While Mario is already since 1980 a symbol of Nintendo, Sega has Alex Kidd as the only mascot until 1991, but it is widely downgraded by Mario. Faced with Nintendo and its famous plumber, Sega decides to create an endearing character who could become the new mascot of the firm. A competition is organized internally and many characters are suggested. There is among others Sonic, a wolf, a bulldog, a rabbit and a man with a mustache (which later becomes Dr. “Eggman” Robotnik, the villain of most games in the series). The announcement of the game is made and Sonic is on the poster of the rock band who composed the musical themes of the game, Dreams Come True. The game is launched in the US on June 23, 1991, and landed in the same month in Europe and on July 26th in Japan, in a slightly reworked version. Although similar, Sonic the Hedgehog stands out from Mario games by offering a different gameplay based on speed.
In the first installment of the series, Dr. Robotnik, a crazy scientitst, captures innoncent animals to make out of them evil robots. Sonic encounter on its route many Dr. Robotnik’s robots that he can destroy, delivering at the same time the animals. Sonic’s attack, the Super Sonic Spin Attack, consists of Sonic curling itself into a ball while running to charge his enemies. Sonic may also collect rings that à he finds on his way. Collecting 100 rings gives him an extra life. When hit by an enemy or a trap, he loses all his rings and they disperse, leaving only a few seconds to recover them. If he is touched when he doesn’t have any more rings, he loses a life and starts again at the last checkpoint.
Phantasy Star 2 is a Sega RPG released in 1989 on the Sega Genesis. This is, you guessed it, the second episode of the series of Phantasy Star. Somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy is the solar system Algol. Its main star, Algo, has three planets in orbit around it. The first is Palm, the seat of government, where the upper classes of the population are located. The second is Mota, formerly desert and hostile because of the presence of giant antlions. It is transformed into a tropical paradise with artificial irrigation means. Since then, life on this planet has become enjoyable. Dezo is the most distant one, the planet of ice, little is known about it.
A thousand years have passed since Alis freed Algol Lassic’s domination. Under the direction of a giant computer named Mother Brain, Algol has become prosperous. You play Rolf, who leaves his home in Paseo, capital of Mota, to join Central Tower where Mota’s government head assigns you a new mission.
The game offers the player the posssibility to lead a team of up to four characters. The battles are turn based; the player starts by giving instructions to his characters and then observes the unwinding of the round. He then gives instructions for the next round, and it all starts over again. The orders range from the use of magic, to the normal or special attack, through the use of object or defense (using a shield). The game is very difficult and the player is forced to make leveling (to stop at a place in the game and improve the characteristics of his characters).
In the late 1980s, the reputation of SEGA is mainly based on the enthousiasm for its arcade games. Hayao Nakayama, then SEGA’s CEO, takes the decision to develop a 16-bit console on the base of System 16’s arcade. The console receives the code name MK-1601 and is launched with the name of SEGA Drive worldwide, except in North America, where it is launched with the name Sega Genesis, since the other name was already patented.
At the launch of the Genesis in 1989, Nintendo has with its NES nearly 92% of the Japanese market and about 95% of the North American market. Taking off guard Nintendo on the 16-bit market, SEGA successfully introduces the Genesis in the US and Europe, sweeping the Turbografx-16. The SEGA Genesis even managed to be the market leader in North American for 1992 and 1993.
In 1992 a revamped version of the Megadrive (SEGA Genesis), the Megadrive II is launched. Later in 1997, the firm Majesco Sales obtains the rights to re-market the Megadrive II in North America. The following year, the company manufactures a new version, the Genesis 3 and sells it for $50. During those ten years, 39.70 million Megadrive and Genesis units were sold.