Tonight’s museum post features a mailer ad for Sega Genesis games from Electronic Arts, sent to me either in late 1992 or early 1993. I don’t remember how I submitted my address to EA, but it was probably through a game registration rather than a magazine subscription. Now that I think about it, I sort of remember a registration card coming with those cardboard-boxed EA Genesis games back then. My first one was Zany Golf, bought from money I earned waiting tables at a crab feed (I guess you always remember your first? 🙂 ). It was through a relative’s catering company and at the end they gave us cups labeled with the word “tips”. I remember placing a cup on one table and getting a surprised reaction from the guests. Looking back on it now, it was rather presumptuous, wasn’t it?
Curiously, despite enjoying so many EA Genesis games, none of the games appearing in this mailer appealed to me. It was tempting to buy 2 games to receive a free Turbo Touch controller, but I just couldn’t do it. There was something about those early EA games that later games lacked. Perhaps they were ports of computer games and so had a different feel to games developed solely for a console. Maybe early in the Genesis’ life there were technical limitations that could not be overcome which resulted in game developers needing to be more creative. I don’t really know.
If I had ordered those two games back then, I wouldn’t have this mailer now to post in the Museum, so things worked out for the best. As always, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane.
The second museum post of the day features the February 1995 issue of Video Games magazine. To this day, it feels strange calling it that because when I first encountered this publication in 1989, it was known as Video Games & Computer Entertainment. I enjoyed the older format much more than the new one, which I thought tried too hard to emulate the more mainstream Electronic Gaming Monthly. Perhaps computer games were seen as too nerdy back then, but I enjoyed the more mature tone of the older format.
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.
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.
Tonight’s museum post features another insert from the April 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, a catalog from Electronics Boutique. The cover features Nintendo’s Starfox, which was due to be released on March 26th for the Super Nintendo.
By this time we were well into the 16-bit console wars, with competitive pricing on consoles from both Sega and Nintendo. Interestingly, both companies released cleaning kits for their systems – perhaps a way to recoup some money on their consoles’ cutthroat pricing? On the 8-bit front, the NES was still available and apparently going strong, with EB devoting 3 pages to it. In retrospect, it would have been a great time to get an NES and store it for the future. Ah, the beauty of hindsight.
Since the catalog is 24 pages long, I’ve scanned it as a PDF. Download here (35 MB). As always, hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post!
For tonight’s second museum post we have the first installment of the “Q-Letter”, a supplement offered only to subscribers of the video game magazine, Electronic Gaming Monthly. I’ve been going through my prized magazines from the early 1990s (first mentioned here), and I noticed that the digital copies of the magazines I downloaded from the internet did not include these supplements. This scan (and upcoming ones) is my contribution to the preservation of this part of video gaming history.
For the record, this supplement appeared in the April, 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly (Bram Stoker’s Dracula on the cover), in the very beginning, between the cover and first page, splitting the Tiny Toon Adventures, Buster Busts Loose ad.
Tonight’s museum post features a purchase receipt from Vimy Video, my childhood neighborhood electronics store (mentioned briefly a few times here before). The item is “Alex Kidd”, and the receipt is dated December 17, 1989. Could this have been Alex Kidd in the Enchanted Castle, and could it have been an early Christmas gift? If so, it was a great way to kick off winter vacation for my 7th-grade self.
Sadly, Vimy Video is now completely gone. When we returned from Hong Kong in 2015, the storefront was still there, as was the iconic sign. The last time I passed by it was a comic book store, but I don’t remember if I saw the sign (according to Google Maps, it is still there). The world continues to change, and the evolution of the economy means that it is increasingly difficult for mom-and-pop stores to survive without some sort of backing. The days of making a modest living running a modest store using a modest initial outlay are over, at least when it comes to advanced capitalistic cities like San Francisco and Hong Kong. The 7th-graders of today will make their memories via Amazon, or GameStop, and they’ll probably have a nice record of it on Facebook.
One last thing about the receipt: it was found in the bottom of a joystick box, the QuickShot XV for the Sega Master System. I’ll probably have a museum post for that in the future. For now, and as always, hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post!
In the early 1990s, video games were considered toys, used only by children. As games became more realistic, some people became concerned with their effect on impressionable minds. As a result, Sega became a pioneer in ratings for video games, leading to the ESRB ratings that we know today. Tonight’s museum post, circa 1993, features a brochure from Sega explaining video games, and their new rating system, to concerned parents.
I don’t think that anyone can argue that the current video game rating system is a bad thing for consumers, but in the early 90s there was an air of a witch-hunt, and the mob mentality was real. Even today, whenever kids pick up guns, one of the first things people want to blame is video games. People simply refuse to take a look at themselves and how their behavior (or lack thereof), affects children. It’s always easier to blame someone else for your problems, right? Well, luckily, despite mother and father never talking to me about video games, despite playing Mortal Kombat and Doom back in those days, I avoided pulling out anyone’s spine and melting them with a BFG 9000, and none of my contemporaries did, either.
I’ve been going through my old video game magazines from the early 1990s to see which ones I can dispose of, more mementos from childhood that I can no longer afford to keep. They’ve been sitting on my bookshelf for the past 5 or 6 years, and before that they’d probably spent about 15 in my closet. I keep putting off looking at them, thinking that one day I’ll have a proper library with a nice big table in the center where I can spread out the books and magazines that I want to look at.
The thing is, I did have a big condo that I lived in where I could store my magazines, and I did have a big table where I could have spread them out, but I never did do what I keep fantasizing about. Real life got in the way. I’ve talked about it many times on this website before (here’s one example), so I won’t go into it again. It’s a lost cause trying to relive the past in the present, because every passing second keeps piling more and more onto the past, adding to what you have going on in the present. You can never catch up. Better to cut it off and just start living.
That said, there are still snippets of the past that I’d like to hold on to, which brings us to tonight’s museum post: a couple of subscription cards found in the August 1991 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly. As you can see from the preceding link, many early 90s gaming magazines are now available digitally online thanks to enthusiasts who have scanned them, which means I can go back and read them whenever I want. I wonder if I’ll actually read them, or will it be the same as with the ones I’m disposing of now? We shall see. As always, hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post.