from J-Cart.
5. Golden Axe
Mega Drive was enriched by SEGA’s arcade conversions, with the Golden Axe saga being one of its biggest claims. In addition, both Golden Axe II and Golden Axe III remain exclusive to that console.
6. FIFA International Soccer
EA Sports’ debut in the FIFA saga came in late 1993 in the United States for the SEGA console. Its isometric perspective was a novelty and its “realism” dazzled many users, to the point of becoming one of the star franchises of EA today. Who does not remember those races escaping the referee to get rid of a more than deserved card?
Since we have mentioned the North American market again, a rather curious fact is the name Mega Drive received in the USA: Genesis. We never knew what it was, but I like to think that they were fans of the mythical English group. Of course, their code name was “Mark V”, but SEGA would eventually discard it to get rid of the pattern used with the Master System (Mark III in Japan).
8. Streets of Rage
With permission from the aforementioned Golden Axe, Streets of Rage is SEGA’s quintessential beat’em up saga. Noriyoshi Ohba laid the foundations in 1991 and would end up perfecting his formula in 1992 with its exquisite sequel. He was no match for Capcom classics such as Final Fight, an icon par excellence.
9. Yuzo Koshiro
Many are the tunes that were burned into our memory, but probably the Streets of Rage 2, composed by the master Yuzo Koshiro, are among the best. Let’s enjoy Dreamer thanks to Smooth McGroove.
10. Michael Jackson
The loss of Michael Jackson in 2009 has left us an indelible musical legacy, and several very curious relationships for SEGA: two totally different Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker games (one for consoles and one for arcades) and a very special collaboration for the soundtrack of Sonic the Hedgehog 3, even though his name has never appeared in the credits.
11. Castlevania: The New Generation
In Castlevania Konami’s 30-plus year history, it has been highly regarded by Nintendo consoles and to a lesser extent by PlayStation. Luckily he had an exclusive on Mega Drive, that classic-style Castlevania: The New Generation (Bloodlines, in the USA) with two main characters. The same could be said of the demanding Probotector (Contra: Hard Corps, at international level), for the trajectory of this other saga of Konami, of sporadic presence in SEGA.
12. Street Fighter II was also special at SEGA
Nintendo scored a good goal for its Beast Brain with the conversion of that bombing called Street Fighter II. However, it was not necessary to wait so much for its desired edition for the SEGA machine. It was in the summer of 1993, with that Street Fighter II’: Special Champion Edition (with content of the SNES “Turbo”), at the end, one of the catalysts of the six button control.
The Super Nintendo always boasted of adventures with legendary RPG dyes, but in the Mega Drive there were also a few first level ones, like Light Crusader, Landstalker, The Story of Thor or the one that places us, Soleil (Crusader of Centy in the NTSC-USA region), an adventure that always comes to light every time forgotten Mega Drive jewels are remembered that have not had continuity.
14. The blood of Mortal Kombat
While Capcom was opening the way for future fighting games, Midway was getting a little out of hand with Mortal Kombat and its (then) hyper-realism of the fighters and the unabashed bet on gore. In consoles it arrived censored… although in the SEGA console there was a trick to activate the blood.
15. Its apogee in Brazil and… Duke Nukem 3D
As ironic as it may seem, Mega Drive was not a prophet in Japan, but its success came in a more abundant way in the United States, Europe and Brazil. In this last country it was distributed by Tec Toy and its life span was much more absurd than in other markets. In 1998, this company launched an aberrant conversion of the mythical Duke Nukem 3D. We had to wait until 2015 to see its international launch by Piko Interactive.