The Sega 32X is the second add-on console for the Sega Genesis, following the marginally successful Sega CD. The naming of the 32X refers to its dual 32-bit RISC processors, seen at the time as the “next generation” of gaming standards as both the Genesis and the Super Nintendo were 16-bit consoles.
The 32X plugs into the top of the Genesis just as a game cartridge does, though a small adapter is required for the newer model of Genesis consoles as it is significantly smaller than the older models. After attachment of the 32X, all Genesis games are able to be played via the 32X input, with the exception of Virtua Racing for the Genesis.
From 1994 to 1996, 34 games were released for the 32X. Though many were original titles, a significant number of these releases were slightly upgraded versions of existing Genesis games, such as Mortal Kombat II and NBA Jam Tournament Edition. In addition to these, Sega also produced five games that required both a 32X and a Sega CD, dubbed “Sega CD 32X” games.
Game development for the 32X was slow as developers proceeded to move on to the 32bit Sega Saturn. Sales were dismal due to the lack of games, cost of add-ons, and confusion for consumers, over what they needed to play their games (Genesis/Genesis with 32X/Genesis with SegaCD/ or all three). In addition, upon the 32X's launch the Sega Saturn, Sega's true next generation system, was right around the corner. Despite Sega's assurance to the contrary, many consumers feared that Sega would drop support for the console in favor of it's 32 bit big brother.
Before the 32X was discontinued, Sega also planned a combined Genesis and 32X console called "Neptune" that never left the prototype stage.
When launched during November of 1994 in North America and Europe, the 32X was positioned with a one year window before “Saturday” and the launch of the Sega Saturn. However, this window, and the life of the 32X, was significantly shortened with the “immediately available” surprise-launch of Saturn during the inaugural Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3 95'). The 32X launched on this day with these titles in:
Europe (Nov. 14th 1994)
North America (Nov. 21st 1994)
Japan (Dec. 3rd 1994)
- Processor: Two SH2 32-bit RISC at 23Mhz
- Co Processor: VDP with 50,000 polygons per second, texture mapping, scaling, and rotation
- Maximum Colors On Screen: 32,768
- Screen Resolution: 320 x 224
- MISC: Cinepak and TrueVideo features for improved Sega CD full motion video
- Possible AV Outputs: RF, Composite, S-Video, Component (RGB)
- 10-bit Pulse Width Modulation
- Two PCM's combined with Genesis sound hardware for 12 Channels of sound.
- 512K combined with Sega Genesis Memory