Gaming Oddities: The Sega 32X
The Sega 32X. It began as a great concept, a great potential that would elevate Sega as a dominant force in the console market. A modular device that would allow any existing Sega Genesis/Mega Drive owner to boost the graphic fidelity of their console & elevate the gaming experience into the 32-bit era.
Sega 32X Somewhat An Oddball Against Competing Popular Standalone Consoles
Originally it was intended to extend the longevity of the ageing Sega Genesis/Mega Drive against the ageing yet immensely popular Super NES & the recently announced “64-bit” Atari Jaguar console. Strangely enough, it is also positioned as a low-cost 32-bit alternative to its soon to be released successor, the Sega Saturn, risking cannibalize either of the hardware sales.
Even with all the buzz created for this device, the powerful hardware wasn’t enough to entice both gamers & game developers to support this device. In less than 2 years, Sega pulled the plug on the 32X & shifted their focus to the Sega Saturn instead.
Introduced in 1994, the Sega 32X is an add-on hardware to the existing Sega Genesis/Mega Drive console that promised to bring 32-bit gaming capability at a lower cost. The unit support its own proprietary 32X cartridge & it’s backwards compatible with Sega Genesis/Mega Drive cartridges.
Powered by 2 Hitachi SH-2 32-bit RISC processor & Sega custom VDP processor, capable of producing wide 32,768 colour palettes and rendering 50,000 polygons per seconds. It should able to provide graphical improvements & 3D acceleration to the console over competing rivals.
Audio system also upgraded with the addition of Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) audio chip to provide extra sound channels, further improve the sound quality of the games.
The idea of having a modular system where you can simply boost the performance of the console is great. Sega Saturn high price at USD$399.99 makes the 32X an excellent proposition. Even if it bundled both console priced at USD$99.99 & add-on hardware priced at USD$159.99 together, it was significantly cheaper than Sega Saturn. The execution however was something left to be desired. Sega cobbled up the plan to release the Sega 32X in time for 1994 holiday release date.
It Was A Cumbersome Device For Gamers & Developers