Sega named many of its 90s-era prototypes after planets

Recap: In a recent “study session” for the upcoming “Sega test,” longtime Sega executive Hiroyuki Miyazaki walked viewers through what is arguably the company’s most important 10-year span. It started with the release of the Mega Drive in Japan in 1988 (known as the Sega Genesis when it launched in North America the following year) but where it really gets interesting is with the codenames that Sega used.

Sega as part of its 60th anniversary celebration this year is sharing more information about the company’s history.

As you may know, Project Mercury came to market as the Game Gear in late 1990 and competed with handhelds like Nintendo’s Game Boy and the Atari Lynx. What you may not know is that Sega in the 90s had a habit of using codenames that coincided with objects in our solar system.

There were rumors for a while that the Mega Drive (the Sega Genesis) was codenamed “Earth.” This was just an urban legend, Miyazaki said, although when they worked on the recent mini version of the Mega Drive / Genesis, he decided to give it the codename “Moon.”

We’ve also got the Sega Saturn, which is the sixth planet in the solar system and the sixth home console from Sega. It was at this point that they reportedly adopted the codename scheme, retroactively naming the Game Gear to Project Mercury.

Another piece of Sega hardware was the 32X add-on, dubbed Project Mars during development. This codename was commonly used before the device’s launch, and if I recall correctly, Sega even used it in some of its early marketing material.

Then there was the Sega / Genesis Nomad, a portable version of the Mega Drive / Sega Genesis. It was codenamed “Venus” (if you haven’t already noticed, Sega’s timeline was all over the place). Next was Jupiter, which was to have been a cartridge-based system, but it never got released because optical-based systems became the new focus.

Similarly, the Sega Neptune was a planned Genesis combined with a 32X, but it never saw the light of day either considering the standalone 32X wasn’t very successful. Pluto, meanwhile, was rumored to be a Sega Saturn with built-in networking capabilities. Despite his best efforts, however, Miyazaki was unable to find any internal records of such a project.

Starting with the Dreamcast, Sega got off its solar system fix, and instead settled on calling it Katana internally.

Images courtesy Interneteable

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