Release Date: 8/14/89
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The Sega Genesis, known as Mega Drive (Japanese: ?????? Hepburn: Mega Doraibu) in most regions outside North America, is a 16-bit video game console which was developed and sold by Sega Enterprises, Ltd. The Genesis is Sega's third console and the successor to the Master System. Sega first released the console as the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988, followed by a North American debut under the Genesis moniker in 1989. In 1990, the console was released as the Mega Drive by Virgin Mastertronic in Europe, byOzisoft in Australasia, and by Tec Toy in Brazil. In South Korea it was distributed by Samsung and was first known as the Super Gam*Boy and later as the Super Aladdin Boy.
In Japan, the Mega Drive did not fare well against its two main competitors, Nintendo's Super Famicom and NEC's PC Engine. However, it achieved considerable success in North America and in Europe, capturing the majority of the 16-bit market share in several territories including the United States and the United Kingdom. Contributing to its success were its library of arcade game ports, the popularity of the Genesis-exclusive Sonic the Hedgehog series, several popular sports game franchises, and aggressive youth marketing that positioned the system as the cool console for adolescents. Though Sega dominated the market in North America and Europe for several years, the release of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System resulted in a fierce battle for market share in those territories that has often been termed a "console war" by journalists and historians. As this contest drew increasing attention to the video game industry among the general public, the Genesis and several of its highest-profile games attracted significant legal scrutiny on matters involving reverse engineering and video game violence. Controversy surrounding violent titles like Night Trap and Mortal Kombat led Sega to create the Videogame Rating Council, a predecessor to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.