Features Reader Roundtable

Reader Roundtable Vol. 35

For any console, twenty years of quality gaming is nothing to sneer at, especially when new games are still being released for it. As we celebrate two decades of fun with Sega’s marvelous machine, Sega-16 staff and readers look back on those games that initiated their long journeys into 16-bit gaming. I’m quite pleased to say that we have people of all ages here, and it warms the heart to see so many young gamers showing the Genesis such love.


World Championship Soccer By Ken Horowitz

Altered Beast was the first cartridge to squeeze its way into my Genesis, but World Championship Soccer definitely had a better story behind it. See, as a lowly tenth grader with no job, I scrimped and saved to put this game on layaway. All my friends were equally poor, so we agreed to each purchase a different game, so that we could lend them out to each other and thus ensure that everyone played as much as possible. The other releases were taken, so this one fell to me. I actually had this game in my possession before I even had the console!

When my father finally bought me my Genesis, I blasted through its pack-in and dove into World Championship Soccer. I played through the entire tournament in a a single sitting, despite not liking soccer at all. Such was the fever a new console brings with it.

Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants By Vince Thornburg

On Christmas day ’93, I got Sonic 2. I love it. I still play it to this day when I need a fix. I’ve studied the deleted levels and for years it was something that was always on my mind. But was the very FIRST game to go into my Genesis? No. THAT game was Bart Vs. The Space Mutants unfortunately.

I LOVED The Simpsons back in the day and it seemed like the perfect game! I still remember holding the freshly unwrapped box and feeling SO awesome for having it! The smell of new plastic… like how Toys R Us is SUPPOSED to smell. I NEEDED this in first. I plugged in the controller in the wrong port and nothing happened, then my dad sat me down on the couch and plugged it in the right port. My brother was half awake and still sobbing, since I just hit him because I just got a FRIGGEN GENESIS, and I was the happiest kid in Cleveland.

Finally, it was on! It was on! It was on! I was Bart! I sprayed a mailbox! I put on sun glasses, this Troy McLure looking guy is an alien! What do I do?! I died….. Ok, lets go again…..

My dad then agreed after three minutes of watching that the game was being returned because it sucked. Yeah, it sucked. Then we put in Sonic 2 and our lives changed forever. We returned The Simpsons the next day and got BattleToads and RBI Baseball ’93. They are better than the damn Simpsons. That’s it. Gee, this story was anti-climactic.

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 By Carl-Johan Brax

My very first Mega Drive memory was an early morning at the community youth center before school when I was in lower school. A kid who would a decade later become my Mega Drive collector friend showed off the mighty Shining in the Darkness and the amazing features it had with its battles, where you could kill enemies by using different kinds of magic. In the games I had played up until then, there was only one or two ways you could kill the enemies, so this felt kind of special and it sowed a seed that later led me to be a RPG fanatic. Since I recently played this game – and I don’t play the same RPG twice a year unless it’s Phantasy Star IV – I decided to play my very first Mega Drive game, Sonic The Hedgehog 2. But first I will tell you about how I got that game.

It was Yule of 1994, and my mom had bought me and my brother a Sega Mega Drive. Since she is cheap, she bought a used model 1. That was a very wise decision, since it is far superior to the far inferior model 2, which lacks headphone jack, has worse sound, the TMSS screen and ugly red buttons (not the Genesis version though, of whose design I approve). Since the Sega Mega Drive didn’t include any built in games like the Microsoft PC or the Sega Master System, we got some as well that same day. I got Sonic 2, and my brother Sonic 1. I later stole my brother’s part of the Mega Drive and Sonic 1. Since my mom refused to plug in the Sega Mega Drive into the TV and the pig nose on the wall (or the cables at least) immediately, I actually and naturally started to cry. But later on, she finally helped me, and I could enjoy the total jawusumness that is Sonic 2.

In order to relive my supreme childhood memories, and to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the greatest console in the universe, I popped that same cart in my Mega Drive again this month and played it to the end. The music sounds better and is in stereo and the graphics are clearer than ever, with the right beautiful colours. What do you know about getting the most out of your games when you are little and only have a shitty RF (retarded fucker) cable for A/V and a crappy television? Not much. I can actually enjoy Sonic 2 audio/visually more today, although my impressions of amazement aren’t that grand anymore. Still, getting the adrenaline for spinning in the ramp and completing a circle (or a “U”, really) by hitting Dr. Robotnik (his tr00 name) again and again is something I never get tired of. All hail the mighty Mega Drive for another twenty great years of Blast Processing!

Sonic The Hedgehog 2 By Alex Burr

Boy, I remember very very clearly, nearly almost too clearly, when I first got my Genesis (known from here on as Sega). I remember that it was my seventh birthday (June 16, 1994), and I had been begging and screaming for a video game system ever since I went to my mom’s friends place where they had a NES with the Super Mario Bros./Duck Hunt cart and WWF Wrestlemania. My cousin had a Sega that I was annoyingly wanting to play every time. He had SFII:SFC, Sonic 2, Spider-Man and X-Men: Arcade’s Revenge and Ren and Stimpy: Stimpy’s Invention.

Anyway, I was in my pee-wee baseball game – I was the left fielder – and there was this ball hit in a really weird place, and I didn’t quite know how to get it. It was in a little niche similar to the one at Boston’s Fenway Park in center field, but on a pee-wee size. Our team was awful; we were getting killed. I don’t even remember the score, but my morale was really low so I was not making the plays, and this ball was a long ways away. But, fear not. I remember that my mom said I was getting something really special for my birthday. It couldn’t be a Sega… It just couldn’t be. Well, the game ended (I didn’t throw the guy out at the plate, as I have a very erratic arm). I pack up, and we start heading towards Meijer’s (think of a nicer Walmart), but I live the other way. Something was amiss. I was so upset that we got killed in the game that I forgot it was my birthday.

We get to Meijer’s, and I have to close my eyes before I get out of the car. Okay, something is on layaway, I know it. We walk in, and I know exactly where we were going. I feel the box, and I shake it. I get in the car, and I can open my eyes. OMFGWTFBBQ it was a Sega (for those interested, it was the Core model 2 system Sonic 2 bundle)! I went home and my dad immediately got started on hooking it up.

Within three weeks I got past Chemical Zone and the rest is history. I love this machine, and it has stayed with me my entire gaming life. Genesis Does, man. Genesis Does.

Quackshot Starring Donald Duck By Tom Briggs

The Christmas morning in which Santa left me, my brother, and my little sister a brand new Genesis was amazing. I wasn’t at all expecting the gift, and words cannot describe the excitement that came along with my first Sonic The Hedgehog run.

But Sonic wasn’t the only beloved mascot to grace my Genesis that morning. Quackshot: Starring Donald Duck quickly became my obsession. It’s not that I didn’t like Sonic, quite the opposite, I just was and still am a die-hard Donald Duck fan! Who can’t relate to his unhealthy temper? The game was more traditional than Sonic, but all it took was one weapon upgrade to have me hooked. If I could get plungers to climb on, what other crazy contraptions would I get later in the game? And thanks to my amateurish gaming skills, the game seemed nearly impossible to beat (a joke today).

Lots can be said about the Genesis. The best I can say is that there’s a reason I still talk about it. In an age of high resolution gaming and waggle controls, I still can’t get over the unadulterated joy of Sega’s finest console.

Altered Beast By Joe Redifer

I remember reading about the Genesis and it’s 250,000+ colors and built-in hardware scaling features in multiple early game magazines. These magazines did their hard-hitting research to get the facts, so there was no way they could ever be wrong. I couldn’t wait!

So it was with much anticipation that I went to a local car show (or something like that) where a local retailer had an early Genesis unit on display. This was my first experience with it EVAR. I was with my dad at the time and I got to play Altered Beast which was even better than the arcade because it featured multiple layers of scrolling whereas the arcade game was not powerful enough to do this. The Genesis was “teh r00l!” So I turned into the beast and was amazed by the clear voices when I got up to Neff. I told my dad “Watch this, he’s going to grow in size using the Genesis’ much-heralded built-in scaling feature!” He didn’t do that at all. I looked like a complete loser in front of my dad. Thanks Sega!

A couple of weeks later I finally got my very own Sega Genesis! It is the same exact console I still use to this day. The very first game I played on it was Altered Beast. WOW! I still have that same exact cartridge as well. It doesn’t even say “NOT FOR RESALE” on it. This was back before Sega became lame with such ideas. Since this is an early model 1 unit, the sound made gentle love to my ears.

I think I got the system on a Tuesday or Wednesday. On Saturday I went to the store to pick up another game. It was either Super Thunder Blade or Thunder Force II. I chose Thunder Force II. I was blown away by the multi-layer scrolling and awesome music. This was the first time I had ever heard a video game in stereo. In fact, I didn’t even know the Genesis was really in stereo until I played this game with headphones. I thought the headphone jack was just some sort of stupid “privacy” thing for the sound. Altered Beast was in mono so that further reinforced that view. But this game… wow! I still love it to this day, overhead scenes and all. I also love the crystal clear female voices… though she can’t pronounce anything worth a damn, it’s not the Genesis’ fault… the samples are very clean. The Genesis was phiggidy phat!

Jewel Master By Edward Figueiredo

Back in 1990 I was 13/14 years old. My gaming experience, like most kids who enjoyed video games at that time in Brazil, started with the Atari 2600. By the time the Mega Drive came out, my friends and I were still hooked on the Sega Master System and some NES clone whose brand I don’t actually remember.

That year I started working on a rental video game store called “Star Games.” I was invited by an older buddy to help him start the business. Those were golden years for a teenage gamer to live! Every weekend I would take home a bunch of games and even consoles to literally drown in gaming action. We would organize tournaments for the employees of the store and even some competitions open to the clients! Thankfully my grades in school were fine, so my parents never had any reason to bug me for this.

So where does the Mega Drive come in this story? Precisely when my boss made a trip to Paraguay (where most of the new stuff was acquired back then) and returned with some Japanese consoles and lots of games. We were blown away by titles like Sonic The Hedgehog, Alien Storm, Darius II, Last Battle and Thunder Force III – and nobody cared for the fact that half of these were bootlegs.

Of course everybody had to go through Sonic first, but for some reason it didn’t strike me as strongly as the beautiful Japanese copy we had of Jewel Master, the first 16-bit game I recall playing to the fullest. I remember being hypnotized by the song in the first stage, definitely one of the catchiest themes ever composed for the machine. The colorful graphics were just awesome (and still are), every stage was different from each other and you actually got to yield a huge sword during the fight against the last boss. Can you imagine how cool it was to experience such things for the first time ever?

And there you have it, my most memorable early affair with the Mega Drive. A few weeks down the road I left the store, but kept coming back for the friendship and for the games. Again, those were bright days that fill me with joy and somehow help me to forget about the horrible tragedy that befell my friend just a couple of months later – the one who invited me to start the first video game rental place in my hometown. Rest in peace, bro.

Golden Axe By Sebastian Sponsel

Wow… has it been twenty years already? Time sure flies when you’re having fun, and heck yeah – I had lots of fun with my Genesis, a Japanese Model 1, imported to Germany at around Christmas 1989 – I’ve still got that machine lying around back home!

I have an older sister who back then was dating a guy who ran a hardware/software import business from his parents garage. It was they who convinced my parents to get me and my other sister (ten years of age) that brand new marvel of a 16-bit-console as a present. My parents agreed, but had one condition: We wouldn’t own more than three games. Whenever we beat a game and wanted a new one, my parents would trade the old game in.

So, I had three “first games” for the Genesis, but one clearly stood out as my favorite: Golden Axe! Yeah, sword & sorcery hack-‘n-slash – just the right game for an eight-year-old (well, I was big into He-Man back then, so there’s that!). While I never understood the manual (which was in Japanese) nor what was going on (I didn’t know a single word of English as a kid), me and my sister nevertheless spent hours playing that game. But, well, one day the end was there – me and my sister defeated Black Adder… and we were hungry for more.

My parents sold off the game, and instead we got Burning Force. I didn’t forgive my parents for that (yeah, I was kind of a brat). When I eventually stopped playing Genesis games, I didn’t have a big collection (due to my parents’ rule, I was constantly renting games, virtually never buying them). Only three years ago, I started buying and collecting Genesis cartridges again.

Guess which game was the first one I sought out…

Streets of Rage By Daniel Smith

My first Mega Drive experience (Sonic 2) has all ready bean documented, so I shall discuss my second – Streets of Rage. Mega Games 2 came with my first Mega Drive and, of the three games available on it, Streets of Rage was the first I played and holds that special piece of nostalgia that can transform good games into awesome games. Not only is Streets of Rage a great game, but it’s also one of my only real memories of family bonding (other than the dentist).

My father and I would play for hours through those gritty, mean streets. We would attempt the battle that would eventually take us through the early streets levels all the way to the syndicate hideout. While now it is possible to complete the game on the hardest setting with only the final boss and his cheap moves sapping away lives, back when I was a sprog, things were very different. Of course, since then I have learned some cheap moves of my own, but back then building up the combos to see off the foes was an art and it took a while for this endurance test to get us beyond the Blaze clones at the end of stage five.

The backgrounds were cool, the beats were brilliant (especially the bridge level) with the boss music transforming the conventional battle into an omen of forbidding dread and the game play was brilliant. Rightly this game spawned two sequels, which upped the awesome ante to new levels, but Streets of Rage still remains the classic where it all began. Special mention goes to the cop who comes in with his gatling gun/rocket launcher blazing, even if it is to simply fire on an empty scene when the A-button was accidentally pressed, what a guy!

Golden Axe By Tom Lenting

I’m not sure what was the first Genesis game I played, but I think it must have been either Sonic the Hedgehog or Golden Axe. It gets me sort of melancholic when I realize I already grew twenty years older since I first played those two games… Anyway, everyone appreciates both games as real old school Sega classics. Everyone, except Sega themselves. Nowadays Sega’s new job is to turn their own classic franchises into crap. They turn Sonic into a werewolf. They release a Golden Axe game without the possibility to play as Ax Battler. The last of those twenty years have been real harsh for Sega fans…

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