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Sega Console Information
Sega Master System
     Back in June 1986, Sega marketed their first US console, the 8-bit Sega Master System (SMS).  Its original Japanese incarnation was the SG-1000 Mark III.  The SMS never had the success of Sega's rival (the NES), even though there was technical superiority with Sega's machine.  However, there is one notable accomplishment of the SMS: it introduced console gamers to the wonders of RPG games in the benchmark title known as Phantasy Star, which eventually turned into an elite series for Sega.  Other RPG games like Miracle Warriors and Ultima IV didn't hurt either.
Sega Genesis
     On August 14, 1989, Sega pushed the technology curve by releasing the first true 16-bit console in America.  Actually, the Sega Genesis (a.k.a. Mega Drive in Japan/Europe) had two processors -- a 68000 (16-bit) and a Z-80 (8-bit).  Sega immediately took advantage of the technology lead (even though NEC released the comperable TurboGrafx 16) and took a foothold on the American gaming market.  Eventually, Nintendo countered with their "Super Nintendo" (SNES).  There is no clear technical advantage for either, but most gamers agree that sports games, action games and quick gameplay is best fulfilled with the Sega Genesis.  The 16-bit war raged.
     The Sega Genesis is well known for its marquee series: Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, Madden Football, NHL Hockey, Phantasy Star, Shining Force, Herzog Zwei and Landstalker.  With 100s of games in its library, the Sega Genesis has something for everyone.
Sega Game Gear
     After Nintendo launched their NES-based Gameboy, Sega decided to counter with their own technically advanced handheld sytem. The 8-bit Game Gear was the result, which is essentially a portable Master System, and was released in 1991 in America.  The Sega Game Gear has a backlit color screen, Sega software, and a voracious appetite for batteries. 
     It fared well for a few years, but handheld gaming started a downswing.  The Game Gear library is decent, and consists mainly of Master System and Genesis conversions.  Later, a Master Gear converter was released, which allowed you play SMS cartridges on the go.
Sega CD
     NEC was the first to market CD-ROM technology for home consoles.  Sega, being a leader in technology, wanted to push the envelope once more with the release of the most advanced console to date, the Sega CD (a.k.a. Mega CD in Japan/Europe).  It's not merely a CD-ROM drive, but an additional 68000 16-bit CPU inside plus the amazing ASIC chip.  Technically, it's a hardware upgrade for the Sega Genesis, but it could only play games specifically made for the Sega CD (as of course its games are on CD).  The Sega CD helped introduce things like biaxial rotation, ultra smooth scaling, CD music and FMV to the console market.  In the end, gamers didn't want to cough up the money to upgrade ($299), so the Sega CD never became a national sales hit.
     Some notable Sega CD exclusive games include: Batman Returns, Silpheed, Sonic CD, Shining Force CD, Lunar: The Silver Star and Lunar: Eternal Blue.  These and others are cutting edge 16-bit titles exclusive to the Sega CD.  In the late 90s, the Lunar series was remixed for the Sega Saturn and Playstation.
Sega Genesis Nomad
     Once the price of the Genesis hardware was low enough, Sega was able to come up with an affordable 16-bit color handheld system that they called Nomad - basically a portable Genesis with a screen.  It has complete Sega Genesis compatibility, six buttons and external controller jacks.  Now gamers were able able to bring along their 100s of Genesis games with the greatest of ease.  Even in 1999, the Sega Nomad stands as one of the best portable console values with a sizable software library which is available at bargain prices.
Sega Genesis CDX
     Sega saw a need to release a console which combined the Sega Genesis with the Sega CD in one convenient box.  At the same time, they made it small enough to be portable by releasing the CD-man sized Sega Genesis CDX (a.k.a. Multi Mega in Japan/Europe).  Unfortunately, it's not completely portable, as it has no video screen.  It does, however, alleviate all the extra wires associated with the traditional Genesis-Sega CD configuration.  At this time, the unit is rare, very desirable, and quite collectable.
     JVC got into the business of making licensed Sega hardware with their own Genesis/Sega CD combo unit called the X-Eye.  The only difference between the JVC X-Eye and the Sega CDX is that the X-Eye is a normal sized console and it has built-in karaoki features.  At this time, the unit is rare, very desirable and quite collectable.
Sega Genesis 32X
     After the release of the CD-i (Phillips) and 3DO (Panasonic), the 32-bit era began its infancy.  Sega, not wanting to be out-shined, released another Genesis upgrade/console known as the 32X (code named Sega Jupiter).  At its heart was the first dual 32-bit CPU configuration in a home system.  As with the the Sega CD, it only plays games which are specifically made for it.  However, it also has the advantage of being able to play 32X enhanced CDs via the Sega CD.  Sega also had plans to release an all-in-one console (Genesis/Sega CD/32X -- code named Sega Neptune), but that never came to market as the 32X was not popular enough, and the release of the Saturn essentially killed the 32X as a viable 32-bit console.
     Some highlights in the relatively small 32X library would be: Virtua Racing, Star Wars Arcade, Virtua Fighter, Knuckles Chaotix, Mortal Kombat 2 and Spiderman: Web of Fire.  It's too bad the system never realized its full potential.
Sega Saturn
     In 1994, Sega released their next generation, dual 32-bit console in Japan, and named it Sega Saturn.  It was instantly the #1 seller there.  In May of 1995, Sega unleashed their new console in America, with only a few games to support it for the first 4 months.  Sega underestimated the popularity of 3D games that began with popular arcade titles like Virtua Racing, Virtua Fighter and Daytona USA.  

     As a result, the Saturn didn't have an ideal amount of 3D hardware.  Yes, it could churn out some great 3D visuals via tight programming, but that took too much time to develop.  As it turns out, this lack of built-in 3D support and the Saturn's complexity of development were mainly responsible for its waning support.  However, it does have plenty of 2D hardware support, quick load times, and memory upgrades for superior animation.

     Hindsight is 20/20.  Now, we can look back and analyze the Saturn's software library, only to find out (a surprise to some people) that the Sega Saturn has some of the best 32-bit software you can find.  Games like Daytona USA, Sega Rally, Virtua Fighter 2, Fighters MEGAMiX, Shining the Holy Ark, Shining Force III, Dragon Force, Iron Storm, Panzer Dragoon Saga and NiGHTS remain unparalleled in the 32-bit generation.  One of the last Saturn games to be released was Capcom's excellent Street Fighter Zero 3, a definite must-have.

Sega Dreamcast
     In 1998, Sega released the world's first 128-bit GPU console in Japan and named it Dreamcast (a combination of dream-broadcast).  Packed with a dial-up modem, it also has the distinction of being the first standard internet ready system.  The console got off to a quick start in Japan, only to be tempered with hardware and software shortages.
     The American launch was 9-9-99.  This time Sega released its newest console with a ton of launch titles in America (18 in all).  The Sega Dreamcast went on to crush previous console pre-sales, as well as launch hardware and software sales!  Sega's greatest console was quickly dubbed the "Uberconsole". 
     Dreamcast offered great software like Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, Power Stone, Ready 2 Rumble and Sega NFL 2K.  In late 2000, Sonic Team graced the videogame world with the release of Phantasy Star Online in Japan.  This benchmark action/MMORPG followed in the US on January 31, 2001.  The looming threat of Sony's Playstation 2 and Sega's own financial woes was enough for them to throw in the towel, much to the dismay of Sega Fans worldwide.

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