Back in 1995, I read the video game magazine called Super Power. They had a quite positive review of Knuckles Chaotix in one of the issues. As I was a die-hard Sonic fan at that point, I also wanted this spin-off. But getting a 32X was simply out of the question. I already had my Mega Drive, and investing in new hardware over this short time became too pricey.
Some years later, with the 32X dream further away, I moved on to the Plaything 1 and even later the Plaything 2 for some intense Role Playing Gaming. The PS2 was quite new in the house when I was found on IRC by an old friend. Apparently, I had some old Phantasy Star games borrowed from a guy who now had sold them to this old friend. So my friend simply wanted to meet me and get his games. When we met, we started talking about how great these old games are. The Sega Mega Drive is the ultimate video game console, and whatever technical advancements had been done, none had helped to recreate gameplay that matched the classics on that console.
How my video game lifetime would be up until now, is very similar to the one told in Stories from the Book of Genesis Vol. 15. With only a handful of games for the PS2, I started to play and collect for my Sega Mega Drive again. Both games that were old and new to me. But that wasn’t enough. I purchased an RGB cable to view game graphics in a whole new way. With a Power Base Converter and the 3-D glasses, I finally could experience Zaxxon 3D the way it was meant to be. Thanks to a stereo speaker system, my ears heard stuff I’d never heard before. By modding the system I could play foreign games and my old ones in full screen and the right speed. And by attaching a Mega CD II to my Mega Drive I something unique – 16-bit CD gaming – came to me.
But I still didn’t have that Knuckles Chaotix game I dreamt about so long ago. I had pretty much forgotten about it and was more eager to get Space Harrier. So I decided to look around for a 32X. The European version isn’t common, especially not in Sweden. It is also quite expensive, usually going for around five hundred Swedish Kronor (~$75). So I decided to get it for that price from Retrosuperstore, the shop where I got my Mega CD from. I also ordered a copy of Space Harrier at the same time, so I had something to play directly.
The first problem was that it took forever for them to send it to me, well over a month. When I called and asked for the reason, they said they wanted to make sure all necessary parts were with it. And when I finally got it, I knew something was wrong from the beginning. There just weren’t enough cables. What the heck was I supposed to use the RF cable for, even if it worked? (Most 32X units don’t work with RF cables) The “tested and working” assurance by the seller had already failed. Then, how was I supposed to use the 32X<->MD cable when I had the superior model 1 and needed an additional, missing, conversion cable? They promised it to work with my model, so there was no excuse. This forced me to call and check with them many times if they had found the cable or not, because they thought they had it “somewhere.” Many weeks passed, the personnel went to the Hultsfred Festival and I was left without a working 32X. Finally they realized they didn’t have my cable, so they offered me a refund – the Space Harrier price (one hundred and fifty Swedish Kronor) back.
With those money, I was supposed to find the conversion cable on my own. On Tradera, a Swedish auction site, I found something that proclaimed to be a plug that made MD2 A/V cables usable on a MD1, which was exactly what I needed. Another ninety-five SEK thrown out. But it didn’t work. The tool I got was for computer keyboards, with a different DIN-connector, which made it completely useless. At least I got my money back, but the hunt continued. Since finding those conversion cables separately is rarer than Eliminate Down and can cost as much as a loose 32X unit itself, I made a desperate move and decided to get a Genesis 32X on eBay. It had everything I needed, including the cable, for – the situation considered – only around $25. Something even more desperate must have been purchasing a composite cable to play everything with – I was tired of waiting and wanted to play my Space Harrier NOW! Upon arrival, I plugged in my European 32X with the cable and Space Harrier and played it. It was… decent. The image looked grainy and dark, it played in 50 Hz (60 Hz was impossible) and it occasionally hung up. No, that wasn’t because I didn’t use the worthless “electromagnetic” metal shields – it is because the 32X is poorly built, like the Xbox 360. Even though I wasn’t fond of the name “Genesis” and wanted an all European unit, I decided to abandon the Mega Drive 32X and go for its American sibling. Playing in 50 Hz is just out of the question and modding the 32X too.
So with an NTSC Space Harrier on the way, as well as an expensive MD2 SCART-cable from eBay Germany, I was about to finally play the game the way it was meant to be played. Everything was just fine, except for the fact that the cable squashed the screen into widescreen mode. A nice Danish guy at our forum helped me with that – I simply removed the eighth pin on the SCART-cable and it was fixed. Now, after half a year of troubles and cries, my 32X setup was complete, except that my dear Space Harrier hung up this time – again! Since I found dead roaches in the holes of the AC adaptor I got with it, I decided to open the 32X up for some inspection. It was dirtier than a crack-whore from Russianbridesportal.net. After cleaning it up, I think I am pretty much done with it, as I have sold off the Euro stuff on Tradera. It plays well, and I have had lots of arcade fun with Space Harrier, Afterburner Complete and Virtua Fighter.
But what about that Knuckles Chaotix I originally wanted the 32X for? Well, I snatched it at eBay for a price far higher than necessary. And what did I think of it? That’s a story told in Reader Roundtable Vol. 14. All in all, the 32X never turned out to be what I originally expected it to be. The enormous hassle that it brought got paid off in the end. I was lucky to get a version with Japanese cartridge slot, which saved me from using the Game Genie ever again or doing a circumcision for Asian games. My Mega Drive system feels complete, and I can play ALL its games, except for European 3D Asteroids and maybe something else. The 32X didn’t give me an all new magic experience like the Mega CD, but it got the job done in turning the Mega Drive to an arcade system. Was it worth the money? Maybe. Was it worth a lesson of shattering dreams and business in life? Definitely!