I almost wasn’t going to dedicate an entire series of posts to the Sega 32X. I had spent the majority of 2019 with the Genesis and the Sega CD, and I was ready to move onto a different console entirely. As I was packing up my Sega Genesis/CD/32X monstrosity, the little mushroom cloud of 32-bit gaming tapped me on the shoulder and meekly whined, “what about me”? “Hey little guy, I didn’t forget about you”, I lied. I caved to the whims of one of gaming’s abject failures and I will spend one single month playing games that were developed for the 32X while attempting to add a few titles to my collection. Hope that shuts it up for awhile.
I won’t go into great depth on the history behind the 32X, why it exists (stop gap to extend life of the Genesis), why it failed (Sega of Japan announced the upcoming Saturn console without Sega of America’s knowledge) and why it’s worth collecting for (a debatable and subjective number of reasons). What I will discuss is my personal reasons for buying games for a system I have no nostalgia for and what (possibly) makes the 32X a system that deserves at least a month’s worth of attention.
The 32X, aka “Project Mars” was a viable purchase option for North American gamers for approximately 6 months. That’s it. It was released in Nov ’94, the same month that Sega of Japan announced the forthcoming release of the Saturn, a stand-alone 32-bit CD-ROM based console scheduled for a 1995 release. Whoops! Sega of America tried to convince the buying public that the Saturn wouldn’t see the light of day in ’95 and the 32X was the best way to get that “next gen” feel without having to pony up for a new console.
Unfortunately, once Sega of Japan’s Saturn announcement was made, strategic developers such as Capcom and Konami said “adios” to 32X development projects and said “how you doin'” to Saturn projects instead. This led to an avalanche of bad press, disinterested consumers and a DOA stop-gap add-on that did nothing but create ill will. That was then, this is now. What is still relevant to modern gamers are the games themselves. Does the 32X have any good games worth playing? Of course it does!
With only 36 titles released for the system in North America, 5 of which were hybrid 32X/CD titles, the 32X library is small and compact. Like a cute VW Beetle or a season of your favorite Netflix or Amazon TV show. That makes it an easy target for completists who are looking to collect the entire 32X library. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, though. The system wasn’t a huge seller, no surprises there, so there are number of late release games that saw very little distribution and sales numbers.
Like with nearly every console library in existence, there are games for the 32X that are considered “rare” or “hard to find” and are fairly expensive to purchase once they do come around. For the 32X, these games are Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire, Pitfall: The Mayan Adventure and World Series Baseball: Starring Deion Sanders. There are a handful of other games that aren’t exactly cheap or easy to find either. Games such as Blackthorne, Knuckles Chaotix, and Kolibri will set you back some coin if you’re looking for a complete in box copy.
Thankfully, those games are a small portion of the overall library. Even the system’s most expensive game, Spider-Man, doesn’t reach ridiculous levels of cost (I’m looking at you Stadium Events, Magical Chase & Keio Flying Squadron). I currently am in possession of only 13 32X games, but that’s already over 1/3 of the entire library! Unfortunately, of the rare, hard to find, and moderately expensive titles I’ve already listed, I only own one of those, Knuckles Chaotix. What that means, is if I want to add some of the more sought after games for the system into my collection, I need to do some searching and some spending.
First and foremost, I’m looking to add exclusives to my collection. This means games like Kolibri, Spider-Man: Web of Fire, and Tempo are high on my list due to their 32X exclusivity. Blackthorne isn’t technically a 32X exclusive, having been released for the Super Nintendo, but the 32X version does add gameplay not featured on the SNES. This makes it a sought after game for me as well.
I suppose I should look for a few more sports games for the system that were highly regarded at the time. The aforementioned World Series Baseball: Starring Deion Sanders, WWF Wrestlemania and NFL Quarterback Club are three that I’ve researched and think would be nice adds. I’ve also heard and seen good things about the 32X-CD upgrade of Night Trap, a game I genuinely enjoy but readily admit doesn’t look that good on the Sega CD. The clearer video found on the 32X version does look great and would be a better way to play the game. If I can add just 2 or 3 of these titles to my collection, I’ll feel like I have a pretty good representation of what the system has to offer.
The Top 5 Sega 32X games I’d like to add to my collection are:
5. After Burner – Like Virtua Fighter and Space Harrier II, the 32X port of After Burner is supposed to be very arcade realistic. Always a bonus when you’re talking console gaming in the ’90s.
4. Tempo – Super colorful, psychedelic platformer that I pray is half as fun as it looks. It sort of visually reminds me of Zool 2.
3. Blackthorne – This 2D platformer plays more like Flashback than Super Mario Bros., but it looks outstanding! This title gets rave reviews across the board and its additional content from the SNES version makes it a must own.
2. The Amazing Spider-Man: Web of Fire – This super-expensive title might be more of a wish list than a must list item at this point. Spider-Man appears to be divisive in terms of quality, but it can’t be all that bad can it?
1. Kolibri – A trippy hummingbird shooter with rich, colorful graphics and smooth gameplay? Hell to the yes!!! Generally, this title gets good reviews all around and the fact that it’s a 32X exclusive makes it a no-brainer for top game on my 32X wish list.