The arrival of the Sega CD was announced in the U.S. in September 1991, an entire year in advance of its actual release date. Nintendo had just released the Super NES and Sega was proclaiming the superiority of the Genesis console to consumers. Sega contended that with the introduction of the Sega CD, the Genesis would become the system of the future.
In October 1991, the Sega CD was released as the "Mega-CD" in Japan where the Genesis was called the "Mega-Drive." It initially retailed for $380. Adding to its appeal to consumers in the East, Sega engineered the Mega-CD system to play karaoke CDs.
On October 15, 1992, the Sega CD was finally released in American stores. Its original retail price was $299. It sat underneath the Genesis console and featured a front-loading CD tray. Though they both contained the same 68000 microprocessor, the Sega CD ran at 12.5 MHz, a full 5 MHz faster than the Genesis. Working in conjunction, the two processors virtually eliminated any pauses for loading.
Two graphics chips in the Sega CD introduced scaling and rotation to Genesis games (the Super NES was also capable of this). It doubled the Genesis' available RAM and could also play sound right off of the CD-ROM.
The original pack-in titles included: Shinobi, Streets of Rage, Columns, Golden Axe, Sherlock Holmes, Sol Feace, a music sampler and a karaoke CD+G (Compact Disc + Graphics) sampler. Sega sold 200,000 units in 1992.
In 1993, Sega released the Sega CD 2. It was built to sit alongside the Genesis in a specially designed extension plate. In place of the motor-driven front loading tray, the Sega CD 2 featured a top-loading lid that players manually raised to insert a game. This feature helped lower the retail price to $229.
In September 1994, JVC released the X'Eye system in the United States. Called the Wondermega in Japan, the X'Eye was a Sega CD and Genesis combined into one console. It sold for $500 and was packaged with both Compton's Multimedia Encyclopedia and Prize Fighter, and a CD+G disc. Sega's utimate strategy in working with JVC was to introduce its system to a more adult crowd. Sega wanted the X'Eye to be placed on shelves alongside laser disc players or computers, while the Genesis would be found near the Super NES in the toy department.
The success of the Sega CD was hurt by the lack of quality games. One reason for this is that Sega delayed access to development kits to third party designers before the system was released. Many Sega CD games turned out to be mere variations of their cartridge counterparts, with a few extra levels, CD-quality music and full motion video.
With the CD format's huge storage capacity, Sega of America chose to explore new territory with its game development. Sega put a heavy emphasis on the design of interactive movies and games based on full motion video. While this idea may have seemed groundbreaking at the time, it never generated overwhelming consumer interest.
In 1995, Sega changed its focus to the release of the 32-bit CD-ROM based Saturn system. It discontinued all advertising for the Sega CD, and in early 1996 Sega announced its discontinuation.
Over 140 game titles were released in the U.S. ~ Dave Beuscher, All Game Guide