The 32X in situ alongside Sega’s Mega CD 2 and host console, Mega Drive (Genesis in the US).

Edge 218′s Kinect cover asked of the device: “The catalyst for a new era in gaming, or a 32X for 2010?”The parallels between the Kinect and Sega’s 32X might not seem immediately obvious, but as the Xbox One slowly recovers from its difficult launch they keep presenting themselves. In 1994, Sega was a runaway success in the West. The Mega Drive (the Genesis, locally) was the best-selling 16bit machine in North America, and sold around seven million units in Europe, leaving the Super Nintendo in the shade. But in the East, things were different.In Japan, the Mega Drive couldn’t compete with the SNES – the Super Famicom – and was also being outsold by NEC’s PC Engine. Headquartered in Tokyo, Sega was keen to progress to 32bit technology before their closest competitors – and it was feeling the heat, too, from a couple of new consoles: Atari’s 64bit Jaguar and Trip Hawkins’ 3DO. Pressure was rising. Action was needed.The Mega-CD showcased Sega’s capabilities to strike into new markets ahead of its peers – even though it didn’t truly deliver next-generation experiences, the move to CD-based console gaming in 1991 was prescient, and sales were decent. But when word emerged that the company was to release another, cartridge-based add-on for the Mega Drive in order to prolong its lifespan, at the same time as developing a standalone 32bit console, the Saturn, the only reasonable reaction was one of bewilderment.Codenamed Project Mars, Sega’s 32X began strongly, selling 650,000 units in the US between its November 1994 launch and Christmas the same year. But in Japan, the Saturn beat the Mega Drive’s 32bit supercharger to stores by a couple of weeks – it wouldn’t make the States for another six months – rendering its presence in the East effectively needless, its market penetration negligible.