Gaming My Way

27 Oct

My History with Sega Consoles and Games

Anyone who knows my gaming habits knows I’m a huge Sega fan, and probably knows that I’ve given them a chance on a couple games I shouldn’t have, such as Shadow the Hedgehog. Some people  are naturally on the same side as me, while others have their own preferences. It’s all cool either way, but this piece is all about the awesomeness Sega brought into my gaming life, starting in the 16-bit era.

Sega Megadrive/Genesis

I’ll admit it, I was resistant at first. I had an NES and SNES, and Mario was the coolest game ever. Like most people, I never even knew about the Master System until years after it was dead. I was, of course, still young and naive. But there was a Genesis in the house, so I eventually had to give it a try. That’s when I discovered how much more fun Sonic the Hedgehog was. The pacing of Sonic was just so much faster, and this made the game feel much more exciting to me. From then on, I was hooked on the Genesis.

Of course, masterful titles and series like Golden Axe II, Streets of Rage, Rocket Knight Adventures, and Comix Zone helped to round out a list of titles that provided me with years of fun. The Sonic series alone kept me playing for a very long time. Yeah, back in the day, I was all about the beat ‘em ups and platformers.

Game Gear

The Game Gear gets a bad rap sometimes. Complaints such as low battery life, a blurred screen, and bulky size are the ones I hear most often. Now, by today’s standards, I could see the first two complaints being valid.

However, back in 1991, when the Game Gear was released, technology was more than a little limited. While I could certainly see the screen blur, it never ruined any of the games I played on the system. As for the battery life, none of it’s backlit full-color competitors released around the same time were doing any better on battery life, because it takes a lot of juice to light up the screen. As for the third complaint, that of it being too bulky, I have some pretty small hands, and when I had a Game Gear, I was seven or eight, and still had no problems playing it. I don’t really understand the problem people had with its size.

Did I mention it had a sweet collection of Sonic games? Because it did. I would play this system on the road all the time, and eventually I even got an AC adapter so I could play it at home without draining the batteries. Along with rechargeable batteries for the road, this let me get a lot of good use out of the Game Gear.

Sega CD/32X

A dark era for Sega fans began at this point, as these add-ons were expensive, and not heavily supported. Since I had parents willing to spend a little too much on my hobby, this didn’t effect me, as I had no concept of the cost involved. I only ever played four games on the Sega CD: the Sewer Shark pack-in, which I thought was quite fun; Sonic CD, which was a must for me and quite enjoyable;  Ecco the Dolphin, which I didn’t appreciate nearly enough until years later when I played the PC version; and some racing game I liked a lot at the time, but can’t remember now. My experience with it was a good one though.

On the 32X, I only played Knuckles Chaotix… after that, my parents stopped buying new video games for a time, figuring I had more than enough to keep me busy.

I thoroughly enjoyed all the games I played on both add-ons though, so I have good memories here too.

Sega Saturn

I never felt the burn of the add-on years the way those who actually had to buy the systems did, so I was excited for the Sega Saturn. To this day I’ve never played one. I hear I didn’t miss much, though some people tell me that there were a few games worth trying. The only two I can think of that I would really like to play are Panzer Dragoon Saga and Nights into Dreams. Of course, I don’t know much about what was available for the system either.

Dreamcast

This is still my favorite console of the last generation. I really don’t care that the PS2 had more rpgs, or that all three of the others had more horsepower. The Dreamcast had heart. Developers took risks with their games. If you’re wondering what I mean, then check out games like Shenmue, Bangai-O and Phantasy Star Online.

Shenmue sought to be a completely freeform game, and largely succeeded. You spent most of the game investigating the death of Ryo’s father, in order to find his killer. But in this game, it was all about exploring, and the developers took a lot of care to make sure you could find things in cabinets, pick them up, turn them over, and examine them in every way. There were actually very few fights in the game. It was all about playing the story, and it was a very fun experience. There might have been one battle on the entire first disc, I can’t remember now, but I’m pretty sure the first fight didn’t even happen until disc 2.

Bangai-O was a completely 2-D game, and the sprites looked like something you might see on the NES. However, the game was incredibly detailed, and sported literally hundreds of on-screen enemies and explosions at once. It did pay off though, as the game was incredibly challenging and fun.

Phantasy Star Online was the very first console online rpg. Some will call it an MMORPG, others won’t, so I’ll just save myself the effort and call it an online rpg. It was fairly successful, and definitely a good first attempt. I never played the game online, but I know the offline game was pretty fun.

The Dreamcast itself was the first console to support online play, and while it could have been done better, it was, once again, a first attempt, and only the Xbox really got online play right last generation.

It even had a couple awesome turn-based rpgs for those looking for some classic rpg action, including Grandia II and Skies of Arcadia, the second of which was made by Sega.

What truly made me fall in love with the Dreamcast though, were Sonic Adventure and Soul Calibur. Sonic Adventure had a few problems, namely Big’s entire fishing game and the fact they relegated Knuckles to a boring treasure hunting game. But the core game was amazing, and it’s that which I spent the most time playing, so it all works out for me. As soon as I played Emerald Coast, I was hooked, and aside from the two caveats I mentioned before, the game continued it’s streak of awesomeness all the way to the end.

Soul Calibur was simply the most beautiful fighting game I’d played up to that point, and is still one of my favorites. While I play the second in the series more often now, I’ll still pull out the original once in awhile. They really nailed the fluidity of fighting I’d been looking for in fighting games, and I haven’t been able to look at most fighting games I used to enjoy the same way since.

Post-Dreamcast

As you can tell, I feel very strongly about the high quality of the Dreamcast, and it’s a shame that it flopped, but I can certainly understand why people who had been burned in the past were cautious, particularly with the PS2 on the horizon. Either way, the death of the Dreamcast wasn’t a happy time for me, or the many gamers who feel the same. But, we move on.

Unfortunately, it seems Sega has been in a funk ever since. Even I can’t deny that Sonic Heroes and Sonic and the Secret Rings were mediocre at best. Shadow the Hedgehog was awful.

However, their 2-D games on the Game Boy Advance were great, as is Sonic Rush. Further, letting Bioware make Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood was another good move. Seeing all of this, I think Sega’s future is promising.

Now, I just hope they can get back to making good 3-D games in line with the good parts of Sonic Adventure, and then cut out the unnecessarry parts, like treasure hunts. Also, more Skies of Arcadia please. Really, we could use another good rpg from you guys. With the gradual return to roots that Sega has been making, I’m confident we’ll be seeing some good stuff from them in the future. Hopefully, they can put their rough transition in the video game market behind them soon.


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3 Responses to “My History with Sega Consoles and Games”

  1. 1
    Steve Says:

    I will agree with absolutely everything you have said about the sega systems. They were all great!

  2. 2
    Eclipse Says:

    Glad to hear it. It’s always good to hear from a fellow Sega fan.

  3. 3
    Ernon Says:

    I wanted to comment and thank the author, good stuff

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