Twenty years ago today, Nintendo’s grip on the U.S. video game industry was challenged for the first time. (It wouldn’t be the last.)
On Aug. 14, 1989, the Sega Genesis was born. Known as the Mega Drive everywhere else, a trademark dispute forced Sega to think outside the box — something they would continue to do for years before vanishing from the hardware arena altogether and focusing on software titles.
The Genesis beat Nintendo’s first 16-bit system — the Super NES — to market by more than a year, and stayed a force to be reckoned with even after that. It was a system that elevated sports gaming like no other, introduced CD players into many homes for the first time with the Sega CD add-on, and gave us Sonic the Hedgehog — a character that gave Nintendo’s portly plumber Mario a run for his money.
It was “cool” to have a Genesis. Everything about it was edgy, from the focus on arcade quality to the advertising (“Genesis does what Nintendon’t”). If gamers today can be seen as anything other than nerds, they have the Sega Genesis to thank for it.