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Mega Drive, European Launch aka the internet lies

#1 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 16 January 2013 - 02:39 PM

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The internet gives the Sega Mega Drive a 1990-11-30 launch date in "Europe". Where does this date come from? I'd like to dispute it because it contradicts quite a bit of what I've read, and I'm trying to put together a list of launch titles (supposedly there might be as many as 22!)


UK gaming magazines of the day are really hazy, because obviously having watched the system be delayed for two years, they started talking about import titles, I.e. when were things released in North America or Japan (and priority was still on Amigas/Atari STs). My understanding is that the system was delayed a few times - it was originally penciled in for a Q1/Q2 1990 release (about March/April time, possibly even in 1989 at some point) but was pushed back due to manufacturing problems.

Nobody really talked about the system before 1991 because it wasn't a 16-bit computer, but there's a few clues

http://archive.org/s...2up/search/mega

supposedly the Mega Drive was due to launch in the UK in September, at the "European Computer Entertainment Show" (ECES) which no longer exists and is poorly documented. That year it was held on September 15th-16th, which from what I can see, was a weekend (so sometime between the 17th and 21st? I hear Fridays are big days for gaming in the UK (like Tuesdays in the US)). It's also the same period in which the Game Boy launched, supposedly (Wikipedia says the PAL release for that was the 28th - a Friday)

Anyway things I know

- £189.99 would get you a console with Altered Beast. That makes Altered Beast a launch title, obviously
- Games were released in October and November - there are only 30 days in November, so if the internet is right, that makes all of them launch titles. That's why I think the internet is wrong
- Space Harrier II and Super Thunder Blade were sold as "budget" games for about £10 less than normal, on the basis that they were older (1988 in Japan)

the other issue is that obviously "Europe" as a region isn't very... precise (or at least, it wasn't in 1990). The United Kingdom release was likely different than the French or German or Spanish one - different distributors, language barriers, logistical issues etc. This is certainly the case with the Master System - I'm curious to know if it affects the Mega Drive significantly too.

it's difficult to find concrete answers - it was a world dominated by Amigas and Atari STs. Dedicated consoles were seen as niche systems for kids - real men messed around with 329343289342 floppy disks and broken cassettes, so this stuff just wasn't covered. Or at least, not until Sonic turned up.

#2 User is offline Overlord 

Posted 16 January 2013 - 04:59 PM

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Had an idea and typed in "Daily Express archive" into Google (simply as it was the first one I thought of) - surely newspapers of the time would cover a launch even if it's a minor system? Anyway, this has brought up http://www.ukpresson.../open/index.jsp . Got in thanks to some credentials I found on the web (if you want them, hop on IRC, I don't want someone logging on and changing it. Might be you can just register an account with no real problems and not have to pay for it but I couldn't be arsed finding out) and doing a search on "sega AND mega AND drive" brought up a TOYS R US advert from Thu 13 Dec 1990. I can't make the tiny picture bigger without feeding in money but it certainly appears to be a Mega Drive.

Posted Image

#3 User is offline NiktheGreek 

Posted 16 January 2013 - 07:09 PM

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The best source for info here is likely to be S: The Sega Magazine, given that it was pretty much the only dedicated Sega magazine at the time. Seems like scans are going to be hard (if not impossible) to find, so we may need to do some hunting and possibly acquire our own copies.

#4 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 17 January 2013 - 08:16 AM

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View PostNiktheGreek, on 16 January 2013 - 07:09 PM, said:

The best source for info here is likely to be S: The Sega Magazine, given that it was pretty much the only dedicated Sega magazine at the time. Seems like scans are going to be hard (if not impossible) to find, so we may need to do some hunting and possibly acquire our own copies.

This is what I thought - supposedly issue #10 devotes itself to the Mega Drive launch, but the only scans I've seen are three pages from issue #8, currently hosted on SMS Power.

#5 User is offline Meat Miracle 

Posted 17 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

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For what it's worth, the earliest PAL MD1 I saw was dated 1991 march.

#6 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:04 PM

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So out of interest I started hunting down other launch dates to see if they're accurate. Info on the Game Gear is pointlessly hard to come by, but the Mega CD

http://archive.org/s...age/n7/mode/2up

April 2nd 1993 for the UK launch... as opposed to April 19th 1993. An improvement, but still wrong. Maybe. There's no sources to back up what Wikipedia have been saying and it's not unusual to see things delayed at the last minute.

#7 User is offline SpeedStarTMQ 

Posted 19 January 2013 - 03:30 PM

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Have you contacted SEGA to see if they can give you the dates?

#8 User is offline Scarred Sun 

Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:07 AM

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View PostSpeedStarTMQ, on 19 January 2013 - 03:30 PM, said:

Have you contacted SEGA to see if they can give you the dates?


FUN FACT: Sega Europe doesn't have historical records (or anything of value) before 2003 or so. It's kind of a dead end.

#9 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:33 PM

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The other thing is that unlike Wikipedia, I'm confident that the UK launch =/= the "European" launch.

so the Mega CD launch for example - UK and Italy got the first (and second) model, France and Spain only got the second. That would only happen if there was different release dates for each country and since there were different distributors, each with their own ideas... yeah. Not like modern times where you have companies covering continents.

#10 User is offline Scarred Sun 

Posted 20 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

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Stuuuupid question, but it bears asking: do we know who distributed in mainland Europe? Virgin Mastertronic distributed in the UK, but I would have no idea of the others.

#11 User is offline steveswede 

Posted 20 January 2013 - 01:51 PM

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Toys'R'Us and Argos first come to mind. Other than that there were a fair amount of independent stores back then that used to sell them. I don't ever remember Virgin Megastore selling them.

#12 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:01 PM

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There's a semi-complete picture of distributors and the like on the wiki in this a category although a lot of it is sketchy

basically, each country was different, although Sega made efforts to uh... "normalise" things at some point in the 90s once they bought the Mastertronic bit of Virgin Mastertronic

#13 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 21 January 2013 - 05:40 AM

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Just going to keep derailing this topic I guess

why don't we have any scans of Edge
http://img269.images...geissue4p44.jpg
http://img542.images...geissue4p45.jpg
Edge Magazine was (and still is) at the higher end of the UK games press. What I didn't realise is that, from the looks of things, they had lists of UK release dates - this became far more common in magazines towards the end of the decade, but this is the oldest magazine I've seen which has them. The publication started in October 1993 (so it won't cover the Mega Drive's launch) but it could still prove helpful.



also note Edge's release dates for other video game magazines


we ought to get a magazine scanning marathon up and running at some point - these things answer so many questions, it's just a shame they're so awkward to preserve
This post has been edited by Black Squirrel: 21 January 2013 - 05:48 AM

#14 User is offline Andlabs 

Posted 22 January 2013 - 01:40 PM

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I never rresponded to the Edge thing on the wiki when you asked but I did start going through the issues at one point looking to piece out what Sega-related information was in each issue. (I also stated doing the same with GamePro but I have to re-download all that.) Underground Gamer is a good source of western gaming magazines (some people have also started uploading pack-in CDs as well), and there are people starting a small project with Japanese mgazines (the arcade-oriented Arcadia, for instance).

I'm not sure if we should start putting up the geneal-puspose magazines on the wiki but I do think it would be a good idea to put up these articles and ads; I'm just not sure how that would be organized at this point.
This post has been edited by Andlabs: 22 January 2013 - 01:42 PM

#15 User is offline Black Squirrel 

Posted 22 January 2013 - 02:08 PM

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It's totally understandable that Sega Retro shouldn't have 3829043284 scans of things we don't need, but having only a few pages of a magazine scanned part of the reason I'm struggling. Those Edge scans I just posted came from a PC Engine forum who only scanned the PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16-related stuff, and that means I have to do another search to find the rest of the magazine, if it's even online

Also we never know when we might need the non-Sega information. If a SNES release of a game turned up a few months before the Mega Drive one, that might end up being relevant at some point in the future.

as for storage, I sort-of wish more people supported archive.org's system
http://archive.org/d...mputermagazines

design wise, the site is pretty poor, but if you needed to cite PAGE 44/45 OF OFFICIAL SEGA SATURN MAGAZINE #34 it generates URLs
http://archive.org/s...ge/n43/mode/2up
and you can search, and there's no huge PDF downloads or forced use of comic book readers - just javascript trickery

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