The Sega Genesis came out, as was the case for many of Sega's
systems, first in the 16-bit generation in 1989. Unlike its later attempts,
though, the Sega Genesis sold and lasted very well. The only thing that
prevented the Genesis from doing well was its hardware limitations; even
the add-ons, the Sega CD and the 32X would not save it, but instead hasten
The Sega Genesis was known everywhere outside of America as
the Mega Drive. It was a cartridge based system with high-color graphics,
offering a better picture and longer games than the NES. The sound chip,
while sounding much better than the NES, was just a FM synthesizer which
had an abrasive sound; it was possible, but costly in memory space,
to implement fully digital wave audio. Read the SNES
section for advantages of its SPC chip.
The first controller was three buttons, A, B, and C,
a D-pad, and Start. Later Sega released a six button controller
to compete with the SNES controller, which had
four face buttons and two triggers. There is no ready made controller
to PC interface, but you can build
one. I haven't bothered, since why interface a Genesis controller
when you could interface the similar-but-better Saturn
Sega released a CD add-on called the Sega CD in the early 90s.
The Sega CD saw a moderate success when it was first released,
but its library of games eventually turned out to be SNES games with added
FMV sequences. The FMV sequences were not interesting enough to purchase the
Sega CD version of a game, so its list of titles dwindled until eventually
the 32X came out.
The 32X is known to older gamers as one of the biggest failures
of console gaming history. The 32X was not developed in Japan, it was conceived
by frustrated executives of Sega of America trying to compete with the SNES.
They designed the 32X, which would plug into the cartridge slot of a Genesis
and play 32-bit games. The problem was that this device never saw the light
of day in Japan, where all of the talented game developers could be found.
In Japan, the Saturn was already out, and the 32X
eventually died in the wake of the Saturn release.