Sega's 8-bit Master System was a massive success in Europe, putting even the mighty NES in the shade, but in the rest of the world it was largely ignored. When Sega decided the produce the 16-bit Mega Drive, it knew that a greater level of success was required. The console was launched in Japan in the late '80s but failed to make much of an impression, however when the US release took place (re-branded as the Genesis) it was a very different story. With a combination of effective marketing and software that was tailored for American gamers, Sega managed to swallow up a massive portion of the US videogame market in the space of a year.
When the SNES launched in the West a titanic struggle began between Sega and Nintendo. This was repeated around the globe, with both companies earning millions as a result.
Thanks to a range of ill-advised add-ons such as the Mega CD and 32X, Sega's appeal was lessened slightly and by the time the 32-bit Saturn was launched, many fans had turned away from the company. Therefore the Mega Drive / Genesis arguably represents Sega's finest hour.
Read our Sega Mega Drive hardware focus