Two 360 choices? That’s one too many!
Now, I’ll just preface this by saying that the Genesis options aren’t nearly as overwhelming as the whopping TWO choices for Xbox 360, but consumers understood less back then. The RAM Expansion for Saturn/N64 helped open their eyes to the idea of scalable home consoles. Anyway, Sega Genesis managed to overcome these small confusions to be neck and neck with SNES in the 16 bit era. Microsoft’s choice is so much more confusing though, so it’s hard to say if like Sega they can overcome their severe consumer confusion. Anyway, here’s the brief overview of Sega’s Genesis offerings:
Sega Genesis 1
This was the original. It had a headphone jack, and was large and rectangular. The headphone jack may not seem important, but if you want to get stereo sound with your 32X composite video, and you are using the supplied 32X AV cable, you need it. The 32X came with a crappy mono stereo cable, and apparently, you could call up customer service and order a stereo one, but somehow I think they won’t still provide them. It was compatible with both Sega CDs, but really only works well with the Sega CD 1 and not the Sega CD 2. You need to add an extender on the Sega CD 2’s platform in order to accommodate the larger body, so it’ll look ridiculous and take up a ton of space.
Sega Genesis 2
This did not have the headphone jack. It was smaller. The Sega CD 2 was designed to fit with this model. If you had the Sega CD 1, it’d look stupid because the Sega CD 1 is too big for the smaller Genesis 2. If you want to use it with 32X, you most likely won’t be able to get stereo sound unless you are playing Sega CD 32X because the Sega CD has stereo audio out in the back, but they ports don’t work when you are playing Genesis or 32X games since they use the audio hardware on the Genesis main system.
Sega Genesis 3
This was even smaller still and was a budget version of the Genesis long after its popularity waned (1998). It won’t work with any Sega CD’s because it doesn’t have an expansion port. I doubt it'll work with the 32X either since that requires a different port that was probably removed also.
This was a portable version of the Genesis. It won’t work with Sega CD or 32X.
Sega CD 1
This works with the Genesis 1 and 2 only, but really only looks good when combined with the Genesis 1.
Sega CD 2
This works with the Genesis 1 and 2 only, but really only looks good when combined with the Genesis 2.
This is a pseudo-portable combined Sega Genesis and Sega CD that doubled as a portable CD player. If you want 32X, you need a special adaptor to make it fit. The BIG G thinks you’ll be hard pressed to find one of those now.
This is a combined Genesis and Sega CD made by JVC with all sorts of crazy features such as two microphone inputs, MIDI port and S-video out. None are particularly useful. I have no idea about its compatibility.
The Power Base Converter
If you’re interested in playing Sega Master System games, plop this on the top of your Genesis, and you can play them. It’ll only work with the Genesis 1. They made one that would work with Genesis 2, but it didn’t have the card slot and was only released in Europe. Unfortunately, you can’t use this and the 32X at the same time.
The BIG G, I’m confused. Which one should I get?
Well, here’s the beast that I have:
It features the Sega Genesis 1 for the headphone jack, the Sega CD 1 because it matches the Genesis 1 better (and CD trays are cool), and the 32X which has composite video out (the composite video out even works for regular Genesis games!). I can play Sega CD 32X games with the greatest of ease! Plus, if I decide to get “The Power Base Converter”, I can use it with the Genesis 1, but I’ll have to remove my 32X. That is what the BIG G would recommend for you. I also have a Nomad to game on the go, but I only have 7 Genesis games whereas I have 15 Sega 32X games, 16 Sega CD games and 4 Sega CD 32X games, so I can’t have too much fun on the go.
But I mean, in all honesty, that’s not nearly as confusing as the two models that Microsoft offers for the Xbox 360! With hard disk and without? Man, I still can’t wrap my mind around that. Oh, how I dream of the days when it was simpler!