Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘mega drive

Community Choice: Top 10 Genesis/Mega Drive Games

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When Jam and I posted the Top 10 Genesis/Mega Drive games we knew that given our two styles and having to find a top 10 was going to be difficult and pretty much hated on without a true Sonic game.  What is even better was that you all in the community came together and commented, wrote in, and gave us your favorite top 10s.  We then compiled all the games and gave them a point value based on the location on each person’s top ten (number 10 = 1 point, 9 = 2 points, and all the way to number 1 = 10 points) and generated the community top 10.  For better or worse, here’s the community voted upon Top 10:

comm_gen_top1010. Fatal Labyrinth
9.   Streets of Rage
8.   Vectorman
7.  Sonic the Hedgehog 3
6.  Mortal Kombat
5.  Gunstar Heroes
4.  Aladdin
3.  Shining Force II
2.  Streets of Rage 2
1.  Sonic the Hedgehog 2 

So there you go, the much more balanced top 10 voted on by all of you out there.  In the upcoming months we are going to do the editors versus the community on future top 10’s, all with participants being entered to win a prize, so stick with us for more top 10 criticism.

Written by Fred Rojas

April 14, 2015 at 8:00 pm

Podcast: The Treasure Box

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treasurebox

This week Trees returns and we are talking about the Japanese developer Treasure, best known for some of the most impressive games on Sega’s consoles (Gunstar Heroes, Radiant Silvergun, Guardian Heroes, and Ikaruga) as well as Nintendo’s later consoles (Bangai-O and Sin & Punishment).  We discuss the company origins, values, and of course the entire library of this impressive developer.


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Below is a video of an unreleased (canceled) title, Tiny Toons: Defenders of the Universe.  The beta that was presumably used as a trade show demo eventually leaked on the internet.  We have acquired it and played it on an original, modded, PS2.  Enjoy!

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Buying Guide: Sega Genesis (plus Sega CD and 32X)

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Behold "Frankenconsole"

Behold “Frankenconsole”

We all love our retro consoles, but in many cases the consoles we are buying are because they are cheap enough or we have enough money to purchase what we never were able to in our youth.  Unfortunately the business of making used retro items available to the masses can at times be a money grubbing market where consumers are deceived by people they will never meet in real life.  As an individual who has spent the last decade scouring the local area, conventions, eBay, and the internet as a whole I have learned many valuable lessons.  For that reason I present my buying guide series, which is a handy quick guide to knowing what to purchase and what will cost an arm and a leg to replace.

We have finally come to the console I started this entire buying guide series for: the Sega Genesis (and its many add-ons).  With a short period of its life having a 55 percent market share over the SNES (the year it launched, mind you), there were plenty of households who had a Sega Genesis.  So many, in fact, that there were five different versions of the console and 3 iterations!  Depending on the console version, your specs will vary but the list of what you need should stay the same so I’m going to run over the list.

First of all, figure out which model you want, here’s the gallery of what they look like:

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Written by Fred Rojas

December 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Review: Sonic CD (Sega CD)

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soniccd_boxConsole: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Sonic Team
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Not Necessary – Link
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $11.99 (used), $23.50 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – PC, PS2/Gamecube (Sonic Gems Collection)
Digital Release? Yes – Steam, Xbox 360, PS3, Android, iOS ($5 on all platforms)

Sonic CD is one of those games that it’s just popular to like.  I don’t want to start on a negative note, the game does have some merit, but it’s not a particularly good Sonic game and doesn’t quite change the universe like many will claim.  Before Sega decided to blitz every console on the market with the digital version, Sonic fans were gnawing at the bit for a decent port (sadly the Sonic Gems Collection ports had emulation issues).  Now that it’s everywhere the gaming community seems to have adjusted to a more realistic view of the CD adventure that throws a few imaginative ideas at relatively lackluster level design.

At one point you're forced to beat Metal Sonic in a race.

At one point you’re forced to beat Metal Sonic in a race.

For those that aren’t up on their Sonic history, the hedgehog was co-created by Naoto Oshima and his more known partner Yuji Naka.  After the release of the first game, Naka and several members of that team moved to the United States and joined with STI (Sega Technical Institute) to create Sonic the Hedgehog 2.  Meanwhile the remaining developers, including Oshima, took the concepts that were in early development for Sonic 2 and expanded upon them into what eventually became Sonic CD.  This is why despite coming out around the same time as Sonic 2, Sonic CD looks graphically more like the original and doesn’t seem to adapt some of the great ideas of the sequel.  Still, it does feature some interesting gameplay mechanics, like the ability to move into the past and future with two full versions of the many levels.  This dual expansion of the campaign does have a casualty: level design.  Many of the levels in Sonic CD feature plenty of wasted real estate in the interest of moving quickly to the right, odd gimmicks that net death if you don’t tolerate the so-so platforming, and several instances where Sonic’s momentum is completely spoiled by a random ramp or springboard.  Despite these layout flaws I still contest that the boss designs are superior over Sonic 2 and prove that not all of the talent in Sega’s Japanese team migrated to America.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 30, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man vs. the Kingpin (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Technopop
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Helpful – Link
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $8.88 (used), $39.99 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: Yes – Simply known as Spider-Man on Genesis, Game Gear, and Master System
Digital Release? No

As we sometimes see in the 16-bit era, first party published titles became interesting exclusives on either side of the console wars and among the various Spider-Man titles I have to say this is my favorite.  Amazing Spider-Man vs. Kingpin (or better known on all other ports as Spider-Man) tasks you with defusing a bomb set by the nefarious Kingpin within 24 hours (pretty sure that’s not real-time) by collecting keys from different foes in the Spider-Man universe.  This was the first game I played that gave me exactly what I expected out of a superhero title.  It allowed me to play as Spider-Man, it had solid controls that included web slinging and wall grabbing, and it did it all in a side scrolling platformer/brawler.  Not only that, but the game embraces a non-linear structure where you visit locations throughout the city and face whatever is in certain locations, which felt like it freed the game up to your personal pacing, something quite uncommon in the days of early platformers.  While the plot centralized around the Kingpin, you will take on almost all of Spider-Man’s key foes including Venom, Doc Oc, Lizard, and Electro, just to name a few.  Graphically the game had that semi-real grit that Sega titles all seemed to offer in the early 90s with great animated storyboard art throughout.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 25, 2012 at 11:34 am

Friday at the Movies: Jurassic Park (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Universal Pictures/Amblin Entertainment
Publisher: Sega
Instruction Manual: Helpful – Link
Difficulty: Easy
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $1.02 (used), $10.39 (new) (pricecharting.com
Other Releases: No
Digital Release? No

When the movie Jurassic Park came out in 1993, it was an absolute phenomenon.  People who had never read the book were picking it up in droves, and from what I could tell through conversation at that time almost no one actually read it.  Dinosaur craze returned in full force as Michael Crichton’s novel about a genetic research company cloning dinosaurs on a Costa Rican island brought out the kid in everyone.  Not only that, Spielberg’s film adaptation utilized cutting edge computer generated image technology along with stop motion and creature expert Stan Winston to create lifelike dinosaurs onscreen that amazed everyone.  Jurassic Park was not only ideal for the medium it was on, the premise was tailor-made for marketing companies to merchandise the hell out of it.  Back then development cycles were short and coordinating a solid game release along with a movie wasn’t so far-fetched, and honestly most home ports of the game were as diverse as it came across platforms and all pretty decent.  My personal favorite has to be the Sega CD port, which merged details from both the movie and the book to create, of all things, a point-and-click adventure set on the island.  The opportunity of exploring the vacant island and interacting with the dinosaurs was a great opportunity, but I didn’t come to appreciate it until I was much older due to the lack of action in the game.

Set shortly after the abandonment of the island in the movie, you’re tasked with returning to Jurassic Park after the tragedy that befell its visitors and recover dinosaur eggs for rebuilding.  Since the eggs are lost and you are unaware of Dennis Nedry’s specimen can, your only option is to sneak into the nest of the 12 given dinosaur species, recover an egg, and return it to the incubator at the visitor’s center.  While locations remain in a controlled environment (you’re forced into fast travel movies that drop you into the screens you explore), there is an awful lot of freedom to roam about.  What I found most iconic is the ability to explore areas like visitor center laboratory and even special access to Dr. Wu’s office, the tyrannosaur paddock and seeing the after effects of the attack on the SUVs that Tim, Lex, and Grant were in, and even a tense trip down the island river (which is never featured in the movie but a crucial part of the book’s plot) as dilophosaurs spit venom at you.  While this sounds gripping and almost too high brow for 1993, you must remember that this game is a true adventure game not unlike the LucasArts and Sierra titles, which means action is few and far between.  Even in the sequences where you do engage dinosaurs, the answer is always some sort of puzzle that usually has you dying quite a few times before figuring out the secret.  I think most people who go into this game are imagining something that is a bit more interactive than it is, but if you approach it with an adventure game mindset it weaves an intriguing story.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Review: Make My Own Music Video (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1992
Developer: Digital Pictures
Publisher: Sony Imagesoft
Instruction Manual: Not necessary
Difficulty: Non-existent
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: pricecharting.com has hilarously not even covered these games
Price: Don’t even bother
Other Releases: Absolutely Not
Digital Release? No, aside from how horrible they are, the music is timely

There is just no getting around this, these are terrible video games.  Not only are they pop groups that only existed in the early part of the 1990s, but they aren’t games at all.  You goal is just as it sounds: make a music video.  It’s a crash course in linear digital editing where three streams of video appear on the screen at once and you use the A, B, and C button to select the “active” feed that will become your master video.  Unfortunately the three feeds are made up of a random lot of public domain videos from the first half of the century, sometimes altered slightly for the beat, and the original music video for the game.  I’m not saying that these videos are directorial masterpieces, but when combined with the patethic hodgepodge of public domain video, they’re the next Star Wars, I have never once wanted to leave the feed of the main video.  Having said that, they are amazing fun at a party when you want to laugh your head off at how pathetically cheesy this generation of pop music was.

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Review: The Adventures of Willy Beamish (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1993
Developer: Dynamix
Publisher: Sierra
Instruction Manual: Not necessary
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $8.99 (used) $15.01 (new) (pricecharting.com) – Price for Sega CD version only
Price: $6.00-$10.00 (used) $88.00 (new) on eBay
Other Releases: Amiga, PC, Mac
Digital Release? No

Another early Sega CD release, while most of the games that came out near launch were cool new CD-ROM interactions and FMV games, The Adventures of Willy Beamish was a port of an Amiga point-and-click adventure title that received several enhancements on Sega’s system.  Published by Sierra, one of the two major producers of the adventure genre at the time, Willy Beamish totes you along on an adventure of a nine-year-old boy and the several decisions and influences you will deal with.  Beamish is somewhat of a troublemaker as established by the opening scene in detention on the final day of school before summer break, which begins your adventure by sneaking past your ancient teacher and getting home.  In typical Bart Simpson emulation for the time, Willy rides a skateboard, has a pet frog, and is prone to causing problems for any adults in his wake.  From then on an amusing tale of a young boy saving his town unfolds that has you doing everything from the mundane – playing with your younger sister on the swingset – to the completely crazy – combat with a vampiric babysitter.  As much as many critics have compared this game to a storybook come to life, little touches like a playable video game console in your bedroom and somewhat brancing plot paths show impressive game design for the time.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 7, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Review: Sherlock Homes Consulting Detective (Sega CD)

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Console: Sega-CD/Mega-CD
Released: 1992
Developer: ICOM Simulations
Publisher: Sega (Sega/Mega-CD)
Instruction Manual: Not necessary
Difficulty: Moderate
Played it as a child? Yes
Value: $5.99 (used) $11.99 (new) (pricecharting.com) – Price for Sega CD version only
Price: $5.00-$10.00 (used) N/A on US Version (new) on eBay
Other Releases: FM Towns (original release, Japan only), DOS/MAC, Commodore CDTV, Turbografx-16 CD
Digital Release? Yes – an updated version with better video quality released on PC, Mac OS X, and iPad in late Sept. 2012

Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a bit of an anomaly in the realm of video games.  Much like Myst, the game premiered on CD-based consoles and computers to show off the benefits of the new technology, but was much less of a game than it was an interactive form of media.  A basic interface allowed the player to navigate various options and view content (mostly video) in order to solve one of the popular cases that originally appeared in the novel by the same name.  To show off all of the fancy marvels of a multimedia CD-ROM title there was complete focus on showing off content rather than optimizing any aspect of the game for quick playing, resulting in a few simple actions taking ridiculous amounts of time to accomplish.  I was recording gameplay videos for this article last night and it took more than 30 mins just to capture the “tutorial” that includes many icons, each with its own slow loading audio (no subtitles) background, and a video from Sherlock Holmes himself.  It was so slow-paced and boring to capture, I made the executive decision that it would be even more boring to watch and scrapped the video.  Don’t let this discourage you, especially with the re-releases likely having no load times, Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective is a thought-provoking hybrid between the adventure genre and the full motion video (FMV) game.

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Happy 20th to the Sega CD

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Sega CD Model 2 with Genesis Model 2, the most common setup

Okay, I know the Sega CD actually turned 20 exactly one week ago on October 15, but we’ve been very busy over here so we regretfully missed the window.  Fortunately we are making up for that with tons of Sega CD coverage for the month of November, check in to see write-ups and gameplay on many of the titles that made Sega’s overpriced add-on a temptation in 1993.  Now I know it is popular opinion to crap all over the Sega CD and in full disclosure I’m an avid fanboy of this specific system, but somewhere in between lies its true value.  Someone once told me that any console with at least three good games is worth being in existence and under that theory the Sega CD justifies itself at least three times over.  In recent days the Sega CD has also dropped in price/value so it’s quite possible to get your hands on a Genesis/CD combo for roughly $50-$75, which isn’t too shabby even by today’s standards.

In truth the Sega CD (Mega CD in Japan and Europe) wasn’t designed for our market.  It was developed in Japan to compete with the PC-Engine CD (Turbografx-16 Duo in our country) and hopefully migrate the consumers of the time into the CD generation as an unassuming add-on instead of a full-blown machine.  In the end both consoles did make their way stateside (NEC being very conservative with Turbo Duo distribution and Sega liberally releasing any and all hardware in every market) with hefty price tags ($300-$450).  Sega CD emerged victorious but many would argue its victory was due more to the fact that almost every game that released in Japan came over here whereas an extremely meager amount of PC-Engine CD titles ever made it stateside.  Like the PC-Engine CD, the Sega CD was able to upgrade visuals, considerably upgrade audio quality (especially with straight CD tracks in red and yellow book audio format), and increase capacity of discs to 600 mb when compared to the frail 32 megabit capacity of the Genesis.  Sega CD was kept under wraps so tightly that aside from technical specs, many developers of early games had no idea what console they were developing for.

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Written by Fred Rojas

October 22, 2012 at 3:23 pm