The second museum post for tonight is the third, winter 1990/91, issue of Sega Visions magazine.
The entire library of Sega Visions is actually available on Sega Retro, but their version of this issue has gutter shadow resulting from scanning the magazine on a flatbed scanner. Since I am disposing of my magazines anyway, I took mine apart and scanned it with a duplex scanner. There will be more magazines scanned for this and similar reasons in the coming days.
Back to this magazine, however. In winter of 1990 I was now in 8th grade, and some time around that period my father bought my sister and I both of the games mentioned on the cover: Joe Montana Football, and Castle of Illusion Starring Mickey Mouse. I want to say we got the games from Macy’s, but I can’t remember for certain. It’s kind of interesting how we always ended up getting the alternative to the popular item. For example, the rest of the world went nuts for the Nintendo Entertainment System; we got the Sega Master System. Everyone at the time (and to this day) went gaga for John Madden Football, and we went for Joe Montana. I’m actually glad we did, though. With the popular items, everyone has one so you have plenty of chances to play Super Mario Brothers, Castlevania, etc. For the fringe that people mostly ignore, there are often gems to be found that people miss out on because they don’t want to be seen as unpopular. Franchises like Alex Kidd, Fantasy Zone, and Zillion come to mind. I got a chance to experience both worlds.
Something else to note from the cover is the Sega Stereo Speaker Giveaway. I actually did do this and redeemed the speakers, though they looked slightly different from what was pictured in the magazine. It was also possible to power the speakers with an AC adapter. For a kid accustomed to playing games with a mono TV speaker, they sounded pretty good. I’d crank up the volume and listen to Herzog Zwei’s opening sound just to experience the stereo effect. Even more hardcore, since they were standard 3.5mm-jack speakers, I’d take them into the bathroom and hook up my cassette player to listen to tapes of Sega game music in the shower. I was a die-hard Sega fan, that’s for sure.
Sega Genesis speakers getting ready for the trash, September 2010
One other thing I’d like to point out is that these early Sega Visions magazines came printed on quality and heavier-stock paper than other video games magazines of the time. The colors and text were quite vivid, especially when compared with Video Games & Computer Entertainment or Electronic Gaming Monthly. Well, Sega Visions was Sega’s marketing tool (the other magazines were arguably more journalistic) so perhaps that is why.
This final point brings me to something I’ve been thinking about while going through all these old things and throwing them away. What is history? Up until this point, I’ve thought of history as absolute fact, that what we read from a history book is what really happened. Going through these magazines and my other old things, I’ve come to realize that history is an approximation, a guess. Suppose there were no more Sega Visions magazines in the world, and the only evidence left of them are scanned PDFs. Would there be any way to know that the magazine was printed on high quality paper? For another example, take the subscription cards from all these magazines. Many of the PDFs don’t include them, and while I was going through and tossing them out, I realized that I was discarding the record of where they appeared in the magazine. As more time passes, more little details get lost. Imagine this happening for all events and all artifacts going back throughout history, historians trying to piece together the past, using only disjointed pieces and little context. If they found a subscription card separated from a magazine, how would they know which page it came from? That detail would be lost forever, faded into the mists of time. The same probably goes for many historical “facts” that we take for granted. Unless someone was actually there, it’s impossible to get a completely accurate picture of what occurred, or what it was like. And even if they were, you’d better hope that their memory is functioning properly, and that they’re being honest.
Knowing this now about history, I think I’d like to cherish life even more. This is our time and these are our lives, and only we will truly know how much it means to us. When it’s gone, we might appear as a paragraph in a history book, if that. The time to live is now.
The 78-megabyte PDF can be downloaded here. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post, and thank you for reading this long one.