Sega Ages

A Breif History...


alt : Sega!
SEGA Ages/SEGA History

Year (Introduced)





SEGA began producing their first arcade games. Examples are Monaco GP, Frogger and Star Trek. They introduce several technical innovations including the first colour vector graphics game, the first laserdisc game and the first 3D game.


SEGA SG-1000

SEGA SG-1000

This was SEGA's very first dedicated games console. It was a 4-Bit system with 64K of RAM and a CPU of 1.2Mhz. It played games Choplifter, Monaco GP, SEGA Ninja and Wonderboy.


SEGA SG-1000 Mark II

SEGA SG-1000

This was a redesigned SG-1000 with a new case, detachable keyboard and a faster CPU running at 2.3Mhz. It was marketed primarily as a personal computer. This version also allowed loading of games from tape and introduced the SEGA Game Cards. Later models utilised an 8-Bit CPU. Both SG's were marketed inside of Japan only became mildly successful. Market conditions and the domination of the Commodore 64 in the West did not see the SG line going global.




This console was the SG-1000 Mark II with a keyboard integrated. It was marketed as a personal computer and was fully compatible with previous SG hardware and software.


Master System or SEGA Mark III (East)

The Master System was SEGA's first attempt to globally market a games console. It was the direct competitor to the NES/Famicom and was more powerful. It was also able to play the SG line of games.

The Master System was not overly successful due to the 85% share of the console market Nintendo had. They locked all of their developers into agreements forbidding them to develop for other systems. The system did manage to achieve decent sales in Europe.

Several versions were available with different 'built-in' games.


Mega Drive/Genesis

The following few years were really what made SEGA. The first major console war resulted in SEGA eventually gaining a 55% market share in US and Europe. A court ruling had declared Nintendo's exclusivity policy for 3rd party developers illegal which meant SEGA's new system got plenty of third party support.

In Japan, however, the Mega Drive remained sluggish. Nintendo still held strong with the NES because of the RPGs that were available. The constant delays of the Super Nintendo and the arrival of Sonic moved things a little in SEGA's favour.


Mega CD (Europe and Japan) or SEGA CD (USA)

The Mega CD was a CDROM add-on for the Mega Drive to provide larger games and some enhancements to the graphics through sprite scaling and rotation. A new sound chip was added for PCM wave forms.


JVC WonderMega

JVC manufactured a SEGA system combining a Mega Drive and a Mega CD more geared towards Karaoke. Several more models can be found in the Mega Drive Models Gallery.


Game Gear (codenamed Mercury) and Master System II

The Game Gear was essentially a portable Master System designed to compete with the Game Boy. Though the system was much more powerful and being colour rather than a black matrix it did not achieve mass popularity since Nintendo had some 95%+ of the handheld market.

The Game Gear was able to run Master System games and had a TV Tuner accessory turning it into a portable colour TV.

The Master System 2 was a smaller remodelled unit. The card game slot, expansion port and reset button were removed and a lower quality RF connector provided output. The built-in games were Alex Kidd in Miracle World to then be replaced by Sonic the Hedgehog.


Mega Drive 2/Genesis 2 and Mega CD2/SEGA CD2

The Mega Drive/Genesis and Mega/SEGA CD were remodelled for cost saving purposes and get the number 2 at the end of their name. It had a new style AV port, no serial port and no headphone port.

The Mega CD 2/SEGA CD2 are slide attaching models with a lift open lid best matching the new style Mega Drive. Both units are fully compatible with their older versions.



A remodelled version of the WonderMega released in the US and Japan much later than originally planned. The high price and limited availability (especially in the US) prevented decent sales.


Milti-Mega or CDX

SEGA's own version of the Mega Drive and Mega CD combined to the size of an enlarged portable CD player. These never became popular because of their high price and are quite rare. They are pretty collectible.


SEGA 32X or Super 32X or Mega Drive 32X (Codenamed Mars)

Simply put, disaster. It was a 32-Bit upgrade to the tried-and-tested Mega Drive/Genesis to keep the system alive during the onset of the 32-Bit era. It was a mushroom like shape which slotted in the top of your Mega Drive making it look slightly stupid.

Some of SEGA's top arcade games at the time were ported to the system. Examples are Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing Deluxe and Star Wars Arcade. Again very little third party support, lack of decent software and the imminent arrival of 'full' 32-Bit consoles made the system die and disappear extremely quickly. It was the start of things to come...



SEGA's 32-Bit console. The Saturn was a beast of a console, more powerful than the Playstation using multiple 32-Bit processors. This power brought complexity for developers who preferred a simple design.

The Saturn ultimately lost as the odds were stacked against it, even by SEGA themselves! The story of this great console is complex and bizarre.

The Saturn was able to effectively replicate many of SEGA's mega arcade hits at the time such as Virtua Fighter 2, SEGA Rally, Daytona USA, Virtua Cop 2 to name but a few as well as having some of the best ever home games. Whilst it bombed in Europe and the US it was SEGA's breakthrough console in Japan enjoying a very rich life creating a buzzing import scene.


Genesis Nomad

An innovation from SEGA of America which had limited success. It was a completely portable Genesis about the size of a VHS tape with a back lit LCD screen.

It was fully compatible with all Genesis games.


Genesis 3

The Mega Drive/Genesis was remodelled again by a company called Majesco Sales who purchased the rights to deal in SEGA's old consoles. It was a much smaller version of the console with the Z80 processor stripped from the internals. It sparked a mini-revival of the 16-Bit war.


Saturn and "Blackbelt (3DFX)", "Dural/Katana (PowerVR)"

The Saturn had vanished into cult status in the West though the system is still strong in Japan. Releases such as Radiant Silvergun give the console a hardcore status.

News filtered through that a successor system was in development with various codenames. It was to be 128-Bit using the best 3D hardware of the day from 3DFX or PowerVR.



SEGA, reconsolidated and refocused, release their latest console. Dreamcast was the next level of interactive entertainment combining the Internet and gaming along with innovative games. With 128-Bit power, Internet access, four controller ports, revolutionary graphics it was sure to be winner. Sonic returned in full 3D glory for the launch date along with arcade perfect conversions of SEGA Rally 2 and Virtua Fighter 3tb as well as vast 3rd party support.

The Dreamcast launches broke records in all territories.


Dreamcast and Saturn

After enjoying considerable success, the launch of the PS2 and the Sony marketing machine both begin to take its toll. Some 3rd party developers move away but SEGA produce maximum quality and original games such as Jet Set Radio, Samba De Amigo and SEGA Bass Fishing.

The last official Saturn game is released in Japan. Final Fight Revenge by Capcom was ported from the arcades.


Dreamcast and the new strategy

Sonic's 10th Anniversary

SEGA announce that the manufacturing of new Dreamcast's will cease in March due to the costs and their decision to no longer produce hardware. Dreamcast is to be continued to be supported by software releases from SEGA with its independent subsidiary studios and remaining third party developers for 2 years more, however, SEGA's new strategy is to become a multi-platform third party developer.

For the first time ever, Sonic The Hedgehog appears on a Nintendo machine in Sonic Advance.

Sonic The Hedgehog celebrates his 10th anniversary in on June 21st with a simultaneous world wide release of Sonic Adventure 2 on the Dreamcast.



This would see the beginning of the transformation into making games for several platforms, some of them being their former rivals. Early titles included Chu Chu Rocket for Game Boy Advance and Crazy Taxi for PS2.

Arcade boards are still being produced including NAOMI2 running Virtua Fighter 4.

An unexpected re-surge of the Dreamcast enables the console to sell in excess of 10 million units as games are still being produced such as Ikaruga.

As a 3rd party developer, successful releases included; Sonic Adventure 2 Battle and Virtua Fighter 4.

Unfortunately, SEGA went up for auction following the death of CSK (SEGA's parent company) founder Isao Okawa who donated large amounts of money to the company during difficult times. Potential buyers included Bandai and Microsoft. Sammy discussed a merger but the deal fell through. Microsoft, a long term SEGA ally, officially enters the console wars with their Xbox console. This sparks a titanic battle with Nintendo for the No 2 position.



Sammy bought the outstanding shares from CSK and their chairman Hajime Satomi became CEO of SEGA. They are then to focus more on their profit making arcade activities.

Sonic Heroes proves to be a huge hit selling over 5 million units across three platforms.


New Ownership

Sammy bought a further controlling stake in SEGA creating SEGA Sammy Holdings and became one of the largest game manufacturers in the world. Following the merger, the company re-absorbed its development studios and reorganised them. Several high-profile employees left in protest.
Sega Sammy Studios


Continued Success

SEGA sell development studio 'Visual Concepts' who were known for many SEGA Sports titles to 'Take Two Interactive'. The year would turn out to be a strong and profitable across all divisions. High selling titles included Yakuza and Sonic The Hedgehog.


More Success and Expansion

Continued profits allowed SEGA to begin a western expansion. SEGA acquired several development studios including Sports Interactive (UK) after successfully publishing the Football Manager series of games. A US developer, Secret Level were also purchased whom had already begun work to "recreate a classic SEGA franchise" on modern consoles.

Yuji Naka, head of Sonic Team (Sonic, Nights) left SEGA to setup his own independent studio called Prope. SEGA provided some of the startup capital with the option to publish games.


Continued Profits

Strong software sales keep the company performing profitably. Titles like Shadow The Hedgehog (despite being shite) sold in excess of 1 million units.


A Downturn?

Financial woes begin to beset SEGA Sammy. SEGA themselves are performing strong. Games are appearing frequently in Top 10 sales charts but the Sammy Pachinko business suffers a downturn.

Mario and Sonic at the Olympics sells phenomenally well particularly across Europe and other titles such as Condemned 2 are also strong. In addition to games toys are released such as robotic dogs and home planetariums.

SEGA close the SEGA Racing Studio in the UK (near where I live!). It is quickly purchased by Codemasters.

To develop western markets a deal with New Line Cinema is made to develop The Golden Compass and a deal with Fox to make 2 games based on Alien - one an RPG in which SEGA have enlisted Obsidian Entertainment and a FPS with critically acclaimed developers Gearbox software.

SEGA partner with Platinum Games, a newly founded team consisting of members of the creative force that made outstanding games such as [Viewtiful Joe] and Devil May Cry.
Platinum Games



Wonder Boy III: The Dragons Trap - The Dragons Castle

Alex Kidd in Miracle World

Fantasy Zone

Space Harrier

Panzer Dragoon II: Zwei Soundtrack

Model 1 Boot-Up


Night Trap Scream!


Back to SEGA Main Index

Top of Page Sonic Mini-Site Sitemap Homepage

Sonic Mini-Site

Return to Homepage

Return to Sitemap

Return to Top of Page

Valid XHTML 1.1