With the Sega Mark 3/Master System and late starting Mega Drive/Genesis successes, Sega demonstrated their ability of developing cartridge based systems and affordably bringing home the arcade experience. Although it was the release of the CD format that delivered a curve ball into Sega's court..
Pressure from Japanese rivals forced Sega to create the Mega CD/Sega CD add-on for the MD/G which marked the beginning of the end for this giant. The over priced, over hyped, under powered, under console device used the CD format as it's main selling point to lure in consumers who were already invested in Sega.
With just a small box full of games released for the system during it's life-cycle, this delivered a crucial blow which left Sega staggering for their corner and looking towards the heavens for guidance..
Sega failed to find solace in the skies above, rather they embarked on voyage to develop hopeware. The first attempt was project Mars, later known as 32x, the cartridge based add-on for the MD/G.
The second piece of kit that needs no introduction was the Saturn, and it's this voyage they never returned from!
Sega looked towards the original Playstation way too much for inspiration when developing their 32 bit Saturn. The ill-fated format started life in Sega's labs as a 2D only system. Maybe alot could have been achieved if it would have remained just that, a system expanding on previously established 2D franchises such as Street Fighter and King of Fighters, which it ended up being renowned for anyway.
Most of the memorable Saturn titles are 2D arcade fighters which out-perform their Playstation counterparts, not surprisingly turning to the cartridge input of the machine to deliver the goods.
After the Saturn's failure, Sega last attempt at console dominance was in the shape of Dreamcast. The DC was a superb machine that did away with the curse of CD by opting for GD ROM (GB sized discs) and the unique VMU (Visual Memory) LCD flash cards.
This DC launched Sega to stardom, gearing them up for a final showdown with Sony.
When the old adversary revealed details of the Playstation 2 (notably it's dvd playback) the following year, Sega were left flustered and unable to cope as the industry firmly placed all eyes on them.
The seconds were out for the final round, and we all know how the story ends..
Sega threw in the towel and pulled out of hardware by 2002, solely becoming a games developer.
Ask yourselves anytime you squeeze the L and R triggers on an XBOX joypad, would this have even been possible if Sega hadn't come along and invented the analog controllers for Saturn and Dreamcast?
Sega might not have got it right at times, but the industry owes them a debt as their hardcore gaming visions were ahead of their time!