It was released in Japan as the Mega Drive in October 1988, but just over 20 years ago, on August 14th, 1989, it launched in North America as the Genesis. The rest is history.
Today, Sega mostly publishes crappy licensed titles and shovelware, like the recently released Daisy Fuentes Pilates (well, considering how bad Pat Riley Basketball was, some things do remain the same). But back then, after getting pummeled by the NES in the Master System's heyday, Sega finally had a console that would make the company a household name.
1989 was quite the year in the gaming world. The NES was in its prime, the Game Boy changed the face of portable gaming, and the Genesis and TurboGrafx-16 were giving many gamers a first taste of the next generation of console gaming. Eventually, the Genesis and the Super Nintendo became the two biggest consoles in the 16-bit era. The Genesis wasn't able to top the Super Nintendo, but looking back at that library, they definitely gave them one hell of a run for their money, and there were many instances where Sega truly did what Nintendidn't.
Remember seeing Sonic in action for the first time? I do. My cousin had a Genesis, and introduced me to Sonic's first game. However, there wasn't a Genesis in my house until 1994, when my brother got the Lion King bundle for Christmas. I remember spending the next few days trying to beat it (and I eventually did). Over the years, my brother would acquire Sonic 2, Sonic & Knuckles, X-Men, Rocket Knight Adventures, Altered Beast, Lakers vs. Celtics, and Jordan vs. Bird. Most of those were sold off (along with the Genesis), but in 2004, shortly after I had added a Genesis to my collection, he found his copy of Rocket Knight Adventures. I offered to buy it off him, but he just gave it to me.
In February 2004, I added a Gamecube and Nintendo 64 to my collection (before that, the collection only consisted an SNES and a PlayStation 2), and the Genesis was going to be next. In April, I noticed a sale thread on Digital Press from a local member. I sent him a message and we made plans to meet up in Oregon City. He let me test out everything, and I left Oregon City with a Pine Mountain Logs box containing a Genesis 2, hookups, two 6-button controllers, and a few games, including the first Sonic, Altered Beast, and Golden Axe II. Shortly after that, I went to a Software Etc. to see what Genesis games were still there (GameStop had discontinued taking in NES, SNES, Genesis and Dreamcast stuff and was clearing it out). There wasn't much, but I left the store with a Genesis 6-pak and an unlicensed Wisdom Tree cart that is still my rarest Genesis game - Joshua: The Battle of Jericho (the latter only cost me 63 cents after the clearance discount). Today, my Genesis collection stands at 149 games.
Also, I figured I would include a nice read on the Genesis hitting 20 from Sega-16.