History of Mega Drive and Sonic the Hedgehog
In 1987, the Japanese computer giant NEC He launched PC Engine in the middle of a gigantic advertising campaign and entered the console business with force. SEGA, to compete with two colossi like Nintendo Y NEC in his land, and following the requests of Ishikawa and his team decided to introduce a 16-bit microprocessor into their new home system. On the one hand, to achieve an impact on the market. And on the other, to be able to adapt the plate Sega System 16 of the arcades on a console. In the arcades SEGA was very powerful, and powerful was the CPU of choice for its machine: the 68000 of Motorola, which would take over the picture, and which featured a secondary CPU, the Zilog Z80, to handle the sound and reduce its workload. To adjust costs and not increase the retail value that was sought, and due to the high price of the microprocessor of Motorola, SEGA was forced to place an initial order high enough to reduce it tenfold. She was convinced of her success, she was going for it all.
The external design of the console was the work of Mitsushige Shiraiwa, which was inspired by hi-fi stereos and automobiles. The goal was to give it a more mature appearance that would help target audiences of all ages, unlike the Famicom, which focuses on children. According to SatoPart of the blame for the system's success was its appearance as an audio player, as well as the gold metal plate with embossed 16-bit text, achieving a great sense of power. In June 1988, SEGA announced that it was developing the console Mark V in the Japanese video game magazine Beep!But the managers wanted a more powerful name. After more than 300 proposals, one was chosen that would become a legend: Mega drive. Genesis in the U.S.
Mega Drive was released in Japan on October 29, 1988. But it was overshadowed by the launch of Super Mario Bros 3 One week before. The good reception that the console had among the specialized media Famitsu Y Beep! helped it build a significant following, but failed to sell more than 400,000 units the first year, and was relegated to third place behind Nintendo and NEC systems for all 16-bit in Japan, despite the SEGA's catalog and peripheral efforts.
On January 9, 1989, the Genesis release date in the United States was announced. Until then, SEGA did not have the infrastructure or means for marketing and the distribution of its products in the region, functions that fell to the toy manufacturer Tonka. Dissatisfied with this alliance, it offered distribution to Atari, which rejected the proposal because it seemed too expensive a console and wanted to focus on its own system: Atari ST. SEGA then decided to have its own North American subsidiary take over, and Sega of America made a limited release of the console on August 14, 1989 in New York and Los Angeles. That same year, Sega Genesis saw the light in the rest of the United States.
The European version was released in September 1990 and was handled by Virgin mastertronic, acquired by SEGA the following year to become Sega of Europe. The console already had a recognized catalog when it was released in Europe, and games like Golden Ax, The Revenge of Shinobi, Ghouls & Ghosts, Space harrier 2 Y Super Thunder Blade they accompanied it on the shelves of the stores on the day of its launch. Mega drive It was sold in a bundle that included another arcade hit: Altered beast. This first batch of games were presented alongside the console at ECES (European Computer Entertainment Show) of 1990. Initial estimates of Virgin, which placed an initial order of 20,000 units, were cracked. In the UK alone, Mega Drive had placed 40,000 machines in just over three months.
For the North American market, the new CEO of Sega of America, the former Atari CEO, Michael Katz, focused on two aspects. On the one hand, a campaign of marketing aggressive directly against Nintendo, which compared consoles with the intention of ridiculing it in the face of the power of Genesis and emphasizing the much closer experience to the arcade that it offered SEGA. On the other hand, Katz I wanted a catalog of games that had the name and the face of celebrities of the spectacle and the sport as a claim. This is how titles such as Joe Montana Football, Tommy Lasorda Baseball, Pat Riley Basketball, James Buster Douglas Knock Out Boxing, Arnold Palmer Golf, Mario Lemieux Hockey or Michael Jackson´s Moonwalker. However, SEGA's forecasts were not met, selling just over half a million Genesis in a market in which Nintendo continued to command with an iron fist.
In the mid-1990s, Hayao Nakayama replaced Katz by Tom kalinske, who despite not having experience in the video game sector knew how to surround himself and listen to a select group of expert advisors. Kalinske was a strong defender of the business model of razors and razors, based on placing cheap products, at a loss if necessary, but that work with spare parts or accessories with which to make cash, in the case of consoles, games and peripherals. That's how he developed a four-point plan: reduce the price of the console, form a team based in the United States to create games aimed at that market, continue and expand the aggressive campaigns of marketing... and replace Altered beast in the console package for a new game: Sonic the hedgehog.
The board of directors rejected the plan, but Nagayama in person he said to Kalinske: "I hired you to make decisions in Europe and America. Do it”. The media all over the planet praised Sonic as one of the best games ever released and 15 million Genesis were sold. A good part of his success was that he knew how to anticipate the replacement for NES, Super NES or Super Famicom, which when it saw the light competed with a console with an already established catalog. NEC decided to withdraw its products from the region. Thanks to Sonic, Genesis outperformed SNES almost two to one at the end of 1991. This led to SEGA to drive the 65% from the North American 16-bit console market by January 1992, making for the first time Nintendo it will be relegated to a second position since December 1985. Historic feat. And an irrefutable example of the greatness of the supersonic hedgehog.