Sega Genesis Black Grid Subset Complete!

When I first got back into retrogaming, my first goal was to reacquire the games I had as a kid. That didn't take long, as I just didn't own that many games. My strongest gaming memories were with the NES and the Genesis. I started buying these up by the bucketful, as they were abundant in the early 2000's. My collection grew rapidly, but soon I was buying games because I didn't have them, not because I wanted them. Collecting started to loose meaning, and it was burning me out. One can get lost in this hobby, just trying to collect for every console is in my opinion a lost cause. Rather than have a collection that is spread out, a smaller set you passionate about is much more appealing. Time has matured my preferences for games and consoles, and I realized the kinds of games that I actually enjoy. I made a decision to thin out the herd, and only collect subsets. Having collection goals was a way to refocus, and bring back the fun in collecting. 

The first generation of black grid (1989) is my favorite style

I made a goal to complete the original Sega Genesis "black grid" box style games. For those who don't know, the games that were published by Sega had a very sleek and characteristic style: Black background with a gray grid pattern, and unique marquee art for the title. The front cover would have artwork framed in a consistent manner. This was the signature look for Genesis games. This style did not extend to third-party publishers, those games designed their covers any which way, but there are some companies that did make some attempt to resemble Sega's in-house brand, like Razor Soft did with Technocop, Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl, and others. 

Note the enlarged logo (1990), now with "16-Bit Cartridge" subtitle

This box style is very striking, and personally nostalgic to me, as it was the primary style used when I first bought my Genesis. I vividly remember walking through the aisles of Toys 'R Us and seeing that sheen black grid on the Sega game purchase cards. It kinda makes sense, as the predecessor to the Genesis, the Master System, had a white grid style on their game boxes, although with overly rudimentary art. This was an evolution of their brand.

in 1991, the logo size was reduced

Depending on your need for order and organization, this can be taken further. I have reorganized my Genesis games shelf to reflect the changes to the box art style over the years of the Genesis releases. It may not be obvious to some, but to Genesis collectors it is an oddity that subtle changes were made to the Genesis logo size, placement, and UPC placement on the boxes. This change seems to have occurred at the start of each new fiscal year, but that's just a guess. In 1993, the black grid was eschewed for a glaring red box color. I'll never understood why Sega made this change, to me it ruins the iconic look. In addition to the color change, both first and third-party publishers were now uniformly boxed in one color and style, which is nice for organization, but a bit too late in my opinion.  

In 1992, UPC codes were placed on the spine of the box

Because I organized my Genesis games by spine theme (inspiration from Chris at Classic Gaming Quarterly), there is no unifying alphabetical order to my collection, except within the variations of subsets. This might be crazy to some, and people ask me how I find a game that I'm looking for, amidst the chaos. I just know where it is. I know the relative year, and recall what the box looked like, so it takes me no time at all to find it. 

1993 saw the emergence of the red box color

I am not interested in collecting the full Genesis set. The black grid subset is a perfect set for me that his the nostalgia nerve, as well as boasting unrivaled style. Here are the games' covers.


  1. Evan J.7/31/2022

    Awesome! I am about halfway to completing this subset. I love how you have them arranged based on their spine configuration which I guess naturally ends up being chronologically(?). Slowly, but surely, I will complete mine as well; been at it for almost 2 years now. Thanks for the upload! This is a great reference to have. Cheers!

    1. Thanks and good luck finishing the subset!

  2. Eric M.1/27/2023

    Don't take this the wrong way, but some of those early games are not very good. What's the mindset behind collecting a complete set of something, when some of those games aren't even worth playing? Maybe I don't understand the collector's mentality. I have a lot of those black box games, but only the ones I feel are the hallmark of the Era. I salute you for taking a step away from being a completionist though. :)

    1. I totally agree, a lot of those games are trash. I have since downsized and sold off many games that I don't enjoy. At the time, it was fun to pursue the subset, but after some time has passed, so many of them went unplayed. Oh well, live and learn.

  3. I love the black/grey grid motif. It just looks so much better than the red label IMO. I wonder why Sega abandoned it. Just to compete with the SNES box colors? The black labels have this more mature, "special" look in my eyes. Great collection!

  4. I agree. My guess is that they wanted a refresh of the brand maybe? To me the black grid is iconic Sega Genesis. I drifted away from playing before the red boxes crept in, so I was surprised to see them when I started collecting again.