Happy 20th, Sega Genesis!

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of the Sega Genesis, the game console that briefly put Sega on the video game hardware map.

Sega shook the very foundations of the newly reborn U.S. gaming industry on August 14th, 1989, when the Sega Genesis made its North American debut in New York and Los Angeles. Due to a trademark dispute, the console that was known as the Mega Drive to the rest of the known world was rechristened, the new name evoking conflicting notions of biblical import and small, balding British musicians.

While the Mega Drive trailed behind the Super Famicon and NEC's PC Engine in Japan, it gave the Super Nintendo a run for its money in the states, with titles starring big-name sports celebrities like Pat Riley, Joe Montana, and James "Buster" Douglas. Even the late Michael Jackson put in an appearance, saving the children of the world with his dance moves.

In 1991, the Genesis birthed Sonic the Hedgehog, one of the most recognizable and beloved video game characters in the world, despite a run of rather dismal games as of late.

The Genesis eventually gave under the weight of its own add-ons, with the Sega CD and 32X selling far worse than expected. Sega moved on to the Saturn and finally the Dreamcast, but they never quite recaptured the level of support they saw with the Genesis, eventually giving up the console business altogether.

A testament to cartridge-based console reliability, my original Sega Genesis sits on a shelf behind me, ready to be hooked up and played at a moment's notice. They just don't build them like that anymore.

Happy 20th, Sega Genesis! Long may your lovely red LED shine.

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