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32X

Sega 32X BoxThe 32X is an add-on hardware device for the Sega Genesis / Mega Drive video game console.  The add-on device was designed to expand the power of the Genesis and to extend the life span of the Genesis platform until the release of Sega’s next generation console the Sega Saturn.

Sega released the Mega Drive console in Japan in 1988 and the renamed Genesis in North America in 1989.  Sega in an attempt to stay one step ahead of their competition, mainly Nintendo at the time, released numerous add-on devices for their fourth-generation console.  Sega released their first add-on for the Mega Drive in 1991 when the Mega-CD launched in Japan.  The rebranded add-on device was released the following years in North America as the Sega CD and ultimately did not meet Sega’s commercial expectations.

Nintendo released their fourth-generation console, Super Famicom in Japan in 1990 and the Super Nintendo in North America in 1991.   Sega had a good 2-year head start in the fourth-generation and secured a large market share with the Genesis/Mega Drive before Nintendo released their competitive console with the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom.   With Nintendo beginning to gain ground after the launch of the Super Nintendo, Sega was looking for ways to extend the lifespan of the Genesis console by making it more powerful and bridge the gap until the release of the Sega Saturn.

Sega Genesis with 32X AddonCodenamed “Project Mars”, the 32X was developed as a second add-on device for the Genesis/Mega Drive console and could be installed either as a standalone add-on device with the Genesis/Mega Drive or in conjunction with the Sega CD/Mega-CD add-on device.   The add-on device plugs into the cartridge slot of the Genesis/Mega Drive console and utilizes elements of the console to provide a cost-efficient entry into the 32-bit era.  Independent from the original console, the 32X add-on uses its own cartridges and has its own library of games.

ManufacturerSega
DistributorSega
System32X
Super 32X (Japan)
Mega Drive 32X (Europe)
CodenameProject Mars
Required Base UnitGenesis
Mega Drive
Hardware TypeAdd-on
GenerationFourth Generation
Media TypeCartridge
ReleaseNA: November 21, 1994
JP: December 3, 1994
EU: January 1995
DiscontinuedWW: 1996
Launch Price¥ 16,800 JP
$ 159.99 USD
£ 169.99 EU
Sales800,000
Game Library40 Total Games
18 Games (JP)
36 Games (NA)
27 Game (EU)

The decision to create the 32-bit add-on was made by Sega CEO Hayao Nakayama knowing that the Sega Saturn would not be readily available until 1995 and the uncertainty of how the upcoming 64-bit Atari Jaguar was going to preform in comparison with their 16-bit console.  Nakayama instructed the development team to have the add-on device ready for release by the end of 1994 as a quick response to the launch of the Atari Jaguar.  In January 1994 Nakayama contacted Joe Miller, the head of Sega of America’s Research and Development department to stress the importance of having a competing system on the market by the end of 1994.  The conversation quickly evolved into a conference calls with Sega Producer Scot Bayless, head of the Sega Hardware division Hideki Sato and Sega of America’s Vice President of Technology Marty Franz.

The team was very concerned with the feasibility of being able to design and manufacture a new hardware device with no previous design specification within a six to nine-month period.  The team began brainstorming ideas and one potential idea was to proceed with a concept that Sega of Japan was working on known as “Project Jupiter”.  Project Jupiter was intended to be an entirely new independent cartridge-based console that would be an upgraded version of the Genesis with an improved color palette and basic 3D capabilities with the use of the Sega Virtua Processor chip. 

The development team had concerns with releasing an entire new independent console with the Sega Saturn already in development.  The team did not want to alienate their customers by releasing an independent console that would require customers to discard their Genesis/Mega Drive console entirely to play 32-bit games.  The team discussed the idea of leveraging the existing Genesis/Mega Drive hardware with additional hardware components added to the console to achieve the same technical advancements.   This approach would control the cost of the new system making it more cost efficient to manufacture and for existing Genesis/Mega Drive customers to purchase.  The decision was made to move forward with an add-on device resulting in the cancellation of “Project Jupiter” in favour of the new add-on device, codenamed “Project Mars”.

32X advertisementThe new hardware device was unveiled by Sega in June 1994 at the Consumer Electronics Show as a low-cost option for consumers looking to play 32-bit games.  The system contained two 32-bit SuperH-2 central processing units and a 3D graphics processor which improved the performance capability of the Genesis/Mega Drive console.  Shortages of processors due to the same 32-bit chips being used in both the 32X and the Saturn hindered the development of the 32X and before the system launched the release date for the Saturn was announced for November 1994 in Japan.  This coincided with the 32X’s target release date in North America leaving Sega of America in the position where they had to market the 32X with the Saturn’s Japan release occurring simultaneously.  This left Sega of America in an awkward position where they needed to market the new add-on as a “transitional device” between the Genesis and the Saturn.

The system released on November 21, 1994 in North America for $159.99 with games retailing for $69.95.  The system was less than half the price of the Sega Saturn when it released the following year but despite the lower price tag, Sega had a difficult time convincing third-party developers to create games for the new hardware.   The system released in Japan on December 3, 1994 under the name Super 32X and in January 1995 throughout Europe using the name Mega Drive 32X.

The 32X failed to attract third-party video game developers and consumers because of the announcement of the Saturn’s simultaneous release in Japan. Sega’s efforts to rush the 32X to market resulted in a weak library of 40 games that did not fully utilize the capability of the hardware and included Genesis ports opposed to original developed games designed for the new hardware. Sega produced 800,000 units and sold an estimated 665,000 systems by the end of 1994, selling the rest at steep discounts until it was discontinued in 1996 as Sega turned its focus to the Saturn.

The story of the Sega 32X - Gaming Historian

 

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The Gaming Historian is a documentary series all about the history of video games.  The show is researched, written, edited, and created by Norman Caruso.

The Story of the Sega 32X | Gaming Historian
  • North American Launch Games
  • Japanese Launch Games
  • European Launch Games
  • Image Gallery
  • Media & Promotional Material

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
November 21, 1994Cosmic Carnage Sega 32X BoxCosmic CarnageGivroSegaFighting
November 21, 1994Doom Sega 32X BoxDoomid SoftwareSegaFirst-Person Shooter
November 21, 1994Star Wars Arcade Sega 32X BoxStar Wars ArcadeSega InteractiveSegaAction
Space Simulation
November 21, 1994Virtua Racing Deluxe Sega 32X BoxVirtua Racing DeluxeSega-AM2SegaRacing
1994Supreme Warrior Sega CD 32X BoxSupreme WarriorDigital PicturesSegaAction
1994Slam City with Scottie Pippen Sega CD 32X BoxSlam City with Scottie PippenDigital PicturesSegaSports
Basketball
January 1995After Burner Sega 32X BoxAfter BurnerSegaSegaVehicular Combat
January 1995Golf Magazine - 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples 32X BoxGolf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred CouplesFlashpoint ProductionsSegaSports
Golf
January 1995Motocross Championship Sega 32X BoxMotocross ChampionshipArtech StudiosSegaRacing
January 1995Night Trap Sega CD 32X BoxNight TrapDigital PicturesSegaInteractive Movie
January 1995Space Harrier Sega 32X BoxSpace HarrierSega-AM2SegaRail Shooter
February 1995Metal Head Sega 32X BoxMetal HeadSegaSegaMech Simulator
Shooter
March 1995Brutal - Above the Claw Sega 32X BoxBrutal: Above the ClawGameTekGameTekFighting
March 1995Fahrenheit Sega 32X CD BoxFahrenheitSega StudiosSegaAdventure
March 1995Mortal Kombat II Sega 32X BoxMortal Kombat IIProbeAcclaim EntertainmentFighting
Aprril 26, 1995Shadow Squadron Sega 32X BoxShadow SquadronSegaSegaSpace Combat Simulation
May 1995Knuckles' Chaotix 32X BoxKnuckles' ChaotixSonic TeamSegaPlatformer
June 6, 1995Touchman Contest Sega 32X BoxToughman ContestVisual ConceptsElectronic ArtsSports
Boxing
June 1995BC Racers Sega 32X BoxBC RacersCore DesignU.S. GoldRacing
June 1995Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 Sega 32X BoxZaxxon's Motherbase 2000CSK Research Institute Corp.SegaScrolling Shooter
October 10, 1995Virtua Fighter Sega 32X BoxVirtua FighterSega-AM2SegaFighting
October 1995BlackThorne Sega 32X BoxBlackthorneInterplayInterplayPlatformer
October 1995Kolibri Sega 32X BoxKolibriNovotradeSegaScrolling Shooter
October 1995Pitfall - The Mayan Adventure Sega 32X BoxPitfall: The Mayan AdventureActivisionActivisionPlatformer
November 14, 1995Primal Rage Sega 32X BoxPrimal RageProbeTime Warner InteractiveFighting
November 1995WWF WrestleMania The Arcade Game Sega 32X BoxWWF WrestleMania: The Arcade GameSculptured SoftwareAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Wrestling
December 1, 1995
Star Trek - Starfleet Academy Sega 32X BoxStar Trek: Starfleet Academy Starship Bridge SimulatorInterplayInterplaySimulation
1995WWF Raw Sega 32X BoxWWF RawSculptured SoftwareAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Wrestling
1995Tempo Sega 32X BoxTempoSega
Red Company
SegaPlatformer
1995T-Mek Sega 32X BoxT-MEKBits StudiosTime Warner InteractiveFirst-Person Shooter
Mech Simulator
1995RBI Baseball 95 Sega 32X BoxR.B.I. Baseball '95Time Warner InteractiveTime Warner InteractiveSports
Baseball
1995NFL Quarterback Club Sega 32X BoxNFL Quarterback ClubIGS GamesAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Football
1995Corpse Killer Sega 32X BoxCorpse KillerDigital PicturesDigital PicturesSurvival Horror
1995NBA Jam Tournament Edition Sega 32X BoxNBA Jam Tournament EditionIguana EntertainmentAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Basketball
February 1996World Series Baseball Starring Deion Sanders Sega 32X BoxWorld Series Baseball Starring Deion SandersBlue Sky SoftwareSegaSports
Baseball
March 1996Spider-Man Web of Fire Sega 32X BoxSpider-Man: Web of FireBlueSky SoftwareSegaAction-Adventure

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
December 3, 1994Doom Japanese 32X BoxDoomid SoftwareSegaFirst-Person Shooter
December 3, 1994Space Harrier Japanese 32X BoxSpace HarrierSega-AM2SegaRail Shooter
December 3, 1994Star Wars Arcade Japanese 32X BoxStar Wars ArcadeSega InteractiveSegaAction
Space Simulation
December 16, 1994Virtua Racing Deluxe Japanese 32X BoxVirtua Racing DeluxeSega-AM2SegaRacing
January 13, 1995After Burner Complete Japanese 32X BoxAfter Burner CompleteSegaSegaVehicular Combat
January 27, 1995Cyber Brawl Japanese 32X BoxCyber BrawlGivroSegaFighting
February 24, 1995Golf Magazine - 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples Japanese 32X BoxGolf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred CouplesFlashpoint ProductionsSegaSports
Golf
February 24, 1995Metal Head Japanese 32X BoxMetal HeadSegaSegaMech Simulator
Shooter
March 24, 1995Tempo Japanese 32X BoxTempoSega
Red Company
SegaPlatformer
April 21, 1995Knuckles' Chaotix Japanese 32X BoxKnuckles' ChaotixSonic TeamSegaPlatformer
April 26, 1995Stellar Assault Japanese 32X BoxStellar AssaultSegaSegaSpace Combat Simulation
May 19, 1995Mortal Kombat II Japanese 32X BoxMortal Kombat IIProbeAcclaim EntertainmentFighting
July 14, 1995NFL Quarterback Club Japanese 32X BoxNFL Quarterback ClubIGS GamesAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Football
July 14, 1995Parasquad Japanese 32X BoxParasquadCSK Research Institute Corp.SegaScrolling Shooter
July 28, 1995Sangokushi IV Japanese 32X BoxSangokushi IVKoeiKoeiTurn-based Strategy
September 1, 1995NBA Jam Tournament Edition Japanese 32X BoxNBA Jam Tournament EditionIguana EntertainmentAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Basketball
September 1, 1995WWF Raw Japanese 32X BoxWWF RawSculptured SoftwareAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Wrestling
October 20, 1995Virtua Fighter Japanese 32X BoxVirtua FighterSega-AM2SegaFighting

DateBoxTitleDeveloperPublisherGenre
December 4, 1994Doom Mega Drive 32X BoxDoomid SoftwareSegaFirst-Person Shooter
December 4, 1994Star Wars Arcade Mega Drive 32X BoxStar Wars ArcadeSega InteractiveSegaAction
Space Simulation
December 4, 1994Virtua Racing Deluxe Mega Drive 32X BoxVirtua Racing DeluxeSega-AM2SegaRacing
1994Supreme Warrior Mega Drive CD 32X BoxSupreme WarriorDigital PicturesSegaAction
January 1995After Burner Mega Drive 32X BoxAfter Burner CompleteSegaSegaVehicular Combat
January 1995Space Harrier Mega Drive 32X BoxSpace HarrierSega-AM2SegaRail Shooter
February 1995Cosmic Carnage Mega Drive 32X BoxCosmic CarnageGivroSegaFighting
March 1995Golf Magazine - 36 Great Holes Starring Fred Couples Mega Drive 32X BoxGolf Magazine: 36 Great Holes Starring Fred CouplesFlashpoint ProductionsSegaSports
Golf
March 1995Mortal Kombat II Mega Drive 32X BoxMortal Kombat IIProbeAcclaim EntertainmentFighting
March 1995Motocross Championship Mega Drive 32X BoxMotocross ChampionshipArtech StudiosSegaRacing
April 26, 1995Stellar Assault Mega Drive 32X BoxStellar AssaultSegaSegaSpace Combat Simulation
April 1995Metal Head Mega Drive 32X BoxMetal HeadSegaSegaMech Simulator
Shooter
June 1995Knuckles' Chaotix Mega Drive 32X BoxKnuckles' ChaotixSonic TeamSegaPlatformer
June 1995Motherbase Sega 32X BoxMotherbaseCSK Research Institute Corp.SegaScrolling Shooter
June 1995NBA Jam Tournament Edition Mega Drive 32X BoxNBA Jam Tournament EditionIguana EntertainmentAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Basketball
July, 1995NFL Quarterback Club Mega Drive 32X BoxNFL Quarterback ClubIGS GamesAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Football
September 1995WWF Raw Mega Drive 32X BoxWWF RawSculptured SoftwareAcclaim EntertainmentSports
Wrestling
October 1995T-Mek Mega Drive 32X BoxT-MEKBits StudiosTime Warner InteractiveFirst-Person Shooter
Mech Simulator
November 17, 1995Kolibri Mega Drive 32X BoxKolibriNovotradeSegaScrolling Shooter
November 30, 1995Virtua Fighter Mega Drive 32X BoxVirtua FighterSega-AM2SegaFighting
November 1995FIFA Soccer 96 Mega Drive 32X BoxFIFA Soccer 96Extended Play ProductionsEA SportsSports
Soccer
1995Corpse Killer Mega Drive 32X BoxCorpse KillerDigital PicturesDigital PicturesSurvival Horror
1995Night Trap Mega CD 32X BoxNight TrapDigital PicturesSegaInteractive Movie
1995Slam City with Scottie Pippen Mega CD 32X BoxSlam City with Scottie PippenDigital PicturesSegaSports
Basketball
1995Touchman Contest Mega Drive 32X BoxToughman ContestVisual ConceptsElectronic ArtsSports
Boxing
January 1996Darxide Mega Drive 32X BoxDarxideFrontier DevelopmentsSegaShoot 'em up
March 1996Primal Rage Mega Drive 32X BoxPrimal RageProbeTime Warner InteractiveFighting

North American Version

Japanese Version

European Version

Media & Promotional Material

Sega 32X Commercial
Sega 32X Infomercial