HeartBeat Catalyst (partially lost video games made for third-party Sega Genesis exercise peripheral; 1993-1995)

From The Lost Media Wiki
Revision as of 09:37, 30 June 2023 by Jackstone (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to: navigation, search
778px-HeartBeatCatalyst boxdetail.png

The game's box art.

Status: Partially Lost

The HeartBeat Catalyst is a third-party Sega Genesis exercise peripheral with included body-mounted fitness sensor hardware which reads the user's heart rate, motion and skin salinity levels for in-game feedback. Manufactured by American video game hardware developer HeartBeat Corporation and primarily sold alongside the HeartBeat Personal Trainer, it was released exclusively in the United States in November 1993 and is notable for having a production run of only about 1,000 units before being discontinued. Sold with the included pack-in game Outback Joey (which was specifically developed to utilize the peripheral's fitness sensors, and not available for purchase separately), both are considered some of the rarest peripherals for the system.[1]


The Catalyst is a fully body-mounted fitness and motion sensor hardware which reads the user's heart rate, motion and skin salinity levels for in-game feedback. Contrary to what was believed for many years, the Heartbeat Personal Trainer[2] is not needed for the peripheral to run and is compatible with any Sega Genesis console. Not only that, but the Catalyst was even sold separately for those who already owned a Sega Genesis.


The peripheral started to become available for purchase on November 24th, 1993 for the price of $299 in a bundle with the pack-in game Outback Joey, a video game made specifically for the peripheral in mind. Additionally, for buyers who already owned a Sega Genesis, the Catalyst hardware was available for $199, still including Outback Joey.[3]

Before the release of the peripheral, it was also shown at the Winter CES of that year alongside the pack-in game as a way to showcase how specialized fitness sensors can be utilized with a traditional video game. Interestingly enough, they also claimed that a special version of Earthworm Jim would see a release later on, but that version never materialized.


Sales of the Catalyst were poor, and HeartBeat encountered significant difficulties in marketing and selling the unique device. Less than one year later, the company cancelled production of any remaining hardware and software projects while it tried to locate any other sources of funding and transferred the entirety of its tangible assets to a sister corporation that had just been formed. The new affiliated company did not produce or develop any new content, but instead sold all the remaining HeartBeat stock that existed at the time and was later officially dissolved on September 8th, 1997.

Video Games

During the short time it was being sold by the original corporation, only four games were made that utilized the peripheral. One of them, Outback Joey, was included as a pack-in title for the peripheral itself meanwhile the other versions were either sold in stores separately or could be bought through mail-order. Due to the low sales of both the peripheral and the video games made for it, they have become some of the rarest officially licensed Sega Genesis games in existence.

Outback Joey

Status: Partially Found

The game that came with the peripheral, Outback Joey, is an action platform game. Since it was only available with purchase of either the Catalyst or Personal Trainer, it meant that presumably not many copies of this game still exist.[4]

At the start of the game, the player must create a profile and set how long their workout regimen will last for as well as a target heart rate. Joey's stamina is tied to the player's heart rate (as explained in the Hardware section below) - if the player's heart rate becomes too high or too low, Joey will become exhausted, drastically reducing his movement speed and jump height until the player's heart rate returns to the defined range. If the player doesn't finish the game by the end of the designated timespan, the game will automatically end.

The game is a standard platform game with a little bit of an action platform edge to it. The titular Joey must traverse a series of four levels and use his species' developed jumping ability to attack enemies with kicks and avoid obstacles along the way. In certain areas, Joey can acquire boxing gloves and become a boxing kangaroo, making it easier to defeat enemies (as opposed to kicking or avoiding them). To finish levels, Joey must find all four pieces of a talisman and bring them to the end of a level. If the talisman is incomplete, the player must restart the current level from the beginning. Health lost from enemies and obstacles can be regained by collecting energy drinks, which are considered essential to beating the game at all.

According to a letter that was put in early copies of the Personal Trainer, a second revision would be released sometime in 1994 to fix a bug in the game.[5] What that bug was is currently unknown and no one has so far encountered any sort of bug in the version that has been dumped, suggesting that it is presumably the 2nd revision that has been dumped (though it's unknown if there are any notable differences between the 2 versions, if at all). What is known however is that the game, alongside the peripheral, will work on any Sega Genesis no matter the region as there is no region or copy protection that has been put in the game.[6]

NHLPA Hockey

Status: Found

This game is a reworked version of Electronic Arts' NHLPA Hockey 93, which was a game that originally used the regular Sega Genesis controller.[7] Not much is known about it other than a single blurb mentioning its existence, but the box for the game did surface on October 6th, 2021 by Sega Retro user CartridgeCulture.[8]

It's currently unknown if the game was ever sold in stores at all, though some suggest that it was a mail-order exclusive title that can only be bought from HeartBeat Corporation themselves.

On the 19th of June, 2023, a prototype for NHLPA Hockey for the HeartBeat Catalyst was dumped by the Hidden Palace by user Missile that was contributed to the Hidden Palace by Brian Nocenti, the one who owns the prototype of the game.[9].

Outworld 2375 AD

Status: Found

Outworld 2375 AD is a science fiction driving game that was released in late 1994. The gameplay involves you using the exercise bike controllers to drive through 1 of 5 environmental conditions on a planet wreckage of sorts filled with natural disasters coming along the way. Exercise too slowly and the ship will lose momentum and cash, but exercise too fast and it will overheat and explode. It's unknown how long the actual levels are, but presumably, you'd also have to move left and right and have the ship jump up in order to avoid obstacles along the way as the screenshot showcased in a 1994 advertisement suggests.[10]

For a while, it was thought that the game was never released, due to no copies of the game surfacing on eBay and no known articles suggesting any sort of release what-so-ever. However though, modern sources has showcased that the game did see a limited run in late 1994. It was reportedly sold in three Target stores in Michigan as well as being sold by mail-order through HeartBeat Corporation themselves, as well as NordicTrack who had also previously stocked HeartBeat products.

Owing to the false belief that the game was never released, very little of the title has ever been preserved. No copies have surfaced so far and it's not known who developed the game. Multiple collectors in Lansing, Michigan own copies of this game, but seemingly have no intent on dumping the games. One collector confirmed that the game did receive a standard boxed release with a manual and cartridge meanwhile another collector from the same city claims to have a prototype of the game.

Interestingly, promotional films for both this game and Outback Joey were made, which is where the 3 other screenshots have surfaced. Presumably these were minutes of footage of the actual games running so that the game magazines can capture screenshots of the game in action.[11]

On the 19th of June, 2023, a prototype for Outworld 2375 AD for the HeartBeat Catalyst was dumped by the Hidden Palace by user Missile that was contributed to the Hidden Palace by Brian Nocenti, the one who owns the prototype of the game.[12]

PGA Tour Golf II

Status: Found

A reworked version of a golf game that used the standard Sega Genesis controller (which is a sequel to PGA Tour Golf), this version is an oddity, due to it being released in 1995, presumably a month after production on the peripheral had already been discontinued. It's currently unknown as to whether or not this was originally going to be released alongside Outworld 2375 AD, or if this was the only part of a planned 3rd revision of the peripheral to ever materialize, but like the others, it remains one of the rarest officially licensed Sega Genesis games out there.[13]

A version of the game was later dumped to Archive.org on May 30th, 2023, by Internet Archive user Isaiah M.V. after they were shared an older version of the game from a Video Game History Foundation user[14]. An identical version of the game was then eventually dumped by the Hidden Palace in June 19th, 2023, after being contributed to them by Brian Nocenti, which was similar to what Isaiah had dumped. in the IA.[15].