One of the most important consoles in the history of home video games was the Genesis, released by Sega in North America in the summer of 1989. It was a 16-bit console that featured a library that eventually topped out at over 900 different games, made through a combination of third-party developers and by Sega itself. It had the benefit of being released to the North American market a full two years prior to its major competition, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The SNES wouldn't be released until August of 1991 in the United States.
One of the factors that made the Sega Genesis such a great console was its library of titles. Many classic franchises that gamers still know and love today started with the Genesis. "Sonic the Hedgehog" was, for a time, one of the most lucrative franchises in all of video games. Not only did it spawn a series of well-reviewed video games with tremendous graphics and ingenious gameplay, but it also spawned comic books, breakfast cereals and not one but two different animated series. Some of the top sellers in the history of the console included both the original "Sonic the Hedgehog" and its sequel, "Sonic the Hedgehog 2." "Aladdin," based on the Disney animated film of the same name, was also among the console's biggest hits.
When Sega stopped producing video game hardware in the early 2000s and instead opted to focus solely on software, many of the franchises that began with the Genesis in the late 1980s and early 1990s proved that they could still be huge hits today. It's a testament to the quality of these video games that gamers could still play and enjoy them on modern hardware 20+ years later.
Another one of the factors that set the Sega Genesis apart from the competition - at least in the early days - was its graphical capabilities. It is important to keep in mind that the Sega Genesis was released in North America at the time where its only true competition was the original Nintendo Entertainment System. The NES has a massive library of classic games, but was only capable of 8 bit graphics. The Sega Genesis making the jump to 16 bit graphics was a huge leap in those early days of gaming. Only with the release of the Super Nintendo, which was also capable of 16 bit graphics, did the playing field level a bit.
If you want to dip your proverbial feet into Sega Genesis retro gaming, there are a few key routes you can take. Even though its hugely disappointing that Sega is no longer making its own hardware, one unforeseen benefit for gamers comes from the fact that its software is now available on a huge number of platforms. You can purchase digital versions of many Sega classics like "Sonic the Hedgehog" on the PlayStation Network, for example. You can also purchase compilation releases designed for consoles like the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 that feature dozens of classic Sega Genesis era titles all on one disc.
It is also entirely possible to find used Sega Genesis consoles in your area at stores that buy and sell used video game consoles. When purchasing used games for these consoles, however, keep in mind that you should always check to make sure that they work first before shelling out your hard earned money. At the very least, find out as much information as possible about the store's return policy. In the event that a game doesn't work properly, you may be out of luck as the last "new in box" copy of that title was likely manufactured decades ago.