[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 32X Through the Keyhole

May 20th, 2013 by Benj Edwards

Sega 32X Genesis Electronic Gaming Monthly ad - 1994Surely you have newer locks in your house.

I bought a Sega 32X for $30 new in 1995 or ’96 at Toys”R”Us. They were on clearance because nobody wanted them. (I also bought a Virtual Boy for $30 this way around the same time.) There were good reasons why no one wanted them: chiefly, because better machines like the PlayStation and Saturn were out there, and most games for the 32X weren’t very good.

Still, I have a soft spot for this system. It touches some fundamental nerdy part of me that likes convoluted electronic expansion modules — it means more to collect, and more to mess with. I have a bunch of 32X games, perhaps even half of the entire library for that system, but I rarely play any of them. I seem to recall the Star Wars Arcade title being pretty good for it. Virtua Racing wasn’t half bad either.

By the way, the only explanation I can muster for the inclusion of the keyhole in the ad above is that it’s some sort of sexual metaphor, much like those found in Sega’s other 32X ads at the time (See “The Sega Mating Game,” Retro Scan of the Week, 2008). In other words, I guess we’re spying on a Genesis and a 32X having electronic intercourse.

[ From Electronic Gaming Monthly, November 1994, p.180 ]

Discussion Topic of the Week: In an alternate universe where there was no Sega Saturn, do you think the 32X could have held its own against the competition for a few years?

7 Responses to “[ Retro Scan of the Week ] 32X Through the Keyhole”

  1. Eagles409 Says:

    I think the 32X was doomed from the beginning. People were starting to look toward the CD as the format for games and Sega already had the Sega CD attachment for the Genesis. The other problem was that when they were new, they were $159, almost the price of a new video game system. I don’t think it ever stood a chance.

  2. roflmao Says:

    Yeah, the 32X was pretty bad… I bought one when it was on clearance as well. And returned it the same day. :/

  3. SirPaul Says:

    Honestly, with the likes of the Nintendo 64 and the Playstation, the 32X had no chance, even if there was no such thing as the Saturn. I think Sega would have been a whole lot better off if they didn’t try to make so many different systems… The Nomad, the 32X, the Saturn, and even the prototype systems that never saw the light of day: The Neptune and Pluto. They should have kept their eyes on one goal, maybe also a successor to the Game Gear, and kept it at that, instead of all the console revamps.

  4. SirPaul Says:

    Also, I don’t see the keyhole theme of the ad as something sexual. Rather, I see it as an unlocking theme, as in unlocking the potential of the 32X/Genesis combination.

  5. Benj Edwards Says:

    Good interpretation, Paul. Maybe that’s part of it. But based on that other 32X ad I linked to, I think the sexual analogy is more likely. Pay attention to what it says in the brackets in each ad. This one says, “And you won’t believe what it does to your Sega Genesis” right next a peeping-tom view of a 32X and Genesis “mating” (as is also the terminology with electrical connectors) through a keyhole. The other ad references reproduction.

    It’s funny how explaining innuendo (as I’m doing here) makes the innuendo itself seem really dumb. And yeah, explaining it seems dumb too, but history may thank us if it whatever Sega was trying to imply in these ads becomes non-obvious some day. In that spirit, I’ll add that they were trying to target teenagers.

  6. Kouban Says:

    I thought Neptune was just the code name for the Dreamcast.

  7. technotreegrass Says:

    The 32x was doomed from the start. For Sega to compete with the almighty Playstation, they should have scrapped the Saturn and 32X and devoted all their development time to the Dreamcast so it would have been released closer to the PS1 and therefore had a much better chance of competition.

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