"The Sega Clusterfuck better describes this, because that's what it is."— Classic Game Room
The 32X (Super 32X in Japan and South Korea and Mega 32X in Brazil), codenamed Mars, was an add-on released for the Sega Genesis, a fourth-generation console created by the same company. It was released alongside the Saturn, at the end of 1994. It allowed the Genesis to have 32-bit processing power and advanced graphics with its own cartridge format for its library of games.
Why It Flopped Six Times More Than The 3DO
- Like the Sega CD, it had its own power supply, requiring a total of 3 AC cables (2 from the console and the 32X and 1 from the TV), 4 if you also have a Sega CD. These AC cables also have huge boxes so they take up a lot of space and make them harder to plug at once. It also made a huge mess of so many wires sticking out of three devices simultaneously.
- False Advertising: In the commercials where kids are seen playing on the Genesis/Mega Drive with the 32X attached, the 32X isn't even plugged in, this was probably so people wouldn't get freaked out from seeing all those wires sticking out of the system and the 32X.
- Sega thought requiring so many power adapters would take up all your plugs (which they often would), so they suggested to buy a Sega Power Strip to plug in all the add-on's power adapters and the TVs sideways.
- You need metal prongs to attach it to a Model 1 Genesis/Mega Drive, likely to avoid RF interference.
- It requires another cable to connect it to the Genesis/Mega Drive or else character sprites and stuff won't appear on the screen, a similar problem to some old 3D accelerator cards (such as 3dfx Voodoo) requiring a 2D videocard on computers at the time.
- Rushing games out. In the rush to have games out in time for Christmas 1994, many games came with game crashing bugs or lacked content that should have been there. A port of Doom is an example of this, lacking many levels that fans had expected to be there, and finding other cuts to the game indicative of a rush job.
- Only 40 games were made for it and most of the third-party ones weren't that good, mainly because many of them were rushed through development (see WIF#4). For example: the 32X port of DOOM had better resolution and framerate compared to the SNES/SFC version, but it was lacking some levels and it had a terrible soundtrack (due to poor use of Genesis sound chip) compared to other ports. Some games made for the 32X like Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure run at a reduced framerate compared to their Genesis counterpart because the 32X didn't have the capability to scroll 2D graphics efficiently.
- It had a very expensive launch price of $159.99 in the United States, 16,800 yen in Japan, and £169.99 in the United Kingdom, and with its limited graphic capabilities, it was certainly worthless compared to the Sega Saturn and especially the PlayStation, which, although worth twice as much, was capable of even better graphics and even redbook sounds from CD playback. The main selling point of the 32X was that it could have been a cheaper alternative for gamers to play 32-bit games, but that was still too expensive and customers opted for the PlayStation or Saturn instead, also leaving all other 32-bit consoles behind and causing them to become commercial disasters.
- Awful Release Timing: The main reason it failed was that the Saturn was due to be released six months later, making it nearly pointless to own one, and on top of that, Sega also announced another console called Sega Neptune, which was the Genesis/Mega Drive and 32X as one console, making it even pointless to own the 32X. (The console was canceled though.)
- Due to the over-importance being placed on "bits" at the time (which really don't matter in terms of how a game looks, but Sega can blame their own marketing for causing this misunderstanding), magazines over-hyped the capabilities of the 32X, leading to many disappointed fans who had to strain to find massive differences in certain 2D games, which often we're that much different from the 16-bit versions.
- One major thing that disappointed everyone is that the 3D Sonic the Hedgehog game that was teased at the Consumer Electronics show was nowhere to be found and an even sadder thing is that the 32X would never get a major Sonic game. Only one spin-off of the franchise was released for the platform, Knuckles' Chaotix.
- Terrible marketing with innuendos that turned many consumers away.
- Unlike the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive cartridges, the cartridges that the 32X uses do not have end labels.
- In order to play Sega Master System games on the Genesis again, you must remove the 32X from the cartridge port, as the Power Base Converter does not fit and the 32X itself cannot boot up through Master System's Z80 processor.
- This also applies with Master System games inside a Genesis cartridge and/or Master System games running through an flashcart as well, both requiring the 32X to be removed from the cartridge slot.
- It did have some good games which took advantage of the 32X's capabilities, such as Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing Deluxe, Star Wars Arcade, After Burner, Space Harrier, Tempo, and the aforementioned Knuckles' Chaotix.
- You can play standard Genesis/Mega Drive cartridges on your console without having to remove the 32X every time you want to play a Genesis/Mega Drive game expect for Virtua Racing.
- Had the Sega Neptune never been conceived, the Hyperdimension Neptunia series would have never been created (since the main protagonist Neptune is based on the canceled Sega Neptune, a console that would have had the circuitry of the Genesis and 32X all in one package).
- Surprisingly, this console can handle 3D well, even if it is low poly. This allowed gamers to enjoy a pretty good, albeit not a 100% perfect rendition of Virtua Fighter, which the stock Genesis/Mega Drive simply wasn't able to do.
- While not used in most of the games, the 32X had support for Q-Sound, a 3D spatialization technique that was used in various arcade games and later on consoles.
- The 32x has an active homebrew community. Such conversions of Wolfenstein 3D, Rick Dangerous and OpenLara (open-source Tomb Raider engine) are available, while improvements for the 32x version of Doom was released as Doom 32x Resurrection. Even an Game Boy emulator was made for 32x, albeit with no sound and too slow.
- Certain Sega CD games was re-released to use with 32x as well. These games was released as Sega CD 32x (Mega-CD 32x in Europe and Mega 32x CD in Brazil) games and all of them was FMV games enhanced to take advantage of 32x's graphical capabilities. 5 games was released in North America, 4 in Europe, 1 in Brazil (Surgical Strike, exclusive for the country) and 0 in Japan and other areas (although for Japan, such games was supposed to be labeled as Super 32x CD).
- Despite such virtual system, Sega CD 32x games does not require an 32x to be playable.
| "What were they thinking?"|
Demand for the 32X was fairly high at launch, which according to reports outran the supply of 600,000 initial units. However, demand quickly plummeted and the add-on failed miserably with only 660,000 units ever sold and only 40 games made. The Sega Saturn was released just six months after the 32X (and was already out in Japan), so most gamers chose to ignore the 32X and just wait for the Saturn or the Sony PlayStation.
James Rolfe (in his Angry Video Game Nerd persona) described the 32X as the Genesis/Mega Drive "being on life support" due to the massive number of cables on the back of the console when the 32X is plugged in.
Mark Bussler (Classic Game Room) described it as "the Clusterf*ck of the 90's", and despite being a big commercial failure, he said that the 32X has some very good games despite having a very small library.
The massive failure of the 32X was one of the major factors to Sega flopping as a console developer and be forced to become a third-party developer. Sega was heavily criticized for releasing too much hardware too quickly, also meaning that whereas Nintendo only had two or three platforms to worry about (the Super NES/Super Famicom and Game Boy, and for a brief while the Virtual Boy), Sega had five platforms they were actively developing for (the base Genesis/Mega Drive, Mega CD, 32X, Game Gear, and Saturn) in addition to their arcade games, spreading their development resources out far too much. Many developers would later refuse to make games for Sega, as they kept cycling out their consoles. The terrible financial losses and loss of trust from third-party developers caused by the 32X went on to affect the Saturn and Dreamcast as well, causing both consoles to fail.
- Sega of America was originally intending to support the add-on alongside the Sega Saturn, for those who couldn't spend a lot of money on the new Saturn but wanted entry into the 32-bit era. However, Sega of Japan stepped in and forced the American division to cancel both support and production of the 32X shortly before the Saturn launched.
- The hardware for the 32X, in addition to a pseudo-Genesis/Mega Drive motherboard, was used in Sega's Picture Magic graphic tablet, which was designed for use with the Pri Fun printer and Digio SJ-1 digital camera.
- This was the only home console to receive arcade ports for Star Wars Arcade and T-Mek (the latter did have ports in the works for other consoles, but they were never released).
- There were 94 games that were planned for the add-on, but were later canceled due to the system flopping and most of the canceled games had development moved to the Sega Saturn.