Sega 32X Released in North America

The Sega 32X, codenamed Project Mars, is an add-on for the Sega Genesis video game console by Sega.

In Japan, it was distributed under the name Sega Super 32X. In North America, its name was the Sega Genesis 32X. In Europe, Australia, and other countries that use PAL, it was called the Sega Mega Drive 32X.

With the release of the Super Famicom in Japan and the Super NES in North America, Sega felt the need to leapfrog Nintendo in the technological department. The Sega Mega-CD, known as Sega CD in North America, had not worked as well, in a business sense, as Sega had wanted it to. Sega had various developments underway, and focused most of its energy on the then new Sega Saturn. Some used System 16 technology, as the Sega Mega Drive and other arcade games did.

The video-gaming public first got a glimpse at the Summer 1994 CES in Chicago. The console was unmasked as the 32X, with a price projection of $170, at a gamers' day, held by Sega of America in September 1994.

The 32X hit the market in North America in November 1994, during the same month the Sega Saturn was released in Japan. Many industry insiders speculated that the 32X was doomed from the beginning as the Sega Saturn hardware was widely regarded as more powerful than the 32X and had the support of many Japanese third party software developers (a necessary resource required for any gaming platform's long term success) which the 32X was sorely lacking.

By mid-1995, development for 32X was in decline. Developers and licensees had abandoned this console in favor of what they perceived to be a true 32-bit console, the Sega Saturn. Even though the 32X was a 32-bit system, the games did not appear to take full advantage of 32 bit processing. Many were just slightly-enhanced ports of Genesis or old arcade games such as Space Harrier. In reality, as stated by Steve Snake, creator of NBA Jam, NBA Jam T.E. and Mortal Kombat II, these games were seriously pushing the limits of the console even though they looked like minor enhancements. He cites that people were expecting far too much from it, and over-hyping from magazines had helped to hurt it.

Customers perceived the Sega Saturn, Nintendo 64, and the Sony PlayStation as the true next-generation consoles, due to their rich launch titles and 3D graphics. Also, customers perceived that Sega abandoned the 32X despite promises to the contrary, due to the launch of the Saturn.