10 Interesting Facts About SEGA
Approaching its 75th anniversary, Sega is a pioneer in the video gaming and entertainment industry. It's responsible for bringing us the Genesis, Gamepad, Saturn, and Dreamcast systems, as well as a countless number of games.
#1) Sega Genesis Was a Hybrid Game Boy and Apple Macintosh
Sega had the vision of creating a universal video gaming console that would be cross-compatible with games from other devices. To achieve this goal, the team designed the Sega Genesis using components from both the Apple Macintosh and Nintendo Game Boy (yes, the hand-held gaming system). These components included the Motorola 68000 chipset, Zilog Z80 sub-processor, 72KB RAM, 64KB video graphics RAM, and a Texas Instruments SN76489 programmable sound generator.
The rear of the first generation Sega Genesis contained a radio output port for an antenna and a special 8-pin DIN port, both of which were used for video/audio output. Being that it was monophonic sound, however, the Genesis wasn't exactly an exceptional stereo system, but it was more than capable of delivering clear sound to gamers.
#2) 'Service Games'
Ever wonder where the name “Sega” came from? The name is actually a play on its founding company, Service Games. Raymond Lemaire and Richard Stewart launched Service Games in 1940, moving the company's headquarters form Hawaii to Tokyo, Japan about a decade later.
During Service Games' early years, it focused on coin-operated jukeboxes, slot machines and arcade machines. In the mid 1950s, American Air Force officer and savvy businessman David Rosen launched his own coin-operate gaming business to compete with Service Games. The two companies merged in the 1960s, with Rosen renaming the newly formed arcade giant Sega Enterprises – a derivative of Service Games.
#3) Sonic Sets World Records
Let me phrase the title, Sega's Sonic The Hedgehog currently holds seven different Guinness World Records, some of which includes "Best Selling Game on Sega Systems", "Longest Running Comic Based on a Video Game" and "Best Selling Retro Game Compilation" (Sonic Mega Collection). There's just something naturally fun and exciting associated with the Sonic franchise. Perhaps it's Sonic's ultra-fast speed, or maybe it's his cute-and-cuddly appearance. Regardless, Sonic The Hedgehog remains one of the most successful video game characters of all time.
#4) Sega's Last Video Game Console, The Dreamcast
The Dreamcast was Sega's most technically advanced gaming system, yet it was also the company's last system. Originally released in 1999, it featured a Hitachi SH4 CPU and NED PowerVR2 GPU. These readily available components reduced its manufacturing cost, which subsequently led to lower prices for consumers, but unfortunately this wasn't enough to keep the Dreamcast afloat. In 2001, Sega discontinued the Dreamcast, restructuring its company to focus on software instead of hardware.
Now for the million-dollar question: why did the Dreamcast fail? Although technically superior at the time of its release, faster and more powerful gaming consoles were soon released in its wake, such as the Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube, and the Sony PlayStation. The highly competitive market knocked Sega out of the console business.
“We had a tremendous 18 months. Dreamcast was on fire - we really thought that we could do it. But then we had a target from Japan that said we had to make x hundreds of millions of dollars by the holiday season and shift x millions of units of hardware, otherwise we just couldn't sustain the business. So on January 31st 2001 we said Sega is leaving hardware. We were selling 50,000 units a day, then 60,000, then 100,000, but it was just not going to be enough to get the critical mass to take on the launch of PS2. Somehow I got to make that call, not the Japanese. I had to fire a lot of people; it was not a pleasant day.,” said Peter Moore, on the Dreamcast's discontinuation.
Did You Know? The Sega Dreamcast was the first video game console with a built-in modem to support online gaming.
#5) Move Over Sonic, Alex The Kidd Is Here
When most people think of Sega, they immediately picture Sonic The Hedgehog shooting through loops filled with floating coins. Long before Sonic, however, Sega had another mascot, known as Alex Kidd. So, who was Alex Kidd? And Why didn't he stick around in the Genesis, Saturn and Dreamcast era?
Alex Kidd is a short boy with long hair, large hands, and big ears; many people view him as having “monkey-like” features. Alex Kidd appeared in a number of different Sega video games, as well as comic books and other merchandise. With that said, the game that really put this unusual-looking character in the spotlight was Alex Kidd in Miracle World, which was released in 1986. Other games featuring Sega's mascot included Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Alex Kidd: High-Tech World, and Alex Kidd in Shinobi World. It wasn't until the early 1990s when Sega decided to drop Alex Kidd as its unofficial mascot in favor of Sonic of the Hedgehog.
#6) Genesis Add-Ons
The Sega Genesis was unique in the sense that it had supported two different add-ons, each with its own game libraries.
If you were gamer during the 1990s, you may recall the ground-breaking Sega CD (referred to as Mega-CD in regions outside North America). This component attached on top of the standard Genesis, allowing users to play Sega CD games. In addition to opening up a wide variety of new games, the Sega CD attachment upgraded the graphics, sound, processing power, memory, sprite rotation and scaling capabilities.
The second Sega Genesis attachment was the Sega 32X, which was designed to bridge the gap between the Genesis and the Saturn. As the name suggests, it upgraded the Genesis from 16 to 32 bits. Around the mid 1990s, however, Sega began focusing on its Saturn system instead of the 32X and Sega CD.
#7) Michael Jackson and Sonic
What kind of role did the King of Pop play in Sega? If you listen to music in the Sonic The Hedgehog 3, you may notice a striking similarity to Michael Jackson. This is because Sega asked Michael Jackson to record some sound bits for the third installment in the Sonic franchise. According to composer and musical director Brad Buxer, however, Michael Jackson was not happy with the final project, so he asked Sega to exclude his name in the credits. Granted, Sega has neither confirmed nor denied this rumor, but several credible sources say Michael Jackson did in fact produce music for the Sonic The Hedgehog 3 soundtrack.
#8) Why Sonic Is Blue
There's a reason why Sega made Sonic The Hedgehog blue, and it's not because real-life hedgehogs are blue (they are white/gray/brown, FYI). During the initial brainstorming sessions, Sega's graphic designers and marketing experts agreed to make Sonic blue because it represented peace. Sonic was undoubtedly a “good” character/hero, who was constantly trying to free animals and save the world from evil villains.
Sonic's blue color also represents the Sega logo, which is also blue. Sega wanted to create a memorable mascot that was synonymous with its company. I think it's safe to say they achieved this goal with Sonic, as nearly two dozen different games based on the fast-moving hedgehog have been released to date.
#9) Sega v. Accolade
The Sega v. Accolade was a precedent-setting case in which the United Stated Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that companies could not reverse engineer hardware owned by other companies in an attempt to produce unlicensed games. Sega claimed that Accolade, Inc. was developing unofficial Sega Genesis' games by reverse engineering its hardware without its consent. The court holding stated the following: “Accolade's acts of reverse engineering Sega Genesis software to learn about its security systems and subsequent publishing of unlicensed Sega Genesis games are protected under the fair use doctrine of copyright law. Sega is held responsible for using its security system to place its trademark on Accolade's games.“
#10) Feel The Rabbit
Here's another fun fact about Sega: the company originally came up with the name “Feel The Rabbit” for their mascot. Designers wanted “Feel” to pick up items and objects using his ears, because after all he was a rabbit. I guess Feel The Rabbit is better than Alex Kidd, but not by much. This idea was eventually scrapped, paving the way for one of the most iconic figures in video game history: Sonic The Hedgehog.
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