Features Stories from the Book of Genesis

Stories from the Book of Genesis Vol. 32

Come boys and girls (assuming there are any girls on or visiting Sega-16). Take a little walk with Uncle Coop, and I’ll tell you the tale about a game that took me thirteen years to finally get to play.

Back in 1990, a company called INTV Corporation was supposed to release a shmup in the United States. Developed in Japan by Micronet, this shmup went by the name of Curse. All over the U.S., the Electronics Boutique stores of the time had it on their computers, telling of its eventual arrival that year. And when Electronic Gaming Monthly reviewed it in vol. one issue 12, no one thought that what seemed to be an inevitable arrival would become a “What ever happened to…?” experience. And it’s in 1990, at a little EB shop at a local mall where I lived at the time, that my journey began.

I had gotten my hopes up when that EB store told me of it’s nearing release over the phone. The thought of adding another such game to go with Thunder Force II on my Genesis was something I was looking forward to. Needless to say, when that original date arrived, I called up the store to see if it had come in. What I found out instead, was that it had been delayed. And little by little, the release date kept getting pushed back. No reasons were given, and since such information wasn’t handed out readily to consumers like it is today with the Web, there was little to do but wait.

1990 became 1991, and delay after delay kept showing up. Some delays came along a mere week before the game was supposed to ship, and these delays ranged from a week or two, to a month or more. In time, 1991 drifted into 1992, and by the summer of that year, I had moved away from where I lived at the time… Curse-less.

The little town I moved to didn’t have a real game store. Just a K-mart and a Walmart that were spotty at best when it game to what releases they received. They didn’t always get things in a timely manner either, and they certainly didn’t have release dates to give you. The end result left me in the dark as to the game’s status, but I kept checking for Curse in the display areas of both stores as the months rolled on. Eventually, as some things tend to do in life, the game began slipping from my mind.

I’d think of it once in a while, and check the display areas again when I was at those stores. I even checked the pawn shops from time to time when I remembered about it. But no matter when I looked, there was never any sign of the game. By the time 1994 was coming to a close, I figured I had missed out on it, and simply stopped looking.

Years went by, and around 1998 I moved again. I discovered a company named Funcoland, which as we’ve all learned, dealt with used games… a lot of used games. I checked out one of their stores a little while after learning of them some time in 1999, and that’s when I picked up one of the price guides they used to print that was much like a thin newspaper. Going down the list, I saw a familiar title for only $7. I asked the guy at the store if they had it, but it wasn’t in stock. I later saw the title listed on their website, but due to my lack of on-line knowledge at the time, I saw no way to find out if anyone had it, or if it could be ordered. After a few months, the title vanished from their website and their newspaper, leaving me Curse-less again, with seemingly no way to find out where it was.

In summer of 2001, I got my first PC. By this time, the game had again slipped from my memory. I discovered eBay later that same year, but it wasn’t until some time in 2002 that Curse popped into my head again as I was browsing eBay one night. I typed in the title, and POOF!… there it was. Curse. I got to see the box and cartridge for the first time. I read up on the website and how things worked, and tried to bid on it. I lost to what I later learned was someone’s proxy bid. This happened again a few months later that same year, leaving me both bummed, and tweaked. However, when the summer of 2003 rolled around, I had learned more about eBay, and had a decent number of auction wins under my belt via proxy bids, sniping and what have you. And when I had the funds to try again, I was determined not to lose Curse a third time.

I found a copy of the game, still sealed, with its little plastic hanger on the back of the cellophane. I wanted it, and I was going to have it. I contacted the seller, and offered a good price for it. The seller chose to see how the bidding went, and so began to the waiting.

Now, I won’t say what my proxy bid was, but let’s just leave it at this… anyone who might have outbid me would have had to REALLY want it. The auction eventually came to its final day a week later, with me sitting there, refreshing the screen every few seconds for the final minute or so as I watched fresh attempts to outbid me come in repeatedly. The auction ended, the screen refreshed… and I was the winner for a lot less than what my proxy bid was (thank God). The funny part? It ended near the price I offered. If the jerk had just taken my offer, all would have been well a lot sooner. That aside… oh, the joy I felt that day. I was cabbage patching in my chair like an idiot… a very happy idiot.

About a week later, the game arrived at my doorstep. I opened the priority mail box, pulled out the game, and stood there… holding what I’d been after for some thirteen years. In the back of my mind, there was young version of myself jumping up and down, hugging the box to his chest, while the real me stood there with a child-like grin, just taking everything in. I eventually tore off the cellophane, and flipped through the Japanese manual. I was ready to play… until I heard a clap of thunder. Yes, at the end of my quest, a thunderstorm was drawing near. It was like someone up there knew.

For an hour, I sat listening to the rain and thunder. I kept flipping through the manual, looking at the box, all with a smile that couldn’t have been removed with surgery and a belt sander. When at last the storm moved far enough away, I fired up my Genesis, plugged Curse into my Game Genie, and entered a little piece of gaming heaven for a while.

I later learned that INTV Corporation, the folks who were going to publish the game in the states, went under just as they were about to release it. The problem was, no one informed any retailers, and no magazines mentioned it. As a result, stores were stringing people like myself along for who knows how long before the game title was taken out of their computer database. Not a lot of fun, but that’s how things were back then… just keep checking the stores, and hope for the best.

So that’s where our story ends. I got my game, I sat and played it, and as a result of all of the waiting, near misses, and bouts of forgotten wants, the game has a special place in my collection. For so long, it was like an unseen prize to some strange race that kept being extended just as I neared the finish line… turning it into a tease again and again. So close, yet kept just outside of my grasp. But now it sits on the shelf with my other Mega Drive games, and it gives me a nostalgic, fuzzy feeling each time I see its box.

Is it the best game I’ve ever played? No. But I sure as hell enjoyed it after being taunted all those years.

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