It’s crazy to think, but today SEGA is 60 years old. What a wild ride it has been for the gaming giant.
Founded by Martin Bromley and Richard Stewart as Nihon Goraku Bussan on June 3rd, 1960; shortly after, the company acquired the assets of its predecessor, Service Games of Japan.
Five years later they became known as SEGA, in 1966 they released their first coin operated machine called Periscope. The huge success led SEGA to furniture develop more coin operated machines, this creates the path to the company we came to know and love.
The early 80’s saw a downturn in the arcade business, leading to SEGA being sold off to Gulf and Western Industries.
THE BIRTH OF THE SEGA HOME CONSOLE
As a result of the arcade downturn, SEGA began developing the SG-1000 and Master System home systems to compete with the NES.
In 1984, Sega executives David Rosen and Hayao Nakayama led a management buyout of the company with backing from CSK Corporation.
In 1988, SEGA released the Mega Drive, it initially struggled in Japan against its competitors. But 1991 saw this completely change with the introduction of a certain blue hedgehog….introducing the super fast Sonic the Hedgehog! For a brief time the system even outsold the SNES.
In the Mega Drive’s lifetime it saw some incredible games. Including Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Comix Zone, ToeJam & Earl to name only a few of the greats.
In 1990 SEGA released the Game Gear as direct competition to the Nintendo Game Boy which launched the year before with Tetris.
Game Gear was released with various pack-ins including Super Monaco GP and Columns, SEGA’s answer to Tetris.
The console was packing a lot more power than the Game Boy plus a full colour screen. This would work against the Hame Gear as a handheld, due to its infamous hunger of chewing through six AA batteries in around 3-5 hours.
The Game Gear sold almost 11 million units and was a success for SEGA, and personally one of my favourites too.
SEGA GOES NOMAD
In 1995, SEGA launched the Nomad in North America. Based on the Mega Jet which was a compact Mega Drive used on flights in Japan. The Nomad featured a full colour screen and could use the SEGA Genesis cartridges.
It had a brief lifespan and was gone almost as quick as it arrived.
MEGA CD AND 32X
As the 16-bit generation wore on, SEGA introduced the Mega CD. To get on board the interactive CD entertainment scene and later the 32X which was a mushroom shaped add-on to turn the Mega Drive into a 32-bit machine.
Of course this would prove to be an over-expensive flop.
THE SEGA SATURN
Development of the Saturn began in 1992, alongside their groundbreaking arcade hardware, 3D Model 1.
SEGA released the Saturn in November, 1994 in Japan, and in mid 1995 elsewhere.
Initially it was a hit in Japan but lost ground over time, especially since the developed Sonic game called Sonic X-Treme never saw the light of day.
SEGA Japan and America we’re having constant battles over the direction and this led to the eventual demise of SEGA as a console maker.
SEGA DREAMCAST: THE (ALMOST PERFECT) GAMES CONSOLE
The Dreamcast was the final console in the company’s 18 year stint in the console market.
Released in late 1998 in Japan and in 1999 in America and Europe. In stark contrast to or predecessor, the Saturn, Dreamcast used off the shelf components to reduce the costs.
The console used Gigabyte Discs which were also used in SEGA’s Naomi arcades of the time, for games like Crazy Taxi, Super Monkey Ball, Virtua Fighter and Virtua Striker.
WHY DID SEGA DREAMCAST FAIL!?
This console had some incredible games, and graphically was fantastic, though SEGA’s failure to include a DVD drive would prove fatal.
The PlayStation 2 went on to dominate the gaming industry. Alongside Nintendo GameCube and Microsoft’s debut entry to the console market with Xbox.
THE END OF AN ERA
Sadly SEGA’s run as a console maker came to an abrupt end. Mark Cerny who worked on Sonic 2 would go on to be a pivotal figure for Sony as their head games system architect as you may ya e seen in the PS5 deep dive video.
SEGA AS A GAME DEVELOPER
After January 23rd 2001, when SEGA ceased production of the Dreamcast, they started developing software for other consoles. Doing the unthinkable in the early 90s and releasing SEGA games for Nintendo consoles.
The Game Boy Advance saw the Sonic Advance series appear on its 32-bit handheld.
As the years wore on SEGA have continued to celebrate some of its classics with various Mega Drive collections and the odd few Dreamcast titles.
Some titles were forgotten like Jet Set Radio and you until recently. Streets of Rage which has now had its 4th instalment releases by DotEmu, check out the review here.
RETURN TO CONSOLE MAKING
In September of 2019, SEGA made a surprise return to console making with the release of its Mega Drive/Genesis Mini.
Including 42 games ported by M2, the console has received much praise.
Over the last couple of weeks there have been huge rumblings of a huge announcement.
To coincide with this 60th anniversary, including a rumoured Japanese only partnership with Xbox, this seems to have been since quashed.
Japanese tech journalist Zenji Nishikawa is at the source of all these rumours, we will find out in a few days.
The latest is that Microsoft might purchase SEGA. But let’s forget rumours for this moment and wish the incredible SEGA a very happy 60th birthday.