Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, most people who were kids and teenagers will remember the golden era of video games, when Sega and Nintendo were fierce rivals, and the 16-bit console war was really hotting up. In 1988, Japanese video game company Sega released the Mega Drive, launched the following year in the US as the Genesis, and in 1990 in Europe (under its original name).
Sega Mega Drive – the golden era of video games
Anyone who has played on a Mega Drive will recall just how amazing the graphics were at the time – it was bundled in Europe with Sonic the Hedgehog, perhaps the company’s best-known character, design to compete with rival Nintendo’s Mario.
If you had been playing on the previous generation of 8-bit machines – the Sega Master System, and the Nintendo NES (or Famicom as it was known in Japan), you’ll realise just how much of an advance the Mega Drive was. Developed with a 16-bit Motorola 68000 chip (and a secondary audio processor), it leveraged Sega’s hardware expertise in arcade games, where it enjoyed massive success.
Games for the Mega Drive came on a cartridge that slotted into the top of the machine, and the whole unit plugged into the TV. It was simply excellent, high quality and enjoyable living room gaming. And the selection of games at launch in Europe (as it had already been out two years in Japan) helped the console become the number one selling unit.
The machines games were indeed of a high standard graphically, with popular titles like Mortal Kombat (which drew a lot of publicity for its intense violence), John Madden America Football ’93, Streets of Rage II, Ghouls and Ghosts (probably the hardest game of all time), and Revenge of Shinobi.
Almost everyone who remembers the 16-bit era will fondly remember that most people fell into either the Mega Drive or the SNES camp (when Nintendo came along and released its own 16-bit machine a few years later), and it’s now generally regarded as the golden age of console gaming.
Apparently, you can still pick up Mega Drives on the cheap on Ebay, but perhaps it’s better to leave the memories as just that – I’m positive that if we were to play some of those classic old titles today, we’d come away feeling sorely disappointed, in this age of hyper-realistic games and awesome console power!
They certainly don’t make them like they used to…