Which is Better: Genesis or Mega Drive?

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What’s in a name? Well, when it comes to different regions getting the same exact console with a different name, it can bring forth a lot of loyalty and debate. When Sega’s 16-bit console came out in Japan and PAL regions, it was known as the Mega Drive but due to legal concerns in the United States and other regions, the name was changed to the Genesis.

We know the systems are identical, but with different names one has to be better, right? We’ve decided to take sides and debate once and for all, what name was better: Genesis or Mega Drive?

Hit the jump to read our responses.

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Kris Knigge: Genesis. I get the appeal of the Mega Drive as a piece of nostalgia for a time where things could be Mega, Turbo, Super, etc,, but the Genesis is just as much a mindset as it was a rad name. The Genesis was when Sega began to grab hold of the American market. They were in the game to beat Nintendo (and NEC, I guess), and they brought that attitude to the Genesis even after the Master System was something of a nonstarter in the US. Genesis is biblical, it’s the start of something greater, and if you’re a kid, it sounds awesome and exotic. It was meant to be the beginning of Sega’s rise to power. Mega Drive is cool, but Genesis is something special.

Mike Kyzivat:Genesis. Well, I’m from North America so of course I like the name Genesis better then the name Mega Drive. To me, Mega Drive just sounds generic. It sounds more like a hard drive name then a video game system. Genesis just sounds cooler to me, with its multiple meanings. But I’m sure if I was born in the UK or Europe I probably would have like the Mega Drive name more. It’s all about what you’re used to.

I did a little research before writing this. Originally it was called the Mark V as it was the next iteration in the Mark series (the Master System being the Mark IV) but soon the president of SEGA dubbed it the Mega Drive because he wanted to make it sound big and fast. Initially it was going to be named Mega Drive in North America as well, but it turned out that somebody else already owned the copyright so SEGA decided to call it the Genesis because it evoked religious feelings and also (because the Master System didn’t fair well in North America) it was SEGA’s new beginning.

Really, I think the system would have done just as well with either name, as it was the games that made it popular. But then again if they hadn’t named it the Genesis we wouldn’t have had the craptacular (1984 inspired) first Genesis commercial to fondly look back on.

Tom Kyzivat: Genesis. Genesis vs. Mega Drive! To analyze this quandry is to discover something about how Americans see things differently from Brits. “Mega Drive” is a dynamic, informative title for a system–it boasts power, it refers to the fact that it’s a drive, and it sounds relatively technical and sophisticated. But that’s not sexy enough for Americans. We don’t want informative titles. We want flash, dash and razzamatazz–give us something vague, overblown and quasi-patriotic/religious, and we’ll buy it. It appeals to our homegrown sensibilities, small-town charm and tight-knit family values. What does that mean? Nothing. But Americans buy cars with names like “Rabbit”, “Matrix” and “Thundercougerfalconbird”. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

Sure, the underwhelming success of the Master System could make its 16-bit progeny seem like a new beginning, or, “Genesis” for the brand, but overall it’s basically corny American marketing. And yes, because I’m an American and I fall for all sorts of crap like that, I prefer the “Genesis” title. After all, whatever you grow up with is generally going to be your favorite. But let’s agree that no matter the name, the system definitely did what Nintendon’t. Or, as it was known in Britain, Nintenshan’t.

Josh Newey: Genesis. Look, I’m well aware that Genesis is more or less a fill-in name, as the console’s original moniker couldn’t legally hold ground in the US. But beyond its legal loophole birth, I will always prefer the Genesis name, and not just due to my ravenous jingoistic pride. That part only comprises 40% of my argument.

While the Mega Drive name certainly imbues Sega’s 16-bit console with a faux “power under the hood” sense of technological prowess, there’s something about it that tastes a bit dry in my mouth (Yes, I eat Mega Drives). The name fits in very well with earlier Sega consoles like the Master System, but like that console and the even older SG-1000, its name sounds empty, mechanical, and devoid of distinction. Sure, it sounds powerful and somewhat cutting-edge, but it sounds more like a thriple-bladed, battery-operated shaving razor than the future of in-home entertainment.

The name Genesis will never escape the uncomfortable, stuffy space it shares with Phil Collins music, but even as schoolyard ribbing reminds us of that fact again and again, one alluring truth remains: the name “Genesis” sounds like an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Fitting much more in line with later consoles like the Saturn and the Dreamcast, the Genesis name doesn’t sound like a high-powered motor cycle engine or a exciting new appliance; it sounds the next big step–a piece of technology so incomprehensibly advanced that it has become almost alien to our understanding of videogames. It represented the birth (or the genesis!) of technology’s future.

Whether or not this kind of bombastic, hyperbolic marketing mumbo jumbo was true (it wasn’t), it made the console infinitely more attractive and fascinating, setting it apart from competitors in the same way as the intoxicating, mysterious and almost frightening “It’s Thinking 9/9/99” Dreamcast ads that lured us in almost a decade later. Yes, the Genesis sounds a little silly today, but in its heyday, that name made videogame consoles feel like something more than just another entertainment machine in the home. It was something much bigger than that.

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Tommy Carver-Chaplin: Mega Drive. Maybe it’s a contextual thing being from the UK but I could never look at the console as the Genesis. Even having spent so long on the internet with Americans, I’ve never swayed at all in that regard. The Mega Drive sounds like so much more of a powerful statement, and is a fitting sequel to the Master System. Not only that, but it doesn’t even make sense to call it the Genesis – it’s not Sega’s first console or the birth of gaming. It’s also the original name, so I’m going with Mega Drive.

Michael Westgarth: Mega Drive. What did you expect me to say? I caught my first glimpse of the Mega Drive in action way back in 1992. Since that time me, my brothers, my friends and my family have always called it the Mega Drive. Well, actually we just called it “the Sega”, but the point is that for the vast majority of my life, that bashed up old square of a Mega Drive II we had was just that, a Mega Drive. There was never an option to call it anything else!

It’s only in the last five years or so that I even became aware that it was called Genesis in North America. It was a revelation to me, and one I found difficult to accept. Genesis? In what way does that describe such a sleek and sexy console and the super cool games it played? Of course, the fact remains that if Sega was able to acquire the rights to use the Mega Drive name in North America, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion. The Genesis name was secondary, an afterthought, a quick fix hastily invented as a means to draw in customers with whom the biblical title would resonate; or so the story goes.

But God didn’t create Sega’s 16-bit wonder, the Japanese did, and they called it the Mega Drive.

Stevie Grant: Mega Drive. I think i’d have to go with what sounds cooler and more 90’s. While ‘Genesis’ has a certain mystery to it nothing can beat the complete rad-ness of ‘Mega Drive’. It has everything a 90’s Sega fanboy child could want! A random cool word slapped along side a techy sounding description that makes Nintendo’s ‘Entertainment System’ look stuffy and dull in a way ‘Genesis’ just doesn’t.

It just sounds more stereotypically awesome then one vague word. ‘Mega Drive’ also gets points for being retroactively funny. What even is a ‘Mega Drive’ anyway? I assume it’s where the blast processor is kept. Yes it’s cheesy but ‘Mega Drive’ sums up the 90’s in a way which ‘Genesis’ can’t really compete with. It’s MEGA…. DUDE! I could almost imagine Microsoft naming the next Xbox the ‘Genesis’ since it doesn’t really involve any 90’s exclusive adjectives. ‘Mega Drive’ is purely a product of it’s time which reflects the console and indeed our collective love of cheesy 90’s videogames. It’s Mega all the way, baby!

Readers Comments (10)

  1. Next week we’ll be asking: Who REALLY won the American War of Independence?

  2. But Genesis has the awesome song!

  3. LOL I didn’t even see the Genesis side of this post. As long as it has the Blast Processing, I choose whichever!

  4. We had our own cool adverts in the UK, you know.

  5. def mega drive much cooler name

  6. Mega Drive has to win. It has the word ‘Mega’ in it. Come on!

  7. Mega Drive is an awesome name, it was a late 80s creation, and just screams the whole, “I’m better than you, don’t f**k with me” of the time.

    Genesis sounded a bit hippyish, new age. The name of the girl with the hippy parents.

    Plus, the saturn at one point was named the “Giga Drive”

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