Mega Drive / Genesis

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Mega Drive / Genesis

Post by JaySevenZero » May 28th, 2018, 9:32 pm


As some of you may have already heard, we're creating a series of podcast specials, this time the focus being on the consoles themselves.

The plan is for the podcast to encompass the history of the chosen system from launch through its evolution, mixed with the panels personal perspective of their time spent with it. There will also be discussion of some of the stand-out titles for the system.

As with the regular Cane and Rinse podcast, we'd like to include contributions from you, our community, too. So we've created this sub forum and thread so you can leave us your most memorable moments spent with the systems we're covering.

We decided to kick off the series with the Sega Mega Drive (or, as some of you know it, the Sega Genesis), this will be followed by shows covering the original Sony PlayStation, the Nintendo GameBoy and Microsoft's original XBox.

All being well, we'll be recording this 19th June with Leon performing hosting duties, accompanied by regular Cane and Rinse guest Dan Clark and Digital Foundry's John Linneman. If you have something to say about this system don't delay putting your contribution down here so as to not miss the deadline.

Finally, this will be also a timed exclusive for our Patreon, with each special being released on our regular feed only once the next one is published, so if ever there was a time to give us just 75p a month, this could be it! :)

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive

Post by Alex79uk » May 28th, 2018, 9:37 pm

Excellent! Looking forward to this and will definitely post some Megadrive memories when I have a bit more time to get them down.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive

Post by Stanshall » May 28th, 2018, 10:17 pm

Wow. Delighted to see this! Really looking forward to this and the others to come.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive

Post by ToQi » May 29th, 2018, 11:15 am

I'm reasonably convinced that I'll never be as impressed by a game as I was by my neighbour's new Mega Drive running Sonic The Hedgehog. It's utterly trite to say this now, but the colour palette — vibrant blues, greens, golds, and browns — and the music made an indelible first impression; I felt like we'd been transported to a fantasy tropical island.

Fast-forward to when I finally nabbed a secondhand console much later on — my infatuation with the console was much more to do with multiplayer gems like Micro Machines: Turbo Tournament '96 (J-cart 4 life!) and, of course, the boss of brawlers, Streets of mother-fluffing Rage 2. Mr X. got his ass handed to him on a weekly basis.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive

Post by Nupraptor » May 29th, 2018, 11:02 pm

I had been into video games for a few years already. Trying to get as far through Gauntlet and R Type as I could on the Spectrum with my big cousin and trying to make my collection of 10ps last until the end of Double Dragon in the arcades, but the Mega Drive was where I really started falling in love with the medium.
There have been so many advances in hardware since then and it's easy to forget how exciting and how advanced it seemed at the time. Each new generation of hardware brings improvements in processing power and quality of graphics, but it feels like the improvements over recent generations have been relatively incremental. Surely there has never been a leap so huge as the leap from 8bit to 16bit? The difference at the time seemed stunning. The best we had until that point was rolling around pixels as Treasure Island Dizzy and being pitifully impressed by a veeery blocky approximation of the eponymous Robocop. Suddenly, you had the ability to play a virtually arcade-perfect replication of Golden Axe in your bedroom! It was like a fantasy made reality!
Every Mega Drive at the time of release came bundled with Altered Beast. It was in retrospect, of course, a terrible game, but at the time the sprites were so big and bold and colourful and for want of a better word: "Arcade-y" that I could forgive all it's failings.
And it had sampled speech! "Wiiise from your gwaave!" If I get to morph into a were-dragon then no problem, pal!

If you were there at the time of course, then you are also a veteran of the console wars. Rivalry existed in the 8bit area, but the 16bit era was where things really kicked off. This was stoked to a large part by the companies themselves. Sega pitched themselves as an edgier alternative to the more family-friendly SNES. I still remember feeling pathetically superior in the playground when they came out with the "super duper pooper scooper" slur. Mega Drive games were "cooler". OUR brightly coloured cartoon mascot was more mature and edgy than THEIR brightly coloured cartoon mascot! But they still had Probotector.... And Street Fighter II. And superior sound and sampled not to dwell on it really.

Still, there was a never ending tide of Mega-Drive hits to play and replay again and again. Finally making it back through to the final boss of Ghouls and Ghosts! Getting all the chaos emeralds and transforming into Super Sonic in Sonic 2 (for me the best entry in the series until it was finally eclipsed in 2017 by Sonic Mania ). Fleeing on rocket boots from manic dentists and hamsters in balls in the surreal two-player antics of Toejam and Earl. Getting to fight Spider Man and...a sort of in Revenge of Shinobi. Our own belated version of SF II and now you could play as the bosses! And it was all presented in that bold, colourful, arcade fashion.

I have two highlights that are difficult to separate. The first is the superb Shining Force. This was my first exposure to a JRPG - I appreciate it is more of a turn-based strategy in gameplay, but it has many JRPG trappings in terms of plot, style and characters. I was blown away. That epic fantasy world. Those bold, cartoon sprites. It was the first time I've been completely captivated by a game. Looking up from watching Lord Kane's devastating assault on the kingdom of Guardiana to realise that hours had passed. Trying to find the secret bikini for Tao (I was a 14 year old boy after all). Realising that you got a unique attack animation if you finished Dark Dragon with Max and the Chaos Breaker. Superb.

The second is a game that features high on most lists of great Mega Drive games. If the Mega Drive was defined for me as something that brought the arcade experience into your living room, then this was a game that not only equalled, but actually bettered anything that you would see in the arcade. I am speaking of course of the mighty Streets of Rage 2. There was nothing to compare with that game as an arcade experience. Fighting Barbon in the rain. The incredible soundtrack. The aptly titled chaos of "Mania" difficulty with two players. Unparalleled.

I don't know whether the Mega Drive was the superior machine to the SNES or not, but there were some seriously good times to be had on that machine and it represents a time of my life that I will never have again. RIP Mega Drive, you were THAT good and for me it certainly WAS an age.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive

Post by Magical_Isopod » June 1st, 2018, 5:17 pm

My first video game console was the Sega Genesis. Being of limited financial means and living in northern Ontario, my parents bought my brother and I a used Model 2 Genesis for Christmas 1995 - it came with copies of Thunder Force II and Sonic the Hedgehog. Thunder Force II turned out to be far too obtuse a game for my 5-year-old mind, but Sonic was a game that my entire family dedicated a good amount of time to completing. I distinctly remember the sheer joy and astonishment upon coming home from school to find my mom had gotten all the way to Starlight Zone with 4 lives remaining. As a child, some of my favourite titles included the Sonic the Hedgehog series, Taz: Escape From Mars, Lemmings 2, Super Street Fighter 2 and Vectorman.

But strangely, my love of the Genesis didn't really cement itself until much later in life. I purchased Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection on PS3 when I was 18, and mistakenly believed my Genesis collection at that point was sufficiently complete. However, due to the likes of Classic Game Room and other YouTube channels, I discovered a litany of phenomenal Genesis games I had no prior knowledge of. Some of my all-time favourite games, I had almost no awareness of until I was well into my 20s - among these are Thunder Force IV, The Adventures of Batman and Robin, Hellfire, Air Buster and Phantasy Star IV. I also obtained a Sega CD around 2015, and discovered a whole 'nother library of great games - The Terminator, Snatcher, Sol-Feace and Sonic CD being some of the best. And, of course, the less said about the parasitic fungus called 32X, the better...

On a final note, I really want to highlight the power of the Genesis sound chip, as it seems to be an underrated feature. While many a developer had no clue how to use the Yamaha YM2612, some of the absolute best video game soundtracks (including the aforementioned Batman & Robin and Thunder Force IV) have come from the Genesis, and I largely credit this to world-crushing bass this thing could produce. While the SNES's sound chip lent well to reverb-heavy symphonic music, the Genesis had this dread-inducing capacity for deep, crunchy base that lent itself well to EDM, house and heavy metal style soundscapes. Where a "punch" might make a "thwack" sound on the SNES, it made a heavy "thunk" sound on the Genesis; an explosion on the SNES might annoy your mom, but an explosion on the Genesis would shake your house. To this day, I have a deep appreciation for the sound the Genesis can produce, to the point where I've started developing my own electronic music with the sort of deep bass and crunchy distortion one would expect a stock Genesis to produce. Many slam the Genesis for sounding otherworldly and unusual, but that's precisely the reason it's so beloved to me.

Genesis does.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive

Post by Alex79uk » June 2nd, 2018, 5:19 pm

The Sega Megadrive was the first console I ever bought with my own money. My brother and I had survived on our Master System well in to the 16bit era, and I remember people at school making fun of us because we still only had a Master System. So, with my 14th birthday coming up I decided to ask everyone for money so that we could finally catch up and play all these incredible looking games everyone else was talking about.

I had been eyeing up a Megadrive packaged with Streets Of Rage during the run up to my birthday. It was in Woollies for £120, and it had my name all over it. On my birthday, I excitedly counted up my money, I had exactly £120! This was going to be the best day ever! My mum didn't want me taking all that money to school, so she said she'd meet me up town after I finished and come to the shop with me. Not very cool, but I didn't care - it was Megadrive day!

I spent all day telling my friends I was finally getting a Megadrive, and was almost bursting with excitement all day long. Half three eventually came, and I got the bus in to town and met up with my mum. We headed straight to Woolworths, and...


It was gone.

It wasn't there.

My Megadrive had gone.

I could have cried. Genuinely. I was gutted.

I didn't know what to do. We asked someone in the shop and they went to look out the back, but they didn't have any more in stock.

There wasn't anywhere else to go. There was a WH Smiths in town at the time, but I'd scoped that place out already before my birthday. They sold Megadrives, sure, but the bundles they had in stock were too expensive. I only had £120, and my parents weren't really in a position to be giving me a load more cash than they'd already given me for my birthday.

But we went to check anyway, just to confirm what I already knew.

No good.

Well that's that then. No new console. Home for tea then either telling my friends what happened, or pretending I got one and lying about it. Neither option seemed particularly attractive.

On the way home, my mum said she thought of one more place we could look. There was another Woolworths about thirty minutes away, a couple of towns away. I didn't get my hopes up, but we went there anyway.

I walked in to the shop feeling miserable.

I made my way over to the games section.

They had a few different Megadrive bundles. £160... £140... £99.99....




I mean sure, it came with Wrestle War... But it was a Megadrive, AND I COULD AFFORD IT!!

I grabbed the box, turned round with a moronic grin to my mum, "There's one here! It's £99.99....!"

"Well you better get it then hadn't you?", she said.

I felt sick with excitement all the way home, and my brother and I spent the entire evening convincing ourselves that Wrestle War was actually probably one of the best games we've ever played.

I finally had a Megadrive.

And the rest, is history.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive / Genesis

Post by Stanshall » June 3rd, 2018, 8:22 am

^ Really enjoyed that, Alex. Lovely stuff.

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive / Genesis

Post by Suits » June 14th, 2018, 12:21 pm

It was one of, if not possibly the most, influential consoles of my early years in gaming.

My own personal memories of lusting after, receiving, growing with and then using it as equity to move on are below.

It was rather enjoyable thinking back to recall all of this :lol: .

My parents, now not quiet convinced themselves of the media, were clearly impressed by the power that my 1991 Sega Master System had over my seven-year-old self. However, after various catalogue circling, it was made very clear to me that it wasn’t a possibility due to its cost and more adult theme. To which, I reluctantly agreed with looking back.

I was certainly familiar with the Mega Drive and played it rather often in fact, as people I knew and friends who had older siblings had them and many games.

Forward a year to about Christmas 1993 (I’ve managed to date this solely down to the fact that FIFA had just come out and was a bit of a big deal) and the presents began to land under the tree. As a child you’d sniff about and see if you could guess what was there. There was one big box, oddly big. I, (as did many children I suspect) peel back a snippet of the paper at the corner, to see if I could tell what it was, which just revealed a black box with what looked like a white box grid on it.

Due to my age and type of toys I was into in 1993, this was a Transformer. A Transformer like nothing I knew existed – MASSIVE. There was no way on earth this was a Mega Drive, it never once even entered my head that it could have been.

Come Christmas morning when I peeled back the paper I was blown away, I can remember losing my business at seeing the Altered Beast Head on the packaging. It was a second hand, without the game, Sega Mega Drive – I was blown away.

I had no games to play on it, but I had one, the next step up, incredible – nothing else matted, I was elated, buzzing.

My street at the time had about 29 houses’ in it, with some older friends in the street, they soon lent me some games to play on it. One of which was FIFA.

That was it, I was off, off with the big boys and one of their toys.

The next few years were glory years I suppose, games like Mortal Kombat, Flashback, Eternal Champions, Streets of Rage, Sonic, Road Rash, Golden Axe, Desert Strike, FIFA, NHL some of the best and most impressionable games of my life were played on that system.

The Sega Mega Drive was imprinting characters, worlds, sounds, gameplay and immersion into my impressionable mind in a way that made the Master System literally seem irrelevant.

As I aged with the system I was able to understand more complex gameplay mechanics, take in and understand more complex games and it seemed like the sky was the limit.

This was also the period when swapping games in the playground began, making new friends through computer games, renting games from video shops and every month looking forward to the new Sega Power magazine to hit the shelves. This is when the culture really all started for me too.

Looking back that was one of the most carefree, no expectation, enjoyable times for me and gaming. EVERYTHING that came out was brilliant – as far as I thought.

Then, as the years again ticked by there were noises about the other side of things, the silly childish competitor Nintendo and it’s Super Nintendo was starting to get games that I wanted to play, that I needed to play. This was at what felt like a confusing time for Sega. Things like 6 button controllers were here and having buttons that didn’t do anything with certain games seemed silly to me and the time, also I very much disliked the new style of cases that games were arriving in. I much preferred the old black cases, why are they now changing them to Blue, with bubbles on them – not cool, not Sega. Games like Vector-Man and Ristar didn’t look right and weren’t landing with me.

Things stacked up, Zelda got too appealing and that was it, I traded in my beloved Sega to move into another, different, integral period in my gaming history.

The Sega Mega Drive leaves on me an indelible impression of culture, evolution and magic that has shaped my adult life in ways of what I now look for, for joy and entertainment. Without it, I’d not be the person I am today.
Xbox - Suits
PSN - Suterovich
Nintendo Switch - SW-0866-4803-1890
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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive / Genesis

Post by Madsocks » June 17th, 2018, 11:17 am

Aah, the Mega Drive. The start of what I call my "proper foray" into the World of Video Games. Before this, I had dabbled with the NES and the Master System through friends, but I still wasn't a console player, I had an Acorn Electron and then an Amiga 500.

Having seen the adverts on tv at the time, I said to my parents that I wanted one but because of the quite ridiculous price at the time (I think it was something like £180 with a game, I think it was Altered Beast), I wasn't confident. 3 months had passed since the launch and it got to christmas, early morning rushing down to open presents, I scanned the bottom of the tree, but couldn't see anything. I ended up with some cool stuff but in my mind I was really disappointed especially as I knew my friends were more than likely getting one. At the end my mum feigned shock saying she forgot a present, went in the kitchen and brought out a brand spanking new Mega Drive. I was made up!

Sonic the Hedgehog, World Cup Italia '90, Streets of Rage were purchased very quickly, along with several others that I bought with christmas and birthday money. I was a fully fledged "Sega Boy". Looking back now, the graphics were pretty bad and the cost of the cartridges were quite simply eye watering (Toys R Us and Dixons must have made a fortune from me) but at the time they were the height of video game supremacy. There was a guy who had a videgame stall in the market place close to my parents house, and I recall every friday night he would come round about 8-8:30pm with a whole host of Mega Drive games in the back of his car, £3 for a weeks rental. Me and my mate just used to rent 5-6 games at a time ranging from Gunstar Heroes, World of Illusion, Castle of Illusion (the guy actually kept it up for several years, from SNES to Saturn to PlayStation 1 before he eventually went bankrupt, such a shame).

My mate's dad was also the manager at a WH Smith in Runcorn, so at the weekend before the shop opened, we always used to go in the back of the store and play on the latest games to appear.

Quite simply the halycon days of video gaming. A couple of years later when the SNES made it's appearance, I did loan one off my mate, and at the time I thought it certainly didn't compare to my MegaDrive (but I did end up buying a SNES eventually).

A few of my mates are big retro games fans, so we are always discussing the effect the Mega Drive had on the world of VG, I'll always state my all time favourite MegaDrive game is Flashback, nothing comes close. Now that the mini consoles are coming out, I think I'm going to use it as an excuse to "buy it for the kids". I've currently got an xbox 360 and a PS4, but to be honest, give me a Mega Drive game every day of the week; current gaming is excellent, but there is nothing like going back to play a game where the sounds, graphics and gameplay haven't really stood the test of time.

I'll always be a Sega Boy at heart, and I have lost count the number of times I used the term "Nintendork" during that era. I wouldn't change any of it for the world. :-)

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Re: Special No.1: Mega Drive / Genesis

Post by Jobobonobo » June 18th, 2018, 9:21 pm

The Mega Drive was not my introduction to video games as a whole; that honour was bestowed on the Commodore 64. But it greatly increased my appreciation for them. I did not own one myself but a cousin of mine got one for his birthday along with Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage. The latter we got many hours of enjoyment out of particularly as he even had a second controller so we could go through the game together. However, we were never that good and would usually get our backsides handed to us two thirds of the way through. Still, we had a lot of fun.

It was the blue hedgehog who really blew me away though. The speed, the colours, the environments. It was a true sensory delight and was the clearest way of communicating that gaming could do some wonderful things. It was also my first awareness of how consoles can differ from one another and that if I was to get this speed rush, the Mega Drive was where I had to go. The poor Commodore 64 was not going to cut it anymore!

Sonic was indeed my true gateway to gaming as a whole as I wanted to know everything about the series and was delighted to find out that he had many more adventures on the system. One Christmas my cousin got Sonic 3 and Knuckles and I was floored by the better graphics, sound, level design, well, everything really. I remember in particular we would try to get through the whole game in one go and when we had to do chores, homework or other obligations we would put the game on pause so that we did not lose our progress. Of course, with that game’s save system this was a tad redundant but I suppose we developed the habit from the first game. Ironically, Sonic 2 was a game I never experienced as a youngster. The game was never available in our local shops and this was far before the era of Amazon so it was the Sonic Mega Collection on Gamecube when I first got my hands on that particular classic. Considering how it is available everywhere nowadays, it is funny to think of it in terms of this missing holy grail when we were younger.

The Mega Drive was also the first time that I ever got frightened by a game. I remembered for one of my birthdays I got the opportunity to rent the Mega Drive and we picked up Aladdin alongside it. Cue an evening of me and my friends taking turns going through the game. After the party ended and all the other children went, I stayed up a bit later than usual (It was a Friday) and was blasting through the game. Now, I have never seen the actual film Aladdin and was horrified when after the third or fourth level, this horrible old man with needle like teeth was staring at me trying to warn Aladdin away from the caves. It was only later that I learnt that was meant to be a disguise by Jafar that tricks Aladdin in the film but without this context I just screamed like a baby and turned the console off, refusing to touch the game again for the rest of the rental period. I credit this memory to my refusal to even touch survival horror games. After all if a Disney based platformer can scare the bejesus out of me, what chance do I have when I tackle something that’s MEANT to scare me?

Due to the many re-releases Sega has produced over the years and a friend who collects old videogames, I have got to experience a much larger slice of the console’s library and was pleasantly surprised at how much of it holds up. OutRun, Road Rash, Rocket Knight Adventures, Micro Machines, Gunstar Heroes, Ristar and many more. There was a whole lot I missed out on when I was younger and I loved it all. If it wasn’t for the Mega Drive I would not be here writing this comment and enjoying this podcast and for that it will always have a special place in my heart.

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