Some time in the early 90s, my aunt from Hong Kong came to visit us in the United States. As a gift, she brought me a copy of Out Run for the Japanese Sega Mega Drive. If I remember correctly, on that visit I also scored Kenseiden and Spellcaster for the Sega Master System.
At that time, Out Run had not yet been released for the Genesis, so the only way I could play it as close to the arcade as possible was via the Mega Drive version. The cartridge came in a yellow box and had rounded edges, unlike Genesis cartridges which had more triangular ones. As a result, Mega Drive cartridges could not physically slide into the cartridge slot of the Genesis. Luckily, I had already melted the tabs on my Genesis so that I could play Devil’s Crash MD.
When I was a kid in Hong Kong, I played both the arcade and the Sega Master System versions, but I never owned the latter. Instead, I played it at one of my classmates’ house. My favorite music track was always Splash Wave.
Later on, with emulation and a release on the Dreamcast, I was finally able to play the arcade version at home, but the Mega Drive version will always be my favorite. It was the one I spent the most time playing while I was growing up. I still listen to MP3s of original recordings I made of the soundtrack (except Step On Beat, which I thought was an imposter). To me, Out Run is definitely one of the most iconic and greatest games of all time.
This past week I’ve had some difficulty continuing on Adventure 2012, so I decided to play a game from my Games List as a diversion and to hopefully get me back on track. The game I chose was 1989’s Herzog Zwei on the Sega Genesis…
Six straight hours later, I finished the game using “Ludwig”, the red character. I ate breakfast, drank coffee, and then played Herzog Zwei for the rest of the day. I didn’t even use the bathroom. I did eat a small snack which JC heated up for me.
Even when I was a kid, I never played games for six hours straight, and I never played through Herzog Zwei in one sitting. I was dazed. My bottom was numb. The funny thing is, having achieved my personal requirement for crossing the game off the list, I want to beat the game again, this time with “Balsaga/Wahrsager”, the blue character.
I had a lot of fun blowing things up, commanding troops, and listening to the bassy soundtrack. I guess you could say I got lost in the game. Still, I don’t know if I’ll do the straight-through thing again. If I do, I’ll embed the video below the “Ludwig” one. 🙂
Today’s museum post will be of my pride and joy, my original Sega Genesis system. The original console was offered to me as a bribe from my mother to get me to study hard in order to get into a prestigious high school (I think that was the last time I ever got straight 4.0s in my academic career). I don’t remember the circumstances of my Sega CD acquisition, but I do remember bringing it home, unboxing it, and then setting it up. It was in the evening and my cousin was with us. I think we bought it from Macy’s in Serramonte.
After the first half-hour it was kind of a “is that it after begging and pleading with my parents to spend $299?!?!” sort of moment. It was one of the first times I ever felt disappointed with a gaming system, but at the time I didn’t know how to process such a feeling, so I tried really hard to enjoy it more. Sol-Feace and Golden Axe with CD music? Wow! Hardware scaling and rotation? Woo! At that age I was much more easily swayed by marketing hype, unaware that it was gameplay that was most instrumental in making a game fun. So, even though Golden Axe is fun, by that time it was a 4-year-old game, and after having played it so many times in the past 3 years, new music (and actually, it was pretty crappy music) didn’t suddenly make it fun again.
Still, I fondly remember many a rainy afternoon playing Sherlock Holmes in our little tiny apartment, the little tiny and grainy video of scenes from cold, foggy Victorian London making a fine accompaniment to the cold, wet San Francisco winter outside. Ah, memories from adolescence.
One of the biggest regrets of my life is selling off all my Sega Genesis games. In the early 90s, I got my hands on something called a game copier and copied all of my games before selling them at liquidation prices. At the time I thought I was so smart, but looking back I see that I was nothing but greedy and short-sighted. The Genesis was one of my favorite consoles, and what I was doing was deleting mementos of my childhood one game at a time. Not only that, I was doing something illegal, pirating games, and I was doing it all for a measly $10 per game. Fortunately, I never had access to a Master System game copier, or else I probably would have sold off that collection, too.
When I look back at how I acquired all of those games in the first place, I wonder how I could have been so stupid to sell them. I was excited to buy each and every one and played all of them extensively. It was a time when I would really value a single game because it was all I had. Reading the manual, plugging the physical cartridge into the console, admiring the box art, none of these things can be done with a game copier. Why didn’t I think of it then?!
The saddest thing is that these childhood mementos will never, ever come back. This is what I regret the most. As I’ve written on this blog, I’ve recently gone through and disposed of some old things, but there are some items in my life that are off limits that I will never dispose of. My Sega Genesis games should have been one of those items.
To find some solace I’m going to try to “rebuild” my collection using screenshots of title screens. I’ll try to reconstruct my collection in order of acquisition. When I’m done it should be pretty cool to look at a grid of title screens. It would have been better to have the actual games, of course, but unfortunately some mistakes can never be rectified.
I was at my aunt’s and she brought out this Sega Mega Drive box thinking that it was originally mine (it wasn’t, it was my cousin’s). Talk about WOW. When I was a kid, the Mega Drive was like the holy grail to me. I had a North American Sega Genesis and I loved it, of course, but there was this notion that all things Japan were better, more exotic. I still remember buying my first imported Mega Drive game, Devil’s Crash MD for $75, which was a lot to ask for from my mother back then (most Genesis games were in the $49 range). I’ll never forget that day, because it was the day of the Oakland Hills fire. We were indoors most of the day and when we came back out with my new game in hand, the sky was orange, and we were in San Francisco! Anyhow, here are photos I snapped of the box.