Today marks the 25th anniversary of the North American release of the Sega CD Model 1. Known outside the US as the Mega-CD, the Sega CD was released as a $299 add-on for the Sega Genesis. Utilizing the storage capacity of CD-ROM technology in conjunction with additional processing power, it enticed Genesis owners with promises of improved visuals, high-quality audio tracks, and the ability to stream full-motion video.
An example of Sega’s aggressive marketing campaign.
During its heyday, the Sega CD was well known for its technically superior ports of Genesis releases, touting improved animations, Red Book audio, and/or additional levels and content. It was also home to some of gaming’s more interesting exclusives, such as Sonic CD and Snatcher, Hideo Kojima’s love-letter to the cyberpunk genre.
Ultimately, the add-on was probably best known for its “Interactive Movie” FMV titles, like Sewer Shark, Slam City with Scottie Pippen and Night Trap; the latter of which is best known for being a misrepresented focal point of the US Senate Committee Hearings on Violence In Video Games in 1993, which, in turn, lead to the inception of the ESRB, or as this writer knows it, “the reason Mom said I couldn’t buy Tekken 2 before I was 13.”
He’s shouting because he cares.
Ultimately, the hardware was considered a bit of a failure. Its high price-point and lackluster (albeit interestingly experimental) game offerings did little to drive sales. But despite its low sales (only 2.24 million sold worldwide), the Sega CD holds a special place in the hearts of game enthusiasts as not only the legs of the Genesis Voltron (the 32X formed… the head!), but as one of the best places to find schlocky sci-fi and some of the hammiest acting performances this side of Captain Kirk fighting Gorn.
All I know is that I’ll be celebrating the day by snuggling up with a Sonic plush, watching a playthrough of Wirehead, where I can’t help but marvel at the protagonist’s striking resemblance to a fellow site contributor.