sega mega drive turns 27

The Sega Mega Drive turns 27 today.

mega drive logo

As with every other game-related anniversary, we are astounded to find our original hardware still rocking harder than ever.

mega drive box front

The Sega Mega Drive launched in Japan on October 29th, 1988 and retailed for ¥21,000. Space Harrier II and Super Thunder Blade were the two games available at launch. Altered Beast and Osomatsu-kun Hachamecha Gekijou were released by the end of the year.

altered beast JP cover

Within the next year, a load of new software found it’s way to the Mega Drive. High-quality arcade ports like Ghouls n Ghosts, Golden Axe, and Truxton delighted gamers. Original sequels like Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, Phantasy Star II, and The Revenge of Shinobi expanded upon popular games. Third party support started coming in, with awesome games like Herzog Zwei and Thunder Force II. Don’t worry, fans of mediocre games, Last Battle arrived in 1989 as well.

phantasy star II JP cover

Tetris saw a very limited release in 1989. Not long after Sega pulled Tetris off store shelves and it became one of the rarest Japanese Mega Drive games. Less than 10 original copies are rumored to be in existence today, with an exponentially larger amount of bootlegs available for curious gamers.

Early Mega Drive commercial
Does that haircut take you back?

The Mega Drive did not have an easy life in it’s native country, unfortunately. It was released a week after the highly anticipated Super Mario Bros. 3. The Nintendo Famicom continued to dominate in much of the Mega Drive’s early life. The NEC PC Engine grabbed hold of a big chunk of the pie as well. Sonic the Hedgehog arriving in 1991 did not have the affect it did in other regions of the world.

sonic the hedgehog JP cover

By the end of the century, the Sega Mega Drive had racked up just 4.3 million consoles sold in Japan. Compare that to over 20 million in North America or 6.9 million in Europe.

Luckily for us, the console found great success abroad and helped launch many wonderful franchises that are still fondly remembered. Millions of gamers worldwide remember Golden Axe, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Revenge of Shinobi, Streets of Rage, and so many others. Sega continues to feed the nostalgia with fairly regular re-releases and remakes, with the most recent being the solid 3D Classics series on the Nintendo 3DS.

My Mega Drive by 2080

What are some of your favorite Mega Drive memories? Let us know in a comment below!