The 32X was the last add-on released by Sega for the Genesis to compete with the Super Nintendo (the first was the Sega CD). It allowed the Genesis to have 32-bit processing power and advanced graphics.
Why It Flopped
- Like the Sega CD, it had its own power supply, requiring a total of 3 AC cables (2 from the console 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 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 sideways.
- You need metal prongs to attach it to a model 1 Genesis.
- It requires another cable to connect it to the Genesis or else character sprites and stuff won't appear on the screen, a similar problem to old 3D accelerator cards (such as 3dfx Voodoo) requiring a 2D videocard on computers at the time.
- 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. For example: the 32X port of DOOM had better resolution and framerate compared to the SNES version, but it was lacking some levels and it had a terrible soundtrack compared to other ports.
- 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.
- The main reason it failed was that the Sega 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 and 32X as one console, making it even pointless to own the 32X. (The console was canceled though.)
- It had many technical problems, like a tendency to mess up Genesis games.
- 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 Sonic game, the closest it came was Knuckles' Chaotix which was a spin-off of the Sonic series.
- There were seven games that were planned for the Sega 32X but were later canceled due to the system flopping and most of the canceled games had development moved to the Sega Saturn.
- Terrible marketing with innuendos.
- Unlike the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive cartridges, the cartridges that the 32X uses do not have end labels.
- It did have some good games which took advantage of the 32X's capabilities, such as Virtua Fighter, Virtua Racing Deluxe, After Burner, Space Harrier, Tempo, and the aforementioned Knuckles' Chaotix.
- You can play standard Genesis cartridges on your console without having to remove the 32X every time you want to play a Genesis game.
- Had the Sega Neptune never been conceived, the Hyperdimension Neptunia series would never have 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.
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 "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 Clusterfuck 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 and Game Boy, and for a brief while the Virtual Boy), Sega had five platforms they were actively developing for (the base Genesis, Sega 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-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.