This one kind of went right by me, but the SEGA Genesis turned 25 years old in North America this week. I didn’t even put it on my 2014 anniversaries list. I personally had a simultaneously close and distant relationship with the console.
The Genesis was basically my first experience with a “next-gen” leap. My earliest memories are of Mario and Ninja Turtles on the NES, and soon after being exposed to Sonic the Hedgehog 2. If you’re familiar with Sonic 2’s release date along the Genesis’ lifespan, then you already know how old the Genesis already was by the time I got into it. Truth be told I didn’t even own one until 1995 — the year before I got a Nintendo 64. Despite that, the Genesis was host to some of my most beloved childhood gaming.
Compared to the original Super Mario Bros., Sonic 2’s speed, loops, graphics, and sound encapsulated the first time I thought a game had reached the “next level.” It was like a kid having been raised on Grand Theft Auto III (as messed-up as that sounds) all of a sudden being exposed to Grand Theft Auto V. I think that was the start of how I pretty much grew up on Sonic. I say that as someone who simultaneously still reads the Sonic Archie comic book and avoids the part of Sonic fandom that get’s so much ridicule these days.
You see, I spent my formative years in the 90’s console war — the vicious schoolyard arguments between Super Nintendo and Genesis. For most of that time I was firmly in the SNES camp, spending my time on games like Super Mario World, Turtles in Time, and Final Fantasy VI. Despite that, I had to have Sonic. It was most of the reason I went to other kids’ houses. When I eventually did get a Genesis it was basically a Sonic player, and that was enough.
On it I mastered Sonic 3 — my personal top game ever, and spent who knows how many hours cracking the original Sonic, Sonic 2, and Sonic & Knuckles. On top of that the Genesis became the center of things whenever friends gathered at my house. Sonic 2 in particular was a main multiplayer game for that era in my experience. Thinking back it’s kind of odd Sonic multiplayer never became much of a thing afterwards. Even more odd is how nobody picked it back up since the old Sonic games became available on pretty much every modern system (even phones). Maybe Sonic multiplayer was the first real casualty of the fall of that franchise. In any case, it helped build friendships.
That was pretty much my entire old school experience with the Genesis, which brings me to my strangest point: most of my SEGA Genesis gaming is probably ahead of me. In recent years as I’ve discovered retro game shops, my library of Genesis games has grown alongside my SNES and N64 libraries. You’d be surprised how cheaply you can find Genesis classics like Revenge of Shinobi, Space Harrier 2, Aladdin, the Illusion games, and X-Men 2: Clone Wars, most of them in their original boxes. I even managed to track down hidden gems like Mystic Defender and Ranger X for barely any money. And then you’ve got SEGA’s own Genesis classic collections, particularly the one on Steam. For like $10 I was able to legally get over 30 Genesis classics running on my PC.
I still haven’t played any Streets of Rage games, Ristar, Phantasy Star, or the Shining Series, and I’ve only barely touched Treasure’s Genesis works like Gunster Heroes and Dynamite Headdy, but they’re all sitting on my backlog. I’m just waiting for the right time to dive headfirst into that library.
- Oh man. Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, Princess Mononoke, Anime Blu-Rays all over the place this fall.
- Routine just got a development update. http://t.co/W8KwErSMDR
- Hotline Miami 2 has a page up on Steam now. http://t.co/1JDwzwOS6R
- This IGN Witcher 3 footage man. http://t.co/AKevAtwbER