It’s January 1995 Electricity crackles through the air and wind whips around the parked trucks a ball of Energy appears and out of it the Star Struck 800 sent back to establish exactly what the hell happened at Sega when the Sega 32x console was released and what went wrong.
More than just another add-on?
The 32x was another add on for the Sega Megadrive which plugged directly into the cartridge slot, well we say directly it involved a metal plate being inserted in to the Megadrive slot followed by the 32x, oh and a wire connecting the 32x to the Megadrive, and of course it had its own power supply!!.
Now if you had the MegaCD attached as well your electricity meter was probably spinning enough to cool down a small country and your Megadrive was mentally trying to tell you to let it die with dignity, but alas Sega had other ideas and were prepared to make the once great Megadrive suffer for a little while longer.
You’ve got a console with no games…
The Sega 32x console when released in Europe was £169.99 and was considered a cheaper alternative for people who wanted to play 32 bit gaming, now there was an issue with the price here it didn’t actually come with a game, where the Master system, Megadrive and even the MegaCD did. So a game would have to be purchased so this was going to cost you roughly £200-£210 in total considering the Mega cd came with a game at only £50 more not the cheap alternative Sega was offering really.
Were there enough titles?
Another issue was the games library about 40 of them in total yes you read right 40! Again we had revamped versions of space Harrier, Afterburner and Doom (Sega were literally clutching a straws for titles).A classic arcade game was ported to the 32x by the name of Primal Rage with poor graphics and the worst controls ever it was poorly received, Doom a game that should have ported seamlessly to the 32x had control issues no real care seemed to be put in to the games and this was having a terrible effect on the add on, even Virtua fighter a game with a high polygon count (boy was there some polygons in that game) felt smooth but suffered with a very floaty feeling to the fights.
There was one game that could save the Sega 32x console from being terminated and that was Star Wars, actually no it was Terrible, clunky graphics that were worse than what the Megadrive could produce music that sounded like it was being played by a school Orchestra and voice acting that sounded like the actors had hard boiled sweets in their mouth. Chaotix was received well and was basically a sonic game involving most of the characters (and some new additions) from the franchise but this was just not enough to save this poor excuse for an add on.
So what was the problem here lacklustre games a minimal game library and next to no third party developers, well the answer is simple if not unbelievable and cast a shadow over Sega’s marketing department probably to this day. The 32x was released January 1995 in Europe, the Sega Saturn was released in Japan November 1994 that’s right there were merely months in it and the fallout was inevitable as judgement day.
The Sega 32X console never stood a chance
In 1996 the Sega 32x console was discontinued and was branded a commercial failure the fact that all developers began to focus on the Saturn this had doomed the 32x from the start and only sold 665,000 units. Sega made a terrible statement saying the 32x was a transition between Megadrive and Saturn making them look greedy (in other words buy this while we work out how to sort this mess out).
All efforts were now thrown in to Sega’s Saturn, Sega needed to start hitting big and hoped the Saturn was going to be the machine to do it for them and repeat the success of the now laid to rest Mega drive.
So as our Star Struck 800 lowers himself in to the molten abyss taking the MegaCD and 32x in with him and all games for both systems thrown in after him to erase any history of their existence we look to the horizon knowing.. that again for Sega… a storm is coming.