Many gamers, me included, have fond memories of Sega at its prime – they were ready to knock Nintendo off of its pedestal. The Sega Genesis, in all of its 16-bit glory, took home gaming to an entirely new level. The colors were more varied and vivid, the music was better, and the worlds that we visited were more realistic. That’s not to say that I didn’t love my NES, but my Sega held a special place in my heart.
Nintendo didn’t just sit around and let Sega have all of the 16-bit fun, and soon, the Super Nintendo was looking to dominate the home video game market. Maybe this was the reason why Sega felt like they needed to improve upon the Genesis, by adding peripherals and add-ons like the Sega CD and 32X.
While I never was a big fan of the CD add-on, I did enjoy the 32X addition to my Genesis. It basically plugged into the cartridge slot, and into the back of the system, essentially doubling the output of the unit. The 32X promised better sound, especially through a premium Selby home theater surround sound system, brighter colors and ushered in true three-dimensional gaming to the masses.
I wasn’t sure about the add-on at first until I happened to see a demo at my local mall for the fighting game Virtua Fighter. It was a 3D fighter with fully articulated fighters on a 3D field. The camera rotated around the fighters and the polygonal figures on the screen moved so realistically. I was so gobsmacked, I knew I had to buy the system immediately.
Now, the ultimate promise that Virtua Fighter made on the fledgling system never really materialized. It was probably the best game on the system and although there were other good games such as Mortal Kombat 2, Star Wars Arcade, and the Sonic and Knuckles games, there were many other games that weren’t much more than pretty ports of the original game, but ultimately the best version of the game.
Even though the system was not very successful and ultimately only 30 or so games were released, it had a lot going for it and was a stepping stone towards the games we enjoy today. You have to hand it to Sega for having the guts to give this thing the green light in the first place. It offered near perfect arcade ports of games that were unbelievable at the time and affordable to most people as well.
Nowadays the system is mostly for collectors, but some of these games are still pretty fun to play, even 20 years after their release, such as Virtua Racing, NBA Jam and Space Harrier. With more third party support, the 32X might have been considered a classic today with a huge library of games…unfortunately, it has become just a footnote in the history of gaming, much like Nintendo’s Virtual Boy…my eyes and head hurt just thinking about that thing.
Blogger and Brand Manager at Selby Acoustics.